In the 1740′s Englishman Edmond Hoyle earned extra income by tutoring high society at the game of whist, a precursor to modern bridge. When he discovered that there was no published set of rules for the game, he authored A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist. Hoyle’s book quickly became a best-seller and he went on to publish other works like A Short Treatise on the Game of Backgammon, An Artificial Memory for Whist, and Short Treatises on the games of Piquet (which included sections about Chess and Quadrille). Eventually, Hoyle’s work overcame the leading standard, The Compleat Gamester, and became the authority for play according to the rules. The phrase “according to Hoyle” became synonymous for the final authority on a subject, or any set of official rules. Even today, many modern card game rule books reference Hoyle in their title. August 29th, the anniversary of Hoyle’s Death in 1769, is observed as “According to Hoyle” Day, offering game-players everywhere a chance to remember Endmond Hoyle and have some fun playing according to the rules.
When I was a kid I used to love playing card games, and even chess, but I hated learning all of the seemingly endless rules. Once I learned a game I was a fair to decent player. But like so many things in life, since I didn’t play the games on a regular basis, I’ve long forgotten how. And when I consider the sad fact that I can’t remember the basics of Chess (or even Go Fish), it’s almost comical to think that my parents tried to teach me Bridge on several occasions! Sorry, Mom and Dad — I guess I’m not cut out for the kind of “fun” that requires so much concentration! A few uncomplicated rounds of Poker are about as far as I’ve gotten with a stack of cards over the past couple of years.
This evening Chris and I celebrated “According to Hoyle” Day by brushing up on our game skills. I installed an app on my iPhone named “Learn Chess” to re-familiarize myself with all the rules. I’d forgotten all the little caveats and, to be honest, it was a little overwhelming. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the patience needed to be any good, especially considering the fact that I dislike most strategy games that require players to think so many steps ahead. And, unfortunately, I’m not very good at the few think-ahead strategy games that I actually do like (like Scrabble an Monopoly). But that’s not going to stop me from trying — Chris and I both installed the Chess.com app so we can practice our moves against each other. But first, I spent most of the evening playing against “the computer” and using the built-in hints to pickup on useful strategies. Still, I doubt I’ve done enough homework to beat Chris. I guess there’s no time like the present to find out.
Tomorrow’s “unofficial” is less about strategy and more about fun! It’s National Toasted Marshmallows Day.