Get on board

October 21, 2013 05:12 pm | Updated 06:32 pm IST - chennai:

Board games have changed the way that we looked at recreation. Photo: Vino John

Board games have changed the way that we looked at recreation. Photo: Vino John

The smell of new dice, the deck of cards — used and almost worn out, the smooth surface of the game board, lady luck smiling down on you, that tingly and triumphant feeling when you score a point or win the game... There was a time when wholesome family entertainment meant one thing — board games! Whether to pass time with your siblings, cousins, parents or fun aunts and uncles or to polish your skills to win that tournament at the local club or even at the national or international level, board games have changed the way that we looked at recreation.

Of course, today we have iPhones and tablets, where we can slide and slash through in games. But let’s face it — it’s not the same as having fun playing a board game and spending quality time with your family. Here are some of the classic and most popular games that you can take a shot at.


Fight your battles on an eight by eight chequered board! Chess is one of the most popular two-player games played that employs brains and virtual brawns. Each side – black and white – consists of eight pawns, a king, a queen, two rooks, two knights, and two bishops, all of which have its respective moves. The objective is to capture as many pieces of your opponent and ‘checkmate’ or trap the king. Don’t forget, you’re fighting a battle on the chessboard – the only place where you can be smart and brutal.

Our own Viswananthan Anand is the current World Chess Champion. You knew that, right?


This all-time favourite game of money, trading and properties has a large fanbase and there have been a lot of different versions spun off from the original. Monopoly literally means the exclusive possession or control of something. In the game, the players own, trade and develop properties and collect rent from their opponents until there is just one last person standing. So go ahead and… well, monopolise!

Snakes and Ladders

Ah, good old snakes and ladders! This classic game originated in India sometime around the 16th century. It is played on a game board with 10x10 numbered squares. The rules are pretty much standard – roll the dice, move your piece accordingly, climb ladders, get devoured by snakes along the way and race to the finish line.


Are you a lexophile? Then all you wordsmiths out there cannot simply go without a game of scrabble. In a 15x15 grid game board, players must place tiles in rows and columns to form words that are defined in a standard dictionary. The tiles have letters and value points on it. Each word formed is scored separately and added up. Here, you’re having fun, by showing everyone what a smarty-pants you are, and also learning! An app called Words with Friends has been developed from scrabble, but as mentioned before, board games are the real deal.


Ludo is the evolved form of the Indian game, Pachisi. It is a basic dice game in which the board has four colours – blue, green, red and yellow. Players are assigned a colour and tokens. The first one to race along the game track and bring their tokens to the finishing point is the winner.


Also called draughts, this classic board game consists of a chequered board and coins of two different colours. Like chess, it is one of the oldest known board games. The most popular form is played in 10x10 grid game board, but it is played on eight by eight and 12x12 grid boards as well.

The Game of Life

The Game of Life or simply Life is a game where players travel through life – going to college, getting a job, winning the lottery, getting married or even becoming a movie star! Players have to spin a small wheel and navigate the playing pieces, which look like cars, through “life”.


Carrom is quite popular in South Asia, especially India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The carrom board is made of plywood with pockets in the corners covered by net. Playing this game requires a bit of skill and perhaps some knowledge of physics and geometry. But wait! Don’t get scared off by that. It isn’t the Science or Math that makes it fun, but striking and dunking the coins and the queen before your opponent does.

There are so many smart and innovative board games in existence that it’ll take you hours to even list them, let alone play all of them. But still, how many have you played?

Chaturanga – The Indian Connection

Chaturanga is an ancient form of strategic board game that prospered in India in the 6th century. It was later adopted as Shatranj by the Persians, who brought it to medieval Europe. Chaturanga was played on an eight by eight unchequered board and it is from this game that modern-day chess was born. One might recall this game being played in the Indian epic Mahabharata, in which the Pandavas and Kauravas played it causing the former to gamble away their wealth and ultimately themselves.

Did you know?

The purpose of playing Snakes and Ladders was to teach children moral values. Ladders represented the result of good deeds and snakes represented vices.

Scrabble was originally named ‘Criss Cross Word’.

“Special Edition” Monopoly was manufactured to include hidden maps and compasses during World War II to help prisoners of war escape.

The Jewel Royale Chess Set made from gold, diamonds, pearls, rubies, emeralds, platinum and sapphires is the world’s most expensive chess set, valued at 9.8 million US dollars.

Battleship, in which you must sink enemy ships and conquer the high seas, was once a pad-and-pencil game before it was made into a board game.

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