A window into the life of a professional geek, wife and mother (and nonni), stitcher/designer, bibliophile, old-school gamer, and whatever other roles she finds herself in.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Hitting the deck...

This weekend, DD's bestest friend H is spending the night. Both girls are very much looking forward to it!

In the process of shopping for food and other items, I picked up a card game called Slamwich. It looked like a lot of fun for smaller children, a slapjack variant with the cards shaped like slices of bread with various sandwich reagents on them. We played a game last night, and it was pretty fun. It also reminds me a *lot* of a game I learned to play in high school called Egyptian Ratscrew. Great fun, if a little rough on the knuckles sometimes.

Thinking back, that simple stack of 52 has provided literally *years* of entertainment. I can't remember a time when I didn't know or enjoy any card games. I have a vague memory of being about 4 or 5, and playing Old Maid with some stepcousins. Old Maid was one of the first card games DD learned, followed by another old standby - Go Fish. Another fairly simple game was War, which one could play just about anywhere (including schoolbus seats). That and Crazy Eights got a lot of lunchtime play in my elementary school years, as well as other table games like pencil (or paper) football and penny soccer.

I learned how to play Solitaire fairly young as well, and I played quite a lot of it during my lonelier times, and knew several variants such as Clock and Pyramid. Everyone knows Klondike (your standard 'red 9 on black 10' Solitaire that anyone with MSWindows has played at least once), with Freecell and Spider being popular software variants, but there are so many more.
(A place called Pretty Good Solitaire claims to have over 600 variants.)

By the time I was in junior high, I had picked up games like Rummy, Hearts, and several types of Poker, though I've never played poker for anything more high-stakes than small-coin antes. Another bluffing game I remember playing a lot in junior high was B.S., though I don't think I've played it since 9th grade. That got trumped by the aforementioned Egyptian Ratscrew, as well as life in general.

Speaking of trumps, at a previous job, I learned how to play Kaiser, a bid/trick game similar to Spades. A group of us would play Kaiser over lunch a couple times a week for years. I actually got pretty good at bidding well and interpreting what a partner's bid tended to mean, before folks in the group (myself included) left the company. I learned how to play Spades while travelling in Italy last year. In a way, Kaiser served me well in figuring out Spades, but it also coloured the way I looked at a hand (how do I ditch the 3♠?). I do enjoy trick-based games, and I would love to learn how to play Euchre and Bridge someday.

Commercial card games are growing in popularity. Long before Slamwich, there was Uno, which owes a lot to Crazy Eights. After 30 years, Uno is still going strong, and there are even variants to play. My family and I played Uno while I was in hospital to have DD. Nowadays they have themed Uno cards, and even simplified versions for shortlings (DD has a Dora the Explorer "My First Uno"). A couple years ago, my parents introduced us to Phase 10, a variant of Contract Rummy. It's a lot of fun, but can be frustrating if you've been trying for multiple hands to make a particular 'phase'.

With all the games you can play with a single deck, cards are a must-have travel item with a group. I definitely need to get better at Spades before my next overseas trip, though!

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