Monday, December 06, 2010

What I Have Been Up To Lately

  1. I've been playing piquet quite a bit lately. It is a marvelous game that feels like a board game in some ways. I hope to get the wife to start playing at a decent level. So far I've managed to figure out the basics of discarding and trick play, but I need to get better at sinking in declarations and counting cards in general. For those interested in learning the game, I would recommend keeping the following outline in mind to make sense of the rules. There are three phases: exchanges, declarations, and play. You exchange to improve your hand, declare things about your hand to score points, and then play out the hand for more points. These are all distinct phases of the game. The elder hand should almost always trade five cards and should rarely discard from the longest suit. Go for the point and tricks. A beginner should probably just make the biggest declarations possible, as that is usually the best bet. Beyond that, it's stuff you can figure out on your own by playing against a computer a few times. Three things: Pagat's rules page, Cavendish on Piquet (1901 edition, the best one), and MeggieSoft's program. We thought of finding a two-player card game because games of skill, like chess, would either be too one-sided or be something I wouldn't be interested in. That is to say, I don't think it is realistic to expect my wife to ever become a match for me in chess and I don't think I'm interested in learning a different pure game of skill.
  2. I had hoped to squat 500# by year-end and was coming rather close, but travel plans and now a minor back injury have put me out of the running. I should make it in January, though.
  3. I suppose I'm doing stochastic stuff at school. Woo stochasticity.
  4. I'm almost done with the Aubrey/Maturin series. I highly recommend it even if you don't typically enjoy "genre fiction". You don't have to read through the entire series, but reading through the first few will pay off. I think the second book is even better than the first, for instance. I'm on the 14th book and think the quality has not waned (though I would say #2 was the high point), but I do admit that getting this far requires you to be a fan of the series, if not the genre. My recommendation is to try the first three, maybe four, and then decide whether you want to continue. You can find many of the books at a very reasonable price used on I paid less than $100 for my twenty books, including shipping. I found a large number of them for either $.01 + $3.99 shipping or $3.99-ish + super saver shipping. This series of books is also what sparked my interest in piquet.
So that's what I've been up to lately.

EDIT: BoardGameGeek has a very helpful cheat sheet for piquet that helps make sense of all the scoring.