Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Ah, Balderdash!

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Growing up, I played board games only from time to time. I remember we had Monopoly, Tiddly Winks,The Game of Life, Scrabble...and in the early 1970's we acquired "pop-o-matic" games like Trouble, Headache, Don't Cross Over the Bridge. For the most part, however, I didn't play too many board games, much preferring my own company so I could read books or write stories.

Yes,these days we have games for the children and I enjoy playing some of them: Coconut Drop, Don't Break the Ice, Hi Ho Cherrio, Junior Monopoly, etc.

But last summer I discovered a game that is not only entertaining, it is therapeutic, as well. The game of BALDERDASH. This particular one, ABSOLUTE BALDERDASH, has different Here are the basic rules.

Playing the Game

For the very first turn of the game the Dasher takes the first question card from the card box and chooses one of the five categories on the dark green question side. He states which category he has chosen and reads the relevant question to the other players who then write it on their Bluffing Sheet. (Make sure no-one can read the answer on the back of the card.)

Each player, except the Dasher, then makes up an answer to the question that he thinks will bluff the other players and writes it on his Bluffing Sheet. The answer can be as wacky or as serious as you want.

Depending on which category the Dasher has chosen the kinds of answers required are as follows:

WORDS - what is the definition of this word?
PEOPLE - what is this person known for?
INITIALS - what do they stand for?
MOVIES - what is the basic story line?
LAWS - complete the law!

While the other players are writing their answers, the Dasher writes the real answer (found on the light green answer side) in his own words on his Bluffing Sheet, so as to disguise it when he reads it out with the made up answers. He then returns the card to the rear of the card box.

The players hand their completed Bluffing Sheets to the Dasher. The Dasher makes sure that the answers can be read clearly, arranges them with the real one in random order, then reads each one aloud. He can reread the answers as required. The other players CAN collapse in fits of laughter but MUST NOT give away which is THEIR answer in any way - no shouting "that's mine", no nudging, winking or grunting!

Moving left from the Dasher, each player in turn decides which answer is the real one. As each player chooses an answer the Dasher writes this player's initials in the score segment on the corresponding Bluffing Sheet. After each player has guessed, the Dasher reveals the right answer and awards points as follows:

You'll notice that I didn't bother with points-- there really is no point to doing so. Yes, there is a game board with markers to move, but who cares! It's the actual playing that works.

Because I work in a creative field, I work with creative people. During lunch hour, once or twice a week, a regular group moves to a corner of the lunch room, with the board and announce: "Let the games begin...!" The more creative or obscure an answer, the funnier the round can be. Once this summer the category was Laws, and the question went something like this: "In Brooklyn, NY, it is illegal for a donkey to..." Because I was "the caller" for that particular round, reading the answers, one of my co-workers supplied a real winner: "...wear a yarmulke." The real answer was: "...sleep in a bathtub." But can you imagine how hard I had to try to refrain from laughing when I read all the answers, the correct one among them as well as the yarmulke one? I couldn't refrain myself, and I laughed until I cried. During an hour's lunch, I can have at least three of these hysterical fits of laughter-turning-to-tears...and it's usually when I'm the caller. I apologize to the others for my reaction, and then think "To hell with them, this is great for me."

The brilliant responses from the group that plays shows how we might have a misconception of someone; we think they're serious and quiet, and then they give such a twisted, offbeat idea, it makes you wonder when you hear it the right answer after all?

If you're willing to play Absolute Balderdash with me, I'm more than game...

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