To get Parlett's History of Board Games in the UK please email Jessica Howard, Echo Point's Client Services Manager. The books will be printed at the plant in the U.K., so they should print and ship fairly quickly.
14 January A busy start to 2020. Quite apart from completing my tax return for 2018-19, which takes long enough, I've written my next article for the 'Time Machine' column of Tabletop Gaming, am in the middle of preparing a critique of a proposal for a substantial book on games design, and am brushing up my talk on Lizzie Magie (Monopoly's 'onlie true begetter), for a talk to be given at the University of Suffolk in Ipswich on 26 February. There's the BTHA Games Fair at Olympia to go to next week and I'm booked for an all-day Skat session on Friday.
26 December A bit fallow on the games front at Christmas, apart from playing Katarenga, Chicken Out, Niek Neuwaal's Tayü, and a few unpublished family games of my invention. But I continue to write historic games articles for Tabletop Gaming; a US publisher has just commissioned me to preview of very promising-looking new book on games; and I'll be giving a talk on Lizzie Magie at The University of Suffolk (Ipswich) in February. Now I'll have to start updating all my web pages - at the very least, in the strict sense of changing 'Copyright 2019' to 'Copyright 2020'. It's a good thing I found a fairly quick way of doing so this time last year.
1 December Have just about recovered from my fourth visit to the DAU Barcelona games festival. This year's special award for a lifetime's contribution to the culture of games went to Phil Orbanes, known to many for his definitive books on Monopoly. As family matters prevented last year's recipient Irving Finkel from joining us, the eulogy and award were presented by Dan Glimne, who received it in 2017. (The picture shows Phil evidently enjoying a TV interview.)
We couldn't find this year's Botifarra tournament - that's the Catalan national card game - so here's one I took earlier (left). But what we could and did find, for the first time, was Barcelona's excellent Natural History Museum. I think this (right) is an Aepyornis, but forgot to photograph the caption. It certainly put me in mind of H G Wells's creepy short story Aepyornis Island.
It was not all plain sailing, however. This year we decided to go by train "to help save the planet", but the planet, unfortunately, managed to hinder us by being subject to floods, forcing us to take a bus replacement journey from Montpellier to Béziers. The train we picked up there got in some four hours later than originally scheduled. If that was bearable, the journey home was less so. The bus replacement section meant we didn't, as originally hoped, have 90 minutes in Paris to have lunch and get from Gare de Lyon to Gare du Nord, which we reached just 10 minutes too late for the Eurostar back to London. We rebooked on the 19.43, but were then delayed by yet another 90 minutes. It turned out that some passengers on the train scheduled for an hour earlier had been allowed through security without adequate checking. So all 2000-odd of them had to get off again, with their luggage, and undergo a proper check while staff swept through the emptied train to ensure no bombs had been left on board. Home by midnight!
By an unhappy coincidence, Phil and Anna themselves were similarly hindered. Their plane was held up from leaving Barcelona airport by two and a half hours. They arrived too late for their scheduled flight from Heathrow and were eventually put on the last flight of the night.
7 October If Britain leaves the EU I'll have to close down my .eu domains, so I've decided to leave my non-games website (davpar.eu) in abeyance and am transferring its contents to a branch of this one.
3 October Having recently got rid of my Windows 7 desktop computer I'm now still in the process of getting used to Windows 10 and MS Office 365. Not so much a learning curve as a learning helter-skelter. I recently took part in a panel at the Tabletop Gaming exhibition at Alexandra Palace and was pleased to make some new acquaintances. Now it's all systems Go for Spiel Essen in few weeks' time and it's about time I updated some pages of my website.
24 August The 2019 Mind Sports Olympiad took place again at JW3 in London from August 18 to 26 and the Hare & Tortoise World Championship on Wednesday 21st. Gold went to Kunik Kolk (Estonia), Silver to George Romet-Topkin (Estonia), Bronze to Matt Hathrell (England). There were 21 entrants but only four sets available, necessitating one table of five. The tournament rule for hare squares was not universally liked and resulted in one player's running out of carrots on the point of reaching home, necessitating his return to the start. But he should have foreseen the obvious danger of landing on the very last hare square. Turnaround between sessions was much quicker this year - barely a minute or two - thanks to results and pairings being computerised by Mike Dixon and operated by Matt Hathrell. So we finished by 10pm for the first time ever.
