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If you understand the term "bingo" in Scrabble® (when you use all seven of your tiles in one play), "a fork" in chess (a tactic whereby a single piece makes two or more direct attacks simultaneously), or "battle of primes" in Backgammon (a position in which both players have checkers trapped behind an opponent's prime), then you certainly know more than most people!

With school holidays coming up, and nowhere to go, you might consider taking up some old-fashioned board games. We present 3 options but you can pull out whatever takes your fancy. We asked Aurea Fagel from the Swiss English Scrabble Association SESA in Geneva; Zuzana Hevler-Kawaciuková, former chess female junior champion of Czechoslovakia 1989; and Alexandre Ben Lassin from the Association Genevoise de Backgammon to give us some expert advice.


SCRABBLE®

Photo Scrabble Duel 2020

by Aurea Fagel from the Swiss English Scrabble Association SESA in Geneva

How to go through another lockdown and still keep your sanity and social self: Play Scrabble®!

Indeed, whether you are alone, with a partner or with your family, Scrabble is here to entertain you and keep you company while at home. You can get boards in just about any language as there are varying numbers of vowels to each game. You can't play English-language Scrabble® on a French-language board.

Scrabble® is a fun and engaging game to play – it just happens to be the most popular word game on the planet! It is not just about learning words – it is a game of strategy, a bit of mental math and memory exercise. In short, your brain will love it.

Take your pick: go online or go traditional.

If online, you can download several options. First, the SCRABBLE GO App by Scopely on your mobile devices. It offers not just the classic Scrabble® but also other word games and puzzles. The App allows you to connect with your Facebook friends to play with; otherwise you can simply gather everyone at home for a game or join a local club like SESA. There is also the MYSCRABBLEAPP which offers daily and weekly tournaments for enthusiasts using ScrabbleGo.

Second, you can use the recent online platform called Woogles which is solely dedicated to playing Classic Scrabble®! There is no App to be installed – just through your own browser. It has a friendly interface and works on your PC, phone or tablet device. What’s more, you can also watch on-going Scrabble® tournaments or other players and learn! And finally, the Internet Scrabble Club site is another choice for Scrabble® enthusiasts and serious players.

Alternatively, grab your traditional Mattel Scrabble® board or buy one from the link at the bottom of this article.

Either way, get some healthy snacks and a cup of your favorite drink and challenge yourself, or your partner or your family members within the household to a game night!

Playing Scrabble® is an activity that not only boosts your mental health but also contributes to your social well-being which we are lacking these days.

SESA, the official English Scrabble Association based in Geneva, holds online Scrabble® sessions every Tuesday, daily challenges, Zoom sessions covering tutorials, friendly tournaments, guest Scrabble® players or clubs, and much more.

Swiss English-language Scrabble Association
Geneva
https://playsesa.wordpress.com
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


CHESS

Zuzanachess2

by Zuzana Hevler-Kawaciuková, former chess female junior champion of Czechoslovakia 1989

Already during the first wave of lockdown, people worldwide have been seeking low-cost and distanced entertainment. Online chess games filled this need.

Despite the pandemic and strict measures applied, chess tournaments took place safely online - knights, bishops and queens can fight safely on virtual chessboards!

While all the sporting activities were shut down, chess thrived. The New York Times reported that professional players fought at a safe distance in unprecedented online international tournaments.

And millions of chess lovers have joined the online royal game, crashing computer servers due to high demand. For example chess.com, the Mecca of online players, experienced five years growth in three months! In April 2020, 1.5 million players signed up, compared to 670,000 new members that joined in January last year. Also, chess24.com tripled membership figures since the beginning of the pandemic.

The advantage of playing online is that you do not have to wear the mask, as was order for game playing by the FIDE Federation after the first wave. When playing online, you can choose what kind of a game you want to play — a blitz or a longer game. And when it comes to your opponent, you can get really wild in your pick: their skill level, their nationality, you can play against the computer, or even take part in a tournament.

Alternatively, you can just enjoy the game by observing others play and see the art of playing chess. You can train online, watch lessons, solve problems, and simply improve your skills in the game.

Lockdown isn't the only reason that chess has gained its appeal; Netflix's “The Queens’s Gambit”, a drama of an orphaned chess prodigy who rises to the top and storms the male-dominated world of competitive chess, while struggling with drugs and alcohol, has hooked many new chess fans.

The reputed website chess.com reported on 27 January 2021, that it now has a membership of more than 54.4 million; in 24 hours — 107,175 new players joined!

ZUZVAL

Zuzana playing chess with her daughter... 32 years after her championship!

Chess does not only teach you how to win and lose, and develop problem-solving skills, but can also help you focus and be calm under pressure. With the current situation, people feel stressed and anxious as a result of repeated lockdowns — chess will take their mind off this. Last but not least, an online chess game can bring people together, close the gap between them, and fight loneliness. These 64 squares can fight coronavirus — with pleasure.


BACKGAMMON

backgammon2

by Alexandre Ben Lassin from the Association Genevoise de Backgammon

All activities of our club are currently suspended due to the Covid-19 restrictions but we are eager to reunite and get playing in person in the future. Meanwhile I encourage anyone who is interested in Backgammon to check out some great online options. Members of our club are active on these and it helps bridge the void of not meeting up.

I can suggest a great App for both Android and Apple phones: Ace Backgammon

However, games on a computer have a few more advantages and I recommend the following two:
https://heroes.backgammonstudio.com
https://backgammongalaxy.com/analysis
Both sites require you to create a new user name and login information. It is possible to also watch others playing if you just want to be an observer.

The World Backgammon Internet Federation WBIF.net organizes many online tournaments including the Swiss championship on the Heroes platform.

You will find more information on our website. We welcome new members to come to participate and get involved in a thrilling game of Backgammon. Keep in touch with our website to find out when we are able to meet in person again.

backgammon1

Association Genevoise de Backgammon
https://gebackgammon.blogspot.com

Countrywide site of Backgammon clubs:
https://www.swissbackgammon.ch/français/live-backgammon/clubs-endroits-pour-jouer/


Where to get hold of these board games
If you don't have these board games at home, or can't borrow off a neighbor, then here are some links we can recommend.

SCRABBLE - ENGLISH VERSION: Orell Fuessli

CHESS: Fnac or L'Astuce

BACKGAMMON: Fnac or L'Astuce

If you are a member of a similar type club and would like us to publish information about it, please contact knowitall.ch at this link.