Curdle

A card game formerly known as Pontis, created by Aaron Hopewell

Introduction

The object of Curdle is to dispose of all cards in your hand by playing the difference in rank between the top cards of two central piles and prevent others from doing so with “curdles”.

Players and Cards

A standard international 52-card pack with 2 jokers is used, the cards of each suit ranking A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3/J-2/Q-Joker/A.

All numerical cards have face value. Joker = 1 and King=13. Three cards can be taken as two values (split cards): Jack = 11 or 3, Queen = 12 or 2, Ace = 14 or 1. Suits are irrelevant (any subsequent comparing of cards will be in terms of rank).

There can be two or more players – probably best for 4 players. Deal and play are clockwise.

Deal

Any player may deal first, and the turn to deal passes to the left. The dealer shuffles the deck and deals ten cards to each player, clockwise one at a time, starting with the player to dealer's left. The dealer then places one card in the centre of the table to start one of two discard piles called banks. Remaining cards form the stock. 

Play

The player to dealer's left begins by playing any card to the centre of the table as the second bank beside the one already started, and then has a turn after which play continues clockwise.

On a turn, a player must if possible play a card (a bridge) that equals the numerical difference between the two banks; the top card determines each bank’s value at all times. The player discards the bridge on whichever bank he/she chooses. A player must, if possible, continue to discard cards in this manner (in a run) until a bridge is not held, at which point the turn ends. Note that once a card has been placed on a bank, the move cannot be undone. Players who cannot pay a first bridge (a starter) can draw the top card from the stock. If a bridge, then the card can be played immediately and the player continues his/her turn. If not a bridge, it must be added to the player’s hand. Play ends when a player manages to get rid of all the cards from his/her hand.

Curdles

A curdle is a pair of banks on which no player can play a bridge. The player who last played a card is the curdler.

A natural curdle is when no bridge is possible (the difference is 0), in which case the curdler plays any card of a different rank to the curdle (i.e. don’t make another natural curdle!).

A blind curdle is when a bridge is possible but no player holds one. The curdler draws the top 4 cards from a single chosen bank. For each card, the curdler chooses to either give it to another player (each player can only be given one card) or add it to his/her own hand and accordingly. For each card received, the receiving player discards one card from hand to the bottom of the stock. If there are fewer than 4 cards remain in the chosen bank, then the deficit is made up by drawing cards from the top of the stock. If the bank is empty after drawing cards, the top card of the stock is placed face up to restart the bank.

Following these actions, normal play continues with the curdler.

Other terms

curdling = when a player or players end their turn with the same bridge – this rank is being “curdled” and is “curdled” when all cards of this rank have been played. Part of the strategy is judging when a particular rank has or has not been curdled so that a curdle can be achieved.

fluker = when a player draws from the stock and receives a bridge they can instantly play.

kingfisher = the banks when the bridge must be a King (A-A, A-Joker). A King can only be played in these instances making it the most difficult to discard.