Oeuvre: I bet you don’t see that word very often. I wonder if I will have to change the title for better search engine results.
So this page is not my complete body of works, rather it is to reference articles that I have written that have been published elsewhere. I will provide cross references to my other sites but otherwise focus on items of interest to life in Prague.
This article was originally published in The Opinions Post which is no longer extant. The original title was Poker or S***heat: Card Game of the Future
Poker is a card game that started in the US on Mississippi riverboats, spread west with the California gold rush and then around the world among those who enjoy gambling. The last few decades have seen its popularity skyrocket due to major TV sports coverage. Now there are signs that popularity is waning as other forms of entertainment come to the front. Will Poker be replaced by Shithead as the most popular tournament game?
Shithead is a card game of unknown origin that has been spread around the world by student travelers. A web site called List Nerd lists Shithead as the Number One “best playing card game of all time”. It is certainly my favourite game. My wife and I have played best-two-out-of-three hands after dinner as a routine for the last 15 years (This tradition helped by the fact we did not have TV reception for many of those years.). I think the game is utterly brilliant and its inventor ought to win a Nobel Prize or something. The card play is diabolical and the outcome is never known until the last hidden card is turned over. Some say there are no winners in this game only losers and that is how it got its name.
However, there may not be an inventor because as the game has travelled the rules have evolved. Every location seems to have their own variation. Yet just as international travelers overcome the language barrier they manage to adapt to the varied use of each card. The Czech Republic and specifically the college town of Jičín may be the international capital of the game at this time. There English instructor Scott Lee Hansen combined his favourite game with the chance to get Czech students speaking English with each other as well as a few native speakers. He founded the Jičín International Shithead League which meets in the back room of a local pub.
This is a well-organized league with once a month sessions that culminate in a championship at the end of the school year. Instead of a rotating trophy there is a rotating shirt emblazoned with Czech Champion. The winner does get to take home a bottle of wine, but it is their duty to contribute one for the next month’s winner. I think there is a cash prize for the annual champion; last year they got to keep the wine and a watermelon.
In 2013 Charles University law student Robin Brad Fleček who is from Jičín started the Prague International Shithead League. Though he does confess my wife and I were the first non-Czech players when we showed up for the fifth tournament. It was great fun playing with the future lawyers all of whom spoke better English than we did Czech. We were treated as honored guests but did not survive the elimination round.
Also I have located regular Shithead Mondays at the Thistle Pub in Paris and the Overseas Club in Cologne, Germany has an annual tournament. Any readers who know of other venues please comment. One aficionado with programming skills has created a computer game you can find at Shithead-Cardgame.com There are smart phone apps available as well. I liked this statement from the GooglePlay version: “Because Shithead is so widely spread all over the continents, there are several ways to play. We incorporated this by defining a standard rule set and allowing the player to optionally enable several more rules.”
There is another major difference between Poker and Shithead. The recently crowned European Poker Champion from Greece, Sotiris Koutoupas emphasized, “Poker is a game of mental skill, not chance”. In contrast Shithead involves a great deal of chance since each player’s last three cards are unknown by everyone. Yet skill is required to get to that point before the others and then again in tactics and strategy as the same cards get played back and forth among players in the end game.
So, if you like to make your own rules, learn this game. Then start your own league that requires everyone to play by your rules. What could be better than that! You may be the next star of the World Series of Shithead.