Tonight is Family Pinochle Night!
When the kids and I were planning our “September Unplugged,” they said that they wanted to learn a new card game. I immediately thought of Euchre, which was an amazingly popular game in my dorm in University, but which I thought I had never learned. When we got out our Hoyle’s Rules of Games, however, I realized that we had already learned to play a version of Euchre this summer in Boston with Gram! Wanting to build upon the kids’ successful mastery of that trumps game, I decided to teach them how to play the even more complicated game of 4-Handed Pinochle. Of course, I giggled when I accessed the Bicycle Cards website, which suggested that their two-handed version of Pinochle should be played by adults, 18 and over…My brother and I played four-handed Pinochle with our maternal grandparents from about the age of 8 onward!
Pinochle is a great game for slightly older kids to learn, because, as a trump game, it hones their mental math, estimation and probability skils. It also teaches patience, fair partnership, and risk-taking [or so we hope!]. The game consists of three major phases: Bidding [estimating how many points you can earn with the help of your partner and selecting a trump card], Melding [showing your points card-combinations and adding them up so as to earn your first round of points], and Playing Tricks [using your trump and high cards to win as many tricks as possible, earning more points and reaching your bid – or blocking your opponent from reaching theirs]. During the melding phase, certain “power combinations” of cards [such as the Jack of Diamonds and Queen of Spades – a.k.a. the “Pinochle”] rate as extra points, and during play, 10’s are higher than the royals, which makes for complex estimation and calculation around the table.
Why not play along with us?
For a family Pinochle Night, you will need…
A Pinochle Deck [or, two identical decks of playing cards stripped of their 2-8’s and combined, making 48 cards]
A Pad of Paper and a Pen for Scoring
The Rules: Wikipedia, Dave Howell, John McLeod, Bicycle [2-Player]
and, of course, Snacks [try our Punch & Judy Cookies! – they make for a fabulous charicature of those pinochle Jacks and Queens]