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The game described below is actually a common variant. The basic game is rarely played, and does not permit passing on attacks or third parties throwing in cards. There are also many variations on timing (precisely when the defender may choose to pick up, and whether more cards may be added after the defender has decided to pick up).

The object of the game is to be the first to get rid of your entire hand after the deck has run out.


Aces are high (see PlayingCards/BasicTerms). Trumps are higher than nontrump cards (i.e., a trump 6 always beats a nontrump ace). Traditionally, a deck of 36 cards is used (numerical cards with values between 2 and 5 inclusive are removed from the deck prior to play). This limits the number of players to 6. In practice, a 2-player game works well but feels very different to a multiplayer; 3-4 players work best for multiplayer games. No players may examine the discard pile at any point.

To start

Deal a hand of six cards each. Turn over the top card of the deck, and place it under the bottom of the deck, face up and rotated 90 degrees so that half of it is visible. The suit of this card is the trump suit. The player with the lowest trump is the first attacker.


Play proceeds clockwise. The attacker opens the turn by playing one card face up on the table as an attacking card. The player to the attacker's left is the defender.

In response to the initial attack, the defender may choose to attempt defense or to pass the attack on clockwise around the table. The defender may only pass on the attack iff s/he has in his/her hand a card of the same rank as the attacking card(s). To pass on the attack, s/he adds this card to the attacking card(s). S/he is now the attacker, and the player to his/her left is the defender. The new defender must decide his/her response for this new initial attack. Yes, it is perfectly possible for someone to end up defending against an attack they started that turn.


The defender attempts to beat the attacking cards by playing defending cards against them from their hand. One card is played in defence for each attacking card. Each defending card must be strictly higher than the attacking card it is defending against, and must either be the same suit or a trump. Play the defending cards on top of the attacking cards so that you can keep track of which card is defending against which.

At any point during a defense, the attacker or any third party can pitch in extra attacking cards, provided that for each new attacking card, there is already a card of the same rank on the table (either defending or attacking), and the total number of undefeated attacking cards does not exceed the number of cards in the defender's hand. The defender defends against these also.

If the defender is unwilling or unable to beat all attacking cards, they must pick up all the cards on the table into their hand and abandon the defense. The defender may choose to abandon the defense at any point during the turn. This immediately ends the turn. The defender is still under siege, and play does not pass on - the next turn opens with the same attacker.

If the defender has beaten all attacking cards, and no other players are willing or able to add more, the defender has triumphed. The turn ends, all cards on the table are discarded from play to a discard pile, and play passes to the left - i.e., the defender opens the next turn as the new attacker.

End of turn

At end of turn, whether or not defense was successful, the following action is performed: starting from the last defender and going around clockwise, each player with less than 6 cards in their hand must draw cards from the deck until they have 6 cards in their hand. (If/when the deck runs out of cards, play simply carries on without any more cards being drawn. The first person to then run out of cards wins the game.) Each player draws as many cards as they need (i.e. if there are 6 cards left in the deck and the defender has just spent their entire hand, they draw the entire deck and no-one else draws any cards). The order in which this is done is strategically important since the last card in the deck is necessarily a trump.

Frequently misunderstood corollaries

Fool - a variant

A variant PeterTaylor knows has the following differences:

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Last edited June 14, 2004 6:39 pm (viewing revision 3, which is the newest) (diff)