Thursday, June 7, 2012



Felicia Day shared this Geek & Sundry post today about their upcoming Father's Day plans. The first line is "Do you have special memories of playing board games with your dad?" That got the wheels spinning.

When I was a kid my parents loved to play Backgammon. They taught me how to play at an early age, and my dad gave me extra coaching lessons on how to win... against my mom.

Mom always liked to play brown, so step one to beating her was to pick the brown playing pieces before she could. Once she got the hang of playing white, switching back and forth between brown and white would really mess with her game.

Step two was to switch the direction in which you were playing each game. When you play Backgammon one player is moving to the left while the other is moving to the right. By switching the direction in which the board is set up, mom could be distracted enough to throw off her game.

The third step, which I suppose I learned from both of my parents, was to block off as many spaces as possible with pairs so that she couldn't get those last two pieces out of my side of the board.

The fourth and final step which was the hardest for me to learn: bumping may be fun, but do it wisely or you'll end up getting bumped in revenge.  If you've got any open pieces, protect them! There's nothing worse than a revenge bump! 

The Backgammon board I made for mom.
We played many other board games when I was a kid.  Sorry! was big in our house, up until we lost half of the pieces and were forced to start playing red/yellow versus blue/green.  My friend Dan introduced me to Pente when I was 12 or 13 and I was hooked.  Mom saw us playing one day and we taught her how to play - big mistake!  Now she's obsessed with the game!  She liked the game so much that I made her a Backgammon board with a Pente/Checkers/Chess board on the reverse side.

The Pente/Chess/Checker board side.
Despite my aforementioned experiences playing The Game of Life at school, we never had that game, so I didn't play it until grade twelve. We also didn't have Clue, Candyland or Mousetrap, all of which my friend Jill luckily had at her house.  I can remember spending several hours on many a rainy day playing Mousetrap and other board games at her place.  

When we were 14, Chrystal and I shocked our older cousins during a heated Trivial Pursuit game at a family reunion by knowing the proper order for Tequila shots: Lick, Drink, Suck!  The secret?  We'd been playing Trivial Pursuit quite a bit that summer and had gotten that card a week or two before.  I got Monopoly for Christmas one year and only managed to convince my parents to play it once - throughout the entire game they acted like playing it was some rare form of torture never to be repeated again.

Despite the numerous board games kept in our deacons bench, we always came back to Backgammon.  It was not uncommon for either of my parents to ask out of the blue if I'd like to try to beat them in a game.  If both of my parents were home, the winner would take on the next player until the ultimate champion was crowned.  Quite often the words "I'm bored" would result in the question: "do you want to play a game of backgammon?"  Then again, they could just as easily result in: "well, if you're bored, I can give you a list of chores that need to be done!" 

Even now, if I'm playing a game of Backgammon against my mom, I always remember my dad's "tips" and put them to good use trying to throw her off of her game.  I have to admit, they've worked quite well over the years, though she is getting used to playing the white pieces, so I've had to switch-up which colour I choose each time we play in order to still throw her off.

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