St Albans woman launches 500-year-old board game!

Alla Jones with her handmade board game Lotto/Bingo

Alla Jones with her handmade board game Lotto/Bingo - Credit: Archant

A NEARLY 500-year-old game has been given a St Albans twist by a local businesswoman who hopes her recently launched version will drag teenagers away from computer games.

Alla Jones, of Marshalswick, has designed Lotto Bingo, a handmade wood board game aimed at families.

She said that the classic game dated back to 1530 and helps build numerical skills.

It was successfully launched at the Ideal Home Show at Earls Court, London, in March and is now being sold online and from toy stores, including Cuthberts in Christopher Place.

Alla also has a small stall at the iconic Hamleys toy shop in London.

She explained that she was inspired to design the board game after seeing her boys and their friends constantly playing on Xbox and PlayStation.

Concerned that they were limiting social interaction to virtual “friends” across the globe, Alla designed the game and sells it through her St Albans based company, Ruslotto Ltd.

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She said: “I’m not reinventing the wheel but I’m the mum of two teenagers who are addicted to computer games.”

The roots of the game stretch back almost 500 years to Italy when the first Italian national lottery was played before it spread to Spain and other parts of Europe.

According to Alla when the game reached north America in 1929 it became known as “Beano” which was a variation of Lotto and played with beans.

She said that bingo was born when one winner accidentally called out bingo instead of beano.

Alla explained that she developed the Lotto Bingo board game after travelling to Moscow and spotting small handmade wood barrels.

Those hardwood barrels are now a main component of her game, along with wood counters, both produced in Russia.

The game involves a person who calls out numbers from a bag, with the winner being the player covering all numbers on one or more cards.

Entrepreneur Alla, who holds the rights to the game in the UK, added: “The cardboard is made by my company in St Albans and the whole board game is assembled here.”

She said that despite its name it was not a gambling game, and was suitable for social get-togethers.

Thomas Black, manager of Cuthberts in St Albans, said it was one of several locally produced items in the store.

He said: “It’s quite a unique game because it’s handmade, has traditional values and is based on good play values.”

Thomas said that the store was proud to support Alla’s board game and other St Albans creations such as the Tunes for Toddler Tantrums CD of music, aimed at helping parents and carers avoid tantrum-inducing situations.

It was written and produced by Victoria Arlidge, a composer with Bafta and Emmy nominated TV credits to her name.

Cuthberts also sells Logiblocs, an educational toy block system invented by a company based in St Albans which has sold over four million plastic blocks around the world.