Monday, October 15, 2007

Games People Play

You TOOK my archer

“You took my archer!” That sentence burst from my lips in a wail.

How did I get to the place where my archer was in danger, much less subject to capture? Well, there’s always a story, isn’t there?

I grew up in a family that loved to play games. My mother was the leader in this regard. She loved playing games. One time, my brother and I were discussing our mother and her personality. I had recently gone through a
Myers-Briggs personality assessment, and learned that I am a strong J (Myers-Briggs’ term for those of us who like to plan—whatever needs planning). I thought Mother was a J, a planner, a decision maker. My brother was convinced she was a P (again, Myer-Briggs’ talk for those who like to keep options open, and be spontaneous). Long after this conversation, I thought about the different ways my brother and I perceived our mother. I was thinking about our mother in a business context, and my brother was thinking of her in a playful context. In a family gathering setting, it was quite likely we would hear Mother say—let’s play a game.

Of all the traits I have inherited from my mother, I know I got the game playing bug from her. Predictably, some of the games I love to play most are those that involve words, strategy, and displays of eclectic intelligence (hmmmm—might those games be called trivia games?). As our children were growing up, I spent hours playing games such as Othello, or Battleship with them. When we would go on family vacations, I made sure we took along Trivial Pursuit.

In fact, playing Classic Trivial Pursuit is still one of my favorites. For some time now, the test has been to see whether or not our college educated children and their partners could beat Mom and Dad—that was the test of whether these expensive educations had paid off! Thankfully, our tuition money has been well-invested and my husband and I are now regular losers at Trivial Pursuit.

But we have had some wonderful moments where we have flabbergasted our children playing games. One of my favorite such moments was when we were playing
Taboo. This game must be played in teams—you are to give clues to help your partner guess the word on a card. Among the clues you may not say are the taboo words. Next to you sits your opposite team member who sees the taboo words and buzzes if you inadvertently say one. In one game, I got the word BAYOU that I needed to get my husband to say. So, I said—it’s OK by me, if it’s OK ____? And my husband burst out BAYOU! Our kids sat there looking totally perplexed. My husband and I still cackle about that.

The little Taboo example demonstrates how well my husband and I can work together as a team, if we so choose. But it wasn’t always so. Yes—back to the YOU TOOK MY ARCHER wail.

Soon after we were married, I suggested we play a game or two. I should have been prepared for the demise of my archer, based on an earlier game experience I had with my husband. We were playing Chinese checkers, a game I had played as a child. I always built a “bridge” across the board, and then would march my marbles across. My husband watched and waited, and as soon as I had the bridge built, he marched his marbles across, blocking the way for me! I sat there with my mouth open in absolute disbelief!

So, I must have thought to change strategy by changing the game. Aha—Feudal. We settled down to play Feudal.

This game may no longer be made, and even when it was being sold, it was not well known. It combined elements of chess, but was played on a flat board. The object was to take your opponent’s castle, or capture all the royalty pieces in the game. Like chess, different pieces have different ranges of movement. The archer could shoot several spaces, so I would frequently position my archer on top of my castle. One evening, soon after we had begun to play, my husband skillfully (I can’t remember how) managed to maneuver around so that he captured my archer.

“You took my archer!”—the wail was coming from my lips. I was so upset, that we stopped playing the game. In fact, we shelved it, and there . . .it. . .sits. . .on. . .the. . .shelf. We have NEVER played it since. Oh, there have been one or two times when I have suggested—let’s play Feudal. But my husband remained strong and firm—no, you get too upset when I take your archer.

It’s true—not only do I love to play games, BUT I also love to WIN!


Mary said...

This is great! I enjoy board games also - word games like Scrabble, and do you remember Password? Yahtzee was a favorite for many years. Mom and I would play for hours!

My husband (the engineer type) is a game fanatic. Words aren't his strength So he resorts to cheating when I'm ahead. Playing games with him is frustrating as he is competitive and distracting. Forget Monopoly...he'll have all of the houses and hotels bought before I can buy two railroads. I rarely win a card game with him, either. Needless to say, our games sit and collect dust because no one can stand his strategies to WIN!


Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Scrabble was our table game. My mother knew lots of words but my father played for points and often won with his strategy.

The tiles we kept on a brown paper back and my grandmother always said before selecting replacement tile, "And, we shall shake the bag"
To this day, we cannot play this game without this ritual shaking of the bag.

Jean said...

You brought back a lot of memories for me with this post. Every Christmas sees the games out. Seems as we get older, it's a way to bring back childhood memories.

Kari & Kijsa said...

We really enjoy a good board game, although we finally had to stop playing risk....too competitive....many times it ended in "You took my country."

smiles, kari and kijsa

Ruth said...

I love scrabble and spend most of my (limited)time on Facebook playing it with friends. I am not very competitive though and don't mind losing.

Anvilcloud said...

WRT Trivial Pursuit, the kids match up well against us now. It partly depends on the version though. I don't do all that well on the more modern material.

Climenheise said...

You were right of course -- mother was a J (hostesses of the world, unite!). I am a P (the only one in the family), so maybe I was seeing mother in my own image.

I prefer Chess to Feudal -- at least I understand chess well enough to play it. We love Taboo: for us the word was transvestite -- but you'll have to ask to hear the story outside of your blog.

Lois and I play an average of a Scrabble game a week: have done so for over 30 years now. Usually it's even as can be, but the last eight games? I have drawn the kind of letters that make me want to give ther bag more than just a shake! I suppose though that 30 years of drawing letters can lead to a 10 game streak of any kind. And in the middle of this one, Lois played bingoes of 203 points (hitting two triple words)in back to back games. We're still playing, and I'm really waiting for the tide of letters to turn!

Femail doc said...

Taboo is a great game. Have you tried Balderdash? The game involves players either making up a definition for some obscure word, or writing the correct answer. Points are won if you get the correct definition or for getting others to vote for your made-up definition as correct. This is our favorite game for after Thanksgiving feast. That and Perudo, a liar's poker sort of game.

Pam said...

I absolutely love to play games and spent hours playing cards, Canasta in particular, with my grandmother when I was young. Fortunately my daughters love to play games,too, and we have indulged ourselves in many, many hours of play over the years. One of my favorites was the Labyrinth.

My family also loves games and in the winter we get together from time to time for game night. All of us, from the oldest, me, to the youngest, Ryan - three, gather at someone's home for munchies and a riotous evening of games.