Friday, January 4, 2008

K.J. wins inaugural NYE Decathlon

By K.J. Cardinal

I feel like I've accomplished a descent amount of things in my young life, but never in a million years did I ever think that I would win a decathlon. However, that's exactly how I rang in the New Year on Monday night.

No, I didn't throw a discus, javelin or shot put and I certainly didn't run the 1500 meters or clear any hurdles. Instead, Angie, Sammy and I competed against each other in the confines of our own home in a series of 10 different board games, card games and video games.

You may say that's not a true decathlon, but I say, you don't know how tough it is until you try it. Talk to me after you go head-to-head with your wife and step daughter for over eight straight's grueling.

Anyway, it was early in the afternoon on New Year's Eve when the idea of the decathlon came to me. Angie, Sammy and I then brainstormed as many games that we could think of and put them into a hat. We then pulled 10 events out to determine the 2007 NYE Decathlon. We decided we would award three points for first place, two points for second and one point for third. Sammy crafted a NYE bracelet (pictured above) to reward the winner.

We started things off with an intense game of Rummy 500. On the very first hand, I thought that the wheels were going to come off the decathlon though as there was an early controversy. I had two cards left in my hand (two Jacks) and I picked up a third Jack which made my set that I could lay down. Game over, right? Not so fast, said Angie.

Apparently she plays with the crazy Portuguese rules that say you have to discard in order for the hand to end. I am one of the most competitive people in the world, so I was rather peeved at her ruling. I let her get her way though and the game progressed. I ended up taking Event 1 and jumping out to an early lead in the decathlon.

SCOREBOARD: K.J. 3, Sammy 2, Angie 1

On to Event 2, Yahtzee. No controversy here just a severe beat down by Angie. She wrapped it up early as she got a Bonus Yahtzee on about her eighth turn. Sammy managed to put together one of the worst rounds of Yahtzee I've ever seen though, scoring a whopping 188 points. Yippee!

SCOREBOARD: K.J. 5, Angie 4, Sammy 3

Wheel of Fortune on PS2 was up next. I like to think of myself as a Wheel of Fortune savant, so needless to say, I dominated. I racked up $33,450, capping my run by getting the final puzzle correct, which was Nightfall for the record. Angie got skunked in the game as she put up the big ole goose egg.

SCOREBOARD: K.J. 8, Angie 5, Sammy 5

Event 4 was an America classic, BINGO. Despite my card-selection rationale, which I felt was flawless (#8 for Antoine Walker, #17 for the next Celtics championship banner and #33 for Larry Legend), I was outdistanced by Ang. Sammy and I actually tied for second and had to play again so we could determine who was second. Naturally, I won.

SCOREBOARD: K.J. 10, Angie 8, Sammy 6

Next up, Wii Bowling. I am usually pretty nasty at Wii Bowling, but it just wasn't my night. Sammy took us both to school, winning by a healthy 20-pin margin.

SCOREBOARD: K.J. 11, Angie 10, Sammy 9

The second half of the decathlon got underway with Event 6: Blokus. Again, this is usually a bread-and-butter event for me, but once again I took third. Usually Angie and Sammy tag-team me in this game and I pull out the win regardless, but my third-place finish can be credited to a sick BLOKUS by Angie late in the game. Sammy took it home though.

SCOREBOARD: K.J. 12, Angie 12, Sammy 12

Things were progressing nicely and then came Event 7: Monopoly. It seemed like a good idea in theory, but nearly three hours later we were all begging for mercy and decided to put a time limit on it to end the misery. Those three-plus hours of my life I will never get back and it pains me to think about it. Oh yeah, Angie won.

SCOREBOARD: Angie 15, K.J. 14, Sammy 13

With three events remaining I was trailing for the first time in the decathlon, but I wasn't nervous because Angie was getting sleepier and sleepier by the second. Next up Event 8: Wii Golf. What started off as a nine-hole game had to be reduced to a six-hole round as Angie was falling asleep on the couch in between turns. What was insanely annoying was that she was kicking our butts. She'd wake up, knock it within a few feet of the pin and fall back asleep. Meanwhile, I'm trying my hardest and hitting the ball all over the course...seemed like a real round of golf. Anyway, Ang won the sleep-shortened event.

SCOREBOARD: Angie 18, K.J. 16, Sammy 14

Event 9: Wii billiards. Boy oh boy did I need this event. Wii billiards is probably my favorite game on the Wii, so I was thrilled when we pulled it out of the hat some 74 hours earlier. Sammy actually put up a good fight here in the nine-ball competition though as she tied me for first, forcing a tie-breaker. I then made all nine balls on nine shots to secure the title. Angie wrapped up third and drooled all over herself.

SCOREBOARD: Angie 19, K.J. 19, Sammy 16

The 10th and final event of the decathlon was none other than Skip-bo. With Angie and I tied atop the standings and Sammy out of contention for the title, the tension was high. Angie then did her best impression of the Buffalo Bills of the early '90s as she went on a huge run and got rid of all but one card in her pile, only to fall short in the end. Sammy and I still had at least 12 cards left in our piles, when I did the unthinkable. I went on a huge run and got rid of every single card in my pile to win. I kept screaming "Wide Right" in Angie's face. Game. Set. Match.

FINAL SCORE: K.J. 22, Angie 21, Sammy 17

As far as sporting comebacks are concerned, my come-from-behind win in the inaugural NYE Decathlon ranks just behind the Red Sox comeback versus the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS and just ahead of the Miracle on Ice. In the back of my head I kept hearing "Do you believe in miracles?"

What a way to spend New Year's Eve. We hope to broaden the event next year to include more participants, so you may want to start training now because these decathlons take a lot out of you.


  1. Sounds like a blast!!
    I have to side with Angie on the Rummy ruling!!

  2. C'mon Gail. According to wikipedia, that Rummy ruling is if you're playing Boathouse Rules (whatever that means) and it says, "Some rummy players play that you must discard on the turn in which you go out. So for example, if a player held a hand of two 3's and picked up another 3, this player would be unable to go out as he/she would not have a discard. This is in fact a variant of standard play and should be opted upon before gameplay begins."

    Angie didn't opt upon this before game play began. I'm not competitive or anything though :)

  3. Oh my God KJ, I just got a chance to catch up on the Cardinal blog and I absolutely loved the play by play of the NYE decathlon. I could actually picture all of the emotions that took place that evening, the most vivid would be ,KJ pleading his case on the rummy ruling,the "in your face" chanting towards Angie, and Angie drooling all over the place :). I think this is my favorite entry in the blog to date... Keep up the good work, Love Mom

  4. I play Ang's Rummy rules too... Girls Rule, Boys Drule.

  5. To settle the Rummy ruling once and for all....KJ, you are wrong. Every true rummy player knows that you have to have a discard! I want in on next years events...I dont know about the video aspect but the boardgames are right up my alley. In fact I'm thinking of organizing my own decathlon. what a great idea!!! we played pit and cranium with friends on new years but this would add a whole new dimension to the proceedings. nerds unite!
    keep the vintage photos a coming. i absolutely love them. what a treaure they are. too bad you missed the photobooth at our wedding. :) that was a highlight. our guest book is filled with pictures of folks acting just like little kids! theres just something authentic about being in one of those. it brings you back to much simpler times.
    happy new years! hope to see you guys soon.