Games: Pandora Melly

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The Independent Online
Malcolm Bradbury, 65, writer and emeritus professor of American Studies at the University of East Anglia, recalls his exploits as twelfth man in the school team.

When I was young I had a heart condition, so I wasn't able to play any games. Instead I spent most of my time in the school library. In the end, I was allowed to join the school cricket eleven as twelfth man, and I did manage to play the odd game - when somebody twisted an ankle, or didn't turn up. I even won a couple of matches. I was always in last, so I had a chance to finish off the game.

My heart condition was cured by an operation when I was 27, but by that time I had settled down to having no interest in sports at all. Chess is still my favourite.

I like the kind of game where you have to use your intelligence, either alone or against an opponent. Obviously, chess requires intellect rather than physical skill, and you can play it with another person, or against yourself.

There's definitely a game-like quality to writing fiction: you're often trying to work your way through a labyrinth of detail, so you'll probably be interested in word games.