BORED GAMES   ©winnie caw 2004
(follow the arrows below for more of winnie caw's whimsy, or click on a link)
NB You will need to go away and find a partner to play most of these - two heads are better than one!

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1)  Scissors, Paper, Stone

This is the most familiar of several essentially trivial games of bluff, chiefly useful as a painless (and quick) means of deciding whose favourite game will be played next, or who buys the next round of drinks.

At a given signal, each person simultaneously exposes a hand in one of three positions: a clenched fist (representing a stone), an open palm (paper) or two fingers extended to form a V (scissors). The winner is determined by the formula: stone blunts scissors, scissors cut paper, paper wraps stone. If both players show the same position the round is drawn and must be replayed.

2) Scrabble*

Invented by Alfred Butts during the early 1930s, Scrabble is played on a gridded board of 15 x 15 squares with a set of letter-tiles (normally 100, though German sets, for example, have considerably more). Two or more may play. Each player takes seven letters from the bag or box at random and places them on a rack, invisible to his opponent. The first player plays any word of two or more letters, one of which must cover the starred centre square which, like the other pink squares, doubles the score for the word. He then replenishes his rack, bringing it up to seven letters again, and the second player plays. At least one letter of this and all subsequent words played must be adjacent, vertically or horizontally, to the letter already played. A player may at any turn exchange as many of his letters as he wishes for fresh letters from the stock, instead of playing to the board. 

Letter Points Number Letter Points Number Letter Points Number
A 1 9 J 8 1 S 1 4
B 3 2 K 5 1 T 1 6
C 3 2 L 1 4 U 1 4
D 2 4 M 3 2 V 4 2
E 1 12 N 1 6 W 4 2
F 4 2 O 1 8 X 8 1
G 2 3 P 3 2 Y 4 2
H 4 2 Q 10 1 Z 10 1
I 1 9 R 1 6 Blank 0 2

Play continues in this manner until the stock is exhausted and one player has used all his letters (in which case the sum of the face values of the loser's unplayed letters is added to the winner's score and deducted from his own) or no further plays are possible (in which case both players subtract the sum of their unplayed letters).

Controversy always surrounds the question of which words may and may not be played. The written rules stipulate any word in a standard dictionary except words normally requiring a capital letter, hyphen or apostrophe and words shown as obsolete or foreign. In practice most players will modify these rules according to their own preferences. There is no ban on slang words.

The following principles should increase the average player's score by about 100 per game:

i) Play words parallel to, rather than at right angles to, existing words; thus making two-letter words AE, AH, AI, AM, AN, AS, AT, AY, BE, BY, DO, EA, EH, EM, EN, ER, FA, GO, HA, HE, HI, HO, LA, LI, LO, MA, ME, MI, MY, NO, OD, OF, OH, ON, OR, OW, OX, PA, PI, RE, SI. SO, TA, TI, TO, UP, US, WE: and, more controversially - ab, ad, ag, ar, aw, ax, ba, bo, ce, da, ed, ee, ef, et, ex, fy, gu, jo, ka, ko, ky, mo, mu, na, ne, nu, ny, ob, oe, oi, oo, op, os, ou, oy, po, ra, te, uh, um, un, ut, vo, wa, wo, xi, zo (List roughly based on Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary).

ii) Aim constantly for bonus scores, conserving blanks and S's.

iii) Try not to leave yourself with an unbalanced collection of letters. If you hold 4 vowels and 3 consonants, never leave yourself with just 3 or 4 vowels.

iv) Do not be afraid to change letters - it is far better to change a hopeless collection than to make a small score and leave yourself as badly off for the next turn.

v) Never add unnecessary letters to a word just for the sake of making it longer. 

vi) Never hold on to the Q hoping that a U will turn up.

* * *

3) Slosh **

A dominoes game for 4 players. Each player receives six tiles at random, and the holder of the 4-4 leads for the first game. The lead tile is 5-5 for the second game, then 6-6, 0-0, 1-1 etc. If no-one has it, everyone throws in for a redeal. Tiles are played to all four sides of the lead tile, and thereafter to the ends of the resulting cross, with adjacent faces matching. Each player tries to play to his own arm only; anyone who cannot must miss a turn, and the player on his left may now play on the blocked line as well as his own if he can, thus getting rid of two dominoes at once. The game ends when one player has exhausted his hand [and the losers then pay the winner so much for each spot they have left in their hands - optional].

* * *

4) Spite and Malice ***

Game for two players. One of the packs, without jokers, is divided into two 'payoff' piles of twenty-six cards, one for each player.  The top card of each payoff pile is turned up to determine the order of play: highest starts. The other pack is shuffled together with the jokers; each player takes a 'hand' of five cards from it, and the rest of the pack is placed face down in the centre as the 'stock'.

