Original Card Games by David Parlett



Never the same game twice

Players 3-5   Cards 36, 52, 60   Type Tricks
Farrago is a set of variations on a theme. The aim and method of play remain unchanged, but the way you win tricks varies from deal to deal. For a substantially similar game for three players see Naughty Nun, a version of Ninety-Nine.
Three players receive 12 cards each from a 36-card pack ranking AKQJ109876,
four recive 13 each from a 52-card pack ranking AKQJ1098765432,
five receive 12 each from an Australian "Queen's Slipper 500's" pack including Elevens, Twelves and two red Thirteens. (It's not clear from their website whether they still produce them and they never respond to email queries, but I believe they're also produced by Bicycle Cards.) Alternatively, use a 52-card pack and add duplicate Sevens and Eights from another one. In this case, the second played of duplicated cards outranks the first.
To avoid winning an average number of tricks by taking either as few or as many as possible. Thus three players try to avoid taking four tricks, four players to avoid three, five to avoid two. Each trick taken above par scores 10 points, each trick below par 15.
The turn to deal and play goes to the left. There are ten deals, each following one of the game types below. They may be played in any agreed order, or at random. Best is for each dealer to examine their hand and then select a game that has not so far been played. Regardless of game type, the following rules of play always apply:
1 You must follow suit if you can but may play any card if you can't.
2 Unless otherwise specified, the trick is taken by the highest card of the suit led, or by the highest "trump" (as defined below) if any are played.
3 The winner of each trick leads to the next.
game type how trumps are chosen or tricks otherwise won
Skint The trump suit is freely chosen by the player with the lowest score. (This should be played as soon as there is not a tie for lowest.)
Barred! The player at dealer's left bars one suit from being trump, the next in turn bars another, and the next bars a third, making the fourth suit trump.
Majority rule Put out a card of a suit you propose as trump. When all are ready turn it face up. The trump is the suit of which most are shown, or (if equal) of the suit showing the highest card or cards. (If three play, and all show different suits, trump is the suit that nobody shows.)
Surprise! Play at no trump till somebody can't follow suit. The suit of whatever they discard becomes trump for the rest of the hand.
Red & black Spades and hearts trump each other, as do clubs and diamonds.
Top suit The trick is taken by the highest card of the highest Bridge suit played (spade-heart-diamond-club). (A different hierarchy may be agreed.)
Top rank The trick is taken by the highest card played, regardless of suit. Of equally high cards, the last played wins
Seconds No trump, but the trick is taken by the second-highest card of the suit led; or, if no one follows suit, by the second highest card played; or, if still equal, by the second played of these.
Ups & downs If the card led is high (KQJ1098), the trick is taken by the highest card of its suit; if low (765432), by the lowest. Ace counts high and low, so always wins. (If using the Australian 60-card pack, Eights are low.)
Snap! If you can't follow suit you can "trump" by matching the rank of the card led and calling "Snap!" (though it still trumps even if you fail to call it.) Of multiple snaps, the last one wins.

Score 10 points for each trick taken above par or 15 for each taken below par. (Par is 4 if 3 play, 3 if 4 play, or 2 if 5 play). For example, in a four-player game you would score 10 for winning four tricks, 0 for winning 3, 15 for 2, 45 for 0.
A game is ten deals.
Copyright © renewed 2017 by David Parlett