Card Sharks

23 Sep

I need to find some new card playing partners. The last time I played, I got taken to the cleaners.  I didn’t win a single hand.   The entire time we played   was filled with insults,  constant  griping,  and complaining. You never saw so much blatant cheating, outside of a New Orleans  Riverboat. And to top it all off,  on the final hand of the day I was soundly ridiculed when I ended up with  the  Old Maid.  I don’t think I’m playing cards with my granddaughters again, any time soon.

You would think such an intelligent five and three year old could be more civilized at card playing. Even before we began the recriminations start flying,  as well as all of the anxiety about being branded a loser. I can’t help it, I’ve always been competitive.   And as for all the cheating,  I can sort of justify that, after all they haven’t learned to  hold their cards so that I can’t see them.

The last time we played, we added a new game called Animal Snap. Animal Snap is a Victorian card game, somewhat along the lines of slapjack. My wife Diane says that she has read that Queen Elizabeth used to play Animal Snap when she was a girl. I suspect her Royal Highness was a tad more courteous and did not try to constantly jam a blue punch ball in Princess Margaret’s face during the game.

We bought Animal Snap game  at a restaurant gift shop.  The cards are tiny and difficult to see. Emanating from some undefined foreign country, they also have   complicated and bizarre drawings of things such as alligators playing golf. You are supposed to shout out “snap” when you turn over a card that matches the card showing on the discard pile.  All those little cards just look like a blue and orange blur to me, so I was the first player to lose all my cards. 

The kids and Diane, are card sharks at  Go Fish, no pun intended. I’m lucky to get a single turn.  When we played this time, I partnered with Rebecca, the youngest. She is a very sweet baby, but a lousy card partner. She was extremely squirmy and kept showing our cards to Tori,  her older sister. She almost cried when anyone would try to take a duck card from us, since she loves ducks so much. Go Fish is very much dependent on the honor system. Since lying about the contents of one’s hand is hard to prevent, it is probably not the best game for us to play.

Old Maid is a  children’s card game said to have originated in China or India. It is  similar to a game called  Chase the Ace. I generally have done better playing “Old Maid”. I use the same strategy my older brother, Norman  used on me many years ago.   If  I get the Old Maid,  I  place that card higher in my hand,  than all the rest,  so it sticks out. The kids used to fall for this every time, but they have wised up and now I  have switched tactics.  I slyly place the Old Maid at the end of my hand and shove up  some  other card as a bluff.  It doesn’t seem to work either. 

Old Maid is no longer politically correct and so recently we have started playing a game called Old Owl. 

The brilliant Tori designed her own Old Maid game. Instead of animals she used the children in her class at school as card illustrations. For the Old Maid  she used a boy named Andrew,  who evidently gets into a lot of  trouble in her class. We suggested that maybe she should use  her teacher or principal instead, but Tori  was scandalized at the very thought of this.

In England there was a rather violent variant of Old Maid called Scabby Queen, in which  losers  are either  rapped on the back of the hand with the deck or have the  deck scrapped across their knuckles.  I don’t think Scabby Queen would go over very well these days and I seriously doubt that Queen Elizabeth ever played it.

Originally published in the Tribune & Evening News (http://newsandtribune.com/)

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