The Password is "Intense"

LuddenI just got back from my annual baseball guys trip with the usual group of high school friends. As always, we picked a weekend series featuring one of the Chicago ball clubs at an out of town park, said goodbye to our wives and hit the road. This year we set out for Milwaukee and enjoyed two great games. Yes, we saw the Cubs and Brewers split a pair, but those aren't the great games I am talking about. No, what we will remember long after we have forgotten the close play at the plate Friday night, or the Brewers three bombs on Saturday, are the killer, no-holds-barred, games of Password we played Saturday and Sunday.

"Password?" I can hear you say. Isn't that the lame TV game show from back in the 60's?  Yup, that's the one , with Allen Ludden whispering to the audience while a pair of D-list celebrities gave alternating one word clues,  each trying to get their civilian partner to figure out a "password." Everyone sat calmly behind a podium and Mr. Ludden was thoroughly avuncular. You could almost hear the paint drying, right down to Ludden's giving the audience a closing "Password of the Day."

But that is not the way WE play Password. For us, this is the NCAA Championship for National Honor Society Students, the Pro Bowl for Dean's List Pupils. (Yes, a couple of the guys played varsity athletics, but not any of the real jock sports.) Lengthy, thoughtful rumination precedes giving each clue. Strategy is plotted three or four moves ahead. The inflection of your voice as you give your clue is studied and critiqued. A five minute delay between the clue and a potential answer is not unusual. Don't have a thorough knowledge of music, movies and TV from the 60's and 70's? Don't even think of playing in our game. You'll whiff on most of the clues.

We eschew the electronic version of the game for a tacky boxed one. We have played on a jet at 35,000 feet, annoying the rest of the passengers in our row. We have played under the blazing sun while the fish were biting in the middle of a placid lake. We have played while driving a minivan at 80 mph through a fierce rain storm on the way home from an Indians-White Sox series.  No way was being behind the steering wheel going to release me from my Password obligations.

Classic clues and games from year's past are long remembered, classic grudges remembered even longer. The perfect clue for "Knicknack?"  "Paddywhack" rings the bell.  For "Leopard?" The winning clue has got to be "deaf." Feel free to use "Chicago" as a clue for "blues," but don't  be tempted to use "St. Louis."  Our judges have permanently declared that the name of the Gateway City is two words. As for body language, there is no use of hands, but gazing skyward when trying to get your partner to say "balcony" is totally legit.

We take this very seriously. There's no crying in baseball, but lose in Password and tears may flow.


For those of you dying to try your hands at playing a round, can you figure out the password from the one word clue "pinssa." If you think you know, send me an email at


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