I guess my interest in board games started during the World Cup draw in 1965. I had gone to stay with one of my Cousins back home in the east end of London, my parents having moved to Surrey 4 years before. It was early January and we were nearing the end of the school holidays. I’d seen West Ham play once over the holiday period and all the presents had been stacked away in cupboards, most of which were never to see the light of day again.
Boredom set in so we decided to tackle Monopoly (a Christmas present), we were twelve years old then. I guess twelve year olds nowadays have more alternatives for passing away winter afternoons during school holidays. Anyway we played loads of games of Monopoly; we were both competitive but good losers (comes with being a West Ham supporter).
On my return home to Surrey I rushed out and bought a copy of Monopoly with vouchers I got for Christmas plus Spy Ring and Formula One. Games were not that popular in those days, apart from the annual airing at Christmas, I loved them dearly but nobody else was interested in my group of friends.
Some years later I bought a copy of Diplomacy and soon entered the postal gaming hobby; this must have been in about 1973/4. The amateur magazines (‘zines) were excellent; although postal gaming is long winded it was sometimes the only way to experience the less well known games particularly if you lived in an area where there was a lack of opponents.
In 1975 I developed a game called Cricketboss, this was a postal Cricket Management game very loosely based on Soccerboss (Commercial game) that was running by post at that time. The game ran for three seasons in a ‘zine called Chimera and also spawned a number of versions of the game across the national postal gaming hobby (long after I finished running it). Even now its gets the occasional mention in dispatches some 25 years after it’s’ 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 great fan I’m afraid) got myself elected secretary and then started to introduce fantasy board games into the meetings, soon I had them playing Sorcerers Cave, Mystic Wood etc. When I eventually left the group they played little D&D but a lot of board games.
During the 80’s the games collection grew, well past the 500 by 1988 when we moved to Hampshire. By the time we got to Cornwall in 1991 the collection exceeded 1,000. The house we purchased had to have enough room to store them all.
1980 – 1995 saw a number to the major games 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 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; organised by the postal gaming hobby, all still going strong and always well worth a visit.
I continue to collect games, mostly but not exclusively German and play games and I 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 blow the dust off many games previously retired to my loft. Hopefully we will inspire more people in Cornwall to sample the unique experience of playing competitive board games which stretch the mind and imagination far beyond my and most other people’s early experiences of Monopoly, Cluedo and Scrabble.