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Subject: Mated by Madame rss

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Robert
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Stalemated, that is…

I always enjoy playing games with my wife. Although we enjoy a games night with several players whenever we can arrange one, more often than not it’s just the two of us playing head to head. We have found that Mr. Jack is an excellent game for us when we are in the mood for one of our more challenging two-player games.

Until now, we have played with a “no guessing” house-rule which is suggested elsewhere on BGG as a tip for beginner Mr. Jack players. If the detective player doesn’t know clearly who to accuse then, by this rule, he cannot accuse anyone. No guessing allowed. This rule has allowed Mr. Jack to win a fair proportion of our games as it has occasionally led to games where we have got to the 8th and final turn without having clearly indentified the suspect. We have called those games a win for the player playing Mr. Jack due to the “no guessing” rule. Usually she is playing Jack in these situations, by the way…

Well, I think we’ve got to throw out the house rule after our last game. Now, I have always considered there to be a distinction between “sportsmanship” and “gamesmanship”. My definition of sportsmanship, is playing by the rules, playing in the spirit of the game, trying to win, but also trying to maintain a camaraderie relationship… Gamesmanship on the other hand, is playing by the rules, but splitting hairs on the interpretation of the rules in order to win at any cost. Now, I am not accusing my wife of trying to destroy our relationship over a board game, but what she did in our last game was pretty sneaky, in my opinion…

So, it goes like this. We agreed she would play as Mr. Jack. She dealt herself 5 character cards, dealt me 4 and we both picked 2 characters to play in the game (alongside the 4 basic characters) as per the Extension game rules. Her optional characters were Ms. Stealthy and Madame, mine were Joseph Lane and Sgt. Goodley. She then secretly drew the alibi card which would tell her which of her characters Mr. Jack had disguised himself as. It was then her role to try and get that character off the board; to help Mr. Jack escape from the Whitechapel district…

Knowing that she would play Jack, and seeing her choose Ms. Stealthy for the game immediately put me on my guard – both because of the statistics I have read regarding Ms. Stealthy’s high escape percentage and my personal experience with this powerful character for the Jack player – so I watched Ms. Stealthy closely.

After the second turn, I had identified that Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Lestrade, Joseph Lane and Sgt. Goodley were all innocent, leaving the other 4 characters as suspects. Over the next few turns my wife did a great job of keeping the 4 remaining characters in the same light phase and picking the Holmes card whenever she could to keep me from getting any more clues as to Mr. Jack’s identity.

Without going through all the moves in detail I recall, in hindsight, that I played the Madame character each of the 4 times she appeared in our full 8 turn game. My wife never touched her. She also won, in the 8th round after distracting me with a combination of John Smith and Jeremy Bert. An escape opportunity appeared in the 8th round for Bert to move a manhole cover in order to allow Smith to pop off the board. “She’s won – it was Smith”, I thought, but she did not make the move. It was then that I realized that she was playing Madame as Mr. Jack. However, in the 7th round I had moved her into position to guard all three of Smith, Bert and Stealthy, using Madame’s extended range of movement, but I had also inadvertently moved her out of reach of anybody else to catch her in the 8th round. I had assumed that she was on my side and left her totally untouchable. Doh!

So, there you have it. My wife knew that all she had to do was to play to not get caught for 8 turns and she would win. She won without ever having played her character! Victory by stalemate!

She used the rules that we had established in order to help to level the playing field to her advantage. It was a victory according to our rules, but was it a “sporting” victory?

In the immortal words of a certain rabbit: “Of course you realize, this means war…”
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jouslare wrote:
It was a victory according to our rules, but was it a “sporting” victory?


Absolutely. And if it has also motivated you to play by the proper rules, you both win.
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I don't get what was "unsporting" about how your wife played. Are you saying it was somehow unsporting that she successfully kept several possible suspects till the end? Or that you moved Madame all 4 times? Or that she chose to include Miss Stealthy in the deck? Or that she successfully got you to think Smith was Jack? Or that she won as Jack? Or what? Are you kidding, or actually (half?) serious that something about her play was "unsporting"?
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Well, I think we’ve got to throw out the house rule after our last game. Now, I have always considered there to be a distinction between “sportsmanship” and “gamesmanship”. My definition of sportsmanship, is playing by the rules, playing in the spirit of the game, trying to win, but also trying to maintain a camaraderie relationship… Gamesmanship on the other hand, is playing by the rules, but splitting hairs on the interpretation of the rules in order to win at any cost. Now, I am not accusing my wife of trying to destroy our relationship over a board game, but what she did in our last game was pretty sneaky, in my opinion…
What hairs did she split in interpreting the rules? What did she do that was against the spirit of the game, or that ruined camaraderie? None of what your wife did seems remotely unsporting or against the game's rules and spirit to me. Being "sneaky" is part of the game! The Jack player is supposed to keep the Detective player from figuring out who Jack is...

I am baffled by your post! For me it sounds like someone saying
Quote:
We played chess, which for me means to push pieces around and have fun, but my opponent actually started to think and analyze the situation, and then they won! I don't want to say they were cheating exactly, but it seems pretty unsporting to me...
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Robert
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russ wrote:
Are you kidding, or actually (half?) serious that something about her play was "unsporting"?

Yes, I wrote this to sound like I was more upset than I really was. I thought it was an entertaining way to write a session report of an interesting game where she won without ever playing her character. A situation aided by our "no guessing" rule. She is an excellent opponent and very smart. As Sphere has posted above, it shows we are ready to take the "training wheels" off and get rid of our house rules.

I like your chess quote.
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jouslare wrote:
russ wrote:
Are you kidding, or actually (half?) serious that something about her play was "unsporting"?
Yes, I wrote this to sound like I was more upset than I really was.

OK cool... after some of the BGG threads I've seen where some people sincerely complain about players "trying to win" too much instead of "just having fun", I really wasn't sure.
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