What Mind Games Do YOU Play?


A vintage Rack-O game set, just like the one I grew up with.

So keep on playing those mind games together
Doing the ritual dance in the sun
John Lennon, Mind Games, 1973

Remember the game Rack-O? You might not. It was originally marketed by that old game master Milton-Bradley and has been around since 1956. Each player started with a plastic rack loaded with 10 numbered cards in random order. On each successive turn, the players picked a new card from the deck and inserted the card anywhere they wanted in their rack. The goal was to be the first player to wind up with a rack of 10 cards arranged from lowest to highest.

Rack-O never seemed to be as popular as other custom card games such as the classics Uno and Mille-Bornes, or current games like Apples to Apples. But I always enjoyed it when I could persuade my sister or a friend into playing a game or two. I don't think I ever tried it with three or four players, the two-player head-to-head competition seemed just right.

Does anyone play the game anymore? I can't recall if we had it when the kids were growing up. If we played it at all, memories of it are swamped by those of our nightly games of Killer Sorry. And a quick Google search shows that there is no electronic version. I suspect that these days if you can't do it digitally, you aren't doing it at all.

So why write about this old, never-very-popular game, other than the fact it was created the same year that I was? It's because of a vision I had last week. I was walking Milo, planning my activities for the coming day. And in my mind, I suddenly had a vision of a Rack-O rack. Each planned task was a different card, and I was mentally moving the cards back and forth in the rack, lining them up in the order that would make my day most efficient. I was weighing various priorities against the time the task would take, and where I could best accomplish the task. Some would be at the lab, some at home, and some could go either way. Was it my imagination, or once all was set in place, did I startle Milo with a little yell of "Rack-O?"

Rack-O Brain. That's what I am calling it. Figure out the things  I need to do, put them in order and then just go do 'em. Woe to the person who gets in my way or disrupts that schedule. And once everything is done it's "Rack-O!" and "Lights out!"

Rack-O Brain is different from a chess mindset A good chess player is seeing many moves ahead and envisioning what the final result will be. I need to put things into place before I can see the big picture. No coincidence, I was always a lousy chess player. 

Rack-O Head, chess brain, or something else. What kind of a brain are YOU?

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