Tag Archives: sports

Long term rook battles

One of the things that makes rook so fun is challenging the same opponents over and over again until after many nights of repeat play, one team takes the overall championship.  Last year, my wife and I took on a challenge to battle two of our good friends in rook with the first team getting to 100 wins would get a dinner purchased by the losers (a win would be getting to 500 pts).  Over the course of many nights of play, we got all the way up to 88 wins, by the leading team and 83 wins by the losing team, but one of the teammates had regular life get in the way and had to move out of town.  So we were left with a void to complete this epic series.

How disappointing!  Only 20 more matches or so and a winner would be revealed.  Truthfully, a free dinner was a fairly small prize for how much winning needed to be done to get to the finish line.

So now on to 2012, and in steps a new partner and a new match.  With our eyes set on a smaller number we have 1 win down in our chase to 25 wins.   Hopefully this time regular life will allow us to complete the series and crown the ‘dinner is served’ champion!

16 Person Round-robin Rook Tournament: Instructional Guide

Bracket with 4 TeamsDue to a request, I have decided to create a post for how a set partner rook tournament would go with 16 people.  With round-robin, you have two stages of the tournament.  The round-robin portion which basically produces two tournament brackets to complete the tournament.

Initial Notes

  • 16 People
  • 8 Teams
  • Broken up into two different groups
  • Final tournament to crown one team as champion
  • Each round should be played either for time or to certain points

The Setup

With 8 teams, you will ultimately need to break up your group into two divisions. Randomly place 4 teams in one division and 4 teams in another division.  These 4 teams will then play each other to seed themselves in the tournament bracket portion.

Round-Robin Stage

During the Round-robin stage, the four teams will play each team in their division.  So for group A that has teams 1 through 4, each team will play three rounds.  Team 1 vs 2, while team 3 vs 4.  Then team 1 vs 3 while team 2 vs 4.  Finally team 1 vs 4 while team 2 vs 3.

After the 3 games are played, the scores are are recorded and calculated to see the seeding.  The rankings of the teams from the round robin group are as follows:

  1. Most wins
  2. Point differential in games.  Add total points for and subtract total points against.  (If tied for wins)
  3. Who looks the best (if tied for point differential)

The top 2 teams from each pool then go on to the winners bracket while the bottom two teams go on to the losers bracket.

Tournament Bracket Portion

There will be a winners bracket and a losers bracket now.  Team ranked 1 from pool A will play team ranked 2 from pool B while team ranked 1 from pool B will play team ranked 2 from pool A.  The winners of this match will then play a final game vs each other to produce a winner.

Some people choose not to have a losers bracket, it is up to you if you want to play a losers bracket.  If you do, it would be the same concept where team ranked 3 from pool A would play team ranked 4 from pool B, and so forth.

Winner is Crowned

In total, you are looking at 5 total games to produce a clear winner with all the bragging rights for the day.  Congratulations to you, but you can expect you victory will be short lived as someone else is ready to take over your crown the next rook tournament.

Additional Notes

  • Some people choose to play games to 500 pts and do not time the games.  The downfall with this is one game could end in 20 minutes while another game could end in 2 hours.  Other people choose to just play timed matches.  40 minutes per match and whoever is winning by the end of the time get the victory.  This can throw a wrinkle in some strategies for extending games, but keeps time to a minimum.
  • You can expect that this tournament may take about 4 – 5 hours to crown a winner (possibly more with longer games).    So be prepared for a long night if you start a 10:00pm!

Taking a Rook Hiatus: Why Some Players Think Rook Has No Strategy

Rook Strategy

It has been almost six months since we played our last competitive match of rook.  Wow, since I learned to play 5 years ago, I never thought it would occur.   There are simply so many people that play rook and consistently great fun each time we play.  However, sometimes all it takes is one or two people getting tired of the rook game to cause a real stir in the game’s consistency.

One of our good friends that we play a lot of games with (board games, card games, etc.) has decided that the rook game lacks in strategic playing.  This is a real surprise to me as I have found that there enough strategy involved in the game that I needed to write about it.  And so I did.  I also find myself discussing strategies with other players during and after games, just to get their opinion on different decisions made.

Let’s take a look at the non-strategic game of rook

So what might make the game of rook more about luck than strategy?  Well, there are a number of elements about rook that can really cause a person to simply not find a lot of skill involved in the game.

