Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Card Lessons

I almost always travel with a pack of cards. These are ones I had with me traveling back and forth the States and Canada the last few years. One is a generic deck I got from a casino. Another is the Iraqi Most Wanted deck I got as a gift from my brother -in-law when we were in D.C in 2001. And the Happy Faces are just a smooth sweet deck I like to play Solitaire with sometimes. I will play solitaire when i'm processing thoughts or trying to make a decision or am trying to write or think something out. An almost compulsion. One of my best friends plays Solitaire on her computer every morning. She played so much she had to give her self new restricitions by only allowing herself to play hearts on clubs and spades on diamonds. That's compulsive. Ha ha.

I love playing cards. Probably the main thing I miss about not being in Toronto and the move to Chicago is I don't know anyone who plays cards. Usually i am part of some card game about at least once a month for decades. My sister and I grew up playing Crib. Our greatgrandmother was a wicked Crib player as well as one of our grandmothers and we just basically could play it in our sleep since we were old enough to count. I'm sure that's how we learned to count!

I'm not the best card player...but I'm okay. I'm decent at Crib and Canasta. I'm okay at Poker. I miss playing Poker a great deal. often after a shift bartending a few of us would start up a low-stakes Poker game (20 bucks). I also miss playing Poker with a group of friends in Toronto. we had a couple years where we had Poker night once a month. I lost a few bucks to Mister Anchovy on one occasion but thats another story. Mister Anchovy and I also used to play Canansta for a while. I have never been able to beat him at Canasta...but I can kick ass of everyone else I've ever played with in Canasta.

I love the history of Card Games too. I love card shark stories and card movies and card tricks, and, I have even made decks of cards myself. I once created a character for a film who was a homeless guy, who had a handmade deck of crads that I constructed. i still have that deck of cards. He was an oracle of sorts and read fortunes with his handmade deck. The magnificent Aidan Devine played him in our 16 mm 25 minute short film called "Poodle". I have a ol pal from the late night Poker games after the bar who is a card hustler. He was a protegee of Harry Andersen. He had this repertoire of tricks and he would never take a bet unless he knew he would win. Which was a nice thing to know when you played Poker with him.

Stagg doesn't play cards. I was kind of surprised the first time I realized he wasn't a card player. It was almost inconceivable to me. I would guess that game playing is a pretty major thing in Canada. We have long cold winters and playing games is a national past time on some level. So...I've been threatening to teach Stagg how to play cards for a couple of years. He was afraid. He sees cards as some mysterious activity he was never privy to. I'm like we can do this. so we did some analysis. He vaguely remembered playing Fish. Okay. good start. Any other card things? He said he might know how to play War. I had intended to begin by playing really. but when he said he sort of had played War...well then we can go straight to Crazy Eights for our first lesson and game!

We got some snacks set up on the kitchen table, some beverages and off we went. Stagg was a born card player! I beat him the first three games...after our fake run of going over the rules. And then he beat me the next four games! All right. I am so excited!

I am a fairly strict teacher of card games. i don't have a light touch. I'm kind of staunch that way. But...I am super patient so it evens out. I'm like that with most of life...and it's probably from playing cards. It's an understatement to say i don't have a light touch.

There is a huge number of variations of this game, and many alternative names. It is sometimes called Crates, Switch, Swedish Rummy, Last One or Rockaway. In Germany it is Mau-Mau; in Switzerland it is Tschausepp; in the Netherlands it is Pesten. Some British players call it Black Jack, which is unfortunate as it can lead to confusion with the well-known American banking card game Blackjack. (From here) And...The name Crazy Eights dates to the 1940s, derived from the military designation for discharge of mentally unstable soldiers.( From Wiki).

We're going to keep up with the game of Crazy eights for a while till he is ready to learn Crib. Crib is a lot more demanding.

Cribbage in England is primarily a pub game - indeed, it is one of the few games allowed by Statute to be played in a public house for small stakes. A game of low animal cunning where players must balance a number of different objectives, remain quick witted enough to recognise combinations, and be able to add up, it is perhaps not the most obvious of games to be so firmly associated with the English pub. It is a game where experience counts for a great deal - though luck, of course, has a large part.

It is also a game where etiquette is important. The rituals associated with cutting and dealing, playing and pegging, as well as the terminology, all serve the useful purpose of keeping things in order - and they help to give the game a flavour of its own. In card playing, as with food, authenticity matters.
Also from here.

According to John Aubrey, cribbage was created by the English poet Sir John Suckling in the early 17th century, as a derivation of the game "noddy". While noddy has disappeared, crib has survived, virtually unchanged, as one of the most popular games in the English-speaking world. The objective of the game is to be the first player to score a target number of points, typically 61 or 121. Points are scored for card combinations that add up to fifteen, and for pairs, triples, quadruples, runs and flushes.

Cribbage holds a special place among American submariners, serving as an "official" pastime. The wardroom of the oldest submarine in the fleet carries RADM Dick O'Kane's personal cribbage board onboard, and upon decommissioning it is transferred to the next oldest boat.
(From Wiki).


Captain Karen said...

As a fellow Canuck, I can attest to long nights spent playing board games and cards. My family (dad's side, Maritimers) are HUGE on Canasta and Crib. Ever family get together would involve all the adults playing crib around my Nana's giant dining room table while the kids watched over their shoulders. Me? I end up on our company's crib team each year (WOO! Gold this year!). I miss board games though. We used to play all the time but not so much anymore...

Candy Minx said...

Hi Karen! Don't even start me with board games...LOVE them too! I can imagine your family all competing, I love those kinds of evenings so much. Thanks for sharing! It kind of occurred to em after I made this post I should see if there is a card club or something I could join up here...

mister anchovy said...

I haven't played canasta in years, but I have played a few games in my time (hehe)

Gardenia said...

Awww, now I feel guilty, "H" came from lots and lots of card playing! And we never play! Iowans (is that the proper name) love to play cards. I am too dreamy to concentrate on them most of the time, although I played in Loveland Co. when there - "spoons" - it was a blast, and even I could concentrate on them. Now, Cribbage is heavy duty!

Anonymous said...

Next time we see each other, we are so playing cribbage! My grandfather was a stern teacher just like you LOL