Family Pinochle Night

Family Pinochle Night for The Lunchbox Season

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? 

Family Pinochle Night at The Lunchbox Season

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]

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