Durban - The card game, Thunee, that has been part of South African culture for eons, has recently been awarded international status, with the introduction of its digital version application.
The traditional card trick game, invented by Indian indentured labourers in the 1800s, is now available to be bought online on Google Play and Android App Store. A Facebook version is also available.
The app, which costs cost $2 (R20) to download on the online stores, is the invention of former Durbanite Thaveshan Reddi. .
The 30-year-old software developer, who now lives in California since leaving local shores at 13 years old with his parents, said the inspiration for creating the app dawned on him when he tried to incorporate his South African traditions and culture, to fit with his American lifestyle.
“I will always be a true South African in my heart. One of my most vivid and most wonderful memories of my life in Parlock was playing Thunee with my family and friends on weekends.
“For years I constantly searched for an online version. I decided to one day to stop complaining and build my own.
“I started writing apps as a hobby and wrote a few before I decided to create a Thunee game.
“I spent months working on different scenarios to attempt to make the game as realistic as possible, especially when playing against computer opponents. We finally put the first version up on the Android store in the beginning of April.
“We received an overwhelming response. Most people just wanted more right away. We continued working on updates and also started creating the Facebook version,” he said.
Thunee is typically played with four players, in partnerships of two, sitting crosswise. It is played with 24 cards, with the pack divided so that the sixes are used for scorecards. Each round the dealer shuffles the cards and the player on the left calls trump.
Each team must attempt to trump the next person.
According to Wikipedia.com, Thunee, Tamil for “water”, is a popular trick-taking card game that originated in 1872 in Durban by Indian indentured-labourers who arrived in South Africa to work in the sugar cane fields.
“I think I have a new appreciation for the game. After going through and writing up much of the logic, it is amazing how much thought our ancestors have put into the game to make it entertaining and an inherent part of our culture.”
The game has several features on the Android version, including calling to keep trump, jodhi, calling Thunee and double games.
“It is only single player on Android. The Facebook version is completely independent and allows multiplayer capabilities. It hasn’t been officially released, but we have had success with several beta users.
“I spent a large amount of time trying to get the logic for the artificial players to play like a real player. The computer needed to intercept clues that you were sending and play cards accordingly.
“Probably, the demand after we published the first version was difficult to keep up with. Almost everyone that downloaded it wanted a new feature added. That along with trying to get a Facebook version up and running has been very difficult,” he said. He said that although the app was available only for android users for now, he intended making it available for iTunes soon.
“We decided to start with Android to see what type of response we received and tackle additional platforms from there. Our goal is to release the Facebook version, which will also allow iPad and iPhone users to start playing Thunee as well.
“Even though we charge for the app, the aim isn’t to make money. This is mostly in consideration of our hosting fees. I am losing money keeping the game alive. To play online, we need several systems to be available and the cost of keeping that going is ongoing. I was initially trying to give it away for free like all the other apps I’ve written but with online play coming soon, this just isn’t feasible,” he said. - Sunday Tribune