I haven’t played this, but I’ve watched a video of Japanese comedians playing it, which actually does give a sense of how it works.
There’s a (IMO very obvious) algorithm for winning this with literally zero communication: play card N after N seconds have elapsed. I don’t know how easy it is to precisely count double-digit-second intervals, but it doesn’t seem that interesting to find out. It seems pretty clear that steelmanning the rules means not counting seconds.
So what you end up with is a game of reading precise system-2 information (numbers), translating it into nebulous system-1 body language, that the other players need to be able to process back into a precise number.
Yeah my feeling is… I know that we would develop some synchronization protocol and I’m not really curious about how that would happen. Developing protocols is more interesting when you can use words (because we always can, in life), or when there really is no communication at all (in which case we must sit and meditate only on the dao).
I came up with a related strategy that avoids estimating times. Take turns starting from the dealer’s left. If you can play the next card in sequence, do, otherwise pass. The player on your left will eventually realise you’re passing. If the pass goes all the way round the table, that card isn’t in anyone’s hand, so you test in the same way to see if anyone has the next card.
Of course, this also trivialises the game, so it wouldn’t be used.
Thank you! I and two other players landed on this strategy independently within like 20 minutes. And then the group’s performance obviously improved, but it was no longer a game, it was “count accurately.”