  • The 5 card kitty – It is definitely true that the rook game’s kitty is an extremely lucky portion of the game.  Every player at the table is gambling on whether or not those 5 cards are going to make or break your hand.  Bidders can sometimes simply bid higher and “hope” that the kitty is strong enough to make their hand worthy of the high bid.
  • Your partners hand matching yours – Even the most “skilled” of rook players cannot stop a team when their opponents hands match perfectly.   One player has the 1 of trump.  The partner has the 14 of trump.  And each of them have 6 trump cards in their hand.  Then the off suit colors match as well.   Yes, there simply are those times when you cannot stop opponents with matching hands.

What makes Rook about Skill?

If these matters above weight heavily on your rook game playing, you may be missing out on some finer points of the game which send it to a level of strategy.

  • Playing with weak hands – Anyone can win when they are dealt monster hands, but being able to correctly predict your bid and make a bid when you do not have a lot of power is what really can separate those that think the game is just luck, and those that see the finer points in the game.  With 200 points, there is a lot of room to make mistakes, but when you are bidding higher and higher for the scale of your hand, it takes making as few mistakes as possible to make sure that you are going to  retrieve every possible point card you can.   Strategy kicks in when you can maximize the amount of points you and your opponent are able to take each round and correctly bid (or allow opponent to win bidding) accordingly.
  • Knowing when to try and set your opponent – Because rook is a game of rounds, you do not need to have exactly the same aggression in each round.  Some rounds you may find that you can take some extra risks in your bidding, while other times you may have a strong hand but try to sink your opponent with the hand to get your team a better chance to win.  When you play an entire game to 500, you have a bit of room to strategies in each game.  Try to mix it up to throw your opponents off and play around with your bidding strategies.
  • Know your opponent – Just like any card game, you don’t really have to see a person’s cards to gain insight into what cards they have in their hand.  If you know what cards they have in their hand, would that change the card you play?  If you know your opponent only is holing the 14 of a color in their hand, you would certainly play the 1 right then if you had it.  There are many cases where you can make educated guesses as to what your opponenet might be holding based on their playing history.   Some people like to play all their power cards right at the beginning.  Others you can expect they may save their power cards to the very end.  You may even catch different player’s strategies on what they leave in the Kitty (point cards, voiding a color, or dropping all low cards).  All of these different tendencies can lead you to some great insight on what your opponents are holding throughout the game.

No the game of rook is not like playing chess.  The game of chess is highly involved and simply has a vast amount strategy due to the possibility of moves involved in every play.  However, we have found that the players that believe that there is no strategy in rook are the same players that look at games by simply a matter of numbers and percentages.  They see that there is a high percentage of cards in both the kitty and teammate and they then say that therefore there is too much luck involved to allow for skill to play a significant role in the game playing.  It is these same players that find themselves over bidding their hands and getting sunk on what should be an easy win.  It is also these same players that miss opportunities to play point cards to your teammate by not being aware of bidding strategies or player styles.

We instead see so much potential for strategic playing.  You can get to know your teammate really well and that will help your overall playing ability.  You can get to know our opponents and make better decisions accordingly. Rook strategies are all around and if you are not thinking strategically when playing, you simply are missing a large portion of the game.

Playing Rook 6 to 8 Hours a Day: Too Much?

So, I happened to be speaking to a friend of mine about playing rook.  We were talking simply about things like who they play with and where they play, you know, small talk in the rook game world.   No strategy talk or anything.   Then, I asked them about how often they play.   I was amazed to find out that this person said they play about 6 to 8 hours every day!

Now seriously, I love rook, but to play it 6 – 8 hours every day?  That is like a full time job!  There have got to be other games out there, or other things to do out there that have got to make your enjoy your day a little bit other than just playing rook all day.

Yes, you guessed it, this was an older gentleman.  Granted, he did not have much else in terms of day-to-day activities to keep him preoccupied, but 6 – 8 hours a day?   Everyday?

My question for you is, how often do you get to play in a day?  OK, I mean how often do you get to play in a week?  Month? How much rook playing is too much?

Two color powerhouse

It’s rare, but every once in a while you get those rook hands that you would be willing to bid so high with. What do you do if you opponent has bid 170 though? Do you bid higher?

