Games Deflect Pandemic Doldrums

By Ann Lally

Maribel’s Favorite Games

No doubt, you’ve read recent predictions that the pandemic will surge this autumn, and that most people will continue to experience occasional funks. By now, you’ve probably overloaded on televised content. We might be living in the Renaissance of streamed shows, but all that watching can feel isolating.

We turned to Altima Palm Beach President, Maribel Alvarez, for helpful tips to enliven spirits and have fun. She has two adult sons, a daughter and her husband, and grandson in her COVID ‘bubble’, along with some close-in friends. Like everyone else, she looks for ways to remain connected and engaged with them, and with those she can only see through her desktop after work. Here, she offers some great suggestions.

So what is a healthy or uplifting activity, besides exercise, for you?

Games, NOT video games, have always been a part of my life. My mother, an excellent backgammon player, thankfully taught me to play from an early age.  Backgammon was not only the game of choice at home, but also with my peers during my formative years abroad. The tradition has been passed on to my children, who were once easy to beat but have now mastered their wining skills through expert on-line tutorials. My son swears by an Ap called Backgammon XG, I understand it takes advanced players to a level of expertise. It’s on my list to try out. For beginners, we recommend visiting this You tube link,  where Bucky makes it real simple.

Alexis and Mom

Maribel and daughter Alexis play backgammon in their COVID “bubble”.

For people starting out, I like this board, because you can close it and carry it to another room, or to another home, easily. It retails for about $40.

Ready to trade up? Here is one for about $1500.

What about games for, say, 4 or 5 participants at home?

Our family loves any game that involves trivia. Smartass is one of our favorites. It’s engaging and fast paced and doesn’t require expertise in any particular subject. Baloney, also based on trivia, challenges one’s bluffing abilities. Another fun game that’s easy to travel with is Catchphrase, a hybrid of password and charades which is a handy electronic device with a built-in timer. Talk about fast paced, this game is great for large groups.

Board Games

Rummikub is another family favorite. A form of Rummy with tiles. It requires strategic thinking and concentration, though of course, the luck of getting a ‘smiley’ comes in handy! And of course, a game of Scrabble with a multi-lingual group never gets boring as we continue to discover words that could have almost existed in the English language… (Thank God for Scrabble Dictionary!)

What about other, say, on-line games?

Well don’t forget backgammon…There are lots of opportunities on line to play tournaments at all levels.  I’ve been discovered on sleepless nights playing with a mystery opponent online. There are several free sites, this one also offers card games. 

Robert ‘Tino’ Riva at World Poker Series

Do you have any favorite card games?

Let me ask this. Do you have sons? If so, I suggest learning poker. I’ve never mastered it, but my kids play it. My son actually participated in the World Poker Tour, at the age of 18,  and cashed in The World Series of the Poker Main Event 2012! Not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but I’ll share his preferred site for advanced poker training. 

I have not learned bridge. Some players say it’s hard. Others say it’s not. I know two things: you need good card memory to play, and it was invented by former MI-6 members of the British Secret Service. I’m not sure whether I could learn it or play it while enjoying a cocktail, so I haven’t picked it up yet. Ann, your former client and bridge instructor, Melissa Bernhardt, is a bridge offers bridge practice books online.