Forces personnel go toe-to-toe in Gosport for Uckers World Championship

A WORLD championship competition for a popular naval board game was held at a museum over the weekend.

Monday, 28th October 2019, 10:05 am
Bill Olliphant, Alec Crookshank, Andy Christie and Sandy Patterson at the Uckers World Championship. Picture: Keith Woodland (261019-4)

Uckers is a board game where you and a partner must get your eight pieces ‘home’.

First officially recorded back in 1937, the game looks similar to ludo, but with a number of added rules and features like blobs and timber-shifting.

At the Explosion Museum in Priddy’s Hard, Gosport, the fifth Uckers World Championship was held, giving competitors a chance at taking the crown from reigning champion Phil ‘Wally’ Blagden, from Hayling Island.

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The 72-year-old, who plays alongside friend Dave Clark from Southsea, had a number of close games against fierce competition.

People travelled from far and wide for the competition, including Chris Bolton, 70 from Manchester.

Chris, who was in the navy for six years, said: ‘I mainly play uckers during naval reunions – it’s not too difficult once you get the hang of things.’

Steve Moffat, 58 from Bedhampton, saw his journey in the tournament cut short after being eliminated in the first round.

He said: ‘I never used to play it much while I was in the Royal Navy, but my passion for the game has grown in recent years.

‘It’s a lot of fun to play, and even more so once you’ve had a few beers with everyone. It’s something a bit different to traditional board games and gets the adrenaline flowing.

‘Even with the technical advancements of the navy it is still one played frequently in the mess halls – I know the HMS Queen Elizabeth has a few boards.

‘I’ll have another crack at winning the trophy next year.’

But it wasn’t just seasoned veterans taking part in the competition, as newcomer Fran Mills played her first game of uckers against her husband Simon, a leading hand in the navy.

Fran, 30 from Hilsea, said: ‘I’ve seen Simon play it before but never tried it myself – it’s actually quite fun.

‘Maybe I’ve got some beginner’s luck.’