Game Night

Please note: This event has already occurred.
Game Night photo
(Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Editorial Review

A fun chance to exercise your brain power for free
By Moira E. McLaughlin
Friday, Dec. 9, 2011

How many wheat flakes are in an 18-ounce box of Wheaties? (3,450.)

How many curls did Shirley Temple have in her hair? (56.)

And how many new people can you meet spontaneously over board games? Find out when you give your mind a workout at the new monthly Game Night at Marbles in Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda.

Marbles, a chain store that opened a branch in the mall in September, sells about 250 games made to work different parts of the brain. Shoppers can walk in and try out the wares anytime, but on game night, you can sit down and play with others.

Jennifer Mascard, 35, of Germantown came to the mall in search of nail polish and instead found a recent game night. She easily joined in with the handful of shoppers playing the trivia game Guesstimation, where you answer such questions as "What was the top ticket price for Celine Dion's 2004 Las Vegas show?" ($275.)

There's no set schedule to the evening, and people flow from one game to another. Most of the store's offerings are for age 8 and older, and the night features games that appeal to a broad crowd.

Paul Calderon, 12, of London wandered into Marbles on game night while waiting for his mom, who was shopping. He joined in the game Anomia, in which synapses' speed is of the essence, and yelled out an answer, much to the surprise of the other players.

"They're having fun with the games, but they don't realize they're exercising their brain," says Marbles "brain coach" David Vu, who explains the rules and plays all the games.

Players are under no obligation to buy anything, although some walked in for the fun and walked out with a new game. Among them was 12-year-old Josh Miller of Poolesville, who came in with his dad and began playing Staccabees, a cross between Jenga and Scrabble, and then left with a magnetic-ball toy called Buckyballs.

Marbles wants "to make people's lives healthier," says store manager Christian Santacoloma, who spent a week at the company's flagship store in Chicago training for his position and learning all the games. He and his staff "take that very seriously," he says.

Yet game night is anything but serious. Instead, it's about laughing over wrong answers, applauding one another over right ones and ribbing one another across the table.

"That's the kind of environment we like," Santacoloma says.