(The Board) Games People Play: #7, Kensington

If you ever wondered how you got hexagons from a a cow…

Friday 31 December 1982

Roll on 1983: I thought 1982 was a decent year, but that cow spoiled it after the Falklands War. The machinations of the conflict polarised some of my school friends at Mossley Hollins. Some of which are members of Saddleworth CND. Francesca, who sits next to me in class, swears by the SDP but against the conflict as much as the average Bennite.

Speaking of Francesca, I have invited her down to our house on Waterton Lane for New Year drinks. There is this strange board game she loves playing. She brought it into class once and I couldn’t get it at all.

In 1979, a London district inspired this board game created by Peter Forbes and Brian Taylor.

Kensington

For a brief moment in time (1979 to 1983 to be precise), there was one board game which had hex appeal. Kensington, invented by Peter Forbes and Brian Taylor, wasn’t your traditional board game. There was no dice. The board comprised of seven hexagons and wire frames. All of its counters (fifteen red and fifteen blue) and board were stored in a 12″ sleeve. The ‘box’ resembles a double LP.

To win the game you had to take control of all seven hexagons. You could have a two player game fifteen counters each, or a six player game with two teams (five counters each). There was also a travel version and strategy guides.

Around the seven hexagons that you need to capture are squares and triangles. If all four of your pieces are on a square, you could switch two of your opponent’s pieces to gain an advantage. With the gameplay, its strategy endears itself to Draughts, Othello or Nine Men’s Morris.

The game was hailed as taking “a minute to learn” and “a lifetime to master”. It won a recommendation in 1982 for Spiels des Jahre (Game of the Year). It also won a Design Council award. Here’s a video clip of a Kensington game in progress.

S.V., 07 December 2017.

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