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Playing and Collecting Board Games
I think my interest in board games it started during the world cup draw in 1965. I had gone to stay with one of my cousins at home in the east end of London, my parents had moved to Surrey 4 years earlier. It was early January and we were nearing the end of the school holidays. I had seen West Ham play once over the holiday period and all the presents were piled up in cupboards, most of which would never see the light of day again.
Boredom set in so we decided to tackle Monopoly (a Christmas present), we were twelve then. I think twelve year olds these days have more alternatives to dying on winter afternoons during the school holidays. We’ve played plenty of Monopoly games anyway; we were both competitive but good losers (comes with being a West Ham supporter).
When I got home to Surrey I rushed out and bought a copy of Monopoly with the vouchers I got for Christmas plus Spy Ring and Formula One. Games weren’t that popular in those days, apart from the annual Christmas broadcast, I really liked them but no one else in my group of friends was interested.
A few years later I bought a copy of Diplomacia and soon got into the hobby of postal games; this must have been around 1973/4. The zines were great; although postal games are long, it was sometimes the only way to experience the lesser-known games, especially if you lived in an area where there was a dearth of opponents.
In 1975 I developed a game called Cricketboss, this was a Cricket Management postal game based very loosely on Soccerboss (the commercial game) which was running by post at the time. The game ran for three seasons in a ‘zine called Chimera and also spawned a number of versions of the game in the national hobby of post games (long after I finished running it). Even now it is occasionally mentioned in dispatches some 25 years after its design.
In 1978 I met a number of like-minded people and we all met regularly to play board games. At the same time I infiltrated a Dungeons & Dragons club (not a big fan I’m afraid) got elected secretary and then started introducing fantasy board games to meetings, soon got them playing Sorcerers Cave, Mystic Wood etc . I finally left the group, they played a little D&D but a lot of board games.
During the 80’s the game collection grew, surpassing 500 by 1988 when we moved to Hampshire. By the time we got to Cornwall in 1991, the collection exceeded 1000. The house we bought had to have enough space to store them all.
1980 – 1995 saw a number of major gaming conventions. I remember the good old days at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London when Games Day meant more than just D&D and painted figures. I remember meeting Major Pat Reid promoting Colditz, Alan Parr the inventor of United and later Fireside Football, Andrew Neil the inventor of Kingmaker and Maureen Hiron of Quadwrangle and Continuo fame. I attended Midcon, Manorcon and Baycon; hosted by the postal gaming hobby, they’re all still going strong and always worth a visit.
I continue to collect games, mostly but not exclusively German and play games and play with a small group of gamers in Truro. We meet semi-regularly, but hopefully more regularly in the future to play board games. Personally it’s a great opportunity to dust off a lot of games previously retired to the attic. We hope to inspire more people in Cornwall to try the unique experience of playing competitively board games which stretch the mind and imagination beyond my and most other people’s experiences of Monopoly, Cluedo and Scrabble.
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