Nuts, also known as Nerts, Pounce, and Racing Demon, among other names, is a competitive solitaire game. It can be played by two to four players, although more may be accommodated by dividing into partnerships. Functionally, Nuts resembles multiple frenzied games of Canfield being played simultaneously.
Object of Nuts
To play Nuts, you’ll need one deck of cards for each player. Each deck of cards in play must have a distinct back design. The frenzied pace of Nuts means cards can get bent up and damaged pretty easily. With a sturdy deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, you’re far less likely to have to stop the game and hunt for a replacement deck. Plus, they come in a two-deck set, which is perfect for a two-player game of Nuts.
You’ll also need something to keep score with, such as the venerable pencil and paper.
Players should seat themselves such that they are all facing a central area, where the foundations will be played. This central area should be accessible by all players, with plenty of room between players to allow for easy movement. If playing with an even number of players greater than four, players should pair up by any convenient means. Partners should sit next to one another. In a partnership game, the partners cooperate, however they see fit, to play more quickly. (We will describe the game as though it were being played by solo players below; any time a “player” is mentioned it should be understood that this applies to a partnership, where appropriate.)
Each player shuffles and deals thirteen cards from their own deck, face down, into a pile. They then square up the pile, and turn it face up, so only the top card can be seen. This forms the reserve. To the right of the reserve, deal a line of four cards, face up, forming the tableau. The remainder of the deck becomes the stock.
There are no turns in Nuts. Instead, everyone plays simultaneously. When conflicts arise, the first card to be played (usually the one that ended up below the other) takes precedence. Cards rank in their usual order, with aces low.
Play of the hand
The tableau is built down by alternating colors (red cards are played on black cards and vice versa), in descending rank order. When a card is moved, all cards on top of it are moved as well. In other words, the tableau works pretty much exactly like that of Canfield or Klondike. A player may play to their own tableau only; their opponents’ are off-limits.
The top card of the reserve is available to be moved to any legal location at any time. Cards beneath the top card are not accessible and should not be known to the player.
Cards may be drawn, three at a time, from the stock and placed in a discard pile, from which they may be moved to any location. Only the third card is available for play, freeing up the second card when the third is played, etc. After the stock is fully depleted, the discard pile is flipped over to replenish it.
When an empty spot appears in the tableau, any accessible card (the top card of the reserve, a card from the discard pile, or cards from elsewhere in the tableau) may be moved to fill the vacancy.
When a player encounters an ace, it may be moved to the central area to form a new foundation pile. The foundation piles are built up by suit, in ascending rank order. Any player may add to a foundation pile, not just the player that started it. Players may create a new foundation whenever they have an ace, even if another incomplete foundation pile exists. No new cards may be added to a foundation whenever a king has been played to it. Once played to a foundation, a card cannot be removed from it.
After the hand has gone on for a while, players will be unable to make any additional moves, due to a lack of necessary cards (trapped either in the reserve or in inaccessible parts of the stock). When all players reach this state, or otherwise agree to do so, they may flip their discard piles to reform their stock, then, move its top card to the bottom. This is usually enough to adjust the deck so new cards are now accessible.
Ending the hand
The hand ends whenever a player depletes their reserve. They call out “Nuts!” and game play immediately ceases. (Players in the process of moving cards may complete their moves, but no new cards may be picked up.)
It occasionally happens that none of the cards in a player’s stock are playable. If every player finds themselves in this situation, the hand ends.
The foundation piles are collected, then separated based on their backs. This allows a count to be made of the number of cards each player contributed to the foundations. Each player scores one point for each card played to the foundations. Two points are then subtracted for each card left in their reserve.
Players collect their cards back into full decks, then shuffle and deal new hands. Game play continues until at least one player exceeds a score of 100 points. The player with the highest score at that point is the winner.