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Canasta fever!

What with Kosh busy most of the time with work/studies, we end up not going out much. While he’s out for the day, I pretty much amuse myself with blog/computer time, and/or reading, and/or workout. Once he’s back, and he’s vegetated in front of the tv enough to feel human again, we face the challenge of what to do with our time!

Magic: The Gathering
One of Kosh's fave games from his undergrad days... He taught me to play when I first came over here, and we’ve spent many an hour (and day!) doing battle… The timing was just right too, as they were releasing a completely new and different set called Kamigawa: we were both quite keen on exploring the new cards and testing out their capabilities. However, it is also a damn bloody frustrating game because so much of it depends on luck of the draw; it got to the point that playing was no more fun and actually extremely stressful for me, and for Kosh as being on the receiving end of my frustrations. We now rarely play this, and only if I’ve mentally prepared myself for it… :p

Back when I had my own PC, I had a scrabble game which I played quite often. It had tutorials and exercises for various techniques, including 2-letter words. I also got the official scrabble player’s dictionary. So while I may not be too strong in getting those 7-letter bingoes, I can usually get some pretty good points for some pretty awkward situations. Yes, I am a Scrabble fan. Kosh is not so much. And it’s understandably frustrating for him when I create words like AA or OE or XU. And our games tend to take forever cos we’re both referring to the dictionary to check the existence of possible words. So, this game also has become a rare occurrence.

...regular deck(s) of cards game...
First I gotta share a memory I have from primary school – probably Std 5 (5th grade).

It was after we’d taken some nationwide exam but before the end of the school year, so we pretty much had nothing but free time, but were stuck in the classroom. Someone (maybe it was me?) brought a deck of cards one day, and a few of us started playing gin rummy.

A while later, the teacher stood up in front of the class and announced that “Someone has reported to me that there are some of you who are GAMBLING! You better stop now, or else I will come and confiscate everything and you will be in big trouble!”

I was like “Omg, who? Who?” and looking around the classroom trying to see who Ms Babs was referring to.

And I couldn’t understand why my friends all of a sudden didn’t seem inclined to continue the game at all!

It was only later, once I acquired more knowledge in these matters, did I realize that Ms Babs was talking about us!

I’m amazed, yet not totally surprised, that I might have actually been hauled to the headmistress’ office on the charge of gambling at age 11. It’s not like we were playing poker, or for money!

What harm is gin rummy?

We might have been playing something as innocent as Go Fish too!

But did the teacher make any effort to find out the truth? Noooooo! She listened to her spy (oh, I *wished* I knew who of my classmates had squealed on us – young brown nose!), jumped to her conclusions, and as is common in school and elsewhere, used scare tactics to stop our “bad” behaviour.

Okay, so I have no idea if bringing a deck of cards was against the school rules. But seriously – to call what we were doing “gambling” just cos we were using a deck of regular playing cards?

Ah, how I DO NOT miss my days in the Malaysian education system...!!
Okay, back to the topic at hand:

I’m a fan of euchre, but it needs 4 players, boohoo! So we need another couple to play against with – that occasionally happens, but we’re usually just the both of us...

So Kosh taught me Casino, and a 2-player solitaire-type game called Kings in the Corner. That was fine for a while, but I wanted something a bit more challenging.

About two weeks ago, somehow Kosh suggested I teach him Canasta, since I’d mentioned to him I’d played it both as a 2- and 4-player game. Online (Yahoo!Games). And had no idea just how it would be playing the game “live” (you can end up with so many cards in your hand, seeing as you play with 2 decks include jokers = 108 cards!). Plus the scoring issues – it was so easy when playing online cos that was all automatically calculated for you, but I had no idea what things were really worth :p

Hunted down a set of rules, and proceeded to refresh my memory and educate Kosh at the same time. Red vs black canastas. Minimum points needed for initial melds depending on your current total points. What to safely discard in order not to feed your opponent the card they may need. How and when to “go out.” The significance of those red three’s… Aaaaaah, it was so great to be thinking that way again! After all, while I’m not a great strategist (I just cannot do chess!), I enjoy games that provide just the right level of challenge and strategy and risk-taking.

Maybe it was beginner’s luck, but Kosh totally kicked my butt that first round, getting a total of 6660 points (Kinda funny, seeing as we were in the Omen-watching mode around that time!). We’ve played quite a few individual rounds as well and full-fledged games. We both enjoy the game immensely.

The downside? A full-fledged game can take HOURS!

So we’ve yet again inadvertently found another extremely effective procrastination tool, LOL!


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