Have you played Marble Solitaire? I came across the game when one of the children, I forget who, got a Marble Solitaire Board game as a birthday gift. I don’t think they ever were as interested in it as I was, because they left it aside after a few tries. But I was fascinated and got down to playing the game over and over again, each and everyday.
The Marble Solitaire game has a board with holes for marbles to sit. Only one of the spaces is left free. The game is played by removing marbles one by one, and this is done by jumping over another, either vertically or horizontally. Not you! You don’t do any jumping. Do you want to upset the board and break it too in the process? What you have to do as the player is to sit in one place and make the marbles jump by picking one up and making it ‘jump’ over its neighbor, on any side, depending on the free hole where you can set the marble down after the jump. The marble thus jumped over is then removed. Something like what we do in Chinese Checkers. Unlike Chinese Checkers, this, as the name implies is a solo game, and the game ends and you ‘win’ when there is just one marble left on the board.
Now there are YouTube videos to show you how best to ‘win’ at Marble Solitaire. Everything is easy peasy. But when I lay hands on the board the first time we did not as yet have internet. Not that I would have wanted to watch someone telling me how to do it. Where’s the mazaa (thrill) in that? Anyway, when the children were in school, and the chores were done, I sat down with the board, trying my hand at winning. The box said that if the player ended up with four marbles, with no further moves possible, one was of average intelligence. Three made you somewhat intelligent (my words because I don’t remember the exact ones on the box), two meant you were intelligent alright. Ending up with one marble meant you were a genius.
Now who doesn’t want to be a genius even though no one was going to hear or know about it? I played my first game and ended up with three stragglers on the board all distant from each other that no ‘jumping’ was possible. Not good. I tried again and this time there were two sitting apart from each other like a couple who have had a tiff . By now though I had earned the intelligent tag. Now to be a genius. That took longer. My problem was I didn’t bother to remember the moves -spontaneous, that’s me – so I ended up making the same mistakes again. Quite unlike life where I DO NOT make the same mistakes twice. Once is enough, sometimes I even go one step ahead and am ready by learning from other’s mistakes.
Anyway, now I changed my strategy. I noted the moves I made in my mind and planned the over all strategy I needed to follow. Don’t let anyone of them marbles be alone. Stragglers are a huge liability. Remember to keep the flock together while making moves. And voila! I ended up with one marble on the board. Yup, a genius, no less. I told the children when they returned from school. They looked at me with awe. Yeah, takes very less to impress your children when they are little, right? I miss those times, sigh.
Time went by and other things caught my fancy. Making of plaster of paris flowers (POP) on pots for instance, also glass painting, and learning to drive and more. The marbles were lost one by one. The red plastic board went missing during one of the house moves. I forgot all about the board game for a long time. Then recently, quite out of the blue, my quirky brain which drags up memories from I know not which remote corners (one of the examples is the lyrics to songs from long ago that it gifts me from time to time) of my mind, reminded me of Marble Solitaire. I was hit by a longing to play the game again. What else did one have to do during this pandemic any way? But how was I going to find one?
I ‘asked’ Amazon and it threw up options for me to choose from. Giving in to nostalgia, I first looked for a red plastic board. No luck. Oh well. Reluctantly I settled on a wooden board, and waited impatiently for it to arrive. I had to find out if I still had it in me. The board arrived earlier than anticipated and soon I was into my game, making the marbles ‘jump’ at my will. I was dubious about the outcome, after all it had been years and I was now officially a senior. I stared at the board at the end of the game, there was only one marble left on the board. I had done it. Unrecognized and unsung perhaps, but I still was a Marble Solitaire genius. 😉
© Shail Mohan 2021