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Game for a history lesson.

After a hard day's work as a plastic surgeon in North-East hospitals, Robbie Bell was game for an evening's relaxation.

And he certainly had plenty of choice. For Mr Bell amassed a collection of hundreds of board games and books on the subject from around the world.

He also wrote 27 books himself. Mr Bell died in 2002, but his collection has been donated to Durham University.

Items from the collection will be part of an exhibition called Across the Board which opens on Saturday at Segedunum Roman fort and museum in Wallsend.

It will feature board games from many times, places and cultures with the highlight being pieces from the 12th Century Lewis Chessmen.

These carved ivory chess pieces from the Isle of Lewis are among the nation's greatest treasures.

Mr Bell was a founder member of the Friends of the Oriental Museum at Durham University.

Vicky Turner, from Durham University Museums, said: "Board games were a real passion for Mr Bell and he wrote extensively about the subject."

The collection includes items from China, Japan, Korea, India, Iran, Syria, and Ancient Egypt.

The exhibition, in collaboration with the British Museum, will run until June 16.

Visitors can see tiled pieces from the Ancient Egyptian game of Senet, Roman backgammon, dice and pieces, images of wall paintings from Pompeii showing games being played and text from Latin poems describing games and rules.

Snakes and Ladders is an ancient game which originates from India and was used to teach morality. Good behaviour led up the ladders and bad behaviour meant moving down a frightening snake.

Mr Bell became a consultant in 1953 and worked in the National Health Service at Shotley Bridge, Fleming Memorial, Durham, Darlington and Sunderland hospitals.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 19, 2005
Words:289
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