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    « I'm being Authentic, honest! | Main | This TrueTalk Stuff Might Catch On! »

    December 24, 2004


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    My memories of card & game playing also revolve around my mother, the fanatic, and my 2 sisters. Dad wasn't much for any kind of game, so when he went out of town, my mother would have us play night after night, usually until all hours of the morning, depending on school days. Dad went away all the time on 'government business', so we 3 girls became adept at all the games. My mother was a stickler for the Book of Hoyle rules, and even had a dog-eared copy which she slid down between the cushions on her recliner. She would read from it periodically, as though reciting pages from The Bible, and demanded apt attention. She was cutthroat in her playing, age and immaturity be damned!! Her daughters learned the Correct and Proper ways to play each game, and winning was an absolute privilege reserved only for the most able, and lucky, of each game. The rummies, Gin Rummy and 500 Rummy, were her favorites, along with Scrabble, which she played with the dictionary always ready at her side, her secret weapon. My favorite Christmas gift that year was a dictionary which I pored over endlessly, memorizing new words to impress her with. She was always one step ahead of me. She wanted us to always think on our feet. Parcheesi, Chinese Checkers, checkers, Monopoly, Pick-Up-Sticks, any other game that came along were more of a fad type of game with her, but were played with the same enthusiasm and intent - to win at all cost.

    The odd thing about all of this game playing was that my mother was actually a war bride. My father met her in 1953 in post-war Germany during an ailment that landed him in a civilian hospital, and my mother was a KrankenSchwester, a Nurse who was almost a nun in her devotion to the nursing profession. She didn't speak a word of English, nor he a word of German. They married, had my sister in Germany, then he sent them to America in 1956, where I was born, and 4 years later had my little sister. My memories are mostly around the years 1963 on, so within 6 or 7 years, she bore 3 daughters, learned English, became a US citizen. then moved with her husband to Southern California, set up home and gameboard, and went about teaching us The American Way.

    Our game playing continued until we all went our separate ways in 1975, but even now, all 3 of us sisters play with our families and friends, and whenever we get together, the sight of a deck of cards or a well-stocked game closet brings about a rush to the table. Who wants to play??!!


    Tom Guarriello

    Thanks so much for stopping by and recounting that wonderful story, Laura!

    My mother was also a serious Scrabble player and she, too, played every game to win, regardless of the age of her opponent. This was her way of letting anyone with whom she played know that her rules were the same for everyone: we play to win, there are no instances of "letting the children win to make them feel good about themselves" (although Dr. Spock's book had been published by the time I came along, his theories held no quarter in our home!). Some felt her rules were harsh. I always felt that someday I'd beat her, and, when I eventually did, I knew I'd earned the victory, fair and square.

    Our examples of clear, mutually understood rule sets are more and more rare today, as we find instance after instance of re-definition. I don't say that nostalgically, only descriptively: we need to gain as much clarity as we can into today's rule sets, even if their half-life is significantly shorter, and their scope measurably narrower, than the ones our mothers taught us in our youths.

    David St Lawrence


    Funny that you should mention the desirability of a set of rules for working in the 21st century.

    I am currently working on a book covering basic survival strategies for today's employees. You have already seen and commented on some of it.

    I keep getting requests for advice on certain aspects of the modern workplace, so I feel that packaging it up in a small handbook might make it more useful.

    I will send you a copy for review as soon as it is available.

    Tom Guarriello

    Thanks, David...eager to see your work. As you can see from the flow of my thinking, I believe a new "rule set" for organizational is emerging every day. If you haven't seen Tom Barnett's book, The Pentagon's New Map, I recommend it as an example of strategic thinking centered on system rule sets.

    Happy New Year.


    rita vanson

    Subject: canasta rules

    This is a long email, but since you are a card pro, I thought I would consult the expert.
    My friends and I play a variation of canasta. We call it “Blood Canasta.” We have a dispute. I know that there are many variations of Canasta but
    This is our game:

    • One more deck than the number of players is used.
    • 3,4 or 5 players.
    • There are no partners.
    • The deck is always frozen (You must have 2 cards in your hand to pick up a deck)
    • Each player deals out 2 hands of 15 cards each.
    • A player keeps one hand and gives the other hand to the person to his/her left.
    • A player chooses one of the hands to play with and the other is kept face down.
    • Each player must play the one hand as in Classic Canasta, with a few variations.
    • A wild card canasta is possible and is worth 2,000 points.
    • Red 3’s are worth 100 points each, but you may not count them if someone goes out before you have a canasta.
    • A player must play all of her cards out until she has none left in her hand, with or without a discard. If no discard is used, the player may begin to use that second deck. If a discard is used, he/she may not play the second hand until the next turn . Only after that can she use the second hand.
    • If a player gets into her second hand and has a natural and an unnatural canasta, he/she may go out and that hand is ended.
    • If another player does not get into her second hand before another went out, this player is minus the points left in her first hand and her unseen second hand. If there are red threes in the second hand, he/she is minus 500 points for each.

    Here is my question:
    A player goes into her second hand after playing the first with a discard. When his/her turn comes again, the card on top of the deck is one that he/she has only one of. She has a red three in her hand and is entitled to a replacement card. She picks up a card which now give him/ her 2 cards in the hand that are the same as what is on the pile. Should he/she be allowed to pick up that deck?
    My friend says “yes.” I say “no”. My rationale is that she did not have two in her hand when she began to play.
    What do you think?

    The comments to this entry are closed.


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