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Subject: Stepping Back 30 Years rss

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Randy Cox
United States
Clemson
South Carolina
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There was a time, dear reader, when we didn't have BGG. For that matter, we didn't really have much of an Internet. Even though Al Gore helped to invent it when I was still a wee lad of eight, we really didn't have much use for it until about the time "modern gaming" (the German Game Revolution) got into full swing. Before that time, we had to read printed periodicals for our gaming fix. And those periodicals mentioned mostly American games, old and (then) new.

One of those many pamphlets I read was The Games Report from the Gamers Alliance. I don't know if it's still around, but it was something we waited for much the same way we later waited for Sumo to come out and tell us of all the great games out there. The difference with GA was that Mr. Levy, the proprieter, also sold used games. So, though I think most of the reviews were correct, he had a vested interest in making old games sound really good so that you'd want to pay his high rates to obtain those out-of-print jewels. (Note: I have nothing against Mr. Levy--I purchased many games from him and I was never disappointed with the service).

Anyway, many moons ago I purchased several out-of-print American games. Many of them were sports games, as I used to attempt to collect all sports games (particularly golf), election games, and something else that eludes me now (I've come so far). One of these games was an old 1975 tennis game from Parker Brothers titled, simply, Tennis.

Back then, and to an extent now, I looked at older games as a time machine to a past that is gone, gone forever. A time when games were meant first and foremost to entertain. When a game wasn't supposed to make you think, at least not much. And along those lines, it's hard to disappoint.

Well, I've begun to purge much of my collection, particularly sports games, so I needed to finally test drive these games that had been sitting on my shelf for all these years (yes, I purchased games from the Alliance and then never played them).

So, tonight my dear wife sat down to play three games with me and Tennis was her choice as the lead game.

Components
The game consists of a very small and light-weight tennis court board. Green. White. Lines. That's it. There is also a pawn (to let you remember from which side you most recently served) and a little disk, which is the ball. The ball can be in any of three court locations--backcourt, right forecourt, and left forecourt.

There are also two decks of cards, Play and Serve.

The Serve Deck is made up of 25 cards: 16 say In, 3 say Ace, and 6 say Fault.


The Play Deck is made up of (in my case) 54 cards: 4 say Smash, 4 say Kill, 2 say Out, and the rest (44) show shots from one area over the net to one of the three areas on in the other player's court. I wonder if there should be 45 such cards, as there are 5 of each combination (backcourt to backcourt, backcourt to left forecourt, backcourt to right forecourt, etc) except for one which has only 4 cards.


These cards are of fine quality. Nothing special, which is OK. The pictures on the card backs do seem like fuzzy images of Bjorn Borg or some other notable tennis player of the day.

Rules
Each player is dealt 10 cards from the play deck. One player is first server (determined by alternately selecting a card from the Serve Deck until someone gets an "Ace").

The server flips the top card from the (now reshuffled) serve deck. Usually, it says "In" and that puts the ball in play in the opposing player's forecourt opposite the side the server started on (just like the rules of real tennis). If it says "Ace," the server scores the point. If it says "Fault," the server flips the next card and if it's a "Fault," he has double-faulted and given the point to the opponent.

Assuming the ball is in play, the volley commences. Players can play a volley card (from one position to another) if they have one originating from the court area where the ball currently lies. They may also play s "Smash" from any court position. A "Smash" will win the point, provided the opponent doesn't follow it with a "Kill" card. A "Kill" card can be played at any time after the serve to win the point. A player may always play an invalid card or an "Out" card to concede the point (or simply concede without playing a card at all).

That's it. Serve and volley. The catch is that you don't replenish your 10-card hand until the game (0-15-30-40-game progression) is won by someone. So the server is always playing with more cards in-hand (since he gets his first shot 'free' from the serve deck). Thus, it's hard to break serve.

Once a game is decided, serve passes to the other player and everyone replenishes their hand.

Players continue in this manner until someone has won at least 6 games and has at least 2 more winning games than the opponent.

Our play
I won serve at 9:05 and promptly failed to hold my serve. My wife somehow destroyed me 15-50 (I use 50 as the score for 'game'). I then thought, "This isn't like real tennis." But from that point on, we almost always held serve until the sixth game of the match when I broke her serve (also 15-50), mostly due to two double-faults she committed. We had only 4 such errors in the entire set.

So we then traded serve, always winning when we were serving until we were tied at 6-6. In the 10th game of the set, I ran out of cards, at which point, I simply sit back and hope for double faults, which didn't happen. With us tied, we decided not to play until someone actually led by 2 or more games. We invented a tiebreaker where we each got 15 cards and then alternated serve (me, then her twice, then me twice, etc) until someone reached 7 winning points.

She clobbered me as I won only 2 points in the tiebreak period. She ended it all on two consecutive kill shots at 9:54.

Impression
Well, it really does feel like an old American game from 1975. There wasn't a lot of strategy, though hand management and conceding shots did have an impact on the outcome. Mostly, though, it was a way to waste time--which is what games used to be. So it succeded in that regard.

For those interested, the scores of each were (B = break, H = held serve). Losing player's score noted (winner always has 50):

B 15
H 30
H 0
H 40
H 15
B 15
H 30
H 15
H 40
H 40
H 30
H 15
Tiebreaker 7-2

Would I play again? I'm sure there could be a reason to do so, but I'm not looking for it in any active way. It just doesn't really do much for me now and I doubt it would have in 1975. But an avid tennis player who isn't a gamer might like it a bit more.
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Kris Verbeeck
Belgium
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I believe the right way to say is that you hold or lose your service on love, fifteen, thirthy or you hold or lose your serve after having been on deuce.


the love comes from playing for the love of the game. Until you have not scored a point your a simply playing for love of the game.

Another popular explanation is that it is derived from oeuf. Because it is shaped like 0 oeuf = egg.

edit:

and the deuce comes from the french word deux (two) meaning that you have to gain an advantage of two points to win the game.
 
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Randy Cox
United States
Clemson
South Carolina
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I tried to avoid the term "deuce" here because it's handled funny in this game. Should a game ever reach deuce (40-40), the next point wins in this game. You do not have to go through an "advantage" point and win by 2 (because you'd run out of cards, presumably). Hence, my reluctance to talk in those terms.
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