Bondtolva in the park

Yesterday’s session was a disaster: Mari arrived at 16.20 or so, I arrived at 17.00 and Make arrived at 17.30 — none of us stayed long enough to meet each other. Way to go!

However, today was much better. You see, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time outside in the Kaukajärvi parks with Nooa and I’ve been rather lucky to have some good company in the form of two childminders and the children they’re looking after. It’s a win-win situation: Nooa has friends and I get to interact with actual adults.

One of them, Johanna, is interested in card games. I gave her a copy of my book as a gift earlier and we’ve been talking about playing games in the park — the kids don’t need constant attention, after all. So, today I finally remembered to bring my cards.

We needed something fairly simple, because the kids provide lots of distraction. There’s no way we could play Schnapsen, for example. Instead, we played two-handed Bondtolva, a Swedish variant of the Marriage game. It’s a bit like relaxed Schnapsen, really.

Of 24 cards, six is dealt to both players. While the pack lasts, the trick play is free, but when the pack runs out, the final hands are played with strict F, t,r rules: follow suit and win if possible, play trumps if you can and renege only if nothing else is possible. Marriages can be shown for points, and the first marriage in hand determines the trumps.

There’s one point for winning the last trick, another for winning most matadors (aces and tens; if these are tied, the court cards have point values for breaking ties). First marriage is two points, the rest are one each. The game is played to 12 points.

It’s simple, yet fun. There’s quite a bit of luck, particularly in the marriages, but also room for skillful play. The game doesn’t require too much attention, which is very good. Winning lots of tricks doesn’t count, if you don’t win aces or tens and even if your cards suck, you can still shoot for the last trick for a 1-1 result. We played four games and I was able to win three, many through pretty good luck, but I suppose my experience shows in the results as well.

But Johanna liked it, and we’ll continue later. We’ll definitely play more Bondtolva; I’ll have to think about other games. It should be something that’s fairly simple, fairly quick, doesn’t require much space or too much attention. Strohmann could be a possibility, though I’m not sure I want to expose my tarot cards to all that sand…

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