16 August Getting ready for this year's Hare & Tortoise world championship in London on the 21st. Not playing - just supervising. And it's now 45 years since the game was first published!
5 August It was a great pleasure to receive the following message from Kris Allsop: "I am just back from holiday with my wife and 9 year old son. In the airport when flying out I picked up a deck of cards and googled for good 3 player card games which lead me to your site. I was already very interested in card games and own multiple editions of your penguin book, and it just struck me that my son would be good age to introduce of some of the games.
"So long story short we played Ninety-Nine and Trigami most nights. We started with Ninety-Nine and both my son and my wife loved it and started to pick up the tactics and we played it in the evenings for 3 to 4 nights. I did notice my son wasn't quite as good at the bidding (e.g. I can only win 4 tricks but am bidding 5 as i wont throw out x card) so decided to introduce another game in case there was a loss of interest. I am not complaining about Ninety-Nine though as obviously the heart of Ninety-Nine is trying to balance the bid cards with the trump suit, with the rest of your hand etc).
"We decided to give Trigami a go as I thought bidding by picking bug suit was a little simpler and take a little less deliberation. We loved it as well and played that the rest of the holiday. Its popularity was secured when my son scored a famous victory in one game by bidding turnip and getting multiple tricks with no bug cards to take him over 500. Anyhow i just thought you might like to know that your games are being appreciated and enjoyed."
21 July This year's Paris est Ludique was the hottest I've been to, at 36C on the Saturday.
First picture is a general view, second shows two of my opponents playing my Autour du Monde en 80 Jours. (I came second of four!) Third, also in Paris, is one of many examples of wall art, one of my favourite photographic subjects. (I must get round to putting more of them on my Picasa web album.)
14 June I've now done two historic games articles for Tabletop Gaming magazine (Jungle Chess and Chase the Girls) and am just finishing a third one on Patolli, for which I've just discovered an interesting new source of information. I've got my Eurostar and hotel booked for this year's Paris est Ludique games festival, which is one of my favourites as it's en plein air and (hitherto) it's always been sunny and warm. And I've been asked to consult on a card-playing sequence for an episode in the upcoming fourth series of Outlander, which "continues the story of time-travel 1960's Claire Fraser and her 18th century husband Jamie Fraser as they try to make a home for themselves in the rough and dangerous 'New World' of America". (Specifically, North Carolina in the 1880s.) The downside is that I seem to have run out of ideas for new games, so perhaps it's just as well that I'm not going to this year's games designers fair at Göttingen.
12 May Just back from the 22nd Board Game Studies Colloquium at
the University of Bologna, where my paper on Lizzie Magie, the true inventor of Monopoly, was well received. It was a
very tiring but enjoyable gathering, with over 50 papers being presented. Italy is not my
favourite country to visit, as I don't speak any Italian (I left all that to my brother Graham),
and I don't like either pizza or pasta. However, I did find a few edible meals,
and the ice cream was well worth walking for. We heard that next year's colloquium will be in
Paris, one of my favourite places. I'll be going there again in June for the Paris est Ludique
A couple of weeks ago I went to the Estonian Consulate in London, near the Natural History Museum (another of my favourite places), to pick up my e-resident's identity card, which I hope will enable me to keep my .eu domains if and when the dreaded Brexit happens.
15 April Just back from Digital Ludeme Project conference at Schloss Dagstuhl, organised by DLP founder Cameron Brown of Maastricht University. Informative and inspiring on several fronts. More on this ERC-funded project at www.ludeme.eu. Now I have to continue putting together my talk on Lizzie Magie for the Board Game Studies colloquium in Bologna next month...
26 March 2019 For some reason I've been totally devoid of ideas for new games for the past year and won't be going to this year's games designers fair at Göttingen in July. But I have been asked to take over Phil Robinson's column on historic and traditional games in Tabletop Gaming magazine, which should be fun - quite like my old days at Games & Puzzles! I'm also preparing a paper on Lizzie Magie for this year's Board Game Studies Colloquium in Bologna. And I'm now officially an e-citizen of Estonia (see below)!
26 February 2019 OK, I've taken the plunge and applied for e-citizenship of Estonia, primarily in order (I hope) to retain my .eu domains by re-registering them direct through EURid (the European Registry for Internet Domains).
20 February 2019
Grandson Alex's 19th birthday - many happy returns!
Delighted to report that he's applying to do a degree course in computer games programming.
