In Praise of Oui Si

Albino Alligator — pix by me

Some people like to play games… and I’m not referring here to “playing head games” I’m talking about cards and chess and Monopoly and things like that. I’ve never been a big fan of competition for whatever reason, and I am — emphatically — NO kind of a strategist, so I’ve not, in my many decades on earth, been a grown-up person who plays those kinds of games by choice. Scrabble was always a favorite game to play in the summertime at the shore for my family, but I confess to playing more out of boredom than any desire to be ‘playing.’ And I did a brief stint playing Mille Bornes early in my second marriage with my husband and one of my brothers with whom we were sharing a house. Again, boredom was a factor.

That said, thanks to a very good friend of mine, Jean, I have been introduced to a game that is so much more than a game that it has captured not only my heart (no need for strategy there!) and engaged my brain but has also set me to proselytizing!

The game, Oui Si, (basically, “Yes, in French; “Yes” in Spanish), consists of 210 “visually-connecting” (their words) photo cards… pictures, essentially. The set my friend, Jean, gifted me with is all nature-based images. The cards can be used either as a game, as an exercise in building co-operation which, I believe was aimed at school-age children, but which seems to me as though it would work well with adults in any number of “creative” businesses where teambuilding exercises are a regular thing.

By “visually-connecting” the company that puts out the cards means that, in viewing the cards, one may see a red cardinal on one card and a single red apple on another and they would constitute “a match” because they are both red. Then, perhaps another player would have a single pear in their stack of allotted cards which they also might match on one of the remaining ‘open’ sides of the apple card, because both apple and pear are stemmed fruit. One can match colors or species or geographic features… that sort of thing.

But for whatever reason, Jean and I decided to play the game somewhat differently — which, I’m pretty sure was part of the intention of the creators — and decided to make a “go-fish-like” game out of it to see who could come up with an empty hand first.

We dealt out five cards to each of us while the remaining 200 remained in a pile, face up. The plan was that if you had, in your hand, a card that ‘matched’ the top card on the pile, you could pair it with yours and set both cards aside. If you did not have any kind of a match, however, then you had to draw cards from the immense pile, adding them to your hand, until you did find a match.

Owing to the combination of two adult creative minds, the “basic” matching concept expanded quickly to the point where we were both rather frequently dissolved in laughter. We had gone from the basics — color-matching, species-matching, that sort of thing — to things like this lame attempt to relate a picture of a book to goats grazing: “That’s a goat and there are books about goats.” Or the widely encompassing: “Both those things have feet.” There was a lot of reaching going on.

The consensus was that we would be allowed to plead our case for the matches that seemed far afield and would have to accept the determination of the judge, consequently there was a lot of back-and-forth, a lot of ridiculousness, and quite a lot of laughter. We agreed on the name “Justification” for the game, and it is more ridiculous fun than adult humans are generally allowed to have. I cannot recommend it highly enough and I take no responsibility whatsoever for what might happen in the hands of those who may imbibe alcoholic beverages while playing.

Seriously, though, Oui Si is a delightful, worthwhile investment in fun.

PS: The above “picture” is not a Oui Si card on accounta me being terrified of some sort of copyright infringement. It’s just one of my personal photographs cropped to the square shape of the Oui Si cards.

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Victoria Pendragon

Victoria Pendragon


Artist; Author of self-help books on healing with Ozark Mt. Publishers; survivor of two 'fatal, incurable' diseases and a healthy dose of CSA