Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Match Play; Popular Party Game Will Have You Talking

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Match Play; Popular Party Game Will Have You Talking

Article excerpt

Byline: THOMAS LAKE

I am the judge, at least on this turn, and my friends are fighting for my approval. But most of them have miscalculated.

To win this round of our pre-packaged parlor game, they must play one of their cards that best matches the word fantastic - that is, the word they think I will think matches best. But the cards they have laid include "Broadway," "Musicals" and "Assembly Lines."

These could contend if the buzzword were tedious. Fortunately, I have a fourth choice. Tom plays a card that says "My Mind," which simplifies my decision. My mind is as fantastic as they come, especially if you ask me, so Tom scores a point.

"I played to your ego," he says, raising his arms in victory, "and it paid off."

Indeed. Tom has discovered one of the secrets of Apples to Apples, the cerebral party game that has won more than a dozen industry awards since its release in 1999 and has overtaken Taboo, Cranium and Pictionary on Amazon.com's best-seller list. Its success lies in a rare combination of accessibility and depth: Beginners can become competitive in about five minutes, but champions perform a sort of amateur psychoanalysis that can yield constant surprise.

And in a typical evening of Apples to Apples, most of the memorable moments have less to do with the score than the personality quirks the green and red cards reveal.

Take for example the game my wife, three friends and I played over hard cider and apple crisp at our apartment this month. In the fourth round, when Laura was the judge, she drew the green card annoying. My hand of six red cards included Ireland, Garrison Keillor, The Far Left and Sport Utility Vehicles. Clueless about her political views, I played The Far Left.

My shot in the dark backfired.

"I am the far left," she said, choosing HMOs instead. "And I'm not annoying."

In the next round, Laura won the vote of Sara, my wife, by playing the red card Rock and Roll to fit the green card addictive. I asked Sara which album had her hooked.

"Like Ryan Adams, anything," she said.

"I heard he's doin' it with Lindsay Lohan now," Tom said.

"No he's not!" Sara said.

"a'S what I heard," Tom said. …

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