Just received copies of Ravensburger's latest presentation of Hase und Igel, the equivalent of Hare & Tortoise, in their new "Ravensburger Classic" series. Artwork is much the same, but the new format is more compact - i.e. smaller. This version includes the new optional hare square rule for tournament play (see htjughare.html.
Still in the process of upgrading my website. It's taking time!
26 January Besides working on my website I've submitted my proposal for a paper to be given at the Board Game Studies Colloquium in Bologna (7-11 May), and have just been asked to do podcast in early February on the early history of Poker.
5 January My website now seems to be working properly, but if you spot any display issues please let me know. I haven't had time to double-check all 130 pages individually.
3 January It's a bit of a slog going through the process of changing my web host, with all sorts of unforeseen repercussions taking effect. I hope to get it done soon, but first I have to spend a lot of time preparing my income tax return for 2017-18. (Boring. I don't earn enough to make it interesting.) To cheer me up, however, I've just received final production copies of the new Chinese and Japanese editions of Hare & Tortoise. Broadway Games have made a beautiful job of it!
31 December Just received advance copies of Chinese and Japanese editions of Hare & Tortoise, by Broadway Games (Hong Kong). Really pleased with the production values!
25 December It's only 8.30am and already I'm suffering from Santaclaustrophobia.
28 November Just returned from the 7th Festival del Joc - the "Dau Barcelona" games fair. Pictures to follow...
16 November At last, my revised History of Board Games is published and available from Echo Point Books. I completed it in July 2017 but it's taken so long to reach this stage that it must be inching towards out of date already. Now getting ready for the 7th Festival del Joc - the "Dau Barcelona" games fair. Time to brush up on my Catalan. (Alan? Silly name for a cat.)
31 October Just back from Essen, where I met (amongst others) Robin Bond of Broadway Games. I already knew about the Chinese edition of Hare & Tortoise, but now I learn that a Japanese version will be out even sooner - hopefully before Christmas. Getting to Essen from Düsseldorf Airport train station was even more of a nightmare than usual, thanks to rail works the wrong side of Duisberg and a long, cramped ride in a bus replacement service. But we were shown an easier way of getting back by taking the U-Bahn to Altenessen and going direct from there. More to follow when I've written my review of the fair.
20 October Almost finished upgrading my website to accord better with current html practice, especially as regards display on hand-held devices. Now concentrating on Spiel Essen, whither I travel next Wednesday (24 October). Thought of an idea for a game which I must discuss with my agent Anita before I start developing it. Met Dan Glimne and Irving Finkel at the British Museum a couple of days ago; dined Indian at the nearby Malabar Junction.
9 October Sorry to see that Cameron Brown has laid down Game & Puzzle Design now that his new post at Maastricht University limits his availability for working on it. Cameron adds "I plan to release the journal’s six issues as a single Game & Puzzle Design Compendium, to mark the end of this first phase, which should make a nice 500 page volume that covers a range of game/puzzle design topics". It'll be a valued addition to my bookshelves.
Just finished upgrading all my Original Card Games pages to make them view better on hand-held devices. What a slog! Trouble is, I enjoy practising and (hopefully) improving my HTML skills.
1 October Spent last day of September at the Tabletop Gaming event at Alexandra Palace. I was on a panel talking about and answering questions on board games in history, together with presenter James Wallis and two ladies conveniently sharing the same forename, so I was never in danger of addressing the wrong one. Holly Gramazio is half of Matheson Marcault, an agency that creates bespoke games for arts and cultural organisations, and Holly Nielsen researches the social history of games, particularly of the late-19th and early-20th century. Holly N spoke about the medieval game of Rithmomachy and Holly M about an early 20th-century game about suffragettes. James described an early 19th-century race game, and I went further back in time and talked about the Royal Game of Ur. The game stands and displays were mostly about the sort of things I'm not interested in (elaborate war, fantasy and role-playing extravaganzas), but I was impressed by a couple of abstracts by a relative newcomer, Merlin Games, whom I shall look out for at Essen - or, if not there, at the BTHA Toy Fair in January. The hour-long drive south to north across an almost deserted London for a 10 a.m. start proved unexpectedly enjoyable.
15 September Received proofs of artwork and rulebook for a Chinese-language edition of Hare & Tortoise to be published by Broadway Games (Hong Kong) in December 2018. The Disneyesque designs, by Spanish artist Pedro Alberto, cast a whole new light on the game, shifting the scene from Mitteleuropa Ravensburger), via London (Gibsons), to an unspecified jungle setting, in which the race between the two protagonists is being watched by (inter alia) an elephant, a crocodile, and a giraffe wearing a skimpy blue scarf.
