La Lotería De Don Clemente

“Mexican Bingo”

Founded in 1887, La Lotería de Don Clemente is one of the most popular and traditional games of Mexico; it is enjoyed most commonly by children, gamblers, and revelers at village fairs known as ferías. It can be best described as Mexican bingo; on boxes of the game destined for the North American market, it is labeled as such. The only material difference between bingo and Lotería is that bingo relies on numbers, while Lotería uses images.

Three is the minimum recommended number of players for this game. One “sings” La Lotería while the others cover the appropriate images on their tablas, or playing boards.

Once the players have selected their tablas, the cards are shuffled and cut. The deck contains fifty-four cards with ordinary images such as an umbrella or a ladder, and archetypes such as the valiant one or the siren—a raven-haired, topless temptress riding the waves of the open sea. For ease of identification, the cards are also numbered. The object of the game is to make the designated line, or cover the entire tabla, as in “blackout.”

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—Nina Marie Martínez

Nina Marie Martínez was born in San Jose, California. She enjoys major league baseball and roller skating. Her first novel ¡Caramba! will be published by Knopf in April.

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