A main topic of conversation around water coolers this week will not be whether Patrick Mahomes can lead the Chiefs to victory again in Super Bowl LVIII, or if Brock Purdy and the 49ers can complete a magical season with a victory. Or even if Taylor Swift will be able to attend the big game in Las Vegas.
There are far more interesting subplots.
“Wanna buy a square?”
Super Bowl squares. What looks like a bingo card is a 10-by-10 grid based on numbers and a fun game of chance. It’s an engaging way to stay focused while enjoying Super Bowl parties with friends and family members, and can even pay off handsomely. Or, it can be played for entertainment purposes only, or a portion can be assigned to a charity. There are plenty of possibilities.
The squares game depends on the final digit in each team’s score, and can be played in several formats. It’s a random game, but it resets at the end of every quarter. So, even a blowout game on the gridiron can hold some suspense on paper. Plus, it can be a lot cheaper than placing a bet with a Las Vegas sportsbook.
Here is the most common way to play the squares game.
Set up a grid
Start with an empty 10-by-10 grid. This will create 100 squares for people to choose from. Most players download a grid that can be found at various sites online. Google, after all, is your best friend. Players can either keep the grid online or print sheets to distribute to fellow workers or friends.
Assign a team
Assign one team to the columns and one to the rows. For example, the organizer could designate the Chiefs for the columns and the 49ers for the rows.
Buy a square
People will then buy a square -- or squares -- for a fixed price. For fun, this example will use $5 per square. By filling in all of the squares on the grid, there will be a $500 pot for Super Bowl LVIII. Contestants buy a square and then randomly choose a spot on the grid.
When all of the squares have been filled, it is time to assign numbers to each column and row. The format is 0 to 9 across the top of the grid and down the side. The person who organizes the game can pick the numbers randomly -- drawing them out of a hat is a good way. It is always a good idea to have a witness; these square games can be intense. Online organizers can generate a random drawing. The organizer draws numbers for the column, and then again for the row. That will create a specific score for each box on the grid. The organizer then shares the grid with each player who bought a square.
Time to play
The organizer should provide a copy of the completed grid to each player. At the end of every quarter, the last digit of the score for each team is plotted on the grid, like a high school student using graph paper in geometry class. If Kansas City is leading 10-7 at the end of the first quarter, the square that has the Chiefs side with a 0 and the 49ers side with a 7 would be the winner.
In the $500 jackpot example, the winner in the first quarter would earn $100.
This format continues throughout the game, with winners in the second and third quarters each receiving $100. The final score would be worth $200.
If the game goes into overtime -- and that has only happened once in the 58-year history of the Super Bowl -- generally, the final payout comes from the final score, regardless of when the game ends. Organizers should make this rule clear to avoid hard feelings.
What about blank squares?
Sometimes an organizer cannot sell all 100 squares. That is not a problem; that quarter’s jackpot simply rolls into the next quarter if the winning score happens to land on an unbought square.
The best part about the squares game is that a person does not have to know a thing about football to win. It is an equal playing field for both fanatics and novices.
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