March 8, 2018

Grace’s Grove | A New Card Game: Fish

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A new card game has been going around lately, invented by our very own Cornellian, Kevin Zhang 21’. The game Fish is a mix between Go Fish and Kemps, except it is much more difficult. My friend group and I have been obsessed with this game this past month, and gladly sacrifice way too much of our studying time to play Fish. This game requires top-notch memorization and observation skills, and is great for building teamwork: my friends and I have definitely developed psychic mind-reading powers from playing so much.

A basic rundown of how to play:

  1. There are six players total. Every other player is on the same team (three people on each team.)
  2. There are two half-suits for each shape (clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades) consisting of the numbers 2-7 and 9-A, for a total of eight half-suits. There is a ninth half-suit consisting of all four 8’s and the two jokers.
  3. The goal of the game is to gather and declare five half-suits with your team members.
  4. In the beginning, each player is dealt 9 cards randomly.
  5. To gather the suits, you ask members of the opposing team for cards.
    1. E.g.: Say I ask, “Gloria, do you have a six of hearts?” If Gloria does have this card, she has to give it to me, and I can keep asking questions.
    2. If Gloria does not have this card, she simply says that she does not have it.
    3. You can only ask for cards of a certain half-suit if you already have one of those cards. For example, I would have to have another card in the 2-7 half-suit of hearts in order to ask for the 6 of hearts.
    4. The first few questions are often random and not entirely strategic because there is no knowledge of the distribution of cards.
  6. If the member of the opposing team that is asked a question does not have the card, it is their turn to ask a question.
    1. E.g.: If Gloria did not have the 6 of hearts, it is her turn to ask any member of my team a question.
  7. If you are able to ask more than one question (assuming you asked the first question correctly), you can choose any member of the opposing team to continue asking questions.
    1. E.g.: If Gloria had a 6 of hearts and then gives it to me, I can continue asking Gloria questions, or I can start asking one of the other members of the opposing team for cards.
  8. Once you and your teammates have gathered all the cards in a half-suit, you may “declare.” To declare, one person must identify who has each card of the suit on the team. They must specify exactly who has what card.
    1. There is no communication amongst team members.
    2. If one person is able to identify all of the cards in a half-suit, the team wins that half-suit.
    3. If a team declares incorrectly, the other team wins the half-suit.
    4. The cards in half-suits that are already declared are taken out of the game.
  9. If anyone runs out of cards, they are out of the game and cannot ask for any more cards. Members that are out of the game can still declare for their group members.

Fish is a highly strategic game, because the ideal way to play is to get cards without the other team noticing what suit you are working on, so that no one tries to fight for your cards. You must also make inferences on each player’s hand through the questions they ask and don’t ask. For instance, if I ask for a six of hearts, all other players must know that I have at least one other card in the lower hearts half-suit.  Memorization is also important, since memorizing the exchange of cards and each player’s hand can help you ask for cards and ultimately declare. Teamwork kicks in when you try to let your team members know what cards you have, or when you try to determine who in your team has what card.

Playing Fish is a great way to exercise your mind while also taking a break from all those difficult Cornell classes. A word of caution: you may or may not get addicted to playing, and each game of fish is pretty time-consuming. A rushed game will take you around 45 minutes, while a full game sometimes takes 2 hours.