Date Night #7: A Winning Combination…


Ah date night. That wonderful night when you screw your courage to the sticking point and put yourself out there for one more spin on the merry-go-round of love.  This one took place at Jam Circus in Brockley, the board game bar where losers and winners can drink to their victories or drown their sorrows…

“Are you nervous?” She asks, with a devilish look in her eyes, and I have to concede I am. But fortune favours the brave and all that, so I took a deep breath and pushed the brick through the other side of the tower, and although it sways precipitously, the wobbling construct somehow remains intact. And then begins the crowing, as I start telling everyone in the pub within earshot how amazing I am at Jenga.

Yes, I am a terrible person.

Although I’ve never been one for organised sports, I am an incredibly competitive person. Board games are my battle zones, and if I’m playing you, I don’t just want to beat you, I want to absolutely crush you. And of all these cardboard war zones, my absolute favourite is Monopoly. The feeling of not just winning, but winning to such an extent that you’ll have the slightly uneasy feeling that you still owe me money for the next decade or so. But while I find rhapsody in my Rachmanism, others don’t seem to enjoy the experience so much. My friend Simon once eloquently summed up the reasons he won’t play board games with me any more with the statement: “The problem with you Jon is that you’re both a sore loser AND a sore winner.”

My girlfriend V. is also very competitive though, and recently we’ve been playing a lot of Monopoly Deal, a fast card-based version of Monopoly, and I think the only reason she hasn’t punched me in the face yet is because a) I’ve been trying really hard to appear humble when I win (even though internally I’m celebrating like I just scored the winning goal against Germany in the 1966 World Cup) and b) she usually wins.

So with this in mind, we thought that a trip to Jam Circus boardgame bar in Brockley  might be the perfect night out. A relaxed vibe, good beers on tap, and a plethora of games to play. All the classics were there – Countdown, Monopoly, Jenga. Refreshingly, most of the games actually had all the pieces, and the Connect 4 discs weren’t covered in bite marks for once (I wish I knew why people find those discs so compelling to gnaw on. Tweet me if you have any answers).

I won the Buckaroo effortlessly, after a early rogue bucket ruined V.’s chances of victory (and almost flung a plastic shovel into a neighbouring drinker’s beer for good measure). I also took an early lead in Monopoly Deal, winning the first game. “That’s ok BB,” she said. “We’ll just keep playing until I win.” She did win and all, the next three games in a row. And then, finally, came the big finish – the Jenga.

Now I don’t usually have the steadiest hands in the world, and to be honest, after an evening of drinking I was probably not the most dexterous I’ve ever been, but somehow I was just smashing it at Jenga. The tower was getting higher and higher until a tremendous crash seemed inevitable, but then I pulled off the move of the century as described above, expertly pushing out the block and placing it on top – and her in an un-winable situation. V. shook her head sadly as I strutted around the table, crowing and throwing myself flowers (I told you I was a terrible person) and not noticing the bar girl behind me who’d come to deliver our food. Sure she expertly avoided my wild gesticulating, but in doing so, the food landed on the table a bit quickly, resulting in a shockwave that obliterated the Jenga, and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. V. was delighted, and I should have been gutted. But in truth I was just cursing myself for choosing our food order poorly – y’see, I’d forgotten the old adage that pies often come before a fall.

If you’d like to roll the dice on a night of booze and board games, you can find the Jam Circus website here.


Jon Hamblin writes ‘The Things I’ve Done To Impress Women”, an award winning blog that details his frequent failures to impress any women ever. Read about his other Date Nights here.

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