Monday, September 13, 2010

Life across the board. Mine, to wit.

Truth to tell, I haven’t been much of a game player most of my life. Neither the board nor the outdoor variety. Among the earliest board games I played were Snakes and Ladders and Ludo, both among the more popular children’s board games. As a child, I used to persuade my mother or father to buy me a combo set of Snakes and Ladder-Ludo-Chinese Checkers-Draughts every year we visited the Navi Wadi jatra (fair) or went Christmas shopping. One of the reasons for doing this was that, after a few days of use of the new purchase, most of the play counters used to go missing and we had to make do with unsatisfactory substitutes like buttons. All this had become a sort of ritual, almost. And, being the pampered son that I happened to be, my wish was my parents’ command and mostly granted. I must have graduated to Monopoly when I was about ten. Scrabble too must have come into my life around the same time. Draughts (Checkers) had been a part of my early board gaming. I distinctly recall a Mankar family heirloom predating my birth: an exquisitely crafted black wooden box with large red and black Draftsmen stored inside. You opened the box, turned it on its innards and it became a Draughts or Chess board. I stumbled upon Chess much later in life. In 1972, if memory serves, when the Fischer-Spassky world championship made Chess the flavour of the month. Since then, I’ve spent many pleasant moments playing it. For instance: In fact, I became quite a Chess aficionado acquiring quite a few fancy Chess sets including one, purchased in Nepal, with the Chess pieces resembling warriors, elephants, camels, horses and so forth as well as the board wrought in brass. Also, a large number of (mostly unread) trade paperbacks on play analysis. One book on the game I enjoyed most, though, was the story of the Fischer-Spassky world championship I bought from my friend Shoiab. My board game playing in the 21st century has been mostly confined to playing with Armaan and Anika Both of them don’t like to lose and, until recently, used to get terribly upset if I burst out laughing at the turn of events. Armaan has his own innovative approach to board gaming. He makes his own rules as the game proceeds.