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Missing Persons

Invented by David Morrah (morrah@igrin.co.nz). © 1995.

Players: Two

Deck required: Standard 54 card deck, including two jokers.

THE AIM

The first player to correctly identify his opponent wins.

SET UP

Create a barrier between player one and player two (e.g. a tall dictionary) so that neither player can see his/her mystery card.

Each player selects and removes a card of their choice from the deck. They each place their card against their barrier so they can see it. Make sure it is not visible to the other player. This card is each player's "missing person."

Ten cards are dealt face up (as indicated) to each player. These cards can be used during the game during each player's turn to narrow down their list of possible suspects as they come closer to solving the other players missing person.

The remaining cards are dealt into a central pick-up pile for both players.

Missing Persons Layout

SAMPLE GAME

Player 1's selected missing person is the spadeA. Player 2's selected missing person is the spade3.

Player 1's face up cards are as follows. He uses these cards to help guess the identity of his opponent.

heartA   club5   clubQ   diamond10   spade4   diamond5   spadeJ   spadeQ   spadeK   spade2
  1. Player one can ask two either a number OR a suit related question about player's two's missing person.

    GENERAL RULES

  2. Player two must answer. He looks at his hidden card. It's the 3 of spades. Player two replies "Yes."

  3. Player one can now use the cards in front of him anyway he likes to narrow down his suspect. In this case, he turns over all the cards that aren't spades from what's in front of him.

    After re-ordering his list of possible suspects, player one's hand now looks like this (# represents a face-down (overturned) card):

    spadeJ   spadeQ   spadeK   spade2   spade4   #   #   #   #   #

    Because he guessed the other player's suit correctly, he may now draw five cards from the pick-up pile and place them on top of the cards he just turned over. His new hand now looks like this:

    spadeJ   spadeQ   spadeK   spade4   spade2   diamond10   heartJ   clubA   heart9   heartQ

    Player one is now entitled to ask player two another question. He asks him "Is your missing person a royal?"

  4. Player two must answer. He looks at his hidden card. It's the 3 of spades. Player two replies "No."

  5. Player one's guess was wrong, so his turn is over. He may not pick up anymore cards to add to his collection or ask any further questions. He can still, however, adjust the cards in front of him accordingly. Since player one now realizes that player 2's card is not a royal, he turns over all cards that are J's, Q's and K's. Also, because he knows that player two's card is already a spade, he turns over all the cards that aren't spades as well. His new collection looks as follows.
    spade2   spade4   #   #   #   #   #   #   #   #

    If player one can correctly guess something next time round, he will get to place 8 more cards on top of his over turned cards.

  6. It's player two's turn now.

    Player two's face up cards are as follows. He also uses these cards to help guess the identity of his opponent.

    club9   spade9   diamond9   heart4   clubK   heartK   diamond4   club9   heart7   diamond5

    Player two asks one "Is your missing person black?"

  7. Player one must answer. He looks at his hidden card. It's the A of spades. Player two replies "Yes."

  8. Player one adjusts his cards accordingly. He turns over all cards that have red suits. His collection of likely suspects is arranged to look as follows:
    club9   spade9   #   #   clubK   #   diamond4   club9   #   #

    For answering correctly, he draws five more cards and adds them to his list. His hand now looks as follows:

    club9   spade9   heartA   club8   clubK   spade5   diamond4   club9   clubJ   spadeJ

    He edits his selection even further by overturning any extraneous cards that aren't black:

    club9   spade9   heartA   club8   clubK   spade5   #   club9   clubJ   spadeJ

    He can now ask player one another question. He asks "Is your card between 5 and J?" (i.e. either 4,3,2,A,Q or K).

  9. Player one must answer. He looks at his hidden card. It's the A of spades. Player two replies "Yes."

  10. Player one now gets rid of all the cards that are not between 5 and J, i.e. 6,7,8,9 and 10. His selection now looks as follows:
    #   #   heartA   #   clubK   spade5   #   #   clubJ   spadeJ

    He now picks up five cards from the pick-up pile and places them on top of the overturned cards. His new selection of ten cards looks as follows:

    diamondJ   diamond8   heartA   spadeK   clubK   spade5   spadeQ   Joker   clubJ   spadeJ

    He now turns over A) all cards that aren't black and B), all cards that are *not* between 5 and J, i.e. 6,7,8,9 and 10. His selection now looks as follows:

    #   #   #   spadeK   clubK   spade5   spadeQ   Joker   clubJ   spadeJ

    He then asks player one another question: "Is your missing person a club?"

  11. Player one must answer. He looks at his hidden card. It's the A of spades. Player two replies "No."

  12. Player two's guess was wrong, so his turn is over. He may not pick up anymore cards to add to his collection or ask any further questions. He can still, however, adjust the cards in front of him accordingly. Since player one now realizes that player 1's card is not a club, he turns over all cards that aren't clubs. His new collection of suspects now looks as follows:
    #   #   #   spadeK   #   spade5   spadeQ   Joker   # spadeJ

  13. Play now passes back to player one, who can now ask player two a question.

  14. Play continues until one of the player's has a good hunch on who the other player's missing person is. If, say during the game player one asks two "Is your person a royal?" and player two replies "Yes", and player one has enough evidence from his deductions to guess player two's identity, then he may say at any stage during the game "I guess your missing person is..." The player can only guess once though, and if he is wrong, the other player wins by default.

  15. If both players run out of cards to pick up before either of them can correctly make a guess at who the other missing person is, both players must take separate turns to make a stab at who the other player is, based on the evidence in front of them. This is called forced guess mode. If neither player guesses correctly, the player whose guess is the closest wins by default.

    E.g. player one's missing person is heart10.
    Player two's missing person is clubJ.
    Player one guesses that two is clubQ.
    Player two guesses that one is heart5.
    Therefore, player one wins by closest guess.

    If both players guess each other's identity correctly during forced guess mode, then it's a tie breaker.

VARIATIONS

For a longer, more challenging game, try the following:

During rounds, if a player guesses his opponent's number or suit correctly, instead of replacing fresh cards on top of ALL his overturned cards, he is only allowed to draw ONE card from the pick-up pile and place it on top of ONE of his overturned cards.

Questions do not have to be limited to black and white questions like "Is your card between 2 and 7?" or "Is your card red?" Be cryptic when asking questions, but remember whatever you ask, the questions must generate a straightforward "Yes" or "No" answer from the other player.

Here's some more interesting cryptic questions that will make gameplay more challenging:

If you want, you can select your missing person to be the joker, but be warned, you will have to answer "No" to every single question the other player asks since...

As soon as the other player has established these three things, he'll guess who you are straight away. But it's fun to play the joker now and then to fool the novice opponent!


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Last updated 12th January 2002