MOST people meet up at a café to share a coffee, have a bite to eat or enjoy a catch up with friends.

But now those with a competitive streak or just a love of board games have somewhere new to try out.

Those at Thirsty Meeples café in Gloucester Green, which today holds its first gaming night to pair up competitors, believe it is the UK’s first board games café.

With 1,500 games from all over the world, ranging from old favourites to rare one-offs, it has gone down a storm.

Owner John Morgan said: “On Friday night, on Saturday and Sunday afternoon it was so busy we had to turn people away.”

The 42-year-old who opened the shop with his wife Zuzana, 36, said they had the idea after being introduced to unusual games by friends a couple of years ago.

Customers pay a £3.50 fee – £2 for children aged 12 or under – and can play as many games as they like.

For those not familiar with the rules of the likes of Chicken Cha Cha Cha, one game on offer, there are game gurus on hand to help out as well as offer advice on the right game for customers to choose, depending on experience and how much time they have.

One, Jason Welsh, 27, said: “It’s a bit of a dream job for me as I’ve been interested in gaming since primary school. It’s rewarding teaching games.”

There are eight walk-in tables and two that people can reserve online.

Mr Morgan, who was born and has lived in Oxford most of his life, added: “I think there’s enough interest in Oxford to keep this sort of thing going. There’s a big student population who it will prove popular with.”

Oxford student Dan Hitchens, 24, said: “It’s very exciting to have something a bit different in the city centre.

“It will be popular with students as in freshers’ week it’s hard to find something alternative.”

Customers can also buy the game if they have enjoyed it.

Nick Horn, 35, from Kidlington, said: “I like the try or buy idea. Getting people together to play is a bit like Christmas.”

  • The café is open Monday to Friday 11am to midnight and at weekends 9am to midnight.