Myllymatti (Skitgubbe)

Myllymatti is a Finnish trick-taking game for three players. A hand of Myllymatti consists of two phases. In the first half of the game, players build their hands for the second half by capturing cards through trick-taking. The players then take the hands they built to the second phase and try to get rid of their cards as fast as they can.

Myllymatti is the oldest of a family of games played across the Scandinavian countries. It originated in the early 1800s in what is now western Finland, with photographic evidence of the game dating back to 1907. From Finland, it spread west, evolving into a different game in each country it entered. In Sweden, it became the very similar Skitgubbe. In Norway, it evolved into the game of Mattis. Back in its native Finland, it spawned yet another variation, for up to eight players, named Koira (a name that is sometimes used interchangeably with Myllymatti), which plays quite similar to Mattis.

Object of Myllymatti

The object of Myllymatti is to capture powerful cards through trick-taking. Then, the player uses these cards in a second round of trick-taking, with the ultimate goal to avoid being the last player with cards.

Setup

To play Myllymatti, you’ll need a standard deck of 52 playing cards. We recommend using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards at all times to ensure your cards are durable enough for whatever comes up.

Shuffle and deal three cards to each player. Place the stub face down in the center of the table, forming the stock.

Game play

Building the hands

The player to the dealer’s left leads to the first trick. The next player to the left then responds with any card they wish (there is no requirement to follow suit). Each trick is played with only two out of the three players; the third player (in the case of the first trick, the dealer) does not contribute to the trick.

Whoever plays the higher card, according to the usual order of card rankings, wins the trick. Suits do not matter. Whichever player wins the trick takes the two cards and places them into a face-down won-cards pile in front of them. Both of the players who participated in the trick draw a card from the trick, restoring their hand to three cards. The winner of the trick then leads to the next one, playing against the player to their left.

When the two cards played to a trick tie, it is called a bounce. The cards comprising such a trick are left on the table. The same player then leads to the next trick. This continues until a player actually wins the trick.  That player takes all the cards on the table.

As long as there is more than one card left in the stock, a player may choose to turn its top card up and use this as their play. Turning a card from the stock commits to playing it; it cannot be taken into the hand and another card played instead.

Ending the first half

When a player would be required to draw the last card from the stock, rather than adding it to their hand as usual, they show it to the other players. The suit of this card will become the trump suit for the second half of the game. The player who drew the card then places it directly in their won-cards pile without adding it to their hand.

The players continue playing tricks until a player has no cards to play on their turn. Any cards played to a trick in progress are added to the won-cards piles of the players who played them. Remaining cards in the players’ hands are then exposed and placed in the won-cards piles of the players they belong to.

Playing the hands out

The cards in each player’s won-cards pile form their hand for the second phase of the game. Whichever player drew the last card from the stock (the card that fixed the trump suit) leads to first trick. Players are now required to beat the last card played, if possible. A card can only be beaten by a higher card of the same suit, or a trump (trumps can only be beaten by higher trumps). If a player is unable or unwilling to do so, they take the last card played into their hand, and play passes to the left.

A trick is considered complete when it contains the same number of cards as there were players in the game at the start of the trick. When a trick is complete, the cards are discarded, and the last player to play a card (and thus the one who played the highest card) leads to the next trick. A trick can also come to an end by all of its cards being picked up; in this case, the player to the left of the last person to take in a card leads to the next trick.

When a player runs out of cards, they drop out of the game. Game play continues until only one player is left with any cards. That player loses the game.

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Tong-Its

Tong-Its is a rummy game for three players. A Philippine offshoot of Tonk, Tong-Its is a lively game introducing a bluffing aspect to rummy. Since players are not penalized for keeping their melds secret, a player may declare the end of the hand believing they have the lowest unmatched card total. But if one of their opponents thinks they’re wrong, they can challenge them, and potentially snatch the victory away from them!

Object of Tong-Its

The object of Tong-Its is to reduce the number of unmatched cards in your hand by forming combinations of cards called melds.

Setup

To play Tong-Its, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of cards. We recommend using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, because they’re the most durable cards on the planet. Scoring in Tong-Its is usually done with the hard score method, so you’ll also need a bunch of something like poker chips, beans, or other markers to keep score.

All player ante two chips to a pot in the center of the table. Shuffle and deal twelve cards to each player, starting with yourself. After all players have received twelve cards, deal a thirteenth card to yourself. The remaining fifteen cards are placed in a pile in the center of the table, forming the stock.

