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The Farkle Four

On the Bright Side

When I was a kid, I loved playing board games and card games with the cousins, and then with the adults as I got older. I especially remember hours of Monopoly with cousin Steven and Chinese Checkers with the other cousins, and Clue and the card game Touring with the aunts and uncles.

As a teen and young adult, I spent many a happy hour playing Casino with my mom, and Life, Sorry, S*** on Your Neighbor, Spoons and Uno with friends and family. When I went to college, I was warned not to learn to play Bridge or I would waste a lot of time playing cards... Well, I have never learned to play Bridge but I spent hours and hours at the University of Northern Iowa playing Hearts and Spades and Spit, and even more hours at Ft. Hays State U playing 14-Point Pitch.

Over the years I've enjoyed all those games, plus Trivial Pursuit and Pictionary, Skipbo, Rummykub, Cribbage, and Yatzee. I've played many other games as well, but these are the favorites, the ones that stick in my mind and that I still enjoy playing.

Besides enjoying games with others, I also like playing by myself, currently on-line such games as FreeCell, Solitaire, and Mahjong Tiles. For some reason I'm not too into video games, but I do like the occasional word games (I love Wordle) and the odd brick breaker games. I know I can play online games with other people too, but it's not the same – not as satisfying – as playing with people I know in person.

I also love to learn new games, especially games to play with other people, but for some reason I haven't had many people in my life who are interested in board or card games – old or new – in the last few years. Not until my friend Lauraine invited me and another friend, Leila, over to play Farkle one day last Spring.

It was a new game to me: Farkle turns out to be a really fun and easy to learn dice game, much like Yatzee but with some significant differences (for one thing, you play with six dice instead of five). It relies on a lot of luck of the roll, but there are also decisions to be made with each roll that may or may not work in a player's favor (requiring a little skill and thought). It's a good family game too, as kids can play it as well as adults.

If you look Farkle up on the Internet, you'll find there are a number of different scoring versions of the rules, but when we play, we go by the rules set up in the Farkle scoring book that a friend of Lauraine's gave her for Christmas. There are several different versions of scoring books available online too (or you can just use plain old paper, as long as you agree on the scoring particulars before you start).

Friend Julee has joined Lauraine, Leila and I in playing Farkle regularly now, and boy do we have fun with it. Lauraine has dubbed us the Farkle Four, and the name seems to fit us just fine. I love getting together with the Farkle Four as I know it will mean a good time for me and three other people with whom I enjoy spending time.

The part I like best about playing with the Farkle Four, besides the game itself, is that the four of us are on the same page as far as a friendly game of dice goes. None of us are cut-throat players; we are as interested in sharing some happy time together as we are in seeing who wins any given game. I like that a lot.

Through the years of playing games, I've played against people who take living room games way too seriously, and that puts a damper on things real quick for me. I much prefer a friendly game, and I'm glad to say the Farkle Four make it just that: we've all won some games, we've all lost some (and no one gets upset or mad when they Farkle or when they lose; no one gloats mercilessly when they win) and we all end a game smiling.

I think playing games with other people, especially with friends or family, is a great way to spend an evening or an afternoon. Some of my fondest memories of people in my life over the years involve time spent together playing games and laughing and just enjoying each other's company.

That personal interaction is especially important these days, I think, when phones and television and the Internet seem to take time away from people just being together enjoying some activity, like playing a game.

I feel so lucky to have rediscovered the joy of in-person playing. So here's to the Farkle Four, with a big thanks and a wish that we have many more fun games together.

© 2024 Mel Makaw. Mel, local writer/photographer and author of On the Bright Side, a Collection of Columns (available locally at Tehachapi Arts Center and Healthy Hippie Trading Co.), welcomes your comments at [email protected].