Jaqui's Daily Blog

Canasta, Medals and Diversionary Tactics

Have you ever played Canasta?


No, me neither – until last night that is when Mr B and I dutifully turned up for the first session of a new Canasta group.  The group is being run (or “convened” in U3A lingo) by the same person who runs (or “convenes”) our evening Cribbage Group. She more or less insisted we join. You could say she wouldn’t take no for an answer and Mr B and I, both being a little in awe of her (though Mr B would doubtless dispute this) meekly signed up.


Beforehand Mr B ran off pages and pages of rules from the Internet, including Canasta for Dummies which I read with mounting dismay. I couldn’t understand a word of it. However I comforted myself with the thought that I have been taught lots and lots of card games (mostly by Mr B, to be fair) and have always learnt best through playing the game.


We turned up on the door-step of our hostess’s house a little before 7 p.m. We thought we were early birds but everyone else was already there.  Eight of us in all, not counting our convenor, of whom we knew only one.  Meeting new people is part of what U3A is all about. We wrote our names on folded pieces of paper and stood them on the table in front of us, as if we were at a business conference.  A good move because by the end of the evening I knew everyone’s name.


Three of us had never played Canasta before, Mr B and I being two of the three. The other five had all played it at some time or another. This should have been A Good Thing but rather added to the confusion as all five had slightly different ideas about the basic rules of the game. What is more none of them agreed completely with the rules as laid down by our convenor.  Eventually it was sensibly agreed that we should play Convenor’s Rules, however much we may have disagreed with elements of them. Not that Mr B and I disagreed with anything, you understand, because obviously neither of us Knew Any Better.


By the end of the evening we both had a basic idea of how the game worked. I had to keep piping up asking for explanations of crucial matters such as how we calculated the Scores on the Doors at the end of each game. Mr B pretended he knew it all but I think he was secretly pleased that I asked the questions. It is what I used to tell my Foursome when they were at school – never be shy about putting up your hand and asking the teacher a question. The majority of the class will be so glad you did because they were all too timid to put up their own hands.  I didn’t actually put up my hand at Canasta, it’s not what you do, is it, not when you become an adult. Or something approaching one.


In bed, while waiting for Mr B to brush his teeth, I read through Canasta for Dummies and it all made a lot more sense. I went off to sleep and dreamt of melds and dirty canastas and all the things you can do with a three of clubs. There was a lot of tossing and turning involved – and that was only in my dreams.


So far today we have not had a chance to do our “homework” – which is to practise playing Canasta with each other.  Mr B sounds the very opposite of keen so I haven’t pushed it – especially as I have been very busy at the library on the final day of the Summer Reading Challenge. 


Disaster! We have run out of medals!  All those littl’uns, excited because they have finished their Challenge, read their six books, answered all my fiendishly difficult questions – and I can’t present them with their medals, only take down their names and contact details and assure them their medals are on their way.


To make up for this, I found a fantastic, creepy-looking font in which to print out the names on their certificates.  This went down extremely well with the small fry and quite took their minds off the absence of the medals.


I may not be much good at Canasta, but I’m a bit of an expert at Diversionary Tactics.


Though I say it myself, as shouldn’t....

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Colin Usher | Reply 07.09.2013 21:05

In answer to your question that heads this blog. 'Yes'.
Please don't ask me for advice as I've totally forgotten how to play it.
Used to play it at work.

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Latest comments

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

09.08 | 07:45

I love it, what a wonderful read on a very wet Monday Morning. Well done and I love the idea of the Grandmother's Book, an idea I shall definately borrow.

30.03 | 17:40

I'm a young entrepeneur who is willing to start a business to offer retired people the opportunity to live an amazing life.Please emailme,I'd like to ask a few?

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