Outings, Trivia, and Durak

Aside from bike rides to the countryside, international dinner nights, and heading to Germany, much of my free time is spent doing other activities, typically every other night or so.

One of the most common things that typically occurs is playing the Russian card game Durak; the word “durak” is Russian for “fool.” Allow me to explain the rules here:

Each player begins with 6 cards in hand. The goal is to get rid of all your cards. Once the cards are dealt to the players, a card is placed face-up at the bottom of the remaining deck of cards. This card is called the “boss card”; whatever suit it is means that it’s the high suit. Players play to the left, attacking that person. The person there must defend against the attack successfully, or take the cards. All players must have, at the minimum, 6 cards at hand, therefore taking cards from the remaining deck until said deck is gone. The last person with cards still in hand is declared the fool (durak). 

sneaky person

“You sneaky person,” said in a thinly-veiled British accent. This has become a common catchphrase for us while playing Durak. (Image from video.planetgreen.discovery.com)

There’s more technicalities to the game that are best told when actually playing the game. But right now you’re probably thoroughly confused at this time.

confused person

Thought so. (Image from i.somethingawful.com)

Durak has become almost a nightly ritual for us on the second floor, being the most common game we play (“hide-and-go-seek” and “randomly chasing each other on our floor” being other fun and exciting games). It’s come to the point where we have a deck of cards always available in our little dining room on the 2nd floor of Avant Garde. Chances are you’ll be seeing us playing it a few times a week, usually with 3-4 games in a session.

our dining room

Our little dining room.

Other random things that the lot of us tend to do includes going out on the town to check out a concert shindig at a local pub, which is something that frequently happens (concerts, that is). From my memory, there have been at least 3 separate occasions of multiple concerts happening across Maastricht, as a sort of musical celebration. During the first autumn break, back in mid-October, one of the weekends included a jazz concert series that occurred across multiple pubs in Maastricht. And just this past weekend there was yet another concert series, with a multitude of different music being performed once more at various pubs in the city.

One of these concert venues that I have frequented a few times now is called Edd’s Café, located in the heart of the city center. Every Thursday night they have a sweet jazz concert night that is a joy to watch. The excitement really kicks in, however, at around 10:30-11:00 in the evening, when the jam session kicks into gear. My first night at Edd’s’, I found myself watching a stellar jam session go on from 11pm until near 2am.

Edd's Café

As seen here.

And last to talk about has been the Tuesday night trivia nights myself and others have been doing now with frequency. These trivia nights happen down near the Maas (the river, if you recall), at a local watering hole called John Mullins Irish Pub.

john mullins ext

Exterior of John Mullins. (Image from tephotos.s3.amazonaws.com)

john mullins int

And the (awesome) interior of John Mullins. (Image from vvv-maastricht.eu)

My first trivia night at John Mullins – which was some substantial amount of time ago – our team from Avant Garde placed well in the back of the rankings, so far back I can’t even recall. My second trivia night was also quite dismal, again placing near the back.

However, in recent weeks, we’ve seen a remarkable turn around in how well we’ve been doing. Last week, for example, we finally broke the Top 10, placing 9th overall. And just this past Tuesday, November 27th, we finally came near to winning, placing second overall. It does help to boost your ranking when you see that the 1st place team (at least they were 1st place after the 4th round) using their smartphone to look up the answers.


“I don’t know who you are. But I do know what you want. You’re looking to win this trivia game, but you can’t use your cell phone. If you put your phone away, that’ll be the end of it. I will not give you crap, I will not mock you. But if you don’t, I will mock you, I will tell on you, and I will beat you.” Yes, we did beat that team, given that they fell back to 9th place after we told on them. (Image from cdn.pophangover.com)

With under a month now left in my tenure in Maastricht, I will continue going out for the little concerts, playing Durak with the friends, and rocking out at trivia night at John Mullins. It’s hard to believe that my time here is nearing an end, but I can say now that I hope to return to Maastricht once more in the near-future and visit this wonderful city again!