Game play

The dealer goes first. Their first order of business is to identify any melds they may hold. If they so desire, they may open their hand by placing some or all of their melds (see below) face-up on the table. They then end their turn by discarding a card, starting a discard pile, and the turn passes to the left.

Starting on the second player’s first turn, and for the rest of the game, a player starts their turn by drawing a card. They may draw the top card of the discard pile only if they can complete a new meld from their hand with it, and this meld must then be placed face-up on the table. Otherwise, they must draw from the stock. After a player has drawn, they may lay down any melds they may have in their hand. Then, they may lay off cards on any existing melds they or their opponents have laid down. Finally, the player ends their turn with a discard.

Melds

There are two types of melds in Tong-Its, both of which should be familiar to a connoisseur of rummy games. These are three or four cards of the same rank, and the sequence, which is three or more consecutive cards of the same suit. Aces are low in Tong-Its, so A-K-Q is not a valid sequence; any sequence involving an ace must also contain the 2 and the 3 of the same suit. A card must be counted toward only one meld; it cannot be shared between multiple melds.

Notably, unlike other rummy games, a meld still counts for the player if it is kept concealed in the hand. In fact, there is a special bonus for holding a concealed four-of-a-kind in the hand. Keeping melds concealed can be a good idea, as it prevents your opponents from laying cards off to them. However, if you do not open your hand by exposing at least one meld, you risk taking penalties should the hand end before you do so! Remember, whenever a meld is formed with a card from the discard pile, the meld must always be exposed.

There is one special situation involving the four-of-a-kind. A player may place a concealed four-of-a-kind face down on the table. A player who does so is considered to have opened their hand, yet they are still eligible to receive the concealed four-of-a-kind bonus at the end of the hand.

Ending the hand

There are three ways the hand can end: by a tongit, by a draw, and by the stock running out.

Tongit

When a player runs out their entire hand, they can call tongit and end the hand immediately. A player calling tongit may play out all of their cards by melding them, or they may end their turn as usual by discarding their final card.

Draw

A player who thinks they have the lowest deadwood (unmatched card) total can end the hand by calling “draw”. A player can only call “draw” if all of the following are true:

  • They have opened their hand.
  • They did not lay off to their existing melds on the previous turn.
  • No other player laid off to their existing melds since their last turn.

When a player calls “draw”, their opponents may choose, in turn, to either fold or challenge the draw. Only a player who has opened may challenge. If both opponents fold, the hand ends, with the player calling “draw” winning the hand outright.

However, if one or both opponents challenge, the player calling “draw” and all challengers must expose their hands. Each player calculates their deadwood score: aces count one, face cards count ten, and all other cards their pip value. Whoever has the lowest deadwood score wins. If there is a tie, the challenger wins, and if there is a tie for lowest between multiple challengers, the one to the left of the player calling “draw” wins.

When a player challenges a draw, the value of the hand to the winner increases from one unit to three. If you’re not confident you have a lower deadwood score than the player who is ending the hand, it may be better to simply fold rather than risk having to pay out three chips!

Exhausting the stock

When the stock runs out, the hand ends when whoever draws the last card ends their turn. All players who have opened compare their deadwood totals. Whoever has the lowest wins. If there is a tie, the player who drew the last card from the stock wins. If there was a tie between the other two players, the player to the left of the one who drew the last card wins.

Payouts

When a winner has been decided, each loser must pay to the winner:

  • For winning:
    • Three chips if they won by calling tongit
    • Three chips if they won by a challenged call of “draw” (whether or not they were the caller or the challenger)
    • One chip for any other kind of win
  • Three chips for each concealed four-of-a-kind in the winner’s hand
  • One chip if the loser did not open their hand
  • One chip for each ace the winner held, either in their hand or in melds (note that aces laid off on the winners hand, or aces the winner laid off on their opponents’ melds, do not count)

After the payments are settled, the winner shuffles and deals the next hand. All players ante again to the pot. The pot is only awarded to a player who wins two hands in a row.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail


Calabrasella

Calabrasella is a trick-taking game for three players. Playing much like a simplified form of Solo, Calabrasella features a lone player against their two opponents, trying to capture the most point-scoring cards in tricks. Because the solo player is at an inherent disadvantage to their two opponents, the game counteracts this by granting certain liberties to the soloist, namely the ability to take a high-ranking card from one of their opponents, and the opportunity to exchange up to four cards with those in the widow.

The name Calabrasella seems to indicate an origin in Calabria, the province on the peninsula that makes up the “toe” of Italy. In any case, by 1870 it had spread throughout Italy, to the extent that it was considered the national game.

