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These reindeer games can get quite competitive

Staff writer

Christmas is two days away and Marion resident Sherry Hess can’t wait to round up her family so she can renew her place as supreme gamer.

“Our family played games and cards long before I came along,” Hess said. “Christmas Eve pitch tournaments were fierce at Snelling gatherings. I always play to win. Some of us never win but we are all serious about fun.”

Hess may have gleaned some of her affection for family competition from her grandpa, the late Richard Snelling. She said they played countless hours of cards and checkers together since she was young.

“I never beat him and he never ‘let’ me win,” she said.

Of the 35-plus family members and other “stragglers” that wander into their gatherings, Hess said she never “lets” anyone win, no matter what game the family is playing.

Rummy, Texas Hold’em, 500, and Maui are some of the family’s favorite card games. Yatzee, dominoes, Mexican Dominoes, Farkle, Monopoly, Parcheesi, Team Clue, Pictionary, and Charades are other favorite games.

If it is a white Christmas, the family goes outside for a rousing game of Fox and Goose. Snowball fights erupt with regularity, too.

She said tactical Nerf gun wars are more a recent addition to the family’s holiday gaming. Nerf wars started when sons-in-law and boyfriends joined the holiday madness.

The boys love wars, she said.

“We team up and have all-out wars,” Hess said. “I find the darts for days after. I love that part the most. I smile every time.”

“There are definitely rivalries but the gloves never come off,” she said. “Keith (her husband) is usually the king of poker. If someone beats me at rummy, they are accomplished. But for the sake of my girls and the chance to take out mom, there must be a ‘friendly’ game of rummy.”

Hess admitted that her oldest daughter, Lynn, is her biggest rival at rummy.

“She is smart and strategic like her momma,” Hess said. “Elly (Lynn’s daughter) is following in our footsteps. She’s competitive like us.”

Over Thanksgiving, Hess’s granddaughter won twice at dominoes, so a multigenerational rematch is likely at Christmas.

“Elly is seven,” Hess said. “She may be my biggest challenger soon.”

Hess also loves to play Scrabble. However, the game board and letters rarely see the light of day, let alone Christmas lights.

“No one will play with me because I will win,” she said. “So I play online on a phone app.”

Hess said, however, that some online players have begun to refuse her game requests for the same reason.

Last modified Dec. 23, 2015

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