Original Card Games by David Parlett

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GOOSEBERRY FOOL


A game for eccentricks

Players 3   Cards 33 (32+Joker)   Type Tricks
The winner of this eccentric trickster is awarded one or more Golden Geese. Agree beforehand what one Golden Goose is worth.

Preliminaries
Deal eleven cards each from a 32-card pack plus Joker. Cards rank AKQJ10987 in each suit.
Object
To win tricks in such a way as to divide the others as evenly as possible between your opponents.
Play
The player at dealer's left leads to the first of 11 tricks. You must follow suit if you can but may play any card if you can't. The trick is taken by the "gooseberry", or odd card out, as follows:

  • If all three cards are of the same suit, it is the middling (second highest) card.

    Example:  J of spades  9 of spades  Q of spades  is taken by  J of spades 


  • If two are of the same suit, it is the card of the odd suit.

    Example:  Q of hearts  A of diamonds  7 of hearts  is taken by  A of diamonds 


  • If all three are of different suits, it is the card of the odd colour.

    Example:  J of clubs  9 of spades  K of hearts  is taken by  K of hearts 

The Goose (Joker)
Holding the Joker, you must play it the first time you can't follow suit to the card led. You may not lead it unless it is the only card left in your hand. Although it wins the trick, you needn't keep it yourself but may, if you wish, give it to either of the other players, who then leads to the next trick. (This is called "goosing" an opponent.)
Score
At end of play, score 1 point for each trick you have won, and 2 for each trick won by the player on your right. The players' three scores will always total 33 and can never tie. Whoever scores the middling number of points adds a bonus of 10 points.
Game
Scores are kept cumulatively and the turn to deal passes to the left in subsequent rounds. Play ceases when one or two players reach 100 points. The winner is the player with the middling number of points - or, if two players tie, it is the untied third player. Either way, the winner is the gooseberry and the other two are fools. (Variant: The winner is the only player to reach 100 points if the other two don't, or the only player not to reach it if the others do.)
Webbed footnote
If English is not your first language you may be wondering about the terminology of this game.
A fool, besides being (or pretending to be) a stupid person, is also, in the words of the Oxford English Dictionary, "A dish composed of fruit stewed, crushed, and mixed with milk, cream, or custard. Often gooseberry fool".
A gooseberry, besides being a hairy fruit that I don't much care for, also means a chaperon to a pair of lovers, and "to play gooseberry" now means to be the third person in a group of three of whom the other two would rather be left alone.
To "goose" somebody is to poke, pinch or tickle them in a sensitive spot, with erotic implications.
As for golden geese, see Grimms' Fairy Tales .
Copyright © renewed 2017 by David Parlett