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Links: Playing UNO for Cash, Cheating at Bridge, and Going from Game to Puzzle

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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• UK book publisher Welbeck Publishing has already released three puzzle books based on games in the Asmodee family — Catan, Unlock!, and Ticket to Ride — and in 2022 it plans to release two more based on Pandemic and Dobble (a.k.a. Spot it!), with these being authored by Jason Ward, who wrote the Unlock! Puzzle Book.

Here are short descriptions of these upcoming titles:
The Dobble Puzzle Book contains more than 100 visual puzzles based on the award-winning and best-selling card game. Favorite Dobble icons appear in puzzles ranging from Spot the difference and Mazes, to Odd One Out and cartoon Sudoku, including head-to-head puzzles to be played against others.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

The Pandemic Escape Room Puzzle Book features images and locations familiar to anyone who knows and loves the original board games in a series of chapters containing visual cryptic conundrums for the reader to ponder over, translating the Pandemic game into a thrilling global narrative.
From gallery of W Eric Martin
• In the "old news that's new to me category", since 2018 MyMiniFactory has offered an online store for "3D designers to monetize their STL files and creations", and it's now expanded its offerings to have crowdfunding campaigns, a "stories" section in which creators write about their work, and a Tribes subscription system that has more than 60 creators promising to release new 3D content each month. MMF promises that creators receive 90% of the sales revenue generated on the site.

• BGG admin and sometimes Queen Melissa Rogerson is overseeing a survey related to playing games during the Covid-19 pandemic. You can go directly to the survey here, or you can click through her Twitter and Facebook posts, perhaps sharing them with others at the same time to expand the potential pool of respondents.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

• How did 30 bridge teams respond when asked to face off against alleged cheaters in a tournament? They refused to play, as explained in this highly entertaining article by David Owen of The New Yorker. Here's an excerpt from this October 2021 publication:
[Fulvio] Fantoni and a regular playing partner of his, Claudio Nunes, were once ranked No. 1 and No. 2 by the World Bridge Federation, but, for years, opponents suspected that they were cheating...

In 2014, videos of matches at the European bridge championships were uploaded on YouTube for the first time. Maaijke Mevius, a physicist in the Netherlands, had heard the rumors about Fantoni and Nunes — or Fantunes, as they are sometimes known — and decided to study some of their games. She wasn't an expert player, but she thought that her training as a scientist might help her spot anomalies that better players had missed. Sure enough, she noticed something odd: when Fantoni and Nunes played a card in certain situations, they sometimes placed it on the table horizontally, and sometimes vertically. She shared her observation with Boye Brogeland, a Norwegian professional player, who has been instrumental in exposing prominent cheaters. An ad-hoc team of expert players quickly cracked the code: in eighty-two of eighty-five instances, they determined, Fantoni and Nunes placed a card on the table vertically when their hands contained an unseen ace, king, or queen of the same suit, or when their hands contained no other card of the same suit; otherwise, they placed it horizontally. (Fantoni and Nunes have denied all allegations of cheating, and have declined to comment.)
From gallery of W Eric Martin
• In November 2021, as part of its 50th anniversary campaign for UNO, Mattel hosted the "first-ever official UNO Championship Series Vegas Invitational Tournament", with the champion — Sacramento State college student Aldwin Rodriguez — winning a $50,000 grand prize.

Oh, wait, a press release from Mattel notes that the event is actually "the first-ever official UNO Championship Series Vegas Invitational Tournament powered by Mobil 1" — and that "powered by Mobil 1" is an odd thing to see in a game tournament logo, but perhaps only because I don't normally follow auto racing events...although this quote from the press release doesn't make things any less odd:
"The Mobil 1 team is thrilled to partner with Mattel for this unique consumer experience celebrating a half century of the iconic family card game, UNO," said Bryce Huschka, North America consumer marketing manager for ExxonMobil. "Mobil 1, the world's leading synthetic motor oil brand, strives to partner with other industry leaders to give fans one-of-a-kind experiences that can be valued and cherished for years to come."
The event was hosted by professional gamer and YouTuber Ninja (Tyler Blevins), who I learned about years ago thanks to a Fortnite-playing son, and internet personality Hannah Stocking, whose existence I learned of while writing this post, with tennis star Venus Williams(!) recording a TikTok video for Mattel's UNO channel.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
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