Smokestack

The contributor, who asks to remain anonymous, describes it as "An easy, addictive game for people of ALL ages. This is an original game that I invented. Give it a try - all my friends are hooked."

Rules

  • 2 or more players.
  • Shuffle a regular 52-card deck. Include jokers if you wish (they will be wild cards).
  • Deal 4 cards to each player. Players may not touch or look at their cards until play officially begins.
  • Place 4 cards face-up in the middle, in a square shape (2 rows; 2 columns). We will call this the Grand Smokestack. Place the deck face down in the middle of the Grand Smokestack.
  • Once the deck is placed, play begins.
  • The objective is to collect 'Smokestacks'. A 'Smokestack' is a group of 4 cards of the same suit (diamonds, hearts, etc.) You want to get as many as you can before the game is over.
  • You collect 'Smokestacks' by picking up cards from the Grand Smokestack. If you see a desirable card that would get you closer to a 'Smokestack', take it. Whenever you take a card, you must discard (lay down one of your own less-desirable cards in its place). There should always be exactly 4 cards in the Grand Smokestack.
  • Play is spontaneous. No one takes turns. If you see a good card in the Grand Smokestack, grab it and trade in one of your own.
  • Once you get a Smokestack, yell or call 'Smokestack!'. Then put your Smokestack aside.
  • There are other types of 'Smokestacks'. You can get a ?Double Smokestack? if you collect 4 cards of the same value (for example, 4 threes or 4 Kings.) This is worth 2. Call out 'Double Smokestack!' and set your Smokestack aside in two separate piles so you remember to count it accordingly.
  • You can also collect a 'Straight Stack'. 4, 5, 6, 7 is a straight stack. Ace, 2, 3, 4  is a straight stack. 10, Jack, Queen, King is a straight stack. Also, 2, 2, 3, 4 is a straight stack, and 5, 5, 5, 6 is a straight stack. You can have duplicate values, as long as they can be arranged in order. A Straight Stack counts as 2.  
  • At any time during play, any player can call 'Chimney Sweep!'. When you hear Chimney Sweep called, you must immediately pass your cards to the person sitting to your right. You will in turn receive a new hand from the person to your left. Play will continue normally thereafter.
  • If no trades can be made and play is at a standstill, players can agree to 'Replenish the Smokestack'. 2 cards are removed from the Grand Smokestack. 2 cards taken from the deck are put in their place. Play then continues.
    Note: Any two cards from the Grand Smokestack can be removed, since all cards in the Grand Smokestack are equally valuable (that is to say, valueless) at that point. The two removed cards from the Grand Smokestack should be shuffled into the face-down deck, or placed in it randomly. This game tends to be very laid back so normally the face-down deck is not reshuffled every time the Grand Smokestack is replenished.
  • One last thing: at the end of the game, when there are no more cards in the deck and nothing remains to be traded, a player can call the 'Mad Grab'. There is at most one Mad Grab per game. After the Mad Grab, the game is over. Once you hear 'Mad Grab' called, you must immediately lay all your cards face up in the center. If there are any Smokestacks apparent in the pile, the first who sees it can grab it and claim it as his own.
  • After the Mad Grab (if there is one), everyone should count the number of Smokestacks he has earned. The person with the most, wins.

Sound a bit complicated? Don't worry - it's not. Just get together a friend or two and play. The key is: you obtain desirable cards by trading with the G.S. Once you understand that concept, you'll be a Smokestack fiend in no time!

Note: Playing for a set of four matching suits is the easiest possible way to play. To make it more challenging and fun, it is preferable to call a "Smokestack" a set of four cards of the same value (rank).