John’s Game of the Year #5: Old Maid

We’re on to Game #5 from my/John’s goal to play an average of one board or card game per week for the year of 2021. We’ve finally moved away from his 8-pack of games and played an old tried-and-true game that even a 3-year-old could figure out, Old Maid.

The Game: Old Maid

The version of Old Maid we have…

Players: 2… John and me

Date: 7:50-8:20pm, Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Who doesn’t remember how to play this classic card game? It’s one of the few games played with an odd number of cards. There are two of each card, forming pairs. In this version it’s alliterative kids and occupations, including Farmer Finnegan, Author Abigail, Doctor Dakota and more. Get two of a kind, set them out.

The Old Maid, of course, does not have a match, and if you are left holding that card at the end of the game, you lose and everyone else wins. Nothing is more defeating to a child than being the only loser while everyone else celebrates around you!

I myself remember childhood tantrums and meltdowns over this cruel game. Would it be any different with another sore loser, 6-year-old John?

How Old Maid Went

Hahahaha, how do you think it went?

Before anyone had even taken a turn, John was already in tears because he was starting the game with Old Maid in hand. I explained the likelihood of me not picking that card the entire game was very low.

With just two players, every single turn meant a pair was formed and removed from the game. Obviously, any card you draw from the other person’s hand will complete a pair in your hand.

John got more and more worried as the game went on and I had still not taken Old Maid from him. John was gripping all of the non-maid cards super tight so I wouldn’t be able to pull them from his hand, while leaving Old Maid in the middle, poked out above the others, loose and easy to pull out. Of course, I took the Old Maid, to which John roared with approval and laughter!

It came down to the last three cards, as any game with two players does. John had to choose from two cards in my hand, and chose wrong, taking Old Maid back from me. I then selected the non Maid card from John, completing the final pair and ending the game, a win for me.

You can guess what happened next. Rather than a gracious “good game, Dad!” or some such thing, the tears started flowing and the little fella ran out into the kitchen screaming and bawling, claiming I had cheated and that it should only be a practice round.

The Stats

Ease: 10/10. As long as you can fan out cards and hold them in your hand, you can play.

Entertainment: 4/10. It’s a little too simplistic to be considered particularly entertaining.

Meltdown Factor: 9/10. The fact that there is only one loser—rather than the traditional game of having only one winner—makes it all the likelier the loser will cry.

Time: 8/10. Dealing the cards and checking for pairs before starting exchanging cards is the most time-consuming part of the game.

Likelihood of Child Actually Beating Parent: 9/10. It’s all a matter of luck, so it’s very possible.

Dad’s Review

Rating: 4/10

While this instance resulted in chaotic meltdown right before bed, it could have gone just the opposite had John won. I imagine the game would be more entertaining with more than two players.

John’s Review

Rating: 8/10

After the fact, John declared Old Maid a hit and his second favorite game, surprisingly.

Record

John is now 4-1, previously “beating” me in Bold, Blink, Pic Flip, and Dos.

4 comments

  1. I’d like to see a match up of John vs Nick Assmann who is the worst sport I’ve ever met. Your descriptions of John’s meltdowns or anxiety about POSSIBLY losing sound just like Nick. Every game ends in bawling, claiming someone else cheated, trying to grab cards away from people still in the game. It’s a mess

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