The Rummy Family

Some of the crew gamble incessantly and some intermittently, just as some abstain out of principle, and others simply have other interests, such as the guitarist. Another example of such a character who was on the airship for that voyage is Vyzby.

Vyzby is interesting to the point of incomprehensible and beyond. While the others are for the most point happy to play obscure games with extremely complex rules, she pushes this tendency to such an extreme that she mostly plays solitaire.

She eschews standard card decks for ones that she designs and makes herself (and the same for non-card games as well). That particular evening she was occupying a small table with a huge mound of what looked to be at least dozen decks of cards, although it turns out that each and every card was unique. Some of the cards contained only a simple large unadorned numeral, but others had glyphs and characters written in scripts some of which I could guess at, and others of which I could not.

“How do you play?” I asked. “It’s fun.” was the slightly orthogonal answer. “What’s that card?” I countered, but shouldn’t have because the answer was simply “seventy-three” which didn’t make sense to me. I watched in silence for a while hoping to understand through observation and the application of logic. There were four “draw” piles, three face-up, and one face-down. I couldn’t discern the pattern of when a card was drawn from which. There was a discard pile, and her “hand” seemed to be a large number of face-up cards frequently rearranged. Sometimes sets were clearly melded in sets of three, and placed on the side. After I watched for a while, I was informed that I probably wouldn’t figure out the rules until I could read the cards, at which point it would be “easy”. After that, the explanation started coming out, but it was intermixed with strategic notes which made it hard follow. I could tell by now that this game was related to the Rummy family and I had a starting point.

“I like how you call it the Rummy Family.” she responded to one of my question-observations “but if it’s a family, this is that cousin who suddenly moved to a distant country where he was an exchange student 20 years ago, because he finally realized that he feels more kinship with his host family there than his actual relations.” That’s typical for a conversation with Vyzby. “Look: here in the Chinese characters I only have the 7, 12, and 28. Plus, I have the 12 in Mayan numerals. So, I want to keep all of them, because there’s a lot of combinations that could work …”

At last, I decided to go because it was time for me to do some writing, but I still hadn’t figured out the game. I asked if Vyzby could spare the time later to teach me to “read the cards” properly. At that, she was clearly very pleased.