This was Crowded Saturday Azul display the 36th of the series of Essen games fairs and the 11th in a row I've attended. Left: Azul won the Spiel des Jahres award, and (right) Saturday, as always, was the busiest day. It gets bigger every time, and it's advisable to book in advance in order to avoid the scrums at the gates. Helpful FAQs on all the practicalities of Spiel Essen 2019 can be seen at BoardGameGeek.

This year I took particular delight in photographing T-shirts with striking slogans. In case you can't read them all they read, from left to right: "I closed my book to be here", "Why you delete cookies?", "In ludo veritas", "I put ketchup on my ketchup", and "It didn't quite go as planned - I may have caused irreversible damage on a monumental scale".

Closed book Cookies Tshirt In Ludo Tshirt Ketchup Tshirt Cookies Tshirt

I suppose Billabong it goes without saying to say that you can also actually play games, whatever your age and tastes may be. I'm not one for wargames, fantasy games, or anything requiring several hours to read through the rulebook. On the whole I prefer abstract games with simple rules involving depth rather than complexity. It was a pleasure to see my old friend Eric Solomon's "Billabong" still available (right). (It was an also-ran in one of the Spiel des Jahres lists.)

There were a noticeable number of matching games such as the delightful "Twinit" (left) in which you have to match up pairs of cards bearing complex psychedelic patterns. Twinit Rock Papergame It was a French company, I think, who demonstrated a board-game version of "Rock-Paper-Scissors" - a crafty idea that I wish I'd thought of myself. More fun, for kids of all ages, was "Noodle Ninja", Noodle Ninja which must be left to speak for itself.

Green credentials were much in evidence, not to anyone's surprise. What I think of as "The Trees Game" (left) was actually called "Photosynthesie". It certainly appealed to me as a member of the Woodland Trust.

Finally, if it all gets too much for you, you can slip out of the back exit of the exhibition halls and find yourself amongst real trees in the Trees game Gruga Park peaceful surroundings of the Gruga Park. which for my money is one of the greatest attractions of this mostly industrial city.

Text & images copyright David Parlett