25 November 2007

The Game in Singapore

Since 1990, I have joined three of my SMU Sigma Chi fraternity brothers once a year to play a game of Hearts. Graham Gibbs, Jeff Kays, Greg Webb, and I used to play in college, and we had an impromptu game during Senior Week in 1990 (the week before my graduation), out of which came a vow to get together every year to play. If anything, we are true to our word, and we have played annually since then.

What started as a little game of Hearts has evolved into what we call The Game. And it has become quite the formal event. It is governed according to a constitution which the four of us drafted (we call ourselves the Recalcitrant Four, which will be familiar to Sigs out there). The loser every year has to display prominently "The Plaque", which shows his name as well as the location of his loss. We even have a history of the game, including past scorecards. It has become a great tradition.

One of the items in the constitution is that we will never play The Game in the same state twice. It has been fun traveling around the U.S. over the past 17 years to play - Arkansas, Tennessee, Minnesota, Texas, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Alabama, Nevada, Florida, Wisconsin, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois, South Dakota, West Virginia, and South Carolina. This year, however, called for an international adventure. Jeff has been on an expat assignment in Sydney, which will end early in 2008, and Greg had business that brought him to the Lion City. So, after a careful reading of the constitution to verify that international play was indeed allowed (we interpreted that it is), we convinced Graham to come to Asia for The Game.

We had a great time. I won't go into all the gory details, but suffice to say that we enjoyed renewing the bonds of brotherhood, I got to show them some of the town (Little India, Chinatown, Clarke Quay, Raffles Hotel, Orchard Road and Towers), and I - last year's loser - was able to pass the plaque to Graham. It is ritual to capture this moment, and I wanted to share it with everyone. Emotions are always the same - elation contrasted by utter disappointment.

With Jeff heading back to Minnesota, it looks as if The Game will return to domestic locales for the near future. And if this was to be the only international venue in its history, The Game did itself well.

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