Playing card games is a favorite pasttime for me. I enjoy a good game of pinochle, pitch, canasta, rummy, solitaire and other card games, but I like to know the house rules before I start playing. For instance, in pinochle, some count a double marriage in trump as 30 points, whereas another group counts it as eight points.

According to Hays Recreation Commissionís Fall and Winter Times, pitch is played from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday evenings at the HRC. Pitch ďis rumored to have been invented by a bored hunting party in the 1800s.Ē It is a game of cards wherein you bet and try to score the most points by taking tricks. Pinochle is offered from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday. Not only does the rec center offer my favorite card games, but with pinochle, one gets to enjoy popcorn donated by Walmart and pop donated by Brookdale, both of Hays. All we have to do is provide the fun.

Encyclopedia Americana 1972 Edition lists pinochle as a corruption of binocle, which is a game of cards popular among the Germans in America. It doesnít matter to me how you spell the name of the game, I like to play it.

I first learned to play pinochle with my parents and brothers when I was a young girl. We not only enjoyed playing cards several evenings a week, but we often had popcorn and Pepsi or homemade root beer while we played cards. Playing cards has been in my family as far back as Iím aware. My grandparents played pinochle, and Iíve played cards with my parents, brothers, children, grandchildren and friends.

Iíve heard of people playing pinochle or other card games and choosing to lose to keep peace in the family or to avoid confrontation from other players who hate to lose. Thatís OK, but I like to win or lose by playing my best.

Many times Iím the scorekeeper. Usually I add the scores twice just to be sure I donít make a mistake in addition or subtraction because winners like to win and losers would prefer not to lose ó especially due to the scorekeeperís mind calculator not working up to snuff.

The High C Pinochle Club usually meets every two weeks during the winter and once a month in the summer unless we have conflicts in schedules, such as the Wild West Festival, Ellis County Fair, other fairs in surrounding counties, harvest, ballgames, vacations, holidays, etc. The club has been in existence since the mid-1960s, and three or four members were a part of the original group. In this club, we play racehorse (calling cards). I donít know if we eat more, play more or talk more as the evening passes, but after 50 years, we have become good friends.

In my afternoon card club, we meet once a month and play straight pinochle and start the bid at 16. It seems like 16 is a low bid, but there are times when we are left under for 15 and canít make the bid. We jokingly blame the dealer when we are dealt poor cards. Every four hands we change partners. We snack and have refreshments around mid-afternoon. Itís a fun group, and Iím glad to belong.

In recent years I learned a new pinochle game. Itís ďFive Card Pinochle.Ē Some take the nines out of the deck, while others leave them in. But either way, five cards are passed to each player. The dealer is under for three, and you each get one bid. It can be a challenge because the cards left in the deck change after each deal. It reminds me of playing two-handed pinochle where a third hand is dealt but is not in play and of course there is a kitty, so who knows how high to bid.

As weíve all gotten older, we often ask the following questions. Whose bid is it? What is the bid? Whatís the score? What is trump? Thatís OK, as we all forget and Iím as guilty as anyone else for asking these questions. Somewhere between the food and conversion playing cards is sandwiched in. Playing cards is a social thing.

ē I would like to add a personal note to my article today and thank Ruth Moriarity for being a member of the Generations page and writing articles in which her wit and knowledge have shown through. Itís been nice to know her and to have been the recipient of her smile. Best wishes as she and her husband, Bill, move to Loveland, Colo., to be near their daughter. Weíll miss you, but our loss is your familyís gain.

Alberta Klaus is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.