Del Mar board game maker donates games for local families

ZhiZhu, invented by a Del Mar resident, is based on an ancient game.

A Del Mar board game creator donated 100 sets of his latest game to the local UPS Store for families to pick up and play at home as they shelter in place because of COVID-19.

The game, ZhiZhu, was invented by Dahmane Dahmani, whose foray into board games started with his son’s elementary school project almost 20 years ago.

“Kids are good learners,” said Dahmani, an Algeria native who moved to Del Mar in 2000. “The best way to teach things to kids is through games.”

For that project, Dahmani and his son created ZingaMino, which was a modern version of the classic dominoes game. That game was rebranded as Link-O after it was licensed to the board game company Jax.

In 2015, while visiting his home village in Algeria, Dahmani discovered a type of game board engraved on flat rocks located in a public gathering space. He said his family didn’t know how to play the game, or when it was created.

Once he returned to Del Mar, Dahmani did some research, and found out the game was called Nine Men’s Morris. It dates back to the Roman Empire and has been known by multiple names throughout the years.

After making a few changes, ZhiZhu was born in 2016, and Dahmani launched LZG Games with his son and twin daughters. They wanted to specialize in reviving ancient games, making some tweaks to how they’re played and giving them a modern audience.

“Most of our games are family-oriented games, games with strategy,” he said.

Dahmani was in Algeria earlier this year as the COVID-19 outbreak became a global pandemic. He said he was evacuated by the U.S. embassy in Algiers, Algeria’s capital city, on March 30.

“Since my return I have been focusing on helping my community,” he said. “I donated many games that are placed at the UPS store for families to get to help the families and children play other games than the usual Monopoly.”

Del Mar’s UPS Store, where the games are available for pickup, is located at 1155 Camino Del Mar. Dahmani said he’ll be “traveling all over the world trying to promote it.”

Before focusing on his board game company, Dahmani was a director of wireless microcontrollers at Intel, which took him from Del Mar to Sacramento in 2005. In 2013, he moved back to Del Mar to join Qualcomm.

For more information about his board game company, visit