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The history of the game of Gorilla can be summed up with the word ``evolution''. Gorilla itself evolved from a different game, or a series of different games. The signals and conventions employed in Gorilla evolved from many many wallows.

Back in the winter of 1971 my friend Stanley Lanning and I were playing a game of Hell. This is a game where, like Gorilla, the highest card of the suit led takes the trick. The winner of a trick gets to lead to the next trick. The first hand has one card dealt to each player. Each successive hand has one more card till you get to a maximum of ten cards dealt to each player. After the hand with ten cards, the hands start shrinking by one card each time until the final hand, which has only one card apiece.

After each hand is dealt, but before it is played, each player looks at his hand and decides how many tricks he should bid for. After all players have their bid ready, the players simultaneously reveal their bid. At the end of the hand, each player scores one point for each trick that he took. He also scores a bonus of ten points if he took exactly the number of tricks that he bid.

This is a real game. We did not make this up.

We played many games of Hell.

Then somehow, we came upon the idea of forcing the dealer of each hand to bid zero and the non-dealer to bid to take all of the tricks. This variation became known as record rules Hell. The object was to get the highest score in history, not just a higher score than your opponent/partner. Cooperation was forced upon us by these rules and we liked it.

We played many games of record rules Hell.

After a while, we came to notice that the most enjoyable hands were the hands where ten cards were dealt to each player. We started always dealing ten cards to each player. After a bit, we abandoned the old Hell scoring and implemented the modern Gorilla scoring methodology.

We played many many games of Gorilla.

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Copyright © 2004 by Jon Hale