Games in the pub


As we might have mentioned once or twice, Bailey spent some of his childhood in a pub run by his parents in Exeter. One of the things you’d have noticed if you’d walked into that pub would have been the sheer number of games being played — darts, cards, dominoes and  skittles (the West Country variety) were all taken very seriously.

When Bailey’s parents visited recently, they made sure to take cards and darts to the pub, just in case.

Their favourite game is Euchre, a card game invented in America but massively popular in Starkey, Knight and Ford country (Exeter, Tiverton, Bridgwater, and so on). Like Go Johnny Go Go Go Go the game has its own complex language apparently designed to baffle beginners — “Benny, both bowers, ace!” — and there are also cheat signals which they declined to teach us.

When you’ve dealt cards in a pub, though, you begin to realise why beer mats are a good idea.

9 replies on “Games in the pub”

We used to live in a euchre hot bed in the Upper Ottawa Valley. What are West Country Skittles? I am sure it is in Webb’s book from 1975 but I would like to hear it described from an eye witness.

I want to play lawn billiards myself.

Most pubs in the West Country have a skittle alley and most (used to) have a skittles team. It’s basically a very rustic version of ten-pin bowling. I never did get to grips with the rules but, as a teenager in Somerset, made a bit of pocket money ‘sticking up’. That is, sitting in a little cupboard at the end of the alley and popping out after each turn to stand the pins back up.

Out here on Exmoor skittles still thrives and is taken seriously — yet another example of the pub’s use as a community centre. Played a few times and remember the sullen teenager sticker ups. Used to feel sorry for them, they looked so bored.

Boring as hell, and uncomfortable, but it was worth it for the cash in hand. The really nice skittle clubs would even let stickers-up have some curly sandwiches from the buffet, and buy them a Panda pop or two.

Yes, that’s right. When we did their brewery tour a few years back, they’d just stopped making it, and there were Panda Pop vending machines all over the premises.

Who made Roller Cola?

I considered getting a dart board when I was asked by some semi-regulars to do so recently. Decided against – probably not the right pub for it. But pub games are indeed great things.

Jeff — much as we’d like to see more pubs with dartboards, they do take up a lot of space, and I can see why there aren’t more boards in central London pubs. Luckily, there’s always room for card games.

I sat on my own in a pub the other night and played on my Nintendo DS. Does that count?

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