On Sunday, Ro noticed that a game of Monopoly was out.  It didn’t take up much room, being a travelling set.  Pugsley had asked to play it, having noticed it in the cloakroom cupboard.  I’d been surprised, but apparently there are children’s versions nowadays, I expect he was a bit puzzled to find out how much more complex it was than the one he is used to.  It was especially complex because it was a Spanish version, and also because the print was so small.  I could hardly read the road names on the board and had to pick it up and peer every time one of us landed on it.  Some years ago, we started to collect different language versions when we were on holiday.  Weeza brought one home from Greece, which is the hardest to play.

The board we normally used was an American one, using the original Atlantic City road names, and Ro said that that’s the one he thinks of as right – that is, to him it’s Boardwalk rather than Mayfair and so on.  He said that at university he and his housemates played Monopoly a good deal one year.  They had league tables and everything.  I know.  So does he.  He was amused rather than defensive, however.  We agreed that the reason that games usually go on for so long is because of the house rules that each family devises, and permitting borrowing. If you go strictly by the rules, as they did, it’s quite quick.

We talked about other games we used to play and who was best at which.  I liked number and word games, but the rest of the family were not keen on them because I usually won – I had learned all the two letter words in Scrabble, for example, which put me at an advantage – although only because I’d gone to the trouble, they could have too.  Al’s speciality was Cluedo.  He had an intricate system of symbols which he used to note down people’s answers and was able to deduce everyone’s cards in minutes.  We could never understand how he got the right answer so quickly.  Weeza was good at games involving a visual memory, something I’m fairly hopeless at.  I remember what I’ve read, but not what I’ve seen.  Ro was always good at poker, something that stood him in good stead at university.  There’s no fun in poker if you don’t gamble, but I’m not interested in gambling (especially not against my children), so we had a tin of coins, shared them out at the beginning and put them back at the end.

The Sage never was interested in games, but the rest of us liked them.  Even when the children were well in their teens, I’d buy a new game at Christmas for us to play.  Dilly likes them too, so we sometimes play them at that time of year even now.  Pugsley, in the few weeks since we’ve last played together, has started to take them quite seriously.  He’d throw his dice, study them, and then solemnly give the answer.  “Six add five make eleven,” he’d say and move his counter.   He doesn’t count on his fingers, he does the sum in his head.  He is very much looking forward to starting school and has been practising his reading, writing and arithmetic in preparation.  For myself, I’m still enjoying the holidays, now I’ve finally got time to think about them.

19 comments on “Playing

  1. georgie

    Scrabble was our favorite games. Never kept score,whoever ran out of tiles first was the winner. The paternal side of the family always loved board games, the maternal side loves card games. Pugsley sounds incredibly good at math if he can do sums at age 4(isn’t that his age?)

  2. lx

    My family wasn’t interested in board games. I played a lot of Monopoly with the neighbors instead.

    That’s a good idea about getting a foreign language edition.

  3. Dave

    Trivial Pursuits was my speciality, having a very wide general knowledge (except for popular culture – so the pop music questions were always a problem).

  4. Z

    Pugsley will be 5 at the end of next month. His sister loves school and both his parents are born teachers (not that Al would ever be a teacher, all the record-keeping, lesson plans and so on would be his nightmare) so he’s got the influences.

    We started with a French edition that we bought on holiday, although most of that one got lost. I used to have a couple of French board games that my sister acquired on exchange visits, and it was good fun.

    Oh yes, Dave, I forgot Trivial Pursuits. We were all pretty good at that.

  5. Roses

    We used to play Monopoly, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit and a German board game roughly translated means: Don’t get Angry, when I was a child.

    Never play cards with my Sister-in-Law’s side of the family. Ever. They will take the clothes of your back and the breath from your lungs. Serious card-sharks, the lot of them.

    Boy likes Monopoly too.

  6. MaryP

    I grew up in a board-game-playing family, then married into another. We played Scrabble, Clue, and yes, Monopoly. I hate Monopoly, though. I had another favourite, ‘Masterpiece’, less of a commercial success, to do with buying and selling art. There was a deck of large cards with prints of Great Art. I loved it. Wonder what happened to it?

    My gran was the card shark, and taught me a few varieties of rummy and a few others. I remember Pitt, using special cards, a very rowdy, everyone-shouting-at-once bidding game. That was fun.

    My children’s current favourite is one called “Blokus”, whereby you aim to win space on a board by strategically placing coloured squares of odd shapes. Great for the spacially-inclined.


  7. Christopher

    All this sounds very healthy and a far cry from Murder in the Dark, which has been evoked elsewhere recently.

    House rules delaying progress? Yes, definitely. Among ours were if you landed directly on Go you got £400 instead of £200. Among the more desperate expedients for raising cash were selling the right to move one’s piece (few takers), selling one’s turn, plus commission, to the highest bidder (occasional windfalls) and buying the Community Chest or Chance cards unseen from other takers (occasionally raised a few £££s). Maybe it’s not surprising that games rarely finished.

  8. 63mago

    We played cards mostly, like Rommee, Canasta, MauMau, 66. Sometimes what Roses mentioned “Mensch ärgere dich nicht”, a simple board game with dices.

  9. Blue Witch

    Lovely to hear of young children being brought up on board games.

    I often teach bright 7 and 8 year olds to play chess, although they’re often hard pressed to find a willing adult to play with them (the joy of high-paid City jobs for dads and yummy mummies with loads of money and time but no brains), and often end up resorting to online versions (which, I feel, largely negates the best reasons for playing).

    I collect packs of playing cards from other countries. Monopoly would be far too complicated!

    Mr BW won’t play Scrabble with me, because I always beat him, having memorised the more useful parts of the OSW.

    I think board games first taught me that life wasn’t fair (particularly in our house) – unless I let my brother win, he’d have a massive temper tantrum and throw the board and all its pieces up in the air. I, of course, always got the blame, whatever happened.

  10. Z

    Playing Monopoly strictly by the rules usually makes it disappointingly one-sided. House rules make it a lot more fun.
    Someone introduced us to the idea that payments to Chance and CC should be put on the Free Parking square and the person landing on it gathered the money. Only downside there was that the bank eventually ran out of money, having no income!
    My sister and I used to play cards a lot, and I played chess with my sons in their teens.
    There are a lot more two letter words allowed now, BW, as I discovered when I started playing online Scrabble.

  11. Dandelion

    I play chess with my two nephews, 3 and 5. They love it.

    Oh, and BW, you and me both. To date, I’ve never lost a single match at Wimbledon. Good going, eh?

  12. Z

    Hi Peter, that looks rather good, thanks.

    I’ve got a totally irrational reservation about playing strangers, John – I don’t even know why. I’ll look for you on Facebook, though.

    Bet you could beat them if you tried though, Dand.

  13. georgie

    My two favorite games, aside from Scrabble were OhWahRee which is similar to mancala and Rack-O where you had to get sequential numbered cards on a plastic rack.
    Of course there was checkers too. No one played chess.

  14. Z

    I don’t know OhWahRee, Mancala or Rack-O, Georgie, I’ll have to look them up. Yes, my sister and I played checkers/draughts, too. Haven’t played that for years, though.

  15. Zig

    Pictionary and Rapidough my favourites.
    As a child we played endless games of Consequences and Charades when we gathered for family Christmases.

  16. luckyzmom

    Mexican trains, is an exciting version of dominos that my daughter introduced us to on a recent visit. She gifted us a set at Christmas. I could play it all day every day if someone was of a like mind.


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