Fan Tan, also known as Sevens or Domino and in Britain sometimes as Parliament is a straightforward game in which the object is to get rid of all one's cards by playing them to a layout.
A standard international 52-card pack is used, the cards of each suit ranking A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2. From 3 to around 8 people can play, and it is probably best for 4-6 players. Deal and play are clockwise.
Any player may deal first, and the turn to deal passes to the left. The dealer shuffles thoroughly and the player to dealer's right may cut. The dealer deals all the cards, clockwise one at a time, starting with the player to dealer's left. Unless there are four players, some of the players will have one more card than otrhers at the end of the deal. This does not matter much - having an extra card is not necessarily a disadvantage, the players with more cards get to play first, and in any case as the turn to deal rotates different players take turns to start with a larger hand.
During the play the cards are added to a face up layout on the table, which will ultimately consist one row for each suit, beginning with the seven in the middle and building down towards the two on the left and up towards the ace on the right.
The player to dealer's left begins, and the play continues clockwise. At your turn you must if possible play one card of your choice to the layout. The cards that can played are:
- Any seven. A seven starts a new row for its suit.
- Any card which is next in sequence up or down to a card of the same suit that is already on the layout. Lower cards are added to one side of the seven; higher cards to the other. If space allows the cards could be placed side by side so that they eventually form a 13x4 grid, but a more compact layout in which the high cards are piled on the 8's and the low cards on the 6's is often more practical.
A player who is unable to play a card must pass, which is sometimes indicated by knocking the table. It is illegal to pass if you hold a card that could be played to the layout.
The first player who succeeds in playing all his or her cards is the winner.
In some groups, everyone pays a chip to a common pool before the deal, and anyone who passes must add a chip to the pool. The winner collects the pool, and in addition from each opponent one chip for each card remaining in his or her hand.
In some versions, play is begun not by the player to dealer's left but by the holder of the seven of diamonds, who must play it as the first card.
In an online version of sevens, formerly available at fwend.com, the seven of hearts must be played first, the eight must be played as the second card of each suit, before the six, and as soon as one player runs out of cards, penalty points are scored by all the other players, counting cards at face value (aces 1, pictures 10). I do not know whether this version of the game is commonly played in some part of the world.
Here is an archive copy of Melissa Binde's former Fan Tan page, which suggests several variations.
Rules of Fan Tan are available on the Card Game Heaven site.
Dupyup.com also had a description of another version of Sevens, played as a drinking game.
In France, the equivalent game is called Domino. The layout can be started with a rank of the first player's choice, and the other suits must then begin with the same rank (as in the Domino contract of the game Barbu). Rules in French can be found on the Domino page of Jean-François Bustarret's site.
A Russian version of Fan Tan can be played online at meingames.de where it is called the "Game of 9" because it is played with a 36-card pack and begun with the 9's of the suits.
Games4All has published a free Fan Tan app for the Android platform.