Number of Players


It was our third or fourth hand of gin or castle or king’s corner, and while I was satisfied with the games and leisurely mood of the beach and the afternoon, I was also secretly eager to try something else, some new game that would really hit the spot.

If either of us could come up with one, or remember the rules. Something a little bit more competitive, but that didn’t require a cribbage board.

“You know what would be great?” I said as my sister discarded a red Jack that I would have wanted two turns ago, “A book of card games, organized by number of players.”

“Oh yea, does that exist?” she replied.

“If not, maybe that’s something I could make.”

Although I was pretty sure it existed, probably many different versions in fact. But I figured that they either weren’t for good or maybe weren’t actually necessary.

“Although, in all the years and all of the card games I’ve played, ” I said, “not once have I ever read the rules in order to play. I think I’ve always been taught by someone else.”

Every single game, at first from a brief, direct instruction (in which you really only feel like you understand about half the rules, at best) and then the rest gleaned through direct experience.

So, there were a number of players.

Those who could play; but never remembered, or didn’t yet know, as if there was a difference.

Those who remembered and did the teaching; recognized everything.

Those who read the rules and taught themselves; manifested transcendence.

Those who made up new rules; unsatisfied with cheating.

Those who invented entirely new games; bent genres to their satisfaction.

And so maybe this imaginary rule book of mine could be something philosophical. Perhaps a suited Golf in the Kingdom (not that I’d actually read it all the way through, but you know what I mean if you know the book as unwell as I do), or even mystical, that would eventually lead to you to the Rider-Waite and the Arcana. But that had its own rules built from a fortune compounded on chance alone.

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