Thursday, August 19, 2010

I Fold.

I'm no good at card games. We have some friends that taught us to play mah jongg - I'm not any good at that, either. I'm horribly average at chess.

I find this very frustrating and kind of embarrassing. In fact, I'm probably more defensive than I realize. If someone asks to deal me in for a round of poker, I will probably oblige, but I'll preface my disappointing performance with disclaimers so no one gets their expectations up. I always feel guilty in partner games and can't help but believe I'm ruining my partner's fun, no matter how much everyone reassures me that it's no big deal. I know the truth! Having a partner that sucks... sucks.

Why am I so bad at games? There has to be some games I'm good at... Scrabble... Scattergories... I'm really good at that game where you read the words on the card and they're all disjointed and everyone else has to guess what it's supposed to say. I guess I'm good at word games.

The truth is, in card games at least, I feel like I never really get it. I get the rules, but I don't get the system. I can't remember what's been played, I can't count cards, I have no intuition regarding the probability of one hand working out over the other. I always feel like I'm playing for the first time, blindly throwing out cards and eliciting immediate groans from everyone else at the table. As soon as I play, every other person seems to get it. They get that that was the last trump, or they get that I must be trying to catch that trick; whatever it is, everyone seems to get in an instant what I couldn't get from staring at my cards for four minutes.

I think people expect me to be good at games. As a "smart person," I'm supposed to be able to work the system. Didn't you see A Beautiful Mind? Or 21? Smart people are good at these things. It may also be possible that this conception that I've disappointed everyone is my own insecurity...

What do you think? Do you expect yourself to be good at card games because you're smart? Are you good at card games? What do you think makes you better at some games than others?

1 comment:

  1. I consider myself reasonably good at games like poker and bridge, but I would also characterize myself as "horribly average" at chess. I guess I do expect myself to be good at games like this because I'm smart, and most of the time I suppose I am. I have this long streak of losing these sorts of games to my husband, and I struggle with interpreting that as "he must be way smarter than me, and disappointed that I'm such an idiot." That's *definitely* my own insecurity.

    I think it's ultimately about what you feel you can concentrate on, what's interesting enough for you. I have trouble with games like chess or othello but tend to pwn at games like Settlers of Catan or Pandemic. When there's some sort of story background, even if it's very thin, it's easier for me to pay attention long enough to figure out strategy.