How to Learn the Rules of Any Game


In most cases you will find it difficult to get very far with a game unless you have more than a passing acquaintance with its rules. One of the few exceptions is the contest of "Trivial Pursuit," in which one must answer questions from categories such as Geography and Entertainment in order to collect enough pieces to win. I have discovered that if I answer "Madagascar" and "Britney Spears" to any question in the aforementioned categories respectively, the rest of the game pretty much plays itself.


It might be helpful to think of rules as a set of commandments, since most of us have already learned the Big Ten as brought down the mount by our friend Moses. Or, perhaps, learned once and forgotten all but the Insistent Three against killing, stealing, and coveting thy neighbor's ass. While you are recommitting the Lesser Seven to memory for your own good, throw in a few all-new commandments per week in thematic harmony with the game you would like to master. I have provided samples to help you along:


The First Commandment of Solitaire


Thou shalt not place a red card upon another red card; nor shalt thou placeth black upon black.


The Best Commandment of Monopoly


Thou shalt swiftly buy up a mighty cubit of Park Avenue, thereby smiting not thy neighbor, but any chance in Hell of thy neighbor gaining a foothold in tony real estate.


The Last Commandment of Gin Rummy


Thou shalt cry out "Gin!" when thou hast achieved Gin in accordance with the laws set forth by the toil of thy forebears, by whose persistent begetting didst thou eventually issue.


Then there is the tried-and-true behavioral trick of rewarding oneself for good, well, behavior. For example, let's decide that learning one rule per day merits a lovely piece of chocolate. I will leave the chocolate's variety (plain, nougat, antidepressant) and scope (bite-size, bar, Empire State Building) entirely up to you.


Obviously, the more intricate the game the more rules you will need under your belt, which may need progressive loosening depending on your interpretation of my Chocolate Reward System. Perhaps in time you may want more belts (given all the work expected of them), and thus find yourself engaged in a mild form of accessory coveting that is both uplifting to the wardrobe and, vis vis Moses, hardly worth mentioning.


Just look at you, learning new rules and old commandments while having good clean fun with belts. I think you are fast becoming a role model.