Guess Who?

pic-1Just before bed time tonight, the Imoo boys took a break from the usual Yahtzee or Snakes ‘n Ladders and dusted off a blast from the past: Guess Who?

That’s not a question…it’s a statement.

The 1982 Milton Bradley classic is still a staple in the Imoo household, and we are now on our 2nd version of the game (this one produced in 2003 according to the box).

Within a few minutes, I was reminded why this simple game is indeed such a classic. As I watched Sean and Jake embark on a best-of-3 series, I fondly recalled monumental showdowns in the early 1980s with my brother Jason. How frustrating and time-consuming it was to slip the player cards back into their plastic holders when they fell out. The many different ways you could arrange the character cards. And those crazy commercials that had the characters on the cards coming to life and actually “speaking” to each other. Later editions of the ads actually carried the spoken disclaimer line “Game cards do not actually talk.”
Relating to actual game-play, this game is all about the strategy. The opening question is vital and sets the tone for the entire match. A common first question is: “Is your person a male?” If you’re lucky, the answer is “NO” and you can immediately eliminate 19 of the 24 cards (20 if your own character is a female as well). Other questions that can eliminate up to 19 or 20 people (given a favourable answer) include: “Is your person wearing a hat?” (only 5 out of 24 possibilities), “Does your person have white hair?” (only 4 out of 24 possibilities), and “Does your person have facial hair on the chin?” (again only 5 out of 24 possibilities…thankfully all of them males).

Then, there are the not-so-good opening questions. A question like: “Does your person have 2 eyes?” doesn’t really eliminate anyone. Similarly, “Does your person’s name start with the letter ‘Z’?” only works out in that 1 in 24 chance your opponent picked up Zachary. And one must always avoid the subjective questions. “Does your person look constipated?” is open to too many degrees of interpretation.

My secret weapon was to pre-arrange both trays in the EXACT SAME ORDER. Thus, if I ever was against an opponent who made the cardinal error of “eliminating” his own person right off the bat (essentially narrowing his choices down to 23 right away), I was able to use my “mirrored tray” to correctly guess my opponent’s person on the first try! I think my family caught on pretty quickly, and started to “pump-fake” me by throwing down random face frames to outwit me…something that’s usually not hard to do.

It’s all about subtlety. Something that Jake is still learning, and something that Sean has already mastered. Here’s how tonight’s deciding game went:

Jake (while staring at his OWN character): “Is your person brown?”

(Clay cracking up on the side)

Sean: “No. Is your person a boy?”

Jake (again, while staring at his OWN character): “Yes. Does your guy’s name start with the letter ‘C’?”

(Clay laughing even harder)

Sean: “No. Are you Connor?”


(Clay rolling on the ground)

With that, Sean won the best of 3, and Jake was left pondering how his older brother got so smart. As you the reader have probably picked up by now, Sean immediately noticed that Jake was using his own character to form his questions. So Sean simply had to find a brown male whose name started with C. Needless to say, there was only one possibility.

After taking all of 7 seconds to clean up (yet another beautiful thing about this game), the boys brushed their teeth and headed to bed.

Next challenge: OPERATION!


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