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When board on a Saturday night is a good thing

What started as a family fun night at home has turned into Game Night at the Ashland Public Library for the whole community to enjoy.

Chris DeFrisco, who calls himself a "board game geek," and his wife started Ashland Library Game Night in January as a way to share their passion for board games with others. Every third Saturday, from 5 to 11 p.m. in the Gresham Room of the Ashland Public Library, DeFrisco and his family bring their private collection of more than 100 board and card games to share with others for game night.

"All adults, teens and well-chaperoned children are welcome," said DeFrisco. "We call it an 'analog' evening because we don't permit any electronic or computer game playing. We want people to have fun by interacting with each other."

Besides old favorites like chess and Apples to Apples, DeFrisco offers a wide cross-section of games:

  • Dexterity games such as Crokinole and PitchCar
  • Word games such as BuyWord and Bananagrams
  • Party games such as Wits & Wagers and Diamant
  • Quick and light games such as For Sale, Coloretto and Cheeky Monkey
  • Light strategy games such as Settlers of Catan, RoboRally and Ticket To Ride
  • Medium strategy games such as Agricola, Tigris & Euphrates and Puerto Rico
  • Light war games such as Memoir '44 and Dust
  • Co-operative games such as Pandemic and Red November
  • Puzzle-like games such as Factory Fun and Galaxy Trucker.

FunAgain Games in Ashland has donated half a dozen games to Game Night and people are also encouraged to bring their own favorite games to play.

"We've had several teens bring their own collectible card game called 'Magic the Gathering' and their friends. They played in a group all evening until their parents came to pick them up," DeFrisco said.

"Most people will probably not recognize many of the games we bring. About 15 to 20 years ago there was a revolution in the board gaming industry. The hobby came into its own with the popularization of the Spiel de Jahres (the German game of the year award). For a long time gaming was primarily a European trend. The percentage of families in Europe who play board games together is far higher than here in the States. We're creating an opportunity for everyone to see what they've been missing."

DeFrisco loves to help teach the games to others. "Sometimes I get so caught up in a game I find myself playing along instead of teaching, but my self-appointed job is to help everyone else learn how to play the different games," he said.

Game players are welcome to stay as long as they like or just stop in for a quick game before a movie or dinner. The average number of players who've shown up is between 20 and 40, but there are enough tables and games for up to 60 people.

"We have lots of families who come at 5 o'clock and play for a while, then go to Pangea or somewhere else for dinner and then come back and play some more," said DeFrisco's wife, Christine. "All we ask is that people are respectful of the games and others. Parents should stay with younger children because many of the games have small pieces that could be easy to swallow. We just want everyone to relax and have a good time together."

The next Ashland Library Game Night is Saturday. Game Night is held every third Saturday of the month from 5 to 11 p.m. in the Gresham Room downstairs. This monthly event is free and open to the public. To learn more or get on the e-mail list contact Chris DeFrisco at cdefrisco@hotmail.com. FunAgain Games is located at 1662 Ashland St.