Aces, as they become available, must be played to the centre as foundations. Cards are built on the foundations in ascending sequence from two to king, regardless of suit, and when the king is reached that pile is shuffled into the stock at the end of the turn.

Cards from the payoff piles may only be played to the centre. Cards from hand may also go to the centre; and one card per turn may be played from hand to any of four side stacks allowed each player. A side stack can start with any card, and thereafter a card of the same value or one lower in rank may be played to it; thus, if there is a 10 on top of a side stack, another 10 or any 9 can go on top of it. The top card of each side stack is available for play to the foundations.

Jokers are wild and may take any value designated by the player, except an ace.

Play alternates. Each player first draws cards from the stock as necessary to bring his hand up to five cards. His turn continues as long as he can make legal plays to the foundations, and only ends when he places a card from hand to a side stack; or, when he cannot, or does not wish to, make further moves. The object of the game is to exhaust one's payoff pile. If the game is blocked before either player has achieved this, the result is a draw.

[winnie's note - this is my favourite card game. By following suit into the middle 'foundation' stacks and to your opponent's pile, you may offload all your cards in one go, just when you were about to lose. A heap of cards given to me can be returned to my opponent, on the turn of a card and a smile]

* * *

5) Suicide chess

A game played with an ordinary chess set. Standard chess rules apply, with the following differences:

i) If a capture is possible, it must be made.

ii) A pawn which reaches the eighth rank must become a queen.

iii) Checking is ignored; the king operates as an ordinary piece.

The object of the game is to lose all one's men.

* * *

6) 'Thai' Patience

This is a game of patience taught me by my Thai friend many years ago. The beauty of it is that it can be played in a small space - e.g. balancing on a magazine on the train, without crowding the other occupants. They will also be wondering what rules you are playing by!

Shuffle the deck of 52 cards and turn over each card in turn onto the last card with a slight overlap in order to check the top and bottom card(s) of the discard pile as you go. The purpose of the game is to get down to one card by discarding groups of three cards from a combination of top/bottom cards adding up to a total of ten/twenty/thirty. Face cards count as ten each. Ace is either ten or one, as preferred.

E.g. Ace/6/3 = 10; 9/8/3 = 20; Ace/J/9 = 20; Ace/Q/J = 30 etc. It pays not to use up all the Aces as tens, as it is handy for other combinations. As you clear the cards, you will find more combinations in the discard pile which you can then clear.

Stick with it - you can get down to one card, and it takes your mind off the cell phone conversations in the carriage! 

* * *

7) Battleships

A game resorted to on rainy days in England.

Only needing pen and paper (NB.  To avoid confusion it pays to use two different coloured pens - one for your own fleet, and the other to mark up the opponent's fleet as you score a hit). Two players each draw a grid of squares 10 x 10, keyed A - J along the top edge and 1 - 10 down the sides. On this grid each player places his fleet, consisting of 1 battleship (across four of the squares), 2 cruisers (three squares each), 3 destroyers (two squares each) and 4 submarines (one square each). The squares covered must be horizontal or vertical, not diagonal.

The other player calls out a grid reference, e.g. G4 or D6, and is told when he has scored a direct hit, in which case he 'fires' again at an adjacent square. The player attacked does not announce what sort of vessel has been hit until it is sunk. When the attacker fails to hit a vessel play passes to the other 'hitter'. The first player to sink his opponent's fleet is the winner.

* * *

8) Boxes

Another 'rainy day' game using pen and paper.

Draw a number of symmetrical dots on a piece of paper. About 100 dots ( 10 x 10) is enough for a two-player game. Players take it in turns to draw a line between two adjacent dots, until one player is able to complete a four-sided box. He then initials inside the box and continues his turn until he is unable to complete any more boxes with one line. The winner is the player who completes most boxes at the end of the game.

* * *

9) Consequences

A very silly game, using pen and paper. 

Each player has a sheet of paper, on which he writes the name of a male person (fictional or dead/living), folds the paper over, thereby hiding the name he has written, and passes the paper on to next person in the group (who has done the same with his paper). Now everyone writes the name of a female character (fictional, living or dead) and the process of folding and passing on is repeated. Then a place; then a sentence of dialogue; then another; then an event. This completes the game and each person reads out the information written on the sheet he is holding. There is great competition in this game to write sillier stuff than the next person.

* * *

...and finally

10) Twitch or Ocky-Knocky

(my second favourite card game)

Uses a standard pack of 52 cards. Seven cards are dealt to each player, and eight cards to the dealer, who starts. The remaining cards form a 'stock' pile. Players follow either suit or rank and draw a card from the stock if they cannot. Some cards have special properties:

8 = the next player misses a turn but he need not draw a card from stock.