Object of Calabrasella

The object of Calabrasella is to capture as many scoring cards in tricks as possible. The scoring cards are the aces, 2s, 3s, and face cards.

Setup

Calabrasella is played with a 40-card Italian deck. To create such a deck from a 52-card English deck, like a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, just remove all the 10s, 9s, and 8s. You’ll be left with aces through 7s, plus the face cards, in each of the four suits. You’ll also need something to keep score with. The game is traditionally scored with hard scoring, so you’ll want some form of counters handy, like poker chips. If desired, each chip can represent an agreed-upon amount of real-world money.

Distribute the chips equally (or have players buy them). Shuffle and deal twelve cards to each player. The four remaining cards are placed face down in the center of the table, forming the widow.

Card ranking

For the most part, the cards rank in their usual order in Calabrasella, with aces high. However, both the 2 and the 3 are elevated from their usual positions to become the highest-ranking cards, above the ace. The full card ranking is thus (high) 3, 2, A, K, Q, J, 7, 6, 5, 4 (low).

Game play

Bidding and exchanging cards

Each hand begins with an extremely straightforward bidding round. The player to the left of the dealer has the option to pass or play. If they pass, the next player to the left (that to the dealer’s right) has the option, and then finally the dealer. Should all three players pass, the cards are collected, shuffled, and the next player to the left deals a new hand. When a player elects to play, the bidding ceases immediately, with that player becoming the declarer. The other two players become the defenders.

The declarer names the suit of any 3 that they do not hold (or, if they hold all four 3s, the suit of a 2 they do not hold). The player holding that card must pass it to the declarer, who exchanges it for any unwanted card in their hand. (This unwanted card is kept concealed from the third, uninvolved player.) If no player holds the card the declarer named (because it is in the widow), then they simply lose out.

The declarer then discards at least one but as many as four cards from their hand. They then turn the widow face up on the table. The declarer then selects the same number of cards as they discarded from the widow, taking them into their hand. The unused widow cards and the discards are then set aside, taking no further part in game play.

Play of the hand

The player to the declarer’s left leads to the first trick. Each player must follow suit if able; otherwise, they may play any card. When all three players have contributed to the trick, the person who played the highest card of the suit led wins the trick. That player then leads to the next tricks. Cards won in tricks are stored in a face-down won-tricks pile in front of them; the defenders share one common pile.

Scoring

After all twelve tricks are played, the hand scores are tallied up, with the defenders’ scores being added together and the declarer’s scored separately. The player taking the last trick scores a three-point bonus. Each ace is worth three points, and each 3, 2, and face card is worth one point.

If the declarer scored higher than the defenders did, each defender pays the declarer the difference between the scores. If the declarer scored lower than the defenders, the declarer must pay each defender the difference. For example, if the declarer scored 19 points and the declarers 16, each defender would pay the declarer three chips. On the other hand, if the declarer scored only 11 points and the defenders 24 points, the declarer would pay 26 chips in all: 13 to each defender.

In the event that one side scores 35–0, the payouts are doubled—each payment made is 70 chips.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail


Dou Dizhu

Dou Dizhu (斗地主), which roughly translates into English as Fight the Landlord, is a Chinese climbing game for three players. In Dou Dizhu, one player takes on the role of “landlord”, fighting to be the first to run out of cards. The other two players team up to try to dispense with their cards before the landlord does!

Dou Dizhu is a fascinating example of a climbing game because of the great flexibility the game affords players in choosing combinations of cards. This allows players to form complex strategies in planning their next moves. Because of this, the game is said to be easy to learn but hard to master.

Object of Dou Dizhu

The object of Dou Dizhu is to be the first player to run out of cards. (If playing with a partner, your partner being the first out is just fine too.)

Setup

To play Dou Dizhu, you need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards, with two jokers that are different from each other somehow. Happily, Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards fit the bill wonderfully. One joker should be designated as the higher joker. (On Denexa cards, we recommend this to be the red joker, the one with the dragon.) You’ll also need some way of keeping score. A hard-score method, using counters like poker chips, works the best, but you can also keep score with pencil and paper or similar.

Shuffle the deck. Take the top card and flip it face-up, randomly inserting it somewhere into the middle of the deck. Each player in turn draws a card from the deck until each have seventeen cards in their hand. Note which player takes the face-up card. The remaining three cards become a widow and are left face-down in the center of the table.