Well, looking at the above rook hand, you obviously want to take the bid.  You are going likely be of no help to your partner if they take the bid, or to even stop your opponent if they take the bid.   So it is absolutely essential to win this bid.  This particular hand, you are missing both the 14s in your suits, but you have both 1s and 13s in both the trump suit as well as your off suit.  You even have the 10 covered in green, so you are likely to only loose say 10 points per hand if you lose the 14s in both colors.

You are going to trump any other color that is played, so you really don’t expect to loose points elsewhere.  So really, I would be willing to bid up to 180 in a max 200 round, with the possibility of taking all the points if my partner or the kitty has 1 or both of the 14s missing.

Rook Strategy: Playing Against Different Opponents

It seems as though the rook game keeps growing and growing.  People I would never have expected to play the game I find out randomly play.  Not only do they play, but they play well!  The more and more people I find that play the game, the more I realize, I there are a number of different strategies and methods to go about tackling a win in the game of rook.  For this reason, we have come to the realization that getting away from playing only with your one or two typical opponents can help expand your game into new and great places.

We are like the typical rook playing couple.  We have two friends that we have played against over and over again. Not only do we play together a lot, but we keep a running tally of our total scores.  Last I recall we are somewhere around 83 – 84 wins each team.  While we love this, it is rare when we actually get together with other players or actually make a rook tournament to play with more than 8 players.

The last rook tournament we played was great!  I have expressed how I felt we got unlucky with the cards we were dealt, however, there is for sure a portion of our loss which was attributed to this being the first time we played against some of these opponents.

There were two aspects that I noticed threw our typical play off a bit.

  1. The Bidding: I found that bidding with different players is the hardest to handle the change with in a short period.  Some people start the bidding at their maximum bid, leaving no room or manipulating.  Some stop bidding really early  rather than risking losing.  Others can be very tricky and focus more on setting their opponent rather than taking the bid themselves.  So they may fake the strength of their hands by passing early.
  2. The way trumps are played.  With my close opponents, we are very used to controlling the trumps.  This usually means that we will play trumps until they are all gone.  On the rare occasion trumps may last in an opponents hand until the end.   It creates a very different style of play when trumps are not led hardly at all.  Instead, a significant amount of trumping and overtrumping occurs.  I don’t know if I recommend this strategy all that often, but I will say that it is extremely unpredictable.  Sometimes it works, some times it doesn’t.

All of this being said, it is great to see the different strategies take place.  They have brought to light a couple of different things.  One, I am glad to incorporate a variety of new strategies in my style of play.  Two, it allows you to be able to pick up on a person’s strategy at the table more quickly.   So if you realize a person is trying to set you, play accordingly.  As with anything you are trying to improve on, the more you play, the more experience you gain.  The more experience you gain, this will ultimately lead to a larger wealth of game history.   The trick is making sure you learn from your game history to lead your game play.

Rook Tournament Review: Jan 12, 2011

So we held our first rook tournament of 2011 this past week.  What a great day it was.  We had 8 people playing and there was of course food and treats along side.

After warming up with a game of Settlers of Catan while we waited for everyone to show up, the tournament began.  Quite a simple tournament actually.  Single elimination and each match went to 500.  So team 1 played team 2 while team 3 played team 4 and then winners played winners and losers played losers.

If you have never been able to set up a tournament, may I ask why?  I have to say that playing a rook tournament is the perfect way to have a game night.  As long as you have:

  • At least 8 people to make the tournament worth while
  • At least 1 to 2 hours to complete the entire tournament
  • 2 nice decks of rook cards
  • a group of players that are all of the same skill level

As far as the outcome…well, lets just say it wasn’t my partner’s and my night.  It was one of those nights that every time you stretched your bidding hoping that the kitty was going to at least help a little, the kitty completely messed you over.  And every time your opponents would go all out on a risky bid, their partner would have the exact cards they needed to bail them out.   Not to mention the few rounds where my partner and I couldn’t even get close to taking a trick because our opponents had every single high card in the deck.

Yeah, I am little bitter at the hands we got 🙂

No worries though, I am sure the next go around is going to be better.

Let me know your thoughts if you have ways to spice up a rook tournament someway.  We haven’t ventured out into the team trading realm yet, but I am sure that would be a major switch.

