Why Playing Gozo Is the Best Way to Spend Game Night

It's one of Martha's all-time favorites.

playing cards on black table with drinks and snacks
Photo: Jonny Valiant

Martha has many tricks up her sleeve: she's a cook, crafter, the founder of her own self-titled company, but did you also know she's a skilled player of the card game Gozo? "I am not a big social game player, but the value of knowing a fun card game or word or numbers game to play when there is downtime is very beneficial," Martha explained in her health and wellness book Living the Good Long Life ($27.50, barnesandnoble.com). "I like cards, but have really never had a lot of that 'downtime' to engage in poker or bridge or even canasta."

Ready to learn her new card game? If you know the rules of rummy, this two-deck game resembles it. The cards are dealt among players up to five, and playing Gozo requires the use of two decks of cards ($12, areaware.com). In turns, you play everybody's hand. Martha has taught the rules of this game with her colleagues, too. "Martha played it with her mother, Mrs. Kostyra, and I learned it from Martha," recalled Kevin Sharkey in his May 2012 column of Living. "I love watching her teach it to other people. It's in keeping with the company she built."

That isn't to say that Martha's mentorship outweighs her good-natured competitive streak. "At work, she shows you the rules and encourages you to win. With Gozo, it's a little different: She shows you how to play, and then it's every man for himself," continued Sharkey. "Like me, she is also very competitive—which makes the game fun—and I think she'd tell you I'm a pretty ruthless Gozo player. She's beyond proud to watch me succeed at something she taught me."

Whether on business trips or on family vacations, Martha will play Gozo with anyone—as with any card game, it's easy to play on the go. "We play this a lot when we travel together, so that's another reason we like it so much," Sharkey said. "It's associated with a lot of good memories." But it's also kept Martha and her staff happily occupied while quarantining at Bedford amid social distancing orders, even going so far as saying she dubs it as "the game of the pandemic" on Instagram.

"It is a lot of fun and very engaging," Martha continued in her aforementioned book. "I do promise, however, to really learn both poker and bridge, and I also promise to one day have some of that elusive downtime we all dream about."

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