4 September Discovered Vale Games, a very friendly and lively games club just a short walk away from my front door! Also just received first copies of my new book Card Games: for fun, family, friends & keeping you sharp published by Flametree Publishing (ISBN 978 178664794 8.) Thanks to Edward Copisarow, renowned games collector and Member of the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards, for the Foreword.
21 August A record 20 players took part in the Hare & Tortoise tournament at this year's Mind Sports Olympiad, including the usual proportion of newbies and old hands. Gold, silver and bronze went respectively to Mike Hornung (England), Georg-Romet Topkin (Estonia), and Andres Kuusk (Estonia). The Junior equivalents went to Georg-Romet Topkin (Estonia), Markus Ikla (Estonia), and Edmund Smith (England). Only one of them, Dale Lythgoe, came on Monday to try Katarenga, leaving the usual experienced players (Frances Touch, Graham Parlett, John Power, John McLeod and the inventor) to play amongst themselves before retiring to the JW3 cafe for well-deserved cups of caffeine-rich restoratives.
15 August Nearly finished tidying up this website and now concentrating on the MSO Schedule starting on Saturday. The Hare & Tortoise tournament is scheduled for 18.45 on Sunday the 19th. On Monday 20th at 1pm I will be demonstrating my new game Katarenga and would welcome visitors to try it out and review it.
29 July Sad at death of Roger Duce, one of my oldest friends (68 years! ),
who was an invaluable tester of some of my best games including Hare & Tortoise,
Ninety-Nine and Concerto. That was before he and wife Penny moved to Edinburgh some time
in the 1980s. Much missed.
Finished (I hope!) correcting proofs of Parlett's History of Board Games (formerly the Oxford History of...) and shortly expecting copies of my book of card games for Flametree Publishing.
Visited games collector Edward Copisarow at Shardeloes country mansion to teach him, Tessa and Frances how to play Bézique. "Have you got a Bézique table?" I carelessly asked. "Yes," he replied, "I've got three". Why am I not surprised?
Continued upgrading parts of my website. It's a slog, but I like learning more about HTML.
20 July For the past two weeks I've been busy upgrading my website, trying to get it to conform to current HTML and CSS standards. It's quite a job and I've done about half so far.
29 June Had a great weekend at the 5th annual 'Paris est Ludique' event, in sunny weather with temperatures up to 30C. This is accurately described as a day of fun for fans and families of all ages, and well lived up to the claim. It's full of helpers clearly identified by their orange shirts (left), and at the PurpleBrain/Asmodée stand I came across these players engrossed in Around the World in 80 Days. In the ensuing four-player game I came second, which is better than I usually do at its earlier incarnation as Hare & Tortoise.
18 June Way behind with updates because I've been busy correecting proofs of my revised History of Board Games, which I hope will be out this year. I've also been to Athens for this year's Board Game Studies Colloquium and to Göttingen, as always, for the games inventors fair. Here I was presented with the "Göttinger Spatz" award (pictured - it's supposed to be a sparrow) for my general contribution to games. At least, I think that's what it was for - it seemed to be more for Hare & Tortoise than anything else. But it was very pleasing to learn that a previous recipient was the great Alex Randolph.
1 April Spent a couple of days in Vienna in March visiting my agent Anita Landgraf at White Castle Games. Now getting ready to correct proofs of my new book of card games for Flame Tree Publishing and of my updated History of Board Games for Echo Point Books. I'm also revising my talk on Strutt's Sports and Pastimes of the People of England to be presented at the forthcoming Board Game Studies Colloquium at Athens later this month. And I've been asked to consider revising, or at least correcting, my History of Card Games for translation into French, and will be visiting Paris Est Ludique in June to meet the publisher. I've also had a nice legal consultancy job in respect of Cards Against Humanity, which is more of a party game than a card game.
13 February Players' ratings for Katarenga on BoardGameGeek now average 7.6 out of 10, which is very pleasing. One reviewer describes it as "A weird chess variant" and another as "Chess on stilts", so I suppose I'd better acknowledge it as a chess variant. It lacks the defining feature of king-capture, though, so I think it's more accurately classified as a race game. Especially as I'm preparing to do my race game workshop again at the University of Sussex (Ipswich) next week.