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Strike!

A game loosely based on bowling, for three or four players. Contributed by James Thomas (poggy@copper.net)

Two decks with two jokers each are required. The pile can be shuffled to provide a new stock during the course of the game, if necessary.

Object

The object is to match cards into pairs that add up to ten. These will be "strikes" or "spares" -- or "errors" if one falls short of ten -- and six of these pairings will constitute a "frame" (hand). Six frames make up a game, and the highest scorer wins.

Card Values

Face cards count for ten except for the king, which counts for zero. Deuce can be either two or zero, player's option. Ace counts for one. Joker can be whatever value the player desires. Most of these cards have different values when held at the end of the frame, as explained under Play below. All other cards have pip value at all times.

Pair Scoring

Strike: A card with a value of ten plus a king or a deuce, or any card plus a joker. This gives 20 points for the pair. If a player gets two strikes in a row, it adds 15 points to the total. If three in a row, 30 points, and so forth, 15 bonus points for each consecutive strike. But all six pair as strikes gives 120 bonus points.

Spare: Two cards that add up to ten but are not strikes, such as a seven and a three. 15 points. No bonus for spares in a row.

Error: Two cards that add up to less than ten. Pip value. Uncovered row cards count for zero.

Deal

Single cards are dealt face up until each player has six. These are placed in a horizontal row, player's left to right, as they are dealt. These are the row cards.

Additional single cards are dealt face down until each player has three. These are the hand cards. The players should look at these. If any of these hand cards are tens or face cards, players can discard some or all of those cards. The dealer will deal requested replacement cards to each player in order (clockwise) until those cards are replaced by ones of values less than ten. Any card with a value of less than ten must be accepted. It's illegal to discard a hand card having a value less than ten during this process.

One card is then turned over from the stock to start a pile.

Row Cards

Row cards are the target cards, to which the player matches drawn cards to equal ten. While a joker can make any row card equal ten and a strike, only a king or a deuce will make a strike when paired with ten-count row cards. Any other combination (four and six, for example) that adds up to ten is a spare. Establishing an initial pairing is much harder with ten-count cards. Note: A player cannot swap row cards in the row.

Hand Cards

Each player has three hand cards, and three only. They can't be replaced. They have only one function, and that is to replace row cards that have undesirable values. Only the hand cards can replace the row cards, and they can replace row cards only. Hand cards cannot be used to make a match with a row card.

The hand cards can be employed before play starts, to forestall problems and speed up the initial matching. Or they may be held until they are needed to replace a row card and better match a drawn card. In the latter case, both the replaced cover card and the replaced row card are discarded, in that order.

Play

The player to the left of a dealer draws a card from stock or pile and either places it on the left-most card in the row of six -- leaving both cards' values visible -- or discards it. If kept, it becomes a cover card and forms a pair. Cover cards cannot be swapped in the row, nor can they replace row cards. A combined value of less than ten is allowed. A combined value of more than ten is not allowed, and in that case the "too big" drawn card must be discarded. Either placement or discard constitutes a turn.

If a player fails to make a pair, he will have to draw to the same row card on his next turn, and so on until he makes a pair with that row card. If a pair is made on the first card, his next turn's draw will be to the second from the left row card. The matching process continues until all six cards are paired to values of ten or less.

When a card pair equals ten, whether strike or spare, the cover card is moved to completely cover the row card.

Once a player has established all six pairs, he can then apply drawn cards to replace any cover card that formed an error with a row card and thereby make a spare out of that error, but may not use a cover card to replace a row card.

Frame Ends

The "frame" ends when one player has strikes or spares in all six pairs. The other players may then each draw once to improve their score, and may play any held hand cards - once per row card position - but may not discard the held cards.

Each player's score for the frame is then figured. Any hand cards still held are deducted. A held deuce or king will count as ten, and a held joker as fifteen. Other cards as stated earlier.

After six frames have been played, the scores for each player's frames are averaged to give each player a game score. The player with the highest game score is the overall winner.


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Last updated 9th October 2003