Local resident brings card games, community bonding to Elizabethton Senior Center

Barney Smith said he noticed a lack of regular game sessions at the Elizabethton Senior Center, so he decided to set up his own game sessions while playing a card game that requires just as much social skill as it does technical.

“I go to the Johnson City Senior Center every now and then and play cards with them,” Smith said. “I came back here to try and promote it.”

Pinochle is not like other card games: it does not use the full, standard deck. Instead, it uses the 10 through Ace cards of each suit four times and then doubles that for a total of 40 cards to play with.

Smith said the version of Pinochle he will be showcasing is “double-deck” Pinochle, bringing the card count to 80.

The rule sheet he printed out for the game is five pages long, but he said the specifics are easy once you get into the game itself.

“It may be a bit difficult to learn, but it is very enjoyable,” he said.

He said he is less concerned with the specific card game they play as opposed to playing cards at all.

“It gets you out of the house, helps you know people,” he said.

Pinochle is a team-based game, but he said teams and even teammates will split off into different groups throughout the day to meet new people and find different groups of people. That, he said, is the main goal.

“It helps break the ice,” he said. “This way, you meet 20 people instead of three.”

He said Pinochle is the most popular card game at the Johnson City Senior Center, but it is not the only game they play there, and it does not have to be the only game they play in Elizabethton.

“If this is too hard, we will play something else, like hand and foot,” Smith said. “It takes patience and perseverance.”

Each game requires four people in order to play. Currently, three other people have expressed interest, but Smith said two of them might not be able to attend, leaving the event in question. He said they will accept as many players as are willing to attend.

“I am not the best teacher out there,” Smith said. “You can only learn by playing. We will play a few practice rounds to help everyone learn.”

He said once the players have a basic understanding, they will work to catch each other’s mistakes and help one another.

The first game session will take place this Thursday, Feb. 28, at 1 p.m. at the Elizabethton Senior Center. The center is located at 428 East G St.

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