Original Card Games by David Parlett
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Players 3   Cards 36 + 3 jokers   Type Plain tricks
This three-player game is so called because each deal carries three special awards: one for winning an exact multiple of three tricks, one for winning the last trick, and one for winning either the middling or the unmatched number of tricks. If anyone wins all three awards in one deal they immediately win the triathlon and the game. The overall winner is the first player to win three triathlons.
Deal 13 cards each from a 39-card pack consisting of three Jokers ("Athletes") plus a 36-card pack ranking AKQJ109876 in each suit.
In each deal the aim is to perform as many as possible of three feats:
  1. to win an exact multiple of three tricks (0, 3, 6, 9 or all 12),
  2. to win the last trick; and
  3. to win the middling number of tricks - or, if two players win the same number, the other (unmatched) number.
A trump suit is chosen by rejection - that is, the player at dealer's left rejects one suit as trump by announcing (for example) "Not spades"; the next in turn rejects one of the remaining three by announcing (for example) "Not hearts"; and the dealer then announces which of the other two suits shall be trump by announcing (for example) "Clubs it is".
The player at dealer's left leads to the first trick. You must follow suit if you can, otherwise you may play any card except an Athlete. The trick is taken by the highest card of the suit led or by the highest trump if any are played, and the winner of each trick leads to the next.
Athletes (Jokers)
If you lead an Athlete to a trick it automatically takes the trick, and the followers may play any card they like, including another Athlete. Otherwise, you may only discard it to a trick when unable to follow suit, and it then loses. (It is said to be suffering from Athlete's foot.)
You each score 1 point for each trick you have won, plus, where applicable, a bonus of 10 points for winning a multiple of three tricks, 10 for winning the last trick, and 10 for winning either the middling number of tricks (e.g. 4 if the other players win 2 and 5), or the unmatched number of tricks if the others each win the same number (e.g. 3 if the others win 5 each). If nobody wins a multiple of three tricks then the player who won the middling or unmatched number adds 20 instead of 10.
For winning the triathlon - that's all three bonuses in the same deal - you add a game bonus of 100 points. Play continues from the same cumulated score until one player has won three triathlons. For this they gain an additional 100 points, and the overall winner is the player with the highest cumulated score.