Ace = reverses the order of play, i.e. if the player after you lays an ace you must play again at once and play continues in the reverse direction.

2 = may only be followed by another two. A player who cannot do this takes two cards from the stock. If he lays a 2, the next person must pick up four cards from stock and so on until a penalty has been paid (i.e. someone has taken cards from stock). This means that if four players in a row lay a 2, the next person must take eight cards from stock. Play resumes with any card of the same suit.

J = wild. Any Jack can be played on anything except a 'live' two. Its player must state which suit he wants followed next; he may choose the existing suit.

Further rules:

Anyone who plays his next to last card must knock sharply on the table as he does so, saying 'Ocky-Knocky'. If he forgets, he is not allowed to go out on his next turn even if he holds the right card. 

The game ends when one person has exhausted his hand. Each player scores the total pip value in his hand (face-cards = 10). The overall winner is the one with the lowest score when one player reaches a total of (say) 300.

* * *


*     needs a board 
**   requires a set of dominoes

uses two complete packs of cards, incl. 4 jokers

* * *

Some words of advice, from 'The Pan Book of Party Games' of 1958 ...

'Section One - Giving a Party

Generally speaking, the more spontaneous and carefree a party appears to a guest, the better it will be enjoyed, but to achieve spontaneity requires considerable and careful preparation beforehand - otherwise there will be awkward gaps when groups of children and adults will be left doing nothing at all and the result might well be boredom - and your reputation as a party giver will be lost....

Teenage Parties

In parties for young people of this often difficult age, one must accept the fact that boy has probably met girl, but at the same time the party must be planned so that boy meets other girl and girl meets other boy. In other words, there must be games which involve partners of the young people's own choice and games in which partners are changed. Music in the modern idiom (Rock 'n' Roll, at the time of writing) also plays an important part in the lives of modern teenagers, and some attempt must be made to cater for it, even if only by the introduction of some musical game in which the latest type of music is played or sung.

Care must also be taken in the selection of games, particularly games which might involve some boy or girl looking foolish. Generally, it is advisable to avoid this type of game or to reduce the number to an absolute minimum. Pencil and paper games can be played to advantage as well as the more sophisticated types of games such as Murder, The Horror Game, and games derived from popular radio or television programmes such as 'Twenty Questions' or 'What's my line?'.

Treasure hunts too, providing the clues match the general intelligence of the players, can be very popular, particularly if the players work with partners of their own choice.

The great danger in a teenage party is to allow any over-emphasis of the 'boy has met girl' to develop. There are many young people at this age who are prepared to enjoy themselves at a party merely by sitting in a corner holding hands and looking into someone's eyes.

This must be stopped, otherwise some members of the party are liable to be embarrassed. Tact and diplomacy must be used to prevent it developing too much; perhaps the best way is publicly to ignore it but at the same time gently, jocularly, if needs be, involve the pair in some active game where it is impossible to hold the same person's hand or look into the same beautiful eyes all the time.

Adult Parties

Much will depend upon the characters of the guests invited, but in general, normal adults are quite prepared to enjoy the most foolish games It is essential, however, to start with a few 'mixers' in order to thaw out the traditional reserve of so many adults. In most parties there will be the almost inevitable 'life and soul of the party'. This person, usually male, can be a mixed blessing. If he is allowed a completely free hand he can well ruin all your carefully thought-out schemes, and before you know where you are, it is his party and not yours, and sometimes (unfortunately) his party is quite a good one.

The only way to deal effectively with this gentleman is to enlist his aid in running your party and give him as much to do as possible. A tactful 'Will you help me with this game, Charlie?' or 'Charles, dear, will you run Murder for me, you do it so well?' and he will almost literally eat out of your hand.

As with teenagers, the games for adults must be mixed to include the more riotous and the quieter games. Where old people are present ('Grandma always likes to come, you know') care must be taken to see that they, too, are kept amused. Some old people are quite prepared to sit, watch, and laugh at the antics of their sons and daughters, but if there is room it is often advisable to arrange a quiet game of cards for those who can no longer rush about.
One word of warning about card games. There are many people who have strong and sincere objection to playing card games of any kind, and most particularly those where there is money (however small) at stake. Their objections must always be respected - in no circumstances try to press them into doing something they have no desire to do. This same rule of course, must be applied to other games, particularly those where there is the possibility of someone either having to make a fool of themselves or being made to look a little foolish by others.
Try to inveigle, coax, and cajole your guests to participate in the most excellent games you have arranged for their hilarious amusement - but in no circumstances try to batter, bully, or bludgeon a reluctant guest into doing something against which he shows a strong objection.

If you get a real shocker who won't do anything, the ultimate remedy is always in your hands. Don't invite him again. He probably wouldn't come, anyway - but don't take the risk... '



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