Card ranking

As with many Asian climbing games, the cards rank in their usual order, with aces high, but with the 2 ranked even higher than that. The jokers rank even higher than the 2, with one joker (the red joker) outranking the other (the black joker). Thus, the full rank of cards is (high) , ★, 2, A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 (low). Suits are not relevant to game play.

Game play

The auction

The player who drew the face-up card in the deck bids first in the auction. They can choose to bid one, two, or three, or pass. The next player to their left then bids, and must bid higher than the first player or pass. A player can make a bid after initially passing. Bidding continues until either there are two consecutive passes or someone bids three. Once a winner has been established, they become the landlord. The landlord takes the widow into their hand, giving them a 20-card hand.

Combinations

Play of the hand in Dou Dizhu revolves around different combinations of cards. The valid combinations in Dou Dizhu are:

  • Single card
  • Pairs
  • Trips (three of a kind)
  • Straights (five or more cards in sequence, e.g. 3-4-5-6-7)
  • Quads (four of a kind)—but see restriction below
  • Consecutive pairs (three or more pairs in sequence, e.g. 3-3-4-4-5-5)
  • Consecutive trips (two or more trips in sequence, e.g. 3-3-3-4-4-4)

There are some restrictions on when the high-ranking 2s and jokers can be used. They can appear as single cards, or in pairs or trips. They cannot be used in straights or consecutive pairs or trips.

In addition, extra cards called kickers may also be attached to trips and consecutive trips. A kicker can be either a single card or a pair. For example, 7-7-7-5 and 7-7-7-5-5 are both valid combinations. When attaching kickers to consecutive trips, there must be one kicker or kicker pair for each triplet, each of which must be a different rank. For instance, 3-3-3-4-4-4-9-J and 4-4-4-8-8-8-7-7-Q-Q are both valid, but 3-3-3-4-4-4-9-9 is not (as this is one pair kicker for two triplets, not one single card for each triplet). Both 2s and jokers can be used as kickers, but not both jokers at the same time.

Quads must always be played with kickers to be used as a regular play. This can take the form of two single cards (5-5-5-5-8-K) or two pairs (5-5-5-5-8-8-K-K). Quads played without kickers are a special combination called a bomb (described below in “Bombs and rockets”).

Play of the hand

The landlord plays first. They may play any combination of cards they wish. The next player to the left then must play a higher-ranking instance of the same combination. To be considered the same combination, the same number of cards must be played: straights must be of the same length, consecutive pairs must have the same number of pairs, the same number of kickers must be played, etc. Combinations are ranked by the highest card present, with any kickers disregarded. For example, 7-7-7-5 is higher than 4-4-4-A (because the ace is a kicker and is thus not counted toward the rank of the combination). If a player cannot or does not want to play higher, they may pass.

This continues, with play continuing around the table, each player playing higher and higher combinations. Players may jump back into game play, even after passing, on their next turn. After two consecutive players have passed, the remaining player is free to play whatever combination of cards they choose (i.e. they are not compelled to play the same type of combination as before). As before, play continues to to the left, with the next player following up on the most recently played combination with a higher one of the same type.

Bombs and rockets

There are two special combinations in the game. These are the bomb, four of a kind with no kickers, and the rocket, which is a pair of jokers. Bombs and rockets may be played at any time, regardless of the combination being played. A bomb can only be beaten by a higher-ranked bomb or a rocket, and a rocket is unbeatable.

Ending the hand

Game play continues until one player runs out of cards. If that player is the landlord, each of their opponents pays them the amount bid (one, two, or three chips). If the landlord did not go out, the landlord must pay each opponent the amount bid. The payout is doubled for each time a bomb or rocket was played over the course of the hand.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail


Khanhoo

Khanhoo is a rummy game for two to four players. It was originally from China, though it experienced a period of popularity in England at the end of the nineteenth century. Khanhoo may be one of the earliest rummy games ever to be played. It seems likely that it at least influenced Conquian, considered to be the ancestor of most rummy games.

Object of Khanhoo

The object of Khanhoo is to be the first player to form their entire hand into combinations called melds.

Setup

A special 61-card deck is needed to play Khanhoo. To make one, take two decks of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards and remove all of the 10s. Then, take out the face cards in hearts, spades, and diamonds, and all of the remaining number cards from the clubs. Shuffle these two decks together, and add one joker, and you’ll have your Khanhoo deck. It will contain the joker, two each of the J-Q-K♣, and two each of aces through 9s in the other three suits. You’ll also need something to keep score with.

Shuffle and deal fifteen cards to each player. Then deal a sixteenth card to the player to the dealer’s left. Place the stub in the center of the table, forming the stock. (In a four-player game, the entire deck will be dealt out, so there will be no stock.)

