TWO former school friends from Carlisle have devised and launched their own board game.

Peter Blenkharn, 23, and Matthew Usher, 22, met at the Nelson Thomlinson School in Wigton and remained friends when they went to study at Oxford University.

It was there they came up with the idea for Molecular, a chemistry-themed board game.

Armed with £20,000 raised through the crowd-funding website, they had 550 of the games manufactured in China.

All have been pre-sold, priced at £25 each, and are being shipped this week from Peter’s mother’s home in Blackwell, Carlisle.

He said: “There is a board game cafe in Oxford, the first of its kind in the UK, although it’s a big craze in the United States. The cafe had a 2,000 board games and we spent a lot of time there.

“One day we were chatting to one of the managers and said we had an idea for a game – he said ‘go for it’. We put some ideas on paper and it spiralled from there.”

Molecular is a strategy game for two to eight players, and most games last between 10 and 30 minutes.

Each takes the role of a research chemist trying to build a molecule while rival chemists try to hijack the research for their own agenda.

They spend turns attempting to build the molecule, running tests or sabotaging an opponent.

Peter added: “We developed a prototype using bits of card and tested it on friends who were studying chemistry to get feedback which was positive so we decided it was worth a go.”

Most sales were pre-orders through Kickstarter, including some from Europe and the US. But there are plans to get Molecular into shops too.

Peter said: “We are looking for distributor partners, and we will be ordering another batch.”

Both men are also beginning their professional careers. 

Matthew, who graduated from Pembroke College with a degree in chemistry, is working for a chemical analysis company in Skipton, North Yorkshire.

Peter, who graduated from St John’s College with an engineering science degree, is living in Oxford and about to join the civil service.