Harrington: Rediscovering Board Games

Print More

(Host) Even with on-line Scrabble and all those downloadable game Apps –
many Vermonters still play board games, according to parents, kids, toy
store owners, and young professionals. Commentator Elaine Harrington
takes a look at the trend.

(Harrington) As long winter nights
close in around us, it’s time to get out the board games – like
Parcheesi, Chess, and Backgammon, or less familiar ones like Sorry. Or
maybe even try one of the new ones at the local toy shop.

and board games are a natural fit. Preschoolers start with Chutes and
Ladders, learning to count and take turns, while interacting with
siblings and parents. By age 10 or 11, it’s marathon sessions of games
like Battleship.

Our daughters and their friends used to play
Monopoly at sleepovers until 3 a.m. , making up extra cash if anyone
went bankrupt.

My sisters and I loved Clue so much that we
played without a board in bed at night for hours, chatting and keeping
mental track of weapons, murder scenes, and suspects. Colonel Mustard
and Professor Plum became our cousins, Michael and Blaise.

Turner of Shelburne plays Enchanted Forest – that game with those cute
conical conifers – with her daughters, ages 8 and 10. Chess and
Backgammon are also big. "We play board games and puzzles at night as a
way to engage the girls, to get them to think – not just stare at the TV
— and to spend time together," says Turner. Cognitive focus and
non-linear thinking are a plus.

The game of "Go" – with its
black and white stones and "surround and capture" objective – was
popular in China by the 3 rd century BC and then spread to Japan and

Parcheesi began as Parchis – Hindi for 25 – the largest
combination that can be thrown with dice. In India the dice may still be
cowrie shells, and the "board" is a cruciform-shaped cloth.

Europeans know Backgammon as "tables" – a game enjoyed by 11 th -century French gamblers and banned in Elizabethan England .

age 100, my grandmother Catherine and her 80-year old friend Liz played
a board game that involved a series of numbers. My daughter and I
played them a few times – but they had us bamboozled.

professionals now host "game nights." Jess Johnson of Norwich says that
she and her friends gather once a week in the winter "for a glass of
wine and to play a game." They like Pictionary (but make up their own
cards), as well as Telestrations, Catch Phrase, and Apples to Apples.
"It brings people together," she says.

The Settlers of Cahan is
the "hottest game" this winter, says Karen Williams-Fox, of Woodbury
Mountain Toys in Montpelier . It involves role playing, settling an
island, and getting control of commodities. Perhaps board games do
imitate life – or reality TV.

Also big at her shop are Quirkle –
a game of shapes and colors for all ages – and Quelf – a party game
where you might end up squawking like a chicken.

Playing board
games with a child is a gift of time that benefits everyone involved.
And it’s a good mental and memory workout for adults, while sharing a
pleasant winter evening with family and friends.

Comments are closed.