News, updates, and happenings with the Kragnes family: Phil, our Seeing Eye Dogs, and (me) Rebecca.

Life and Yahtzee

My dad has always said, that if “if”s and “but”s were mints and nuts, it would be Christmas every day. One of my latest stress relievers and fun activities rolled up into one is playing Yahtzee. Since a certain Labrador will eat anything which hits the floor faster than we can find it, rolling physical dice unnecessarily can be … dicey! Phil and I can often be found passing the computer keyboard back and forth from the couch to my chair and back, and after he’s gone to bed, I play with others on cyberspace. So I’ve started to wonder why this little game has become such an outlet for me.

Apparently if you play poker, Yahtzee is easy to learn. In case people don’t know how to play Yahtzee (which I didn’t until late 2010), here’s a crash course of basics. Five dice are used, and each player gets 13 turns. Each turn is comprised of a maximum of three rolls per turn, but if something great is rolled, those dice can be kept without rolling anymore. Players can choose to roll all, some, or none of the dice each time.
There’s a score card with 13 spaces. The first six or the upper section is simply the numbers 1 through six, and points are comprised of dice with that number. Three fives equals fifteen points in the fives space. If one rolls 63 or more points in the upper section(three per slot if evenly distributed), 35 bonus points are earned. .

The lower section has seven spaces. Three of a kind and four of a kind are multiples of those numbers plus the other dice. The best four of a kind you can roll is four sixes and a five for 29 points. There’s a space for full house which is three of one number and two of another like 2, 2, 2, 5, 5. A full house is 25 points. A small straight is four consecutive numbers in a row like 2, 3, 4, 5, and it’s worth 30 points. A large straight is five in a row such as 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and is worth 40 points. There’s a space for chance which is the sum of all dice. This is for either when a player screws up and doesn’t want to put the score in one of the others, or if lucky, it’s a nice boost at the end. A Yahtzee is all five dice coming up one number and worth 50 points. A repeat Yahtzee by the same player in a game is a bonus Yahtzee worth 100 points, plus the player often has the choice to score in one of the other areas. If a player doesn’t roll something which works in the three rolls, the player has to choose what slot in which to score zero points. The winner is the one with the most points. Yahtzees and large straights are usually the hardest to get.

So if I didn’t explain that beyond recognition, maybe you’ll understand why I wish all of life was like a Yahtzee game.

1. Numbers are numbers and really can’t be argued, unless a dice is on its edge or something. Everyone sees the five numbers coming up , and no one can somehow make them fit their own personal agendas. I say this, because I’m coming to the end of the term on a board on which people are taking some of the facts and twisting them to fit what they want other people to see, think or do. Perspective is just one of those things which doesn’t happen in this game. thus people can’t use it to advance their own causes or more importantly, against others.

2. That brings me to the second point. People don’t do nasty things to each other in this game. Although it’s a competition, it’s an honest one without the “dirty pool” — as my Grandma Klein used to call it — involved in other games. We don’t need to look any further than the headlines of the day to see the lengths to which people will go to bring others down — either temporarily or permanently. Right now I’m seeing it on this board, and it’s pretty hard to avoid unless one lives with little to no interaction with others.
3. Everyone acknowledges that Yahtzee is a combination of both luck and choice. in this game. Obviously one wants to fill each of the slots with the highest number possible and avoid the zero, but sometimes there’s just no good place for the dice we roll. Phil and I especially get disgusted when the dice come up as repeats of the numbers of which we were trying to get rid. It’s also disconcerting when we’ve zeroed something out last turn only to roll it the next. We can sympathize when bad luck comes the way of the player and cheer when they roll something good. If one knows his/her competitors really well as I know Phil , one can even joke — saying he/she does not need anymore points and/or tell him/her one doesn’t like him/her when he/she gets some. Watching that upper section and getting those bonus points can help just like investing in retirement or a savings account. When it comes to the choices a player makes, there’s no blaming it on someone else. Sometimes I think people chalk everything up to either bad luck or personal choices , when it’s a weird combination of both. Sometimes it’s clear cut when it’s one or the other, but often as in life, it really isn’t. A couple examples may help. We choose to use guide dogs to get around knowing from the beginning that there will be a painful goodbye which will probably hurt very badly. the good we get out of the relationship outweighs the bad, but it doesn’t make the bad hurt any less. Obviously with Phil back on dialysis, the second example is something I’ve been pondering . Sometimes when Phil has been really sick and even near death, I’ve had people say to me, “Well, you knew he had health problems when you married him. You chose to marry him anyway, so now you get to deal with this as expected.” I can take the bad with the good, but I don’t think people understand that kind of assessment of our situation hurts. Yes we have odds stacked against us, but we’re doing the best we can to make life meaningful.

4. Most importantly though, it’s only a game. In Yahtzee, the only bad thing someone can do is leave before the game is finished when it appears they aren’t going to win. That’s happened to me, and although it was a jolt, it was pretty clear who was acting immaturely. IN life, it’s not always that cut and dried. When people are feeling crappy, it’s so easy for them to twist things around to put the blame where it doesn’t belong. Back to the board of which I’m a member. I’ve tried pretty hard to make individual decisions in the best interest of the organization rather than taking sides in the feud which has developed. Still people have accused me of all kinds of things simply because I am a board member who wasn’t squarely on their side. In contrast, when I lose a game of Yahtzee, life goes on with no overhanging grudges, strained relationships, or tightropes to walk.
Rebecca Kragnes and Zane (Black Labrador and Seeing Eye Dog)
E-Mail: rebeccak
Twitter: RebeccaKragnes


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