Game play

Game play begins with the player to the dealer’s left choosing one card to discard. This starts a discard pile, usually placed to one side of the stock. The turn then passes to the left. This player draws one card, either from the stock or the discard pile, and then discards one card. Turns continue in this manner, with a draw and a discard by each player in turn.

If the stock runs out, its top card is set aside, the discards are flipped over, and then shuffled to form a new stock. The old top card then forms the new discard pile.

As the entire deck is used in the four-player game, there is no stock. Instead, each player simply draws the card that was discarded by the player to their left.

Melding

The players’ goal is to form their hands into melds. The valid melds, and their point values, are as follows:

  • Sequence (1 point): Three or more cards of the same suit in consecutive order, e.g. 6-7-8♥. Note that sequences will never include face cards or clubs, as the only “sequence” that can be formed using them is actually the more valuable royal assembly (see below). Aces are considered low in sequences (just below the 2). Note that the point value does not increase if more cards are added.
  • Aces (1 point): Three aces of any suit (duplicates are allowed).
  • Triplet (2 points): Three number cards of the same rank and of three different suits (no duplicates allowed).
  • Royal assembly (3 points): J-Q-K♣.
  • Court melds (4 points each): K♣-9♥-9♥, Q♣-8♠-8♠, or J♣-7♦-7♦.
  • Khanhoo (5 points): A♥-2♠-3♦.
  • Double aces (10 points): Six aces of any suit.
  • Double triplet (10 points): Two triplet melds of the same rank. That is, six number cards of the same rank, with each suit appearing exactly twice.
  • Double royal (10 points): J-J-Q-Q-K-K♣.
  • Double khanhoo (15 points): A-A♥-2-2♠-3-3♦.

As players form melds, they keep them in their hand (that is, they do not lay them out on the table). Thus, the players can rearrange and expand or split melds at will. The joker is wild, substituting for any other card in a meld without restriction.

Bumping

In a three- or four-player game, after a player discards, another player may intervene by claiming the discard before the next player can draw it. They may only do this, however, if they can immediately use the card in a meld other than a sequence. Taking the discard out of turn in this way is called bumping. When a player bumps, they must place the meld that the discard is part of face-up in front of them. They may then no longer alter the meld in any way (e.g. by making it from a khanhoo to a double khanhoo). They then discard as normal and play passes to the left, with the intervening players skipped.

If the player who would have normally had the right to the bumped discard (i.e. the player to the left of the player who discarded it) also wants the card, they may challenge the bump. Both players must then declare the type of meld they wish to use the discard for. If the player that wishes to bump can form a higher meld, they get the right to the discard. If the other player can make a meld of equal or higher value to the bumping player, then no bump happens, and play proceeds as normal.

Ending the hand

When a player has formed their entire hand into melds, they make one final discard and announce that they are out. Each player then reveals their hand, placing it on the table with each meld broken out. Each player then scores the value of their melds, with the player that went out also getting a five-point bonus.

The deal passes to the left, and a new hand is dealt. Game play begins until one or more players reaches a score of 50 points or more. Whichever player has the highest score at that point is the winner.

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Schafkopf

Schafkopf is a trick-taking game for three players. Sometimes called the national game of Bavaria, it has been played throughout southern Germany for at least 200 years. Schafkopf is one of the ancestors of Skat, and the two share quite a lot in common.

There are two theories for why the game is named Schafkopf, which translates to “sheep’s head”. One is that originally the score was kept by making tally marks on a sheet of paper in such a way that, when the game was finished, the marks made the outline of a sheep’s head. Another is that the name is really a corruption of Schaffkopf, meaning the top of a barrel. A barrel often made a convenient card table in the early days of the game.

Because Schafkopf has been in play for such a long time, dozens of variations of it have been developed over time. Many of these rival Skat in complexity and capacity for skillful play. We’ve chosen one of the simpler variants to describe here.

Object of Schafkopf

The object of Schafkopf for the declarer is to collect at least 61 points in tricks. For the defenders, the object is to stop the declarer from doing so.

Setup

Schafkopf uses the 32-card deck common to German card games. To make an equivalent deck from the international standard 52-card deck, start with a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards and remove all of the 2s through 6s. What will remain is a deck with aces through 7s in each of the four suits. You’ll also need something to keep score with, like the venerable pencil and paper.

