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Play traditional games on your phone with an app

Carlton Boyce / 31 March 2017 ( 16 March 2020 )

If you miss playing traditional games, these apps for your smartphone or iPad should keep you entertained...

A chess piece reflected in the screen of a smartphone to represent playing traditional games on your phone as an app

My first work computer couldn’t access the Internet, needed a ridiculously large number of floppy discs for even the simplest software update, and was painfully slow and clunky to use. However, I could forgive all of its many faults because it came loaded with Solitaire, and I wasted more hours of my life than I - or my boss, if he’s reading this - care to remember playing it.

How easily pleased I was back then; it’s hard to imagine playing a game of patience over and over for eight straight hours, as I once did during a very boring shift, but when a 1MB (yep, that’s an M, not a G…) Psion organiser was the height of technological sophistication, playing a virtual game of cards was Nirvana itself.

Life has moved on in the intervening twenty-odd years and we’ve become more sophisticated in our tastes, yet a lot of us still yearn for those softer, gentler days and would love to be able to play traditional card and board games on our mobile phones.

As well as portability and the fact that you can’t misplace any of the pieces or cards, the big advantage a mobile app offers is the ability to play against opponents that aren’t in the same room as you. Whether that’s strangers you’ve never met, or friends and family you struggle to get to see as often as you might like, playing them can open a whole new world of sociability!

10 essential smartphone apps

Here are five of the best apps that replicate traditional games on your mobile phone.


iBridgePlus is an Apple-only app that lets you play Bridge on-the-move. Users have the choice of playing any one of up to 1.6 billion different hands and there is even an ‘assist’ mode that advises you when it thinks you’ve made a mistake, something that players new to the game – or those that are a bit rusty – will find invaluable.

This version is free to download, but features in-app purchases.


With the aptly named website, offers apps for both Android and Apple that allow you to play against millions of other chess players online or, if you want your very own Greta Garbo moment, alone against a computer. also offers lessons, tips and advice, daily articles, and an online forum. You can play for free, but to get the best out of it you’ll need to pay: the most popular option on iTunes is the £4.99 a month Platinum option.

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The best stress-free family board games


It will come as no surprise to you that the classic word game has successfully made the transition from board to screen on Android and iOS. You can play against a computer or real people, and even invite your friends to join you for an impromptu game via Facebook.

Reviews are positive for the paid version but users of the free game complain of having to watch too many adverts to make it worth trying to save the relatively small sum it’ll cost you to buy the full, ad-free game.


The game of backgammon as a concept is at least 2,000 years old, and anything that has lasted for a couple of millennia has to be worth trying!

It’s said to be easy to learn but hard to master, something an app can help with as most will have a learning or teacher mode that teaches you how to improve your game.

You can find plenty of free backgammon on the Internet - for example Backgammon Free on Android and iOS, but for the best ad-free experience it’s probably worth paying. Backgammon NJ is highly rated for iOS, and while it isn’t the cheapest option, users rate it very highly.

Saga Home Insurance provides cover that goes beyond what you might expect. For more information and to get a quote click here.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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