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Playing and Collecting Board Games
I’m probably interested in board games I started during the World Cup draw in 1965. I had gone to stay at home with one of my cousins in the east end of London, my parents having 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 holidays and all the presents were piled away in cupboards, most of them never to see the light of day again.
Boredom set in so we decided to tackle Monopoly (a Christmas present), we were twelve at the time. Twelve year olds these days probably have more options for dying on a winter afternoon during the school holidays. Anyway we played loads of games of Monopoly; we were both competitive but good losers (comes with being a West Ham fan).
After returning home to Surrey I rushed out and bought a copy of Monopoly with vouchers I got for Christmas along with Spy Ring and Formula One. Games weren’t that popular in those days, apart from the annual broadcast over Christmas, I loved them but no one else was interested in my group of friends.
A few years later I bought a copy of Diplomacy and soon got into the postal gaming hobby; this must be around 1973/4. The amateur magazines (‘zines) were excellent; although mail games are sometimes long winded this is the only way to experience the lesser known games especially if you lived in an area where there was a lack of opponents.
In 1975 I developed a game called Cricketboss, this was a Cricket Management game by post very loosely based on Soccerboss (a commercial game) which was running by post at the time. The game ran for three seasons in a magazine called Chimera and also spawned numerous versions of the game across the national post gaming hobby (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 the Dungeons & Dragons Club (not a great fan I’m afraid) elected me secretary and then started introducing fantasy board games to the meetings, soon I had them playing Sorcerers Cave, Mystic Wood and etc. I ended up leaving the group they played a little D&D but a lot of board games.
During the 80’s the game collection grew, well past 500 by 1988 when we moved to Hampshire. By the time we arrived in Cornwall in 1991 the collection was more than 1,000. The house we bought had to have enough space to store them all.
1980 – 1995 saw many to the big game 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; organized by the post gaming hobby, all still going strong and always worth a visit.
I continue to collect games, mostly German but not only and play games and I play with a small group of gamers in Truro. We meet fairly 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 that were previously retired to my loft. Hopefully we will inspire more people in Cornwall to taste the unique experience of playing competitively board games which stretches the mind and imagination far beyond my and most other people’s early experiences of Monopoly, Cluedo and Scrabble.
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