Shuffle and deal out the whole pack according to the following order: a set of three cards to each player, two face down to the center of the table, a set of four cards to each player, then a set of three cards to each player. Each player will have ten cards, with the two-face down cards forming a widow. (This is the same dealing procedure used in Skat, by the way.)

Card ranking

Schafkopf uses a highly unorthodox card ranking. First off, 10s are ranked above the king, just below the ace. Secondly, all queens and jacks are not considered to be part of their own suit, but are considered trumps! Queens and jacks rank in the following order: (high) clubs, spades, hearts, diamonds (low). Lastly, all of the diamonds are considered trumps, too, ranking in order just below the J♦.

Taken altogether, that means that the rank of cards in spades, hearts, and clubs is (high) A, 10, K, 9, 8, 7 (low). The full rank of the trump suit is (high) Q♣, Q♠, Q♥, Q♦, J♣, J♠, J♥, J♦, A♦, 10♦, K♦, 9♦, 8♦, 7♦ (low). Got all that?

Game play

Picking up the widow

The first order of business is determining who will take the widow. The player to the dealer’s left has the first opportunity to do so, or they may pass. If the first player passes, the next player to the left can choose to pick it up. If they, too, refuse, the dealer gets the last chance at picking up the widow. Should the dealer decline to take the widow, the hand is played “least“, as described in “Playing least” below.

If a player does decide to take the widow, they become the declarer, and their two opponents become the defenders. The declarer adds the two cards from the widow to their hand, then discards two cards, face down. This restores their hand to ten cards.

Play of the hand

The player to the dealer’s left leads to the first trick. Each player in turn plays a card to the trick, until all three have played. Players follow suit if they are able; otherwise, they may play any card, including a trump. Whichever player played the highest trump, or the highest card of the suit led if no trump was played, wins the trick. They collect the cards from the trick, placing them in a won-tricks pile in front of them. They then lead to the next trick.

It is important to remember that the queens and jacks are trumps and not part of the suit printed on the card. For example, if a spade is led, playing the Q♠ is not following suit, it is trumping!

Scoring

After all ten tricks have been played, the declarer totals up the value of the cards they took in tricks, as follows:

  • Aces: eleven points each
  • 10s: ten points each
  • Kings: four points each
  • Queens: three points each
  • Jacks: two points each

None of the other cards have any value.

If the declarer successfully captured at least 61 points in tricks, they win the hand, and score two victory points. Should the declarer have collected 91 or more points, this is called a schneider, and they score four victory points. If they successfully captured all 120 points available, i.e. they captured every trick, it is called a schwarz, and they score six victory points.

Likewise, if the declarer collects 60 points or less, they lose two victory points. If they are schneidered (capture 30 points or less), they lose four victory points, and if they are schwarzed (capture 0 points), they lose six victory points.

Playing least

If all three players pass on taking the widow, the hand is played least. All three players play alone, with a goal of taking the fewest points possible. Whichever player takes the fewest points scores two victory points. If they captured 0 points, they score four victory points.

If two players tie, whichever one less recently took a trick wins and gets the two points. In a three-way tie, the dealer wins. In the event that one player takes all 120 points (meaning the other two tie at 0), that player loses four victory points and the other players do not score.

Ending the game

The game ends when a pre-specified number of deals take place. (For the sake of fairness, every player should have dealt an equal number of times.) Whoever has the highest score at this point is the winner.

See also

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Tyzicha

Tyzicha is a Russian card game for three players. In this trick-taking game, the trump suit changes every time a player reveals a king and queen of the same suit. That means which suit is trump can change several times over the course of a hand!

Object of Tyzicha

The object of Tyzicha is to be the first player to reach a score of 1,001 points. Points are scored by accurately bidding on the number of points that can be made on each hand and proceeding to collect those points.

Setup

Tyzicha is played with a 24-card deck. To obtain one, start with a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. Remove all of the 8s through 2s, leaving 9s through aces in each of the four suits. It’s a good idea to hold on to a full rank of the discarded cards (such as all the 2s) to serve as trump markers. You’ll also need pencil and paper for scoring.

Shuffle and deal seven cards to each player. Place the remaining three cards face down in the center of the table, forming the widow.

Card ranking

The cards rank slightly out of their usual order in Tyzicha. The 10 is ranked just below the ace, but above the face cards. That means the full order of card ranking is (high) A, 10, K, Q, J, 9 (low).

