While I missed the first pinochle party of the current season in our local congregation, last night I was able to make it to the event hosted by some friends of mine where fourteen of us (one new player, one observer, one helper, and the rest playing pretty consistently) enjoyed hand after hand of some pretty exciting pinochle, for those of us who like that sort of thing. Once we arrived at the hosts’ house, we began by some conversation and waiting for those who came later, then we had a tasty pot luck dinner and more conversation, and after that we divided into groups of four and set out to play. One of the people sat on the couch while her husband played and one new person was helped out by a close friend of mine who happens to be very good at the game.
My own play during the course of the night was okay but hardly spectacular. I won about half the sets I played, going 1-1 at each table over the course of the night, which is about at my level of play, to be fair. For the most part, we keep our playing in such a fashion that few people have a terrible night all the way through of playing, though some people do manage. Winners move from table to table, and losers stay, and both switch partners which usually keeps some people from dominating the entire evening. It is interesting to see how the game works with different partners. I tend to be a rather cautious bidder for the most part myself but at the same time I had some good hands and was able to help my partners for most of the evening. If I am relatively recent at playing pinochle I have played enough similar games (like spades) to recognize the general strategy of helping a partner win books and points, and generally I enjoy being pretty strong in the meld game as well, all of which helps. A couple of times I was able to help set someone even before the playing started because I had the cards in my hand that the overzealous bidder was trying to get from their hapless partner, and that is always a satisfying feeling.
One of the remarkable things to me is that pinochle season tends to be a winter event. There is only so long where sunset is early enough to get enough people over to a house and able to play enough games. Even last night it was nearly 11PM by the time I started driving home, and I didn’t realize it was quite so late until I got in the car and looked at the clock. From what I have seen, at least, in my limited experience with the pinochle culture of the Northwest, the game tends to be hosted people who live in somewhat peripheral geographical areas of the congregation. My first games were at the far north of our area, and last night’s game was in the eastern regions. The night I missed because I was in the Dalles previously that began this year’s season and the next event, scheduled in two weeks, are both on the southern periphery of our congregation as well. I find it curious that peripheral hosting locations should be so common when it comes to the sport. I do not know if there is some relation between the two but it is at least suggestive.