Original Card Games by David Parlett
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Players 3   Cards 54   Type Tricks & melds
The novel feature of this game is that the cards of a won trick are distributed amongst the players and go to build up a second hand (their "cloud"). It also uses a newish system of scoring for melds that I devised for Nimbly. I must be honest and admit that my guinea-pigs didn't care much for Cloud Nine. This may be because it requires a lot of concentration, and perhaps also because it's hard to decide what to do in the first three tricks - only from about the fourth on do you begin to develop any sense of direction. But try it, please, and see what you think.
Cards and deal
52 cards ranking high-low AKQJ1098765432 in each suit, plus two Jokers. Deal nine cards to each player, in ones, and stack the rest face down.
At end of play you will finish with hand of nine cards and a cloud of nine cards face up before you, constituting your cloud. Your aim is to maximise the value of melds (card combinations) contained in both your hand and your cloud. Each one's scoring value will be calculated by multiplying three factors together:
  1. Flush: the number of cards in its longest suit.
  2. Sequence: the number of cards in its longest numerical sequence (ignoring suits).
  3. Sets: the total number of cards that belong to a set of three or four of the same rank.
Jokers don't belong to melds but each one adds 10 points to the hand's score.
Dealer's left-hand neighbour leads to the first of nine tricks. You needn't follow suit but may always play any card you like. Each trick produces a winner, a runner-up, and a loser. The winner is whoever plays the highest card of the suit led, the runner-up is whoever plays the second highest, and the third player is the loser. If two players fail to follow suit, the runner-up is whoever played the higher-ranking of their two cards. A Joker always counts as the second-best card, so whoever plays one is the runner-up.
Upon winning a trick, you choose any one of its three constituent cards and place it face up in front of you as the first card of your eventual nine-card cloud. The runner-up then chooses one of the other two cards to start their cloud, and the loser has no choice but to take the remaining card to start theirs. Note: If two players fail to follow suit and play cards of equal rank, the choice of who gets the second and third cards is made by the trick-winner.
The loser of the trick then deals one more card to each player from the stock and leads to the next trick. Play continues as before till everyone has nine cards in hand and a nine-card cloud on the table before them.
When all cards have been drawn you each in turn record the value of your face-up cloud as described above, but note these further details:
  • Flush: if you have two equally long suits, only one of them counts.
  • Sequence: Only one sequence counts. Ace counts either high or low (A-K-Q... or A-2-3). If you have no sequence longer than two cards your multiplier is 2; and if you haven't even a two-card sequence it is 1.
  • Set: You score for all the sets you hold. If you haven't any three or four of a kind but do have one or more pairs, your multiplier is 2 (in total, not 2 per pair); and if you haven't even a pair, it is 1.
  • A Joker doesn't contribute to melds, but does add 10 points to the value of the hand.
After noting these scores you each reveal your final nine-card hand and score it in exactly the same way as your cloud. Your final score for the deal is the total value of hand and cloud. Whoever scores highest deals next. (It doesn't matter who deals as is neither advantageous nor disadvantageous to either deal or lead to the first trick.)
A game is either three deals or played up to a target score of, say, 300.
At the end of the deal illustrated below, Annie scored a total of 97, Benny 130, and Connie 48. Note that melds are easier to recognise if you arrange your cards in numerical sequence rather than separate them into suits.

Annie's hand (left) scores 3x3x7 = 63; her cloud (right) 4x3x2 = 24 + 10 = 34

Benny's hand (left) 6x4x2 = 48; his cloud (right) 3x4x6 = 72 + 10 = 82

Connie's hand (left) scores 5x4x2 = 30; her cloud (right) 3x3x2 = 18