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Chairman of the Board: the Greatest Cycling Board Games

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Cycling Board Games celebrates its fifteenth birthday. Our feature from issue 54 on the best of collector Anki Toner’s 300-plus games

Photographs: Graeme Brown
Board game

Anki Toner’s Barcelona home is stuffed to the rafters with cycling board games. Here is a selection of his favourites. Throw a six to continue reading…

 

DIE FRIEDENSFAHRT, 1959

Cycling Board Games - Rouleur

The Peace Race was first held in 1948 with the intention of easing tensions between Eastern Bloc countries following World War Two. The ‘Tour de France of the East’ was hugely popular behind the Iron Curtain, making double winner “Täve” Schur (featured in Rouleur issue 30) a national hero – voted the GDR’s sportsman of the year nine times in succession.

 

The game included a set of cards portraying the first 12 winners of the race, including Britain’s own Ian Steel in 1952. Confusingly, the very first edition in ’48 was split into two legs – Warsaw to Prague, then Prague back to Warsaw – hence the two Yugoslavians sharing one card: August Prosinek and Alexander Zoric.

 

VUELTA CICLISTA A ESPAÑA, c. 1990

Cycling Board Games - Rouleur

The Seur team ran from 1988 to ’92, with Malcolm Elliott, points winner at the ’89 Vuelta, racing in the colours of the parcel delivery company in its final season.

 

It may be a surprisingly modern game for Toner to pick out as one his favourites, but the three-dimensional mountain and magnetic cyclists – plus following cars – make this Seur-sponsored beauty stand out. We’re not convinced it would stand up to much abuse from petulant children (or adults, for that matter) but this Vuelta-based game looks grand.

 

VELO-FLASH, 1950s

Cycling Board Games Barcelona 6 February 2015

Based around two races – Paris-Roubaix and Paris-Tours – Velo-Flash features 14 playing cards of the greats: Bobet, Anquetil, Bahamontes, et al. But it gets better. The 7” single shown above features race commentary provided by former Tour de France rider, journalist, and TV and radio presenter Robert Chapatte – inventor of the eponymous Chapatte’s Law, his widely-quoted calculation that a chasing group of riders requires 10km  per minute to catch a lone escapee.

 

It is an aleatory (or multitrack) disc, so although the narration always begins the same, ten different outcomes to the race can emerge depending on which groove the needle has dropped into.

 

Great idea, but sadly not brilliant execution. “You play the game and then when you get to the final sprint, you play the commentary record,” says Toner, “but if any of the riders they mention is not in the leading group, then it doesn’t count, so it’s stupid. It doesn’t really work.”

 

TOUT AUTOUR DU TOUR, 1960s

Cycling Board Games - Rouleur

Another of Toner’s favourites from his extensive collection, although “not exactly a board game,” he says. “I saw the spinner as a child, sold as a toy, and somebody has made a game from it. But it is very beautiful.”

 

The central carousel is, indeed, gorgeous. It comes with rudimentary hand-typed rules, the goal being to circumnavigate the roughly France-shaped route before progressing into the centre and winning at the Parc des Princes – last used as the Tour finish in 1967 before moving to the velodrome at Vincennes the following year.

 

JEU DU VELDIV, 1932

Cycling Board Games - Rouleur

The Vélodrome d’Hiver was infamously used as a temporary prison for over 13,000 Jews during the Second World War before their deportation to the death camps.

 

This game harks from a more innocent time when the Parisian track was better known for bike racing. Presumably it sold well, as there are several differing versions in existence. “La distraction de toute la famille” as it says on the leaflet included, and who could argue with that?

 

EDDY MERCKX, C. 1970

Cycling Board Games - Rouleur

There may be 70 games related to the Tour de France but there’s only one Eddy Merckx. The winner of this game is the team amassing the most prize money, which is a nice touch true to professional cycling. Backhanders may not appear in the rules, but no doubt alliances can be forged and bundles of notes in brown envelopes surreptitiously slipped into back pockets – just like the real thing.

 

The box also contains the not inconsiderable bonus of a large print of the effortlessly handsome Mr Merkcx, resplendent in his Molteni jersey, playing away and seemingly rather enjoying it. We’re guessing The Cannibal was winning at the time.

 

Cycling Board Games