Lifetime Games

Bowling Solitaire

Back in my college years, I decided I needed a lifetime drink. A lifetime drink is something that you feel comfortable ordering, something you know a lot about, and something you can enjoy for – well – a lifetime. It is a drink that you can always fall back on. It doesn’t need to be alcoholic, but it turns out that mine is.

A friend of mine and I decided on scotch, or single malt whiskey. Of course, we didn’t like scotch (at first who does), so we played a game. Every few days we would have a small glass. If we didn’t like the taste, or it burned on the way down, we’d say, “Damn that’s smooth” and pound our fist on the table. We tried tricking ourselves into enjoying our self-proclaimed classy drink.

It worked for me, but not for poor Nick.

As I write this, I am enjoying a small glass of scotch (trying out Glenfiddich 14). What does this have to do with board games? Actually, not much – except that, like my lifetime drink, I have a lifetime game.

Lifetime Games

A lifetime game is a game you can always play, a game you can always fall back on, and a game that is easily accessible. Usually it is a solo or two player game, since these are much simpler to play in small windows of time.

Solitaire, spades, and cribbage are games that I often see as lifetime games. They are easy to play, easy to set up, and very accessible. Solitaire was probably the closest game I had to a lifetime game, until about two years ago.

My Lifetime Game

Two years ago, I found a simple game I could play with a deck of cards that was challenging, and had an ultimate goal. That game is Bowling Solitaire – and it quickly became my lifetime game.

Bowling Solitaire is a solo card game. The game is set up by using two sets of A-10 from a regular deck of playing cards. 10 cards are randomly placed on the table like bowling pins (rows of 1, 2, 3, and 4). Then three piles are created with the top card flipped face up – one of 5, one of 3, and one of 2.

The goal is to use face up cards from the piles to “knock down” the cards representing bowling pins. To do this, you must add one, two, or three adjacent bowling pin cards. If the ‘ones’ digit of that sum equals a face up card in one of the three piles, you can remove them all from the frame, and flip the next card face up in the pile!

As you play, you continue to find combinations of cards that create a sum, of which the ‘ones’ digit matches a face up card. If you are unable to find any more combinations, the amount of bowling pin cards removed is how many pins you knock down, and your first ball has been thrown! Remove all face up cards from the pile, flip the next card face up, and start with the second ball in the same way. Once both balls have been thrown, the frame is scored (scoring works the exact same way in bowling).

There are a few other restrictions, like the first set of pin cards you ‘knock down’ must be in the first three rows but not the middle. Also when cards are removed, the next cards you ‘knock down’ must have at least one card that was adjacent to the removed cards. If none of this makes sense, you can find the rules on board game geek.

Your Lifetime Game

A lot of people have lifetime drinks, and it seems a lot of people have lifetime games – but I don’t see it discussed much.

I enjoy bowling solitaire because it is easy to play, relatively quick, and has been engaging and fun for at least 30 plays. I also have an ultimate goal. I hope someday in my life to bowl a perfect 300. So far, I haven’t gotten close, with my high score only 168 as of writing this. But this goal will certainly keep me interested in the foreseeable future, as it is nearly unpossible.

So I am curious – do you have a lifetime game (or drink)? Have you never thought of it, but now are considering it? Do you think this is a dumb idea? I would love to hear your thoughts, and what you consider your lifetime game.

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