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The Odd Rules of Uncle Alec
J.A. Maxtone Graham
October 10, 1966
No game was safe from his tinkering: he turned a billiard table into a cricket field and golfed from a car
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October 10, 1966

The Odd Rules Of Uncle Alec

No game was safe from his tinkering: he turned a billiard table into a cricket field and golfed from a car

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We tried it, once. After two hours the game was less than half finished, and several new rules had come into force, one in particular that said, "No player other than he whose turn it is may hum." But the effort proved too much, and we relaxed with a drink, until he got out his well-worn set of poker dice. Anyone who has not played liar's dice with my Uncle Alec can have no idea of the depths of falseness and deceit to which a Scottish gentleman and lawyer can sink. I was soon 10 shillings in the red, but to my surprise I saw that he owed more than a pound to his wife. Suddenly, while shaking the cup in the improbable hope of throwing five to beat my three queens, he stopped in midair. "I've got it! The perfect idea for a game. Look, why shouldn't one have liar's Scrabble?" he said.

"Why not, indeed?" I answered faintly. "We seem to have had everything else."

"Now"—he cleared the table and brought out three Scrabble racks and the letters—"we don't even need the board. And I take seven letters at random...."

It was, as I might have known, immensely complicated. Eva won easily. We finished at 3 in the morning.

It was the last time I saw my uncle, for he died of a stroke three weeks later while practicing chip shots with a mashie niblick into an armchair in the sitting room. But one thing is certain. Uncle Alec won't give up. At this very moment he is likely to be pondering on the precise arrangement of some angel's harp strings and will shortly evolve an entertaining game based on these—probably with an element of gambling involved.

And I know who'll win.

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