The game was invented by David Gale, a mathematician and economist at the University of California at Berkeley.
It was described in Gardner, Martin. Knotted Doughnuts and other Mathematical Entertainments. New York: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1986. 113-116, and was analysed in Berlekamp, Elwyn R., John H. Conway, and Richard K. Guy. Winning Ways for your Mathematical Plays - Volume 2. New York: Academic Press, 1982. 598-600.