women playing canasta

Keeping all eyes on the cards.

Canasta was the focus of recent activity in our NY senior living community.

Community neighbors recently gathered to rub elbows with the friendly opposition and enjoy some time together over some Canasta – the card game that had flared to life in Uruguay, spread to Argentina and swept across South America to the USA around 1948. Canasta achieved great popularity by the 1950’s. Usually played by four people, in two partnerships, variations developed with games involving as many as 6 players, and names like Bolivia, Samba and Chile.

The game gets its name from the tray used to hold the discards. This basket, in Spanish, is the “canasta”. Millions play canasta today, and our neighborhood was the center of activity for a group of Canasta aficionados ready to play.

While the cards were shuffled, there was no need to review the rules with theses veterans. They took stock of their partners and the opposition. Some exchanged banter, a certain swagger born of experience in their voices. After the deal, the room was quiet as players grew serious about strategy, calculating what the deck held and how the others would behave.

Conversation bubbled and subsided as cars were drawn, considered, and handled. Soon the tables were being obscured by arcs of cards melded into a red and black work of collective art. Heads shook and tongues clucked as poker-faced grandparents laid out the winning hands nobody saw coming, a Gene Harlow head toss and smile the only nod to vanity.

Game strategy may be a hot topic in academia and business today, but our residents put the professors to shame while they enjoyed pitting their team’s wits against the others. Win or lose, everyone had a real workout and a chance to enjoy a favorite pastime.

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