Red and Black

Contributed by Kishor N. Gordhandas

Players

For a good, balanced game there should be four players. Each plays for himself.

Cards

A total of 72 cards are required consisting of eight cards of each number from one (ace) to nine, of which four are red and four are black. This pack can be made from two standard 52-card packs by omitting all the tens and picture cards.

You may prefer to have a pack in which all the black cards and all the red cards of each number are identical: in that case you need four standard packs, and you use just 18 cards from each - the ace tpo 9 of one black and one red suit, for example hearts and spades.

Object of the Game

The aim is to collect two matched sequences scoring as high as possible, and having done so to close the game before anyone else is able to do so. Matched sequences are described below.

Scores are calculated at the end of each hand and should be entered on a piece of paper. The highest achievable score in any particular deal is be 243. This is rather rare. The highest possible score a non-winning player can make is 56. The lowest possible score a winning hand can make is 21.

A Game consists of eight deals and lasts about eighty minutes, after which the player with the highest total score wins. Alternatively, the game can be played until one or more players has scored 300 or more points.

The Deal

Each player is given 14 cards, one to each player at a time, face down. The first dealer may be decided in any way and the deal rotates clockwise. The 57th card is kept face up and placed beside the remaining 15 cards of the pack, which are stacked face down on the table to form the stock. This face up card starts the discard tile.

Matched Sequences

During the play, each player tries to arrange his cards into the matched sequences of seven cards. There are two types of matched sequence: ascending and descending.

An ascending matched sequence consists of an ascending sequence of four cards of consecutive ranks plus a descending sequence of four consecutive ranks, the highest card being common to both. For example 3-4-5-6-5-4-3 or 6-7-8-9-8-7-6.

A descending matched sequence consists of a descending sequence of four cards of consecutive ranks plus an ascending sequence of four consecutive ranks, the lowest card being common to both. For example 8-7-6-5-6-7-8 or 4-3-2-1-2-3-4.

A matched sequence can be made either in a single colour (red or black) or with mixed colours.

The Play

The player to the left of the dealer plays first and the turn to play passes continuously to the left (clockwise). On his turn, each player must first draw the top card from either the stock pile or the discard pile and then discard one card from his hand face up on the discard pile.

A player who by drawing a card manages to complete two matched 7-card sequences in his hand, discards his unwanted 15th card and shows his two sequences to the rest of the players, and thereby wins the deal. This ends the play.

When the 15th and last card of the stock is drawn, the whole discard pile is turned over, without shuffling it, to form a new 15-card stock pile, and the player who drew the last stock card begins a new face up pile with his discard. This ends the first round. The play continues as before, but reduced scores for winning in the second round apply from now on.

If the stock pile is exhausted a second time, there is no third round. When the player who took the last card of the second stock pile has discarded, without declaring a win, the next player in turn has the option to take this discard or declare the play ended. If he takes the discard, but does not win, then after he completes his turn by discarding the next player in turn has the same options. This can continue until it comes to the turn of the player who took the last card of the second stock: this player cannot play again, but the play must end.

There is always more chance of the game being completed in the second round than in the first round, and more often than not, the game does get completed (either in the first or in the second round.)

Scoring

When the play ends, all players compute their scores, as follows.

  1. For non-winning hands only
    • For a matched sequence of a single colour (red or black): 10 points
    • For a matched sequence of mixed colours: 5 points
  2. For winning hands only
    • For winning the hand in the first round (which ends with the turn in which the discard pile is turned down to make a new stock): 25 points
    • For winning the hand in the second round (which begins with the turn after the discard pile was turned down): 15 points
    • If all 14 cards in both matched sequences are the same colour: 10 extra points
    • If both matched sequences consist of the same sets of numbers: 10 extra points
  3. For all hands
    • For each ascending matched sequence: twice the value of the lowest card in the sequence
    • For each descending matched sequence: twice the value of the highest card in the sequence
  4. For all hands
    • For hands containing two descending sequences multiply the whole score for the hand by 3.
    • For hands containing just one descending sequence multiply the whole score for the hand by 2.

There are no minus points for any cards that remain in the hands of the non-winning players, who are not able to make one or both the required matched sequences.

Examples of Scoring

Non-winning player holding no matched sequence:
0 points
Non-winning player holding one ascending matched sequence 3-4-5-6-5-4-3 in mixed colours:
5 + 2*3 = 11 points
Non-winning player holding one descending matched sequence 5-4-3-2-3-4-5 in a single colour:
(10 + 2*5) * 2 = 40 points
Player wins in second round holding 4-5-6-7-6-5-4, 8-7-6-5-6-7-8 with mixed colours
(15 + 2*4 + 2*8) * 2 = 78 points
Player wins from first stock holding 7-6-5-4-5-6-7, 7-6-5-4-5-6-7 with mixed colours
(25 + 10 + 2*7 + 2*7) * 3 = 126 points
Player wins from second stock holding 2-3-4-5-4-3-2, 4-5-6-7-6-5-4 with all cards black
15 + 10 + 2*2 + 2*4 = 37 points