Let the Games Begin.

If your family’s Thanksgiving weekend revolves around board games you’re in good company. Games of skill have been popular pastimes for centuries.

One of the oldest board games known is backgammon, and it still challenges complex minds in the 21st century. Its principles, say computer scientists, provide the parameters of programmed artificial intelligence.

Hand Made Marble Backgammon Set from Mexico, 'Rustic Marble'

Chess, too, is a game from the ancient world. Believed to have originated in India, some chess historians think China was playing the game first.

Radha and Krishna play chess! ©public domain, Wikimedia

Radha and Krishna play chess! ©public domain, Wikimedia

Gods playing chess during Han dynasty! ©public domain, Wikimedia

Gods playing chess during Han dynasty! ©public domain, Wikimedia

Xianqi, chaturanga, shakhmati … whatever you call it, the pieces of a chess set are universally similar: a queen and her chariots, a king and his advisors, protected monarchs and their fortresses, knights and soldiers.

My Lewis Chessmen

My Lewis Chessmen

The recycled chess men of Armando Ramirez

The recycled chess men of Armando Ramirez

This Indian chessboard, with its simple geometric players, evokes a modern delegation of roles. Indeed, it’s called “challenge of the future.” The biggest challenge might come in telling the castle from the rook!

Hand-carved Wood Chess Set Board Storage Box, 'Challenge of the Future'

Backgammon and chess are classic games — perfect for those hours between turkey sandwiches, but what about a game that the whole family can play?

Hand Crafted Marble Chinese Checker Game Set, 'Colorful Contrast'

This marble and onyx board comes with 60 glass beads. It’s not really checkers, and it’s not really Chinese … but it can be played by up to six people.

Wood Domino Brass Inlay Hand-carved Table Game , 'Domino Delight'

Hand Crafted Wooden Box from India, 'Pandora's Treasures'

Like playing cards, dominoes can be used to play any number of different games. A traditional set has 28 tiles (known as bones, stones and spinners) and the spots on it are called, by dominoes pros, pips, nips and dobs.

India Fair Trade Wood Domino Set Game, 'Progressions'

Basic dominoes games are meant to be played by two or four players, but I say the more the merrier – if you can’t adapt or make up your own game rules to include Aunt Nancy, you can always just stand them all up for an epic domino effect!

And here’s one you might not be familiar with: “Shut the Box” is a popular game in English pubs, where I plan to spend my expat Thanksgiving this year. Read the rules, pour a pint and get ready to swear like a sailor!

Fair Trade Wood Shut the Box Game Chess Set Game, 'Winner'

Once you have exhausted your luck, blown your stash and thrown your losing hand at Aunt Nancy … it may be time to retreat for a little alone time.

Craftsman Rakesh Pathak has a perfect mindfulness maze to help you relax. Let your subconscious follow the path of the steel ball in this hand carved sheesham wood labyrinth.

Labyrinth Game Hand Carved Wood from India, 'Dexterity Challenge'

What’s the old saying? The family that plays together, stays together? May your holidays be full of fun and games.

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