My Grandmother’s Games Table

June 01, 2013

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Whenever we’d visit my grandparents, I was sent downstairs to the basement with instructions to play quietly. My grandmother had a small square table where I’d sit and draw or play with whatever little toy I’d brought with me. It wasn’t until I was about ten years old that I discovered the table’s secret: the corners flipped open to reveal a chess table. This was the childhood version of winning the lottery and I excitedly ran up the stairs to share my discovery with anyone that would listen.

IMGP9988My grandmother saw my excitement and shared the table’s other secrets. There was a hidden drawer that housed chess pieces and an additional top that turned the small table into a four person card table. My interest was very much piqued and when we got home, I badgered my father into teaching me to play chess.

I never developed into a chess master or joined a chess team but I had a basic enough understanding that I could play against my dad at home and my grandmother when we visited. Playing those games was the first time I remember feeling like a real grownup. It didn’t matter how old I was or how big I was – all that mattered was my ability to play the game. When I got married, my grandmother handed down her table to me. It has a special place in my home and I’m quick to show off its hidden compartment full of chess pieces.

In a world filled with smartphones, touchscreen tablets, and video games, you’d be forgiven for thinking that my table is little more than a quaint reminder of my youth. The reality, though, couldn’t be further from the truth. Traditional parlor games (including card games) are undergoing a renaissance and a new generation is discovering the pleasures of these elegant pastimes.

IMGP0019Technology has undoubtedly increased efficiency and the spread of information but social media isn’t a replacement for face-to-face connections and the strengthening of relationships that come from personal interaction. Traditional games provide a more intimate experience where players can carry on a conversation, share a laugh, and create memories and shared experiences. Parents can reconnect with their children while grandparents and grandchildren develop bonds that last a lifetime.

While anyone can buy tabletop games, a dedicated games table provides a feeling of permanence and purpose. The time spent together sitting at my grandmother’s table didn’t happen by accident and reinforced the idea that family time is something more than just a date circled on a calendar. It was a place to learn creativity, math, and logic as well as sportsmanship, patience, and fair play.

In addition to the intellectual and familial advantages, there’s also an esthetic benefit. A beautifully crafted games table provides a room with an air of sophistication and timeless elegance. Whether it’s being added to a dedicated games room or is simply an accent piece in an existing room, these graceful tables are always a well received addition. I’m fortunate to have a home filled with interesting objects but my grandmother’s games table is what elicits the most questions and starts the most conversations.

Five Reasons to Play Chess

  1. It can help raise your IQ.
  2. It helps prevent Alzheimer’s.
  3. It improves memory and concentration.
  4. It improves reading skill.
  5. It increases creativity.