David Parlett - the Ace in the Pack
by Luiz Dal Monte Neto, Brazilian games inventor
Many people think the pack of cards is used for just half a dozen games or so that form part of every family's recreational baggage. This is a mistake. It actually provides an opportunity to enjoy several hundred games with a variety of objectives and mechanisms, amongst which will be found examples suiting every kind of taste. There are those who believe that this "arsenal" is static - that is, that such games have been around for as long as the pack of cards itself, without imagining that anything new could possibly appear under the sun.
The truth is
Games "as ordered
and precise as
a Swiss watch..." that the card game repertoire is constantly evolving, and, in the second half of the twentieth century, with considerable speed. Becoming more and more imaginative, it has given rise to games that come near to subverting the normally aleatoric nature of the pack. One example, from the 1950s, is [Robert Abbott's] Eleusis, which virtually eliminates the element of chance.
At the present time several inventors are striving to reach beyond the veritable treasure-chest of games that is the pack of cards. Few, however, have equalled the accomplishment of the Englishman David Parlett, a 51-year-old journalist [this was written in 1990] and language graduate, who collaborated for several years on "Games & Puzzles", a prestigious English review of games and pastimes that circulated up to the start of the 1980s. Parlett's creativity is as ordered and precise as a Swiss watch. His games mesh so well with the structure of playing-cards as to give the impression that the pack was created specifically for his inventions. An example is his game of Ninety-Nine>, one of those rare games designed specifically for three players.
As a small demonstration of Parlett's talent - a sort of aperitif, so to speak - I introduce the reader to Abstrac...
Translated from: David Parlett, um ás do baralho -Características e regras do jogo de cartas, por Luiz Dal# Monte Neto
[David Parlett is]
"If you're a card
player, check it out..." A British game researcher who has written the best books on card games I've ever seen. I highly recommend his books to anyone interested in learning the good games. Also, he alerted me to the fact that "Hoyle" is BS [bullshit? Not my exact words!] and that there are no "standard rules" to any card game (except maybe Contract Bridge), just a basic form and endless variations, good and bad. Aside from his extensive research and cataloguing of games, he has invented some good ones, too. Worthy of mention is Ninety-Nine", a three-handed trick game with an unusual bidding and scoring system. If you're a card player, check it out. from "Jeeves" at Everything.com
This [Duck Soup">Duck Soup]
a wonderful game" is a wonderful game and works very well, and since it can be played with a standard deck of cards there is almost no time it can't be suggested when two players are ready to go... Parlett didn't stop with Duck Soup; his site also has rules for other good games in this format including Parity and Cross Purposes.from Ben Baldanza, Board Game News (web page no longer accessible).
Dear Mr Parlett: I am a devoted card player who happens to be a great fan of your website. Some of my favorite games on your website are Ninety-Nine, Penguin Patience and Tantony email from Spencer Andersen
Following a play-test
one of the best trick-taking
games they had ever played... " meeting of the Seattle Cosmic Game Night, Ron Hale-Evans wrote: "The first game of the evening for me was David Parlett's Trick Taking Game Bleeding Hearts [Bugami]... I had been aching to play this game since I first read the rules at David Parlett's site. I would very much like to see it become a part of the Games To The Rescue Book. Everyone who played, including John (who doesn't like card games), agreed it was one of the best trick-taking games they had ever played. We thought it was even better than Hearts, which has a number of fans in Seattle Cosmic. The depth of strategy in the game led Marty and Chad to comment it might be inappropriate for Games To The Rescue; however... while Bugami is deep, the rules fit on a single page, and it's easy to learn, and that's key." (Games to the Rescue is a philanthropic project of the Center for Ludic Synergy and Seattle Cosmic Game Night. It's aim is to provide game equipment and a book of game rules Games To The Rescue to hospitals, for use by patients and visitors.)
Hi David Parlett -
"Penguin... possibly the
best patience game
I've ever played" I'd like to say I think Penguin is possibly the best patience game I've ever played (perhaps better even than the venerable Free Cell). The proportion of unwinnable deals is very small (apparently less than 1 in 1500), but still it often takes quite a lot of planning to achieve success. The only other patience game I've enjoyed as much is Mrs. Mop (although Mrs. Mop requires two decks can be very intense, sometimes requiring hours to plot the correct path to success on the harder deals.) Thanks for creating such a great game! Best regards, Alexandre Mah (Australia)
"Key of the Door -
a rewarding game... We all in my house enjoy many of your original card games, only breaking into abstract meta-theoretical discussions on the rules once every few weeks! We have been playing Key of the Door this past week, finding that it is a rewarding game such that under the rules, play of cards towards value 21 can be cloaked with the same unravelling mystery which a good trick-taker is. We peg on the crib board while playing, and find balancing early Jack keys to later King / Joker keys a very fresh take on what holding long suit in hand can mean. (Riley Friedrich)
What's your favourite? Drop me a line!