The last evening of the season almost didn’t happen at all, with lots of regulars away or unable to attend. It was only thanks to Joe’s late offer to host that Ben and Katy and I were housed safely in our GNN bunker with Brexit-talk strictly off-limits.
Since there were four of us, Joe suggested Tichu. I was unwilling, but happy to play if the others were fine with it. And Ben and Katy seemed fine with it, so Joe explained the rules to them. For a game that takes only an hour, we were dilligent with the rules explanation. We even played a demo hand with all cards out in the open. The only dodgy bit was halfway through when there was a knock at the front door and we all froze thinking it might be another GNNer, meaning all our rule-learning would have been for nought.
Then we started the game proper. I was paired with Joe and Katy was with Ben. Maybe this was unfair since I’d played the game before (a few years ago, on my phone, with little joy) and the other two were complete newbies but whatevs. That’s life.
The game itself was a bit of a procession to victory for Joe and I. After two rounds it was 200 points to –200 points. Then, after round three Katy was annoyed she hadn’t had a chance to play her straight. When she showed it to us we saw that it was all the same suit: in other words “a bomb,” which is a hand that can win a trick at any time. She hadn’t realised and was so annoyed at herself that she went to the toilet before coming back and apologising to Ben.
After round four the score was 575 to 0. Then in round five, Joe went out in four rounds with none of the rest of us getting a trick. With the score at 775 to –200, I was keen to end the game, if only to get another game on the table since Katy was getting agitated.
Luckily I was able to call Grand Tichu (for 200 points) and successfully get it in just three hands (won on an ace, 7-card straight, full house) and this finished the game.
Andrew and Joe 1,040
Katy and Ben –170
Despite the margin of defeat, Katy and Ben both seemed keen to play again. Perhaps they want to avenge their defeat. Joe ssaid that Martin would be jealous when he found out we’d played Tichu without him, but Martin can take solace in the fact that there seem to be three new converts to the game.
After this game, or perhaps during it, Ben brought out some lovely spirits he’d brought back from Malta. These two tiny bottles packed a bit of a punch and once we’d sampled both completely, we were all a bit drunk. One bottle was Carob flavoured, while the other was Bajtra (or cactus fruit). This second one was a huge hit, with Katy and I comparing it to those Rocket shaped lollies you got in the past, whereas Joe and Ben thought it was more like Watermelon flavour Jolly Ranchers.
After Tichu, Joe brought in a selection of quick games. Since his table had his green felt tablecloth on it, it seemed wrong not to play a dice game, so we went for Las Vegas.
By now, alcohol was flowing freely through our veins, such that Joe tried to work out the odds of a dice roll by multiplying 1/5 by 1/5 etc, apparently unaware that a die has six sides. Also, despite my copious notes, the reasons behind a new GNN insult has been lost to the mists of time: “I’m going to use my dick on you” was employed as a general term of abuse when foiling another player’s plans.
And I attempted to compliment Katy on her brave play by saying “I like her chutzpah!” but got the pronunciation so wrong that I appeared to be saying “I like her foot spa!” which was not my intention. Finally, after we’d used the term several times, Joe told us that the phrase “shooting your wad” wasn’t sexual at all, but dated back to the time of the musketeers. He then mimed the motion of tapping down the powder in the gun barrel with some side-to-side motions of his fist which seemed to undermine his original point.
Meanwhile, the game was mean, with plenty of attempts at foiling other plans. In the final round – perhaps foolishly – everyone held onto their black dice for too long. However, Joe was able to profit most from the fall of the dice.
And so the evening and the season ended more or less as it began. With only one leaderboard game played tonight, Katy’s slim chance of catching Ian evaporated, and coming in last behind me meant that she couldn’t steal the medal table at the last minute.
So well done to Ian for topping the division, and congrats to Hannah for points ratio and myself for the medal table. But congrats to everyone for loving board games. What a glorious evening! What a glorious hobby!