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Lawyer’s passion for words leads him to create board game


A Toronto estate lawyer’s passion for word games and puzzles drove him to spend the last nine years developing an anagram-based board game called Strudel.

Barry Corbin, 68, began developing the game in 2007. “It was intellectually stimulating,” he said. “You get a certain amount of satisfaction from turning words around. I thought it could be something that other people would be interested in, but didn’t know when I started whether it would be something people would want. It was a gamble that I took.”

As he was developing the game, he wasn’t sure if it should be a board game or an online game. His children told him “board games are passé,” but Corbin decided “board games for people of my generation would be appealing, so I started that process of building over a few years a library of many words”.

Barry Corbin
Barry Corbin

Strudel is a game of anagrams. The dealer will show you a word on a card and you have to see how many words you can make using all the letters in that word. All the possible solutions are hidden on the card.“There are [other word] games like Scrabble and Boggle,” Corbin said. “What is unique about this game is there are actually answers” as to all the possible words.

Strudel was a new board game competitor at American Mensa’s 2016 Mind Games competition held in Chicago last April. Corbin said one of the judges told him that Strudel was the first game to disappear into the hands of the judges at the end of the competition, when they were allowed to keep games of their choice.

When Corbin decided to manufacture the game, someone suggested he submit the game to the TV show Dragon’s Den. But, when he heard about an episode in which host Kevin O’Leary downplayed the  chances of a board game being financially successful, Corbin decided to fund the game’s production independently, without any investors. Strudel has been sold to board game cafes and is available for purchase online.

Corbin is already planning an update to the game. Strudel 2.0 is “going to build on the feedback that I’ve got from American Mensa,” Corbin said. “The judges sent me about one hundred cards with notes of improvement.” Corbin has incorporated their suggestions into the design of the new game which will have many improvements such as “how to keep score, how to keep track of time.” Corbin may look to crowdfunding  to financially back the newer version of the game.

“While I would love to be able to say that this was a big commercial success, the jury is still out on that”, says Corbin. “I got a tremendous amount of satisfaction from having the product in my hands. It was a very positive experience to create a new board game.”n

For more information on the game visit www.strudelgame.com.

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