This is our 100th episode and in celebration we’re bringing you board game treasures from over a 100 years ago.

First up we find out how rich pleasure cruisers passed their time a century ago before there were round the clock buffets as we play Contract Bridge.

Next we fly back millennia as we help build a great wall with our friends and then try to win it from them in Mahjong.

Lastly it’s the middle ages and we pit ruthless invaders against a well protected king in a race to the edge in Hnefatafl: The Viking Game.

Contract Bridge

Designed by:Harold Stirling Vanderbilt (1925)
Players: 4

In Contract Bridge, or simply “Bridge”, two partnerships are pitted against each other in a trick taking card game that uses a standard deck. 

The first phase is the auction, where partners communicate information about their hands by bidding, in order to arrive at a successful contract. The contract specifies how many tricks must be taken by the team that wins the bid. 

Then, the team that won the bid tries to win as many tricks as possible while playing both hands from the partnership. One hand is played normally while the other (the “dummy hand”) is placed face-up on the table, allowing for greater control. 

The defenders attempt to take enough tricks to make the contract fail.

A game continues until one partnership earns 100 points “below the line”; 

And the first partnership to win two games wins the rubber!

Mahjong

Players: 3 – 4

Mahjong is an ancient Chinese game, played with a set of 144 tiles, that is similar to Rummy. Four players take turns drawing from the wall, or from the other players’ discards, in an attempt to form a set of “Melds”.

A “Chow” is a numeric sequence (e.g., 5-6-7 of the same suit). 
A “Pung” is three of the same tile
A “Kung” is four of the same tile, which can be taken out of turn from the discard.  
An “Eye” is a pair of tiles, which can only be taken from the discards to win the game calling out “Mah Jong”.

A winning set must have 4 melds and one eye.

Hnefatafl: The Viking Game

Players: 2

Tafl games (also known as hnefatafl games) are a family of ancient Nordic and Celtic strategy board games played on a checkered or latticed game board with two asymmetrical  armies referred to as the attackers and the defender. 

The defender and his entourage begin in the center of the board with the attackers surrounding them on each side. Each piece moves orthogonally and may move as far as it wants until blocked by another piece, the edge of the board, or a one of several special restricted spaces that only the king may occupy. To remove an enemy piece, you just need to place one of your pieces on opposing sides of it. 

The goals are simple. For the attacker, surround the king on all 4 sides. For the defender, get the king to one of their special spaces located in the corners of the board.

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