A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Thursday, 17 February 2011

Hooptedoodle #17 - Sebastopol


I just switched on my mail browser to be told that "Faster is Funner" in the banner advert provided by my Internet service provider. They really shouldn't say these things to people like me, who live in the Front of Beyond and only receive a sub-half-meg service (especially when I have to wait for their pesky ad to download before I can read my mail), but mostly I was distracted by the ad - faster is what? Good grief.

Someone recently sent me the following, which definitely strikes a chord:

"Her vocabulary was so poor that she was, like, whatever".

Anyway, that's not the point of this posting. Matriculus emailed me again. Fine, I hear you mutter, just email him back. Well, it's not that straightforward.

He said, "Interested in the dominoes game. Why is it called Sebastopol, and how do you play it?". First bit of that is easy - I have no idea. It probably has something to do with the battle. Second bit should also be no problem, but before I sent off a reply, I checked online for the official rules of Sebastopol and - you guessed it - the official game of Sebastopol is quite a bit different from what we play. This is a serious issue - I am in real trouble if I have misinformed my son in this matter.

I learned the game which we call Sebastopol when I was about 12, I guess. I can't find any other dominoes game which has quite the same rules, so if anyone has any ideas I shall be most grateful.


Sebastopol, or not

Game is thus. For 2 players, each takes 10 tiles - rest go face-down in the boneyard. Starting player (winner of previous game, or reigning champion, in our house) plays a double of his own choice. If he has no doubles, the other player starts. Play proceeds in 4 directions from this initial double, but there is no need for all 4 directions to be played. No number may be played until the double of that number has been played, so at any moment numbers are "open" or "closed". If you can't play, you may pick up one tile from the boneyard. If you still can't go, you pass, or "knock" (or "chap" if you are in Scotland). If you play your last tile, you have won. If no-one can play then the player with the "lightest" hand (least spots) wins. If the spots are equal, the players go outside and fight to the death with knives. I made that last bit up, to see if anyone was paying attention.

The feature whereby numbers remain closed until the double is played adds a bit of spice to the strategy. You can play with 3 players (7 tiles each) or 4 players (5 tiles).

I propose to brass this out, and continue to call the game Sebastopol, but any better-informed opinion would be most welcome.

Good game - recommended.

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