Let’s Change the Beer Card to the Curse of South Africa

If you’ve played cards for a while, eventually someone will tell you about the Beer Card – usually when it comes up during play.

That’s the 7 of diamonds. Traditionally, when the beer card comes up, the loser owes the winner the quantity of one beer. It’s good-natured, and it’s been part of cards for a pretty long time.

But – alas – I think it might be time to change it.

Traditionalists and bridge players everywhere might be horrified at the very thought. 

Keep in mind that South Africa has been unable to access beer for the past couple of months. Lockdown.

For whatever reason, the government has insisted that barring access to cigarettes, rolling papers and alcohol is vital to our survival. (It’s done almost nowhere else in the world during this time, and certainly not to this authoritarian extent, but continues.) 

Now, every time the beer card comes up, I can’t help but think of the damned government. 

I’m not thinking about beer.

I see the seven of diamonds and the first thing I think of is parliament. Subsequent job losses. Police violence. A country that’s slowly-but-steadily being pushed towards the edge – and not that the country was economically far away from the edge to start with.

If you’d like to have alcohol, it’s not impossible to find. The illegal and bootleg market has taken off as a result of continuing bans – and shortening citizen patience. You can find illegal alcohol for around $60 a bottle for something that normally costs the equivalent of less than $10 (or so I’ve heard).

The seven of diamonds could be called The Curse of South Africa.

Just two cards down from the Curse of Scotland.

What are we going to call that? 

We can’t legally source whiskey in this country, either.


  1. Somewhere I read that there is no point in passing laws you cannot enforce. Anyone who lived in South Africa during the apartheid years in the 60’s would know that liquor stores registered the name and address each time any white person bought liquor. As far as I can remember black South Africans could not buy liquor at all. So shebeens sprung up all over the townships, I hate to think how many of those who will drink anything will die, ethanol in particular.

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