14 January 2009

Deal again?

Computer Solitaire (yes, Patience to you and I) is a right bastard. I could win every game I play by choosing the 'Draw One' instead of 'Draw Three' option, but I prefer to play fair and stick with traditional rules my grandad passed down to me. And it always beats me.

Computer Spider Solitaire (God knows what the English name is for that one) is a devilish game. With one suit it's a waste of time, with all four suits it makes my eyes hurt, so I play the two suits option. Invariably the reason I get stuck here is because the computer has decided that all eight cards representing one number (so all of the sevens, for example) will remain hidden forever and therefore bugger up every single row I have made up and defeat me.

I have time on my hands right now, as you can tell. I gave myself two weeks off following the ridiculous Christmas and New Year rush, which still isn't enough time for me to work out what the hell Minesweeper is all about.

They don't - on my arcane system, anyway - have a computer version of that Plus Nine Solitaire (or Plus Nine Patience - I must stop saying Solitaire, as that's the game where you take the counter out of the middle of the grid) which I used to play a lot with real cards - lay nine cards out in a 3x3 square and then lay further cards on top of each pair which adds up to nine, or any King, Queen and Jack you have on show together. Eventually, hopefully, you'll get rid of all your cards.

Then there was Clock Patience, which I still think is a very clever game. Lay out all the cards in a circle of 12, plus one in the middle, until you have four piles of 13. Then, imagining the numbers on a clock, overturn cards and put them in their appropriate places (Kings in the middle) until you have each rank of card neatly completed.

When the playing cards came out for rainy lunchtimes at school, we used to play Blackjack. Now in casinos, that name is attributed to what the underclasses I represent call Pontoon, of course. Blackjack to me was a wholly different game. You started with seven cards each and the idea was to get rid of them by connecting them to the card on show in the middle of the table. You could do this by matching by number, or by suit, and luckier players were able to lay down their cards in longish sequences. Most cards had an extra meaning or forfeit, to wit:

Ace - nominate a new suit which would benefit your chances of getting rid of your remaining cards quicker
Two - pick up two cards, unless you could trump it with another two and make your opponent pick up four cards
Eight - have an extra turn
Nine - next player misses a turn unless he can trump it with another nine, meaning the subsequent player misses two turns
Jack - if it's black, you can make your opponent pick up 11 cards; he can trump it with another black jack and make the subsequent player pick up 22, or cancel it entirely with a red jack
Queen - the next card in sequence can be anything of the same suit
King - change direction of play (obviously only works with three or more players)

I'm convinced we had something attached to playing a Seven too, but I can't remember it. With games like these, you could make up your own rules as you went along. The daftest rule was that on the point of winning, you had to say 'last card" before placing it on the deck, else you had to pick up some randomly inordinate number of cards from the downturned pack.

The usual games, otherwise - Rummy, Whist, Brag. I remember one of my teachers trying to coach a number of us at Solo but I'm buggered if I can remember the rules.

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