Hallie Bergwall makes a move in a Scrabble game on Thursday at Resurrect Art Coffee House in Seward, Alaska. Bergwall took home the win. (Photo by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Hallie Bergwall makes a move in a Scrabble game on Thursday at Resurrect Art Coffee House in Seward, Alaska. Bergwall took home the win. (Photo by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Tangled up in Blue: Just playin’

I learned how to play a new card game.

Pinochle, according to Wikipedia, is a trick-taking, Ace-Ten card game played with a 48-card deck originally derived from the game bezique. It’s a trick and meld type game, both words that I learned in my first game, and subsequently relearned in the next few games as well.

There’s a whole vocabulary associated with the game that is as new to me as the different combinations and ways to win.

Starting off, I had a hard time holding all 15 cards in my hand! It’s a far cry from the poker games of my childhood. Most of the time, I was playing Texas hold ‘em with my parents, and your two cards never have to leave the table.

The bidding process is familiar, though, although I still have a hard time not bluffing. I always want to get the kitty and decide the trump, so why not keep bidding?

With pinochle, my hand is full of cards … until it’s not. I still feel wary about displaying a portion of my cards for those to see when I lay down my meld.

Even after six months of playing a regular-ish game of pinochle, I keep a trusty explanation of meld points by my hand and refer to it often.

And that’s just the beginning! After the meld, I have to start thinking of tricks, which card to lead and more.

I’ve played a handful of games, with one win under my belt thanks to a double pinochle that my opponent kindly pointed out.

Wait. How many points is that worth?

A lot, or so I’m told.

And I’m told that there are a trove of card games and board games out there that I’ve never played. I took a double take when someone asked me if I knew how to play euchre. Play it? I didn’t even know how to spell it until writing this column.

Growing up, if we weren’t playing the card basics, I was more of a word game girl. Give me a good game of Scrabble over a cup of coffee and I’ll be happy, even if I lose on a triple word PINOCHLE.

But, since moving to Alaska, I’ve learned more new games than a game shelf can handle — pinochle is just one block in the Jenga tower.

I’ve expanded my Settlers of Cataan world to involve cities and knights. I’ve blasted some fireworks in Hanabi. I’ve played hundreds of unique games of Fluxx and even exploded some kittens.

On the flip side of the die, I’ve been able to share some of my own knowledge after finding a backgammon board at the thrift store.

But every time I learn a new game I wonder how it got in front of me, and I think there is something genuinely Alaskan about games. The state is known for bringing people from all over the country and world, throwing tons of childhoods and experiences into one area. It’s a melting pot of games!

And everyone is asked to show off the games in their arsenal because, well, sometimes the only thing you can rely on up here for group entertainment is a deck of cards. From wonky internet connections to a night spent in a remote cabin, it’s important to have some sort of game on hand.

This weekend, I’m sticking to what I know instead of pinochle. Hallie and I are planning another round of Scrabble at a cabin in Humpy Cove.

Let’s hope I can get all the right tiles for VICTORY.

More in Sports

Kenai Watershed Forum holds golf event

The Kenai Watershed Forum held its first golf outing Saturday at Kenai… Continue reading

Runners take off at the start of the Salmon Run Series in Soldotna, Alaska, on July 8, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Salmon Run Series enters final week

The Salmon Run Series, which was moved to a virtual race series… Continue reading

Fishermen try to catch silver and pink salmon on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, at the mouth of Resurrection Creek in Hope, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Reeling ‘Em In: Silvers are still not strong in Fishing Hole

While Turk and I were watching the water evaporate at The Fishing… Continue reading

Refuge Notebook: What happened when the ocean warmed

The 2014 to 2016 marine heatwave, or “the blob,” in the Gulf… Continue reading

Alaska 20.
Alaska 20 sees season end

Alaska 20 saw its season end Sunday with a 4-3 loss to… Continue reading

Alaska 20.
Alaska 20 drops first 2 games at state

Alaska 20, the No. 7 seed, got off to a rough start… Continue reading

It pays to Firewise. This structure survived the 2007 Caribou Hills Fire. (Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Refuge Notebook: Are you Firewise?

As a young Idaho firefighter, enthusiasm and an eagerness to get dropped… Continue reading

Turnagain Arm, as seen from Mount Alyeska in Girdwood, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Tangled Up in Blue: Short and sweet

I went on a little vacation. It was nothing too involved, and… Continue reading

Alaska 20.
Alaska 20 set for state

Three members of Alaska 20 were part of a dramatic game between… Continue reading

Nick Varney
Reeling ‘Em In: Silvers not coming easily in lagoon

I have found myself challenged by a perplexing conundrum brought to my… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears head coach Kevin Murdock.
Brown Bears coach Murdock happy with draft

Despite getting relatively few chances to scout players in person, Kenai River… Continue reading

Alaska 20.
Alaska 20 qualifies for state

Alaska 20 has qualified for the Alliance Baseball League State Tournament. Alaska… Continue reading