Updated 04/17/13 to correct the date.
The Susanville Basque Club will be holding their 18th annual Mus tournament on Saturday, April 27th, at the Senior Center on Sunkist Avenue.
“This is such a fun event to watch,” says event organizer Michelle Zubillaga, “we have teams of two players each from out of town as well as a local team or two.”
The game of Mus is affectionately called ‘Basque Poker’ and when you don’t have the cards the idea is to bluff your way to a win. It’s really four games in one and you must win 2 out of 3 games to win a match.
The game makes use of a deck of forty cards (the 8’s, 9’s, and 10’s are set aside).
As with most things Basque, it is not certain exactly where or when the game originated. In this case, the debate is not about the origins of the game but sometimes over which is the ‘real way’ of playing this entertaining game. There are several variations.
The standard form, adopted by NABO for the national championship and the international competition, is to play the game by the cards; meanwhile another version accepts the 3’s as kings and the 2’s as aces making eight kings and eight aces in the deck.
Yet another version takes this step further and makes the five of diamonds an additional king, totaling nine kings, etc. In the standard form, the game is played by four people split into two teams, but it is also sometimes played by six people divided into two teams of three.
Usually, this variety of rules is not a problem because any given community usually has one preferred way of playing.
Each year players come to Susanville from all over California, some from Nevada and even some from Oregon to compete.
Local winners get to go to play at the NABO regional tournament later in the Spring and, if they win there, they get to play at the NABO World Final that generally takes place in either the Basque Country or in South America; although last year the World Tournament was hosted by Canada and took place on an Alaskan Cruise ship!
Zubillaga says that there is a lot of Basque language to be heard during the game mixed in with Spanish, French and English.
Along with the Mus games the Susanville Basque Club will serve an awesome lunch of marinated BBQ’d lamb chops, garbanzo beans with Basque chorizo, green salad, fresh fruit, cheese, bread and beverage. Non-players are welcome to lunch at a cost of $12.00.
The Mus tournament will take place in the Senior Center, 1700 Sunkist Drive. For more information, call (530) 257-5367.