When I was young (ooh, those were the days...), I learned a game called blackjack, but it did not resemble what most people call blackjack(i.e. twenty-one, which I call Pontoon, just to be annoying). No, the game that I call blackjack is a rather twisted and devious little game, which is truly excellent. Best with two or three players. Four players or more and the result is essentially random. With two, the game can be quite strategic.
Blackjack is the most popular British variant of a game that in the US is called Crazy Eights, and which is called various things in different countries (e.g. Mau-Mau in Germany, I'm told by my colleague). We call it Blackjack because of the the black jack pickup rule, which the Americans apparently don't have. Pontoon is the British name for the game which the Americans call Black Jack and the French call vingt-et-un).--Mjb67
One player is the dealer, and deals seven cards to each player. The leftover cards are placed on the table as a stack and the top one is turned over to start play. The player to the left of the dealer goes first, and play procedes clockwise, at least to start with. The rules of play are:
1. that you must match either the suit, or the pip value / courtiness of the last card laid.
2. If the next player cannot go, they must draw a card.
3. You can also choose to draw a card instead of playing one (even if you can play it). This is often actually a vital necessity of the game.
4. The aim of the game is to play out your hand, such that you have nothing left. You have then won.
5. When you play your second-to-last card, you must state (clearly enough so that everyone hears) "Last Card". (This is so people can wheel out any devious plots necessary). Failure to state last card is a penalty offence in the next turn, forcing the drawing of a card.
6. Picking up cards as a penalty (see below) costs you your turn.
7. The starting card has no additional effect other than setting the suit and the pip value.
8. Running out of cards to draw means the played stack should be turned over and only the last played card remains face up. The cards are not shuffled (meaning a good memory can be useful).
The trick with this game is that most cards have a special function some of which cause exceptions to rule number 1. These are given below:
Aces - Playing an ace ends a players turn, but the player may nominate which suit the next card played is from, effectively changing the suit of the ace played. The next player must play a card of the nominated suit, UNLESS they have another ace, in which case they can play it (whatever its suit - it matches for pip value, remember) and nominate what suit they wish, instead.
Twos - A two forces the next player to pick up two cards as a penalty, unless that player has a two themselves, in which case they can play it, and the next player down the line has to pick up four cards, and so on. Useful for clobbering people on last card.
Threes - A three reverses the direction of play. Obviously, this has no effect in two player.
Eights - An eight causes the next player to miss a go.
Queens - A queen allows you to play any other ards of the same suit on top of it. Only the topmost card laid on the stack on top of the queen has any gameplay effect (so a 2 on top causes the 2 card penalty, but if it was the third of five cards it is played but wasted). You can play out your hand with a queen, thus avoiding having to say last card.
Kings - A king forces the next player to pick up a single card, in the same manner as for twos.
Now we come to the reason why the game is called blackjack.
Black jacks - Cause the next player a SEVEN card penalty, in the same manner as twos. The most enjoyable response to a blackjack is the other one, as this rebounds it as a FOURTEEN card penalty. There is one other way to avoid this hefty nastiness...
Red jacks - A red jack can be played onto any number of black jacks, cancelling them. Of course it can also be played as a normal card of its suit, but this does leave you open to being blackjacked, especially in two player where the response would often be immediate. Often saved as a last card for this reason.
Most people know this game as a variant of /Uno?; variants may also be used for induction games, and it is quite possible some people first encountered these rules in one of those. There is an official /Uno? pack with cards that are not PlayingCards (thus making it an UnCCG) and have the meanings printed on them, making the game easier. Permission to MaintainMe: rename to /Uno?, to avoid confusion..? - MoonShadow
They do? StuartFraser knows this as blackjack, and thinks it's a North/South? divide thing.
Sally also knows it as blackjack, but feels that because she learnt it at sixthform, and went to the same Sixthform as Stuart this may not be statistically significant.
ChrisHowlett knows it as Switch, although with most of the rules permuted around the cards.
Uno was introduced in 1972 by International Games (now part of Mattel) and is the most well-known commercial variant of the Eights group of games (games where players follow number or suit), named after Crazy Eights. I think Crazy Eights is traditional, but I don't have my games encyclopedia at work :-). One website that I don't particularly trust says that Crazy Eights was "popular in Victorian times" ([Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site]). --Mjb67.
Never heard of it as BlackJack? - nor as /Uno?. /Uno? is the same game, more or less though. Have definitely played it - known charmingly as /GrandadsGame?. Slight differences though: Only the top card took effect ever - queens did nothing special, nor did jacks. 2s worked culmulatively - so you could play 2 2 and next player pick up 4, but not 2 2 5 - player would just play on. Kings allowed free change of suit without ending your turn. Or sometimes Kings counted as wildcards instead (even more powerful) --Vitenka
We play this in our sixth form as well, and do call it blackjack. - TimeTrout
Wow. I never knew anyone else outside of my own family played this until today. Shows what I know. --Jumlian
Garbled knows Vitenka's variant as switch, and the main version as JackBast?**d (probably due to the Cardiff / Swansea rivalry thing (Jack was a dog who saved some sailors around Swansea at some point).
MikeJeggo has also come across it as Switch. I suspect the number of permutations of what card does what goes on a lot, only ace and two seem to be consistent.
Rachael knows a game very similar to this, but without the function of the jacks, as Chase the Ace. Confusingly, there's another completely different game which some people call Chase the Ace.