Game play

Bidding

Before the hand actually starts, the bid for the ensuing hand must be determined. The player to the dealer’s right bids first. They may either make an opening bid of 110 or pass. The next player to the left (the dealer) has the chance to bid or pass next. Once someone has bid 110, the next player may raise by ten points to 120, or else pass. A player may not raise by anything other than ten points. When a player passes, they drop out of the bidding and cannot bid again on that hand. When two players have passed, the remaining player becomes the declarer, and their bid becomes the contract for the hand.

Should the first two players pass on the first round of bidding, the third player (the player to the dealer’s left) is forced to play. A forced player may opt to accept a typical 110-point bid as usual. However, they also have the special option of making a contract of only 100 points. While this reduces their risk in the ensuing hand, it also limits their pre-hand options slightly, as described below.

The widow

After the bidding is concluded, the declarer turns the widow face-up. Once their opponents have seen it, they take it into their hand. They then choose one card from their hand (either one of the cards they had before, or a card from the widow) to give, face up, to each of their opponents, bringing each player to eight cards.

If, after exchanging cards, the declarer believes their hand has improved, they may choose to raise their bid. Raises must be a multiple of ten points. On the other hand, if they feel they are unlikely to make their contract, they may concede the hand. They deduct the value of the bid from their score, and each opponent scores 40 points. The hand is then over at that point.

If the declarer was forced and bid only 100 points, there are slightly different rules for dealing with the widow. Neither the widow, nor the cards passed to the opponents, are turned face up. Also, the declarer’s bid is locked in at 100; they cannot raise beyond this. A player with a bid of 100 may still choose to concede, however.

Play of the hand

The declarer leads to the first trick. Each player must follow suit, if possible. If not, they must play a trump; only if they have neither a trump nor a card of the suit led may they play a card of the other two suits. Players must also head the trick. That is, they must play a card able to win the trick if they have one they can legally play. The highest trump played to a trick wins it. If no trump was played, the highest card of the suit led takes the trick. Won tricks are not added to the hand; instead, they are placed in a won-tricks pile in front of each player. The player that won the trick leads to the next one.

Initially, there is no trump suit. If a player has a king and queen of the same suit when it is their turn to lead, they may reveal both of these cards as a marriage. They must then lead either of them to the trick. The trump suit then changes to that of the marriage. Which suit is trump may change multiple times per hand as players reveal further marriages. To remind the players of the current trump suit, keep an out-of-play card of the appropriate suit displayed, changing it as necessary.

Scoring

Once all eight tricks have been played, the hand is scored. The declarer totals the value of the cards they captured in tricks. Aces are worth eleven points, 10s are worth ten, kings four, queens three, and jacks two. 9s have no point value. To this total, the declarer adds the value of any marriages they revealed in the hand. A marriage in hearts is worth 100 points, in diamonds 80, in clubs 60, and in spades 40. If the combined total exceeds the contract value, the declarer has made their contract.

A declarer that fulfills their contract scores the value of the contract (not their hand total). If the declarer breaks contract, they subtract the value of the contract from their score instead. In this case, the declarer’s opponents also score the value of their hand (calculated the same way as is done for the declarer).

The deal passes to the left and new hands are dealt. Game play continues until a player reaches a score of 1,001 or more points. A player is capped at a score of exactly 1,000 points when not the declarer, meaning players must make a contract on their final hand in order to win the game.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail


James Bond

James Bond is a card game from the Commerce group of games. It can be played by either two or three players. It plays very similarly to a smaller, non-partnership version of Cash (Kemps), with each player holding multiple hands. In James Bond, players manage several four-card piles of cards, swapping cards with those on the table to make four-of-a-kinds.

Object of James Bond

The object of James Bond is to be the first player to collect four of a kind in each of their four-card piles.

Setup

James Bond is played using one standard 52-card pack of playing cards. Believe us, if you use Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, you’ll definitely be as cool as James Bond.

Shuffle and deal the entire deck out into piles of four. With two players, give each player six of the piles; with three, give each player four piles. Players should keep the piles in front of them, clearly separated, and not look at them until the game begins. You’ll be left with one extra pile; turn it face up and spread it in the center of the play area, easily accessible to all players.

Game play

Players do not take turns in James Bond. Instead, every player acts simultaneously, playing as quickly as they can. Claiming cards is very much a first-come, first-served sort of ordeal!

Upon a signal from the dealer, all players begin play at once. They may pick up any one of their piles and look at it. If they wish to look at a different pile, they must place the first one face down on the table before picking up another one. A player cannot hold one or more piles in their hand at the same time. Piles cannot be combined, and cards may not be switched directly between piles.

