Local teen runs Yu-Gi-Oh! club, prepares for tournament

Reese Villagrana, who has organized a monthly club for Yu-Gi-Oh! enthusiasts, poses for a photo Aug. 26. (Fred Lynch)

Reese Villagrana first got hooked on the game Yu-Gi-Oh! at age 6 through the animé cartoon of the same name. Now 16, he runs his own Yu-Gi-Oh! Club once a month at the Cape Girardeau Public Library.

Reese Villagrana plays Yu-Gi-Oh! with his father, Sam, on Aug. 26. (Fred Lynch)

Players must have a deck of 40 to 60 cards.

The object is to make your opponent run out of cards, or reduce their life points from 8,000 to zero.

"Each player has a certain amount of points, which start at 8,000. If you have a monster that gets destroyed," the player can add the difference to his points, Reese said.

Two people at a time usually play Yu-Gi-Oh!, but sometimes there are four. Villagrana said the game is a "bit complicated," but involves summoning a monster, casting spells and traps, determined by which cards the player has.

Reese started the Yu-Gi-Oh! Club in January. Reese's dad, Sam Villagrana, who often plays the game with his son, said the number of participants in the club can vary from 10 to more than 20.

They meet the second Saturday of the month and a tournament is coming up Sept. 13, which the Villagranas hope will attract a lot of players. Although it's listed as being for junior high and high school age children, the club has attracted some college students, who may have thought they left their Yu-Gi-Oh! days behind them.

Reese Villagrana keeps a collection of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards not used for playing. (Fred Lynch)

The Villagranas moved to Cape Girardeau from Stockton, California. There was no Yu-Gi-Oh! group here, and the closest ones were at least an hour away.

About half of those who attend may not know how to play the game, but it comes with a large, handy instruction booklet, Reese said.

Reese, who has an album of cards, has been collecting them since he was 8 and has a playing mat. Sam Villagrana said the mats express a player's style. They use an app on Sam's cellphone to keep score.

The cards can be traded or sold on eBay, but Reese seems attached to his and enjoys looking at them.

His favorite card is the dark armed dragon and Sam's is cyberdragon.

"It's just really fun. It's hard, so you get some enjoyment out of winning. Even if you lose, you still get to try again some other time," Reese said. "It uses math a lot in the game. ... You have to think about what you're going to do next. It's not easier than chess, but it's still fun."

Sam finds it engrossing as well.

"[The] part I enjoy is just spending time with my son. It's kind of difficult finding adults who like to play, but the fun part is spending time with Reese," Sam said.

Along with Reese, Sam and his wife, Dawn, have five children, including foster triplets.