Over at Old Jews Telling Jokes, Dan Okrent tells one I found quite funny. Check him out, on the bottom left.
Reminded me, though, of one of the more intriguing kind of games I once experienced. It was at one of the US Open crossword tournaments held at NYU which I attended from 1983 - '86, iirc. Pre-computer scoring era, there was always a good deal of time to occupy while the judges were tabulating the scores from 250 contestants, six puzzles each (? I think it was six). One of the ways Will Shortz did this was by conducting group participation games. Nerdy group participation games. As you might imagine, even the word-geekiest of us often found these a chore but once in a while he came up with a subtly fascinating one. Such was the case with what I call, "Second Most".
The set-up was simple. Will read out a category, the set of which was intentionally simple to describe. For example, "Name a state that borders the Pacific Ocean". You would write down your answer. A count would then be taken for each response. Here was the catch--points would be awarded only to that group of people who chose the second most popular answer. They would receive the number of points equal to the number of people who voted as they did.
So in the above example, upon hearing the question, one might immediately think, "California" but then say, "No, everyone's going to say California, so I don't want to pick that." On second thought, however, one might reconsider, "Wait a minute. Everyone's going to think everyone else is going to pick California and not pick it, so maybe it would be a good choice." "But if everyone's thinking that...." The recursive effect of this kind of thinking, related in a sense to Prisoner's Dilemma, was much fun to attempt to unravel. Would people bypass Washington, defaulting to Oregon? Might Hawaii squeak into second place as a dark horse? Are people really thinking this through like I am? (Come on, it's a crossword tournament. Of course they are.)
Will ran this through six or seven rounds, the "winners" tallying up their point totals. A prize, doubtless a dictionary or some such, was awarded for to the champion of the Second Most game.
This individual, naturally, was the contestant with the second highest point total....