Last shabbat after dinner I played Anagrams using Snatch-It tiles with Raanana's reigning Anagrams queen Shuli and her friend Janine, also no slouch. I used to think I was good at the game. This time I was surprised that I nearly held my own. I came in third, only a word or two down from Janine, who was a word or two down from Shuli.
After lunch I played Settlers of Catan with Anne, Sarah, and Noa. First play for Anne, astoundingly first or second play for Sarah (who has been playing games for some time now, and first time playing with the correct rules for Noa (who is a Dominion fan but doesn't know much else about gaming).
Experience and a little luck still holds some sway. I carefully promoted trading as a worthwhile endeavor, warned against trading with the leading player, especially when he or she is at 7 points or higher, and encouraged them to gang up on me.
Anne played aggressively, immediately going to block routes or steal board locations that other players needed. She claimed that she just played the best moves for herself and not deliberately to be aggressive. I've heard that before from a lioness ripping the meat out of a zebra. Sarah ended up boxed in with only two spots to which to expand, which can be difficult (though not impossible).
I had only three spots, but I only needed two. A series of 5s rolled early, each of which gave me 2 bricks and 2 wood, allowed me to plunk down an early 9-length Longest Road. I would not typically pick up Longest Road early in the game, but I felt that the large gap I had over the other players made it unlikely that I would get into a road building war with anyone else (and thus let a third player win, which is what usually happens to road builders).
This worked. I was able to keep my longest road to the end of the game and plunk down my fourth city for the win. The other players all had hidden victory point cards and 7, 8, or 9 points. I think they didn't realize that there were only 5 points (and Largest Army) to go around in the development card deck; they might have (should have) built a few more cities first before going for the cards.
This shabbat after dinner I played a few card games with Anne and a few kids at their house after dinner. I taught them how to play Oh Hell. We played to the end and I came in second. Then I taught them how to play Hearts. We played five rounds, no moons shot. We were all in our thirties or so when we had to quit.