Thursday, May 31, 2012

Some more boards for games

I had written in an earlier post how I made my Scrabble Board and letters. This one is about a few other things.

A thought had zipped past like lightning many decades ago..... oooh, I'm that old to speak of  past decades, eh, eh??... about me making a carrom board!  It was a highly impossible project to even think of with no material, no tool and no resource.  Yet, I still wonder why that crossed my mind, despite we having a nice vintage carrom board with wide pockets.  Anyway... and for good, that thought never again returned!  May be, may be, the background for that was from the early 1960s when I had seen my senior friend opposite our house, Ganapathi having drawn carrom board lines on the floor with chalk, using seeds and some bottle caps as a striker!  They did not have a real board.  Yet, they still could play their own brand of carrom!  

Let me tell just a few words about this Ganapathi. He was a genius according to me. He used to make his own thread/rope to play the top - it was short and thick. The shortness of it used to win him games as quickness to play the top was a key factor to decide the winner!  He had 500 marbles that he had won from friends who played on the streets and footpaths. I used to envy his talent because I could never win against him, any game.  He was always the winner in street games.  In gulli-danda also he was an expert, not so much in street cricket. May be I will have a separate post on this fellow, later.

Let me share what I have made as I grew up to high school and during college days. Street children used to gather and play various games, both indoor and outdoor in those days. There were many games and many children too!  The street was abuzz with activity, unlike now. Come summer holidays, it was only play, play and play. I would like to emphasize that they were days when even the 'Calculator' had not been seen here!

My grandfather had bought me a 'Chinese Checkers'   It was a very interesting game. The 'original' board was torn out due to frequent use as it was made of cheap cardboard and fitted in a square box.  So I made one myself, taking a thick file of cardboard from my grandfather's office.  Drilling holes in it was very tricky.  I had by then, made my own hand drill, copying it from a carpenter who had made windows for a new room. The holes had to be smooth to insert and remove the coloured plastic pegs during the game. Finally, it came off nicely and we played many games thereafter also till the time we grew old for it.

I have been playing Chess since about 1970 or so.  Then towards 1977, I was playing a lot of Chess games with my classmates, street mates and particularly one old man by name Dr.Rama Shastry of the famous "Liver House" [our opposite house].  He was a brilliant player and I had the good fortune of defeating him only once. It still remains one of only two feathers in my chess cap. The other was defeating Masood Hussain [brother of old classmate Zakir - both sons of the famous historian Prof.B.Sheik Ali] once. Masood was also a fine player.  When I visited his house now and then, these opportunities for playing chess used to arise. It was a learning experience.  It was much before the TV a.k.a. Idiot Box era, so people had lots of nice things to do, really!

Dr.Rama Shastry had his chess board entirely lined with cloth to increase durability, while it made the black and white squares still visible.  He had drawn lines in pen to demarcate.  Paper boards used to wear off quickly.  What he had made was like the plastic lamination we use these days.  So I wanted to make one like his.  The cardboard chess board we had at home was smallish and it was cumbersome to arrange the wooden chessmen on the small squares.  It was from him that I learnt that the white square at the corner had to be to the players' right side.

There was a rattan stool that had a square top. I had a few pieces of hardboard left over from some of  my father's 'renovative' projects. Two of them suited the top, without too much cutting.  There was some black paint and some white paint and there was my will, time and material for a chessboard that would last long and take wear and tear also without losing its utility as a stool. Once painted, I fixed the two halves on the top and there it was!  The players could sit on opposite sides on smaller stools and play.  

When I see the date I've painted, I can't believe it was almost 35 years ago!

For other traditional games, the floor or even some paper or cardboard was needed to make a board.  Without a piece of chalk or something to write on the floor, we were lost when we wanted to play the game of 'Chowka Baara'. So I had made two boards - one having 5x5 squares and one with 7x7 squares.  The former was most popular. I had used a cardboard that came with the packing of one of my grandfather's new shirt!  It is still there I think.  But here is MS Paint drawing to show the 5x5.

[This is a web-grab image]

This is my 7x7 board.

The Cowrie Shells [brown ones] used as dice.  For the 5 square, we use 4 shells, for the 7 square game, we use 6 shells. Observe the wear and tear of the shells - they have been used for a number of years!

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