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# Game 2.   End is a Finnish word

Years ago I worked as a software developer for British European Airways in London. In 1973 BEA and BOAC merged to become British Airways. Each airline used mainframe computers from different suppliers, and the merger process determined that BOAC's IBM systems should eventually subsume all the functions of BEA's Univac systems.

We BEA/Univac types saw the writing on the wall, and very many of us decided to look for employment elsewhere. We were extremely crestfallen, having been through a grand and glorious period of leading-edge development at BEA, now all to be thrown away.

Those of us intent on leaving were corralled in a few large offices. The desks and blackboards (yes, they were black in those days) were bare. Gradually, we acquired jobs and served out our notice periods. We found various unproductive things to do in these corrals.

I had obtained a job in Helsinki, working for a UK consultancy. By pure coincidence, so had a good friend and colleague — this was heartening. And a third colleague also looked into the same project.

One day, another colleague walked into my particular corral and, without saying a word, wrote, at the top of our perfectly clean blackboard:

"End is a Finnish word."

The allusion to the end of an era, with a new beginning in Helsinki for some of us, was very clear, let alone the pun.

The person who wrote on our blackboard had inadvertently defined a new game.

Some time later, someone added "Spit is a Flemish word," and we were on our way! Over the course of the next week or so, various people visited our office to view the great new invention on our blackboard and to try and make their own contribution to it.

It never ceased to amaze me when someone added a new country over which the rest of us had been wracking our brains for hours. When a new country was added, everyone laughed and/or groaned. In this game, everyone won!

For me (a software type) the highlight of this game was when the person who began the whole thing once more walked into the room, picked up the chalk and, giving us all the most evil of grins, proceeded to write,

"Boolean is an Andorran word!"

The subsequent groaning went on for minutes on end!!

The game lasted for about 2 weeks. I think we covered about thirty countries before our game finally petered out.

Part of the delight of this game is its inevitable slowness:   it takes a while to think up good entries for each country, so each new entry brings an anticipatory thrill, hopefully followed by the same pleasure you get from a good joke well told.

Once you have played this game with a certain group of people, you can't really do it again — you must find a new group. I did this with an entirely unrelated group of people a few years ago, and they had great fun, although they never discovered the Andorran entry. And, of course, the game will not have quite the same significance as for the original group of BEA folks, unless of course they happen to be leaving their jobs for positions in Finland.

The End


# Two Word Games by John Blasdale13 | 14

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Shortcut to gamepuzzles homepage # The Life of Games
No. 2 (April 2000)
©2000 Kadon Enterprises, Inc.
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