Saturday, May 22, 2010

Weekend Gaming: Tichu

We had a farewell lunch to our good friends Bill and Shirley, who are leaving the country for an indefinite period of time. We expect them back soon: either July, or September, or 6 months from now at the very least.

The Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club gave them a copy of Rummikub: Israeli game, actually fun, language-independent, and also easy enough for any non-gamers they run into.

We split into two groups to play. Bill, Abraham, Sarah, and Nadine played Dungeon Lords. They started at around 4:00 and were still going when I left at 7:30. It's an epic game.

Meanwhile, Shirley, Tal (my daughter), Toby (her boyfriend), and I played Rummikub. I think she enjoyed it, although the game gets kind of thought-intensive near the end. Most players are usually one turn away from winning when the game ends.

After Rummikub, I taught Shirley and Toby how to play Tichu. Tal , who has played many times, insisted on being my partner, which left the teams a tad unfair. However, Tal is unskilled in the art of calling Tichu (she never does ... or had never done so until today). Shirley is Chinese and grew up in China, and so found Tichu's ad copy amusing. She says that the symbols on the backs of the decks are random gibberish words.

Both Shirley and Toby were overwhelmed by the initial explanation, but within a few hands, they were up to speed. Things swung our way to start with, and stayed our way throughout the game. At one point we were up around 600 points; that gap eventually narrowed to within 250.

Toby was the first, other than me, to venture a bid of Tichu. Unfortunately, it took him until the third time that he called Tichu before he actually made a bid of Tichu. As a result, they were down to nearly -200 at one point. Tal utterly failed to bid of Tichu early on which she should have, and then finally ventured to bid, but not make, Tichu later in the game.

With all of the failed Tichus, the game took quite a lot of time. Tal and I cycled up and down in the 600s for several hands, by which point Toby and Shirley had climbed to the 300s. We finally made it to 775 to 525. I then made a Tichu, and we made enough in the last two hands. In the very last hand, we only made it because Tal just managed to go out before Toby, and so didn't lose all of her accumulated trick points to Shirley.

A fun, funny, and long game.
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