Settlers of Catan: Perfect for Rook Players

The rook game staff has recently ventured out into the best selling game in the world right now, Settlers of Catan.  For you rook enthusiasts, it is a blast to have a more traditional board game alternative to play either for mixing things up a bit, or simply to allow for 2 or 3 players to play a game that works extremely well without a 4th player.

About the game

Settlers of Catan has many different version and expansions.  The basic box game is played with 2 to 4 players and is primarily a dice rolling game mixed with some fun strategy.

Movable Parts

Right off the bat, the first thing that you will notice about the game is that is a completely different game every time you play.  This is due to the fact that the board can be created in so many different manners.

Role the dice for fun

Similar to Yatzee, Settlers of Catan has a highly chance driven factor to it in that the roling of the dice plays a major role in who will win the game.  There is a significant amount strategic playing available, but all the strategy will go out the window if you don’t have a little bit of luck.

If you were a fan of the computer game civilization, either the new versions or even the old version from like 1990s, then you are sure to love Settlers of Catan!

Not a Camping game

While Settlers of Catan makes for a great home game, the fact that there are so many interchangeable parts and pieces makes it a poor choice for a camping game.  Rook still takes the cake for being a simple game to pack and play on a camping trip.

You ask, Why is Settlers of Catan getting highlighted in an all Rook website?  Well, the fact is, rook players enjoy playing other games as well.  We have found that for our situation, if we are unable to get at least 4 players to play rook, then our favorite alternative is to play a 2 or 3 player game of Settlers of Catan.  While we will still prefer to play a four player  game of set partner rook, the Settlers game is a great second option!

Play Settlers of Catan Online
Purchase the game!

For even more fun, order the 5 to 6 player expansion set

We Keep Playing Rook: How Come?

What is it about rook that allows us to play for hours day after day, after day.  I know some groups of rook players that have been playing together for more than 20 years.  Is there really that much going on in the rook game that keeps people coming back to play more and more?

There are a group of four of us that get together to play rook about 2 times a week, and we have been playing against each other with the same four and same partners for about 2 years now.  We actually keep a running tally of wins and losses – currently our opponents are up on us by 1 game with 20 games left to go in the race to 100.   The winning team buys the other a tasty Olive Garden meal.

What is it about rook that keeps us wanting to play more?   Is it the Olive Garden?  For me, rook satisfies two very important things in my life.

1: Camaraderie – Getting together with friends is an extremely important part of my life.  If I wasn’t able to get together and spend time with my friends, I would be extremely devastated!  I cherish all my friends and rook is just one simple way to get a group together and have some good old fashioned fun together.

2: Competitive gaming – Growing up in a family that always played cards or some sort of games together has placed a fire inside me that only seems to be put out with strategically playing some sort of card game.  The rook card game can be an extremely competitive game, and for me this is just what the doctor ordered to keep me from wanting to challenge everyone to a duel!

What is your reason for playing rook?  Why do you keep coming back to it week after week?

Bidding Your Opponent Up in Set Partner Rook

I was recently asked if it was smart to bid up your opponent in a 4 player, set partner, rook game when your partner has passed and you clearly do not have a good enough hand to bid on.  Notice, if your partner has already passed and you are the last one from your team in the bidding, you do not want to let your opponents off cheaply.  Do not just pass to their early bids without giving a fight.  It does not make any sense to give your opponents and easy chance at scoring some decent points without at least having to work for it, or having the possibility of getting set.

Personally, we have a standard bid we will typically go to with almost any hand.  In our game of 200 pts per round including the 2s 3s and 4s, this bid is typically 145.  Although this has fluctuated from night to night.  Some nights the average bid is 155.  Some nights it is 135.   But most of the time, we are right around 145 on a base bid with marginal hands.

One thing to always keep in mind is your opponents could possibly be baiting you into bidding with powerhouse hands.  On a number of occasions, to gain the advantage of a set, one of your opponents may puposefully pass early in the bidding wars to indicate they have a weak hand when in fact they have a strong hand and are likely to set you and your partner.

This all being said, bidding when you do not have a great hand is usually best when your opponents are about to win the game and you need to stop them from going out.  You may sacrifice getting set for the opportunity that next round you will get dealt a monster hand that you could possibly shoot the moon with!