When a player is holding one of their piles in their hand, they may switch any one card from that pile with one of the cards on the table. A player cannot switch more than one card at a time. If a player wishes to take multiple cards from the table, they must switch one card, then the other. Players may move cards between piles by swapping them with cards on the table, then switching piles and swapping again. Of course, this runs the risk of an opponent claiming the cards during the time that they’re on the table.

Game play continues until one player has collected four of a kind in every one of their piles. They call out “James Bond!” and turn their cards face up to allow the opponents to verify that they do, in fact, have four of a kind in each pile. If so, the player wins the game.

Strategy

A decent amount of skill in this game is simply being fast. A player swapping cards quickly is more likely to establish a four-of-a-kind before their opponent. Part of this is inherent reflexes, and part is just practice.

Other than that, the best strategy in this game is to simply be aware of what’s going on. It’s easy to get lost in the frenzy of card swapping and get tunnel vision for what you need to complete your piles. Try to pay attention to what your opponent is doing, though. If you can remember what your opponent has been taking, you can retain cards of that rank in your piles until you are ready to complete a four-of-a-kind. If you have multiple cards of that rank split across piles, you can seriously delay them in completing their piles.

See also

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Nuts (a.k.a. Nerts, Pounce)

A Nuts (aka Nerts, Pounce, Racing Demon) layout


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

The object of Nuts is to achieve the highest score by moving as many cards out of your reserve as possible and by moving cards to the foundations.

Setup

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.

Game play

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.

Getting stuck

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.

Scoring

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.

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Tribello

Tribello is a trick-taking game for three players, played primarily in the U.S. state of Illinois. Like Trex, Tribello is an excellent example of a “compendium game”—the rules of the game change every three hands. That means Tribello is really like four games in one!

Object of Tribello

The object of Tribello is to have the most points at the end of the game. In the first three phases of the game, this is done by collecting as many tricks as possible. In the fourth phase, players try to take as few tricks as possible.

Setup

Tribello uses one standard 52-card pack of playing cards. Naturally, we endorse the idea of using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You will also need something to keep score with, such as pencil and paper or a smartphone application.

The player to the dealer’s left cuts the cards prior to the deal. For the first three hands, the bottom card of the top half of the deck is exposed, setting the trump suit. Shuffle and deal four hands of thirteen cards each. Three of these will go to the players. The fourth hand is left face down and becomes the widow, which belongs to nobody, at least at first.

Game play

After the players have received their hands and had a chance to look at them, the players may draw from the widow. The dealer goes first, discarding any number of cards that they wish and drawing the same number from the widow. The player to the dealer’s left goes next, discarding any number of cards up to the number that are left in the widow and drawing back up to thirteen. If there are any cards left, the player to the dealer’s right has the opportunity to draw from the widow.

The four phases of play

Game play in Tribello takes place in four distinct phases of three hands each. The first three hands comprise the first phase. The fourth through sixth hands make up the second phase, and so on. Each player deals once during each phase.

During the first phase, the card exposed during the cut sets the trump suit. In the second phase, the dealer chooses the trump suit after looking at their hand. There are no trumps in the third and fourth phases.

Each player has a contract they must make. The contracts are the same amounts in the first three phases. For the dealer, the goal is six tricks, for the player at the dealer’s left, four tricks, and for the player to the dealer’s right, three tricks. In the fourth phase, where players are trying to avoid taking tricks, the contracts are three for the dealer, four for the player to the dealer’s left, and six for the player at the dealer’s right.

Play of the hand

Game play proceeds much like any other trick-taking game. The dealer leads to the first trick. The other two players, in turn, then play to the trick. Players must follow suit if able; otherwise, they may play any card, including a trump.

After all three players have played to the trick, the person who played the highest trump, or the highest card of the suit led if no trumps were played, wins it. The player winning the trick takes the cards and places them in a face-down won-tricks pile in front of them. To make it easier to identify the number of tricks taken, it helps to place each trick at right angles to the trick before it.

Ending the hand

The hand ends when all thirteen tricks have been played. At this point the hand is scored.

In the first three phases, players score one point for each trick taken in excess of their contract. If they fail to meet their contract, they lose one point for each trick below contract. Meeting the contract exactly scores zero. Because the three contracts add up to thirteen tricks, the same number as there are available, the three players’ scores should always add up to zero.

The fourth phase is scored similarly, but because the object is to avoid taking tricks, the signs are reversed. That is, for each trick taken in excess of their contract, a player loses a point. For each trick below contract that a player comes in, they score a point.

The player that has the highest score after the end of the third hand of the fourth phase (the twelfth hand overall) is the winner.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail


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