Turkish Fun And Games

I am a total gamer.

In fact, I come from a family of gamers. My favorite childhood memories were of Sunday evenings at my Grandma’s – sometimes a couple of dozen people would cram into her tiny house for a large meal and rounds of different card games. From a young age, I hung around the table and waited for a vacant spot to open up so that I could swoop in and improve my skills by playing with the adults.

When I wasn’t doing that, I was outside playing kick the can with my cousins. Growing up I was also the one my parents had to drive around endlessly to make volleyball practice, or baseball tournaments and curling games.

I couldn’t get enough. And I still can’t – if you’ve got a new game to teach me, I’m there.

Perhaps I’ve found my match in the Turkish, as we learned three new games while we were there. However, I could only see taking one back to be shared at my Grandma’s house, I’ll save the other two for special occasions in which I want to inflict some pain.

Turkish Dodgeball

Forget picking sides and tossing balls across a large space at one another. Instead, divide one team on either side of a small field, and have them whip one ball back and forth at the poor helpless team running in the middle. When they are all out, switch positions and let the assaulted team get their revenge.

I’m not sure how it was quite decided who won this match, all I know is that it wasn’t my team, despite my best efforts.

Turkish Games

That’s my scary game face.



Some may know this game as “tile rummy”, but I betcha those who know that game aren’t familiar with the more intricate details of the Turkish version.



Mustafa was one tile away.

Most notably, the facial cues. Played with a partner, there are several ways to signal to him or her what your position in the game is.

Got a wild card? Blink with one eye.

Got two wild cards? Blink with both eyes.

Are you only one away from going out and finishing the round? Inflate your cheeks with air such that you look like a puffer fish.

(Or, in our case, just speak in Spanish to each other – they had no idea what we were saying. Cheating? Perhaps. But they did the same to us in Turkish!)


This is not the official name of the game, but it is appropriate. Or, as our friend Mustafa calls it, “Revenge on the Teacher.”

It is easy to see why. Imagine a casual game of “pepper” with a volleyball, where you just bump or set the ball in a circle and try to keep it from touching the ground.

However, in this (not so) friendly game, if you are deemed responsible for having it touch the ground, you are in for a world of hurt. Get to the middle of the circle, sit down, and let the rain of pain begin.

Everyone left in the circle has free reign to try and spike the ball at your head. If they hit you, they can stay in the circle; if they miss, they sit down beside you. And so on, until there is only one person left standing.

Turkish games - Punishment

Ready to take a beating.


They are the winner, and you, most definitely, are the loser.


32 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • June 4 2012

    Some of these games sound like far too much pressure for me, I would have anxiety over the volleyball game.
    Ayngelina recently posted..The island that surprised me

    • June 5 2012

      I will admit that I sat out of the volleyball game and let Pete take the “punishment”. Someone had to play photographer! πŸ™‚

  • I’ve made that same puffer fish face going into some Asian bathrooms. For entirely different reasons of course.
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..The Holy Grail of Hokey: Inside The Holy Land Experience (Part Two)

    • June 5 2012

      Oh yes, I am familiar with that version of the puffer-fish-face. Used that a few times before myself. πŸ™‚

  • June 4 2012

    I love the Spanish cheat! Muy bueno!! Great read!

    • June 5 2012

      Hey, we had to take any advantage we could. We got our butts kicked!

  • June 4 2012

    You totally play Dungeons & Dragons, don’t you??? =)

    • June 5 2012

      Haha, I don’t! Haven’t quite taken it *that* far, but I will refuse to tell anyone how many different games I actually have loaded on my iPod… πŸ™‚

  • I love games too! Your face rocks!!!

    • June 5 2012

      Haha! Thanks Andi! I think I may have scared off some kids with that face. πŸ™‚

  • Chrystal McKay
    June 4 2012

    Like you – I grew up constantly being taken around for all my sports and games. And even now, I’d rather spend a Saturday night playing Settlers of Catan. These games sound AWESOME – But I’d rather not be the one having pain inflicted on me! haha

    • June 5 2012

      We LOVE Settlers of Catan! And I’m with you, an evening of drinks and games with friends is my ideal Saturday night.

  • June 5 2012

    Really, what’s a game night without a few bruises and broken bones? There should really be some punishment for losing in Okey too, but those tiles look like they might really hurt.
    Steve recently posted..Let’s Go Map Tropical Islands

    • June 5 2012

      Well, Mustafa did threaten pain if we (as beginners) beat him (as the teacher!) So we let him win. πŸ˜‰

  • Ter
    June 5 2012

    Did you teach them Nertz?

    • June 7 2012

      If we had more time, I definitely would have!

  • Leah
    June 5 2012

    Love you for your competitiveness! And miss it just as much!
    Great post.

    • June 7 2012

      Except for when we’re curling with you, right? Oh, no, that one is Pete’s problem, not mine… πŸ™‚ xoxo

      • Leah
        June 11 2012

        I would consider applying to curl in Slovenia, just to get on the ice with you two again. Even if meant I had to listen to you TRY to boss me around!

        • June 11 2012

          By “you”, I know you must mean “Pete”… πŸ™‚

  • Jeremy Branham
    June 5 2012

    I loved dodge ball as a kid. I am pretty athletic so I could get out of the way. Also, I throw very very hard (I was pretty good with a baseball) so this game was fun for me. As for tile rummy and punishment, no thank you πŸ™‚

  • I find it amusing that there are “rules” for how to cheat at rummy.

    • June 7 2012

      It definitely adds another dimension to the game – trying to watch the other players for these “cues”!

  • June 6 2012

    Sounds like fun! I’m a gamer too and for my birthday introduced my German friends to Cranium.

    • June 7 2012

      If you’re a gamer then Germany is the place to live! Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride are two of our favorite games. The Germans know how to come up with some good ones! πŸ™‚

  • Ali
    June 6 2012

    Wow, sounds interesting. Not sure I could handle the dodgeball! And I have to agree that if they can speak Turkish to cheat at rummy, you can speak Spanish πŸ™‚

    • June 7 2012

      Haha, well, they didn’t start to talk in Turkish until we spoke in Spanish, so perhaps we are guilty of starting it. πŸ™‚

  • June 7 2012

    I’m with Ayngelina on this one.

    I lack physical agility for sports – which is why I internet game.

  • Brooke vs. the World
    June 22 2012

    I used to love love love Kick the Can as a kid. We’d play that in the summer all the time πŸ™‚

    • June 23 2012

      Ah! I thought this was a northern Canada tradition only! Haha

  • Very interesting. Growing up in NYC, the kids used to play a game called “Asses Up” which sounds very much like the Punishment game- except if you missed the ball you faced a wall as the other kids took turns wailing a hard hand ball at your backside.
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..ENDANGERED SPECIES SPOTLIGHT: Gray-Shanked Douc Langur

  • April 22 2013

    Lovely post! I’m in North Cyprus now trying to learn more about Turkey. I need to learn how to play backgammon, by the way πŸ™‚

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