Annual hearts game: birthday tradition

Queen of spadesWay back in late 1987, hearts, the card game, was played at the home of WBS in Albany. Somehow, through some alchemy that is difficult to explain, it would take place there four, five, even six nights a week at his home.

There were a group of about a dozen people who showed up in different permutations at his house to participate. Most knew where the spare key was.

Occasionally, it took place even when WBS wasn’t home. Specifically, on May 4, 1988, when he called to schedule a game, but work kept him away until after midnight. So three of us played without him.

His sainted wife was aware of this arrangement, but due to the design of the house, specifically the bedroom, she was not disturbed by the comings and goings of these folks.

I should note that we operated by different rules. Traditionally, a hearts hand is started with a lead of the two of clubs, and as a result, no points could be dropped on the first trick. Online games are designed in that manner.

We decided this was a stupid directive; almost every other card game involves the player to the left of the dealer starting the round, so we did that. This meant the queen of spades could be played on the first trick; it’s worth 13 points, and as in golf, points are bad.

A few years later, WBS and his sainted wife moved out to the country, and the hearts games ended. People started having kids, life got complicated, and that was that.

UNTIL six years ago, when my wife asked what I wanted for my birthday. I said, “I want to invite people over to play hearts.” And it was so. Then we did it the next year, and it became an annual tradition.

Well, except for one year, when my wife said we ought to do it another weekend, because the designated weekend was busy, which was true. As a result, it didn’t happen at all, because EVERY weekend is busy.

This year, as usual, the hearts game is scheduled for the Saturday after my birthday. OGA is always late but brings the lasagna. MPH usually brings baked goods. As some writer noted, “A splendid time is guaranteed for all.”

For ABC Wednesday