Were you a fan of board games? Perhaps you still are.
I have fond memories of playing various board games with my family over the years. I was fortunate enough to live in a big old Victorian semi when I was growing up with a separate living room and dining room.
The dining room was really only used for that for Christmas and other special occasions as we often ate in the kitchen but we also used this room as a kind of games room. The big table we had in there was ideal for board games and the like. And we could leave a game set up in progress if we needed to do so.
Learning From Board and Other Games
I’ve mentioned my fondness for word games on CFT before. No real surprises there and I play an equivalent to Scrabble on my phone. I find it a great way to wind down especially after a writing session. (I also add to my vocabulary considerably. It also means I’ve learned a lot of useful high scoring two letter words thanks to this game including Xi, the fourteenth letter of the Greek alphabet and well worth trying to get on the triple letter square!).
The main times for playing board games were Christmas and on family holidays but they were great fun. Favoured games included:-
Ludo – our set was part of a Games Compendium and I think it included the Snakes and Ladders set too. Do such Compendiums still exist?
Snakes and Ladders
Other games played included good old card games such as:-
Canasta (which would be a great seven letter word to get out in Scrabble but that’s another matter!).
Beggar My Neighbour (yes, it really was called that).
My sister’s favourite thing on Monopoly was to get hotels built on Mayfair and Park Lane. Me? I preferred putting hotels on the Old Kent Road. It may have been the much cheaper set of properties on that board but everyone landed on the Old Kent Road at some point and, of course, there was the Chance card which if a player picked the right one up would send them back there! So no avoiding it. Another good tip was to always go for at least some of the utilities and railway stations. Again everyone landed on those.
Every so often the TV quiz show Pointless has a round where you have to recall the Monopoly street names etc. I see the board in my mind’s eye every time they do this though I haven’t played the game for some time. Some things are just “carved” into the memory! And do you remember the pink £500 Monopoly notes? I always found, even as a kid, the houses were tiddly fiddly pieces and always converted mine to hotels the moment I could.
Board Game History and Personal Memories
My maternal grandmother had a Patience/Solitaire card table where she would lay out all her cards. These days if I want to play Solitaire, I do so via a smartphone app! No more knocking the table over and sending the cards everywhere. And you can be certain of genuinely random dealing each time too. You can’t fool a computer algorithm when all is said and done! Having said that, my dad had a real talent for card shuffling and dealing. Just as well really – the rest of us didn’t!
I still have my mother’s Scrabble set though the words she used to come up with for this often baffled the rest of the family. I did get her a Scrabble book one Christmas which went down well and I must remember to consult it more often myself given it has good lists of two and three letter acceptable words in it! The dictionary was always at hand for our Scrabble contests, mainly for the rest of us to check the two letter word Mum had come up with was in there. (It always was!).
Snakes and Ladders was something my son loved when he was much younger and my mother also liked to play the “reverse” version where you’d go up the snakes and down the ladders. That always ended in much laughter, partly because we knew we were doing it the wrong way round and having a good laugh as we did so.
Ludo could seemingly go on for hours so sometimes we limited it to only playing with two counters each instead of the usual four.
Rummikub, being a variant of the card game rummy, always reminded me of a tiled version of Canasta, which was a family favourite over generations. Again my late maternal grandmother used to have Canasta parties where every member of the family (my dad’s side as well as my mum’s) would be invited over to play the game, have plenty to eat and drink, and generally not leave before the milkman had turned up in the early hours!
The Benefit of Board and Other Games
Such games are (a) fun and (b) bring people together. I don’t know if such games still appeal to people the way they once did. I hope they do. I found these games simple and fun and brought much needed cheer. So time for a comeback then? Oh yes. There is much to be said for simple things that cheer you up and even more so now we are about to head into a second national lockdown.
Games like these can encourage a sense of fair play and team spirit. Yes, they can be competitive (and should be) but I know when I’ve played things like Scrabble, I’ve always wanted to strive for the best words possible, the best score possible and so on.
Striving is a good thing. But the biggest thing, I think, games like this teach you is how to win and lose reasonably graciously. After all nobody wins or loses all of the time. Just like in life really.
So over to you then. What were your favourite board and other games? Do you still play them? What did you love most about them? What frustrated you about them?
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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