My paternal grandfather passed away in 1986; I was 10 years old. He had lived with us for a time, but he died in hospice care due to illness beyond our means of caring for him. A short while before he died, I saw him and he told me to go into his closet and find a particular box and pull out a folded piece of cloth. I did, and it turns out that the cloth was the board – along with pieces – to an old Pachisi set (a predecessor to Parcheesi and later, Sorry!). I’m unsure of the exact age of this set, but my research indicates that it was likely made in the mid-18th century, beginning its life in India, and now – like my family – living in the USA.
I cherish this Pachisi set, not only for the connection to my grandfather, but also because, in retrospect at least, its gifting was the start of a lifetime of interest in games as more than just curiosities of entertainment. Receipt of this set – and its age – reflects a passing down of traditions across generations. And, that’s what games – or, more generally, play – is to me. Whether it’s a father and son attending a local baseball game together, a grandparent partnering with their grandchild in a bridge foursome, an elder brother teaching some advanced tactics in chess to his younger brother (that’s me), or just some people – children or adults – laughing and playing games with their friends, play is a part of who we are and how we learn to interact with our fellow humans.
This is the first blog entry for Nefer Games, and it’s fitting that this endeavor starts where it all began – in 1986, at the age of 10, receiving two gifts from the past and into the future – a game and a story.