Board games are great for get togethers with family and friends, especially here in our community. My favorite is Jenga although it isn’t exactly played on a board. I love how the tower constructed with 54 blocks captures everyone’s attention when a player carefully tries to take out a block without it toppling over. The more blocks that are removed, the shakier the tower gets. As a result, games don’t take that long unless you’re playing with eight-foot solid pine blocks weighing 600 pounds each, and move them with Caterpillar construction vehicles. In 2015, that game lasted 28 hours until the fourteenth round. Bet that was quite a sight to see.
My fondest board game memories are from my youth when I could spend hours playing Monopoly. I loved setting up the board, being the banker, counting out the money and occasionally winning! It never crossed my mind that the game was used to help British prisoners escape the Nazis during World War II or that the chances of winning a game in 20 seconds are one in 254 trillion. Can’t even fathom that in 1988 a San Francisco jeweler would make a Monopoly set decked out to the tune of $2 million. We’re talking a board made of gold, diamond-encrusted dice, and hotels and houses embellished with rubies and sapphires.
Cousins taught me how to play Yahtzee, the dice game invented by a wealthy Canadian couple who introduced it to their friends while aboard their yacht. When the rights to the game were sold to a toy maker, the so-called “yacht game” became Yahtzee, a much catchier name. Bunco is a similar dice game played in pairs with players rolling the dice, keeping score and moving from table to table. My sister and I taught this game to 150 relatives attending our family reunion, and they’re still talking about how much fun it was to play the fast-moving game.
Scrabble rounds out my board-game favorites. Even though I’m a devoted word person today, initially I never took the game seriously. That is until I met an 87-year-old lady who was a fierce competitor. She loved winning, and whooped and hollered when she did, which was often when we first started playing. But I watched and learned how she scored the big points, and yes, I whooped and hollered big time when I won. What great times we shared.
When I started writing this column, I had no idea it would bring back such fond memories. Think it’s time to create new ones. Anyone for some scrabble?
Originally published, Orange County Register, August 11, 2022