Snip Snap Snorum

Introduction

The game of Snip Snap Snorum (the last word sometimes spelled Snorem) exists is several different forms. Perhaps the original version, described in several 19th century sources, is a stops game similar to Newmarket, Michigan or Yellow Dwarf, in which cards are played in ascending sequence in suit, but the sequences are limited to at most five cards. The aim is to be the first to get rid of one's cards. Versions also exist with four-card or six-card sequences. Another version, favoured by more recent writers, involves playing cards of equal rank, rather than in sequence. The practice of saying "Snip", "Snap" and "Snorum" when playing matching cards might have given rise to the children's game Snap which is also based on matching cards. The 1782 quotation from Fanny Burney "I suppose he'll shilly-shally till someone else will cry snap, and take her" cited by David Parlett in his Oxford Guide to Card Games might perhaps be a reference to either game.

Players, cards and deal

A standard 52-card pack is generally used, the cards ranking from high to low K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-A in each suit. The game is suitable for 4 to 8 players, each playing for themselves.

Any player may deal first, and the turn to deal passes to the left after each hand. The dealer deals out all the cards one at a time, clockwise, and the players look at their hands.

The sequence game

The player to dealer's left begins by playing any card, face up to the centre of the table, saying "snip". Whoever has the next higher card of the same suit plays it, saying "snap". The holder of the third card in sequence plays it saying "snorum", the fourth card is played, saying "high cockalorum" and player of the fifth card says "jingo".

The fifth card ends the sequence, and whoever played this last card now begins aagain by playing any card and saying "snip", and the holders of the next four cards in ascending sequence in suit play them, saying "snap", "snorum", "high cockalorum", "jingo" as before.

Sometimes a sequence has to end with fewer than five card because the King is reached or because the next card required has already been played. In this case the player of the last available card says "jingo" and plays again. Example: player A holds the 7, 9, 10 and King of hearts. The play might go as follows.

  • A: heart10 "snip", D: heartJ "snap", C: heartQ "snorum", A: heartK "high cockalorum, jingo", and now A can lead again.
  • A: heart7 "snip", B: heart8 "snap", A: heart9 "snorum, jingo", since the 10 is already out of play, and A can lead again.

Note that this is better for A than beginning for example with the heart7, which would cede the lead to D with the heartJ "jingo", and A would be unable to dispose of his heartK until C led the Queen or A obtained the lead by some other method.

The player who first runs out of cards wins, and the other players each pay the pinner one unit for each card they still have in their hands at that point.

Variants

"High cockalorum", a 19th century term for a self-important person, is sometimes written as one word "hicockalorum" and "jingo" is often replaced by "jig".

In the 19th century some played that the dealer turned up the last card of the deal, which did not belong to any player. Some would also deal a few more cards face down out of the game, thus introducing an extra element of chance and surprise as these cards would unpredictably stop some of the sequences.

Most recent English descriptions restrict the sequence to four cards. Sadly, this version omits the high cockalorum altogether. In this variant the cards rank in cyclic order, so a sequence may continue belong the King: Q-K-A-2, etc. This version of the game is often known as Jig, which is the call for the fourth and last card of the sequence.

In German the game was known as Schnipp-Schnapp-Schnurr-Burr-Basilorum, these being the calls for the five cards of the sequence. It was sometimes played with a 32-card pack ranking A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7 in each suit. Many played with the cards ranking cyclically, so that a for example a sequence could run Q-K-A-7-8 with a 32-card pack or K-A-2-3-4 with a 52-card pack. Some books describe a game with six-card sequences: Schnipp-Schnapp-Schnurr-Burr-Basilorum-Rex.

The game with equal cards

The player to dealer's left leads any card, and play passes clockwise. If the next player in turn can play a card of the same rank, he or she must do so, saying "snip". The next player in turn who can play a third card of that rank does so saying "snap", after which the holder of fourth and last card of that rank plays it saying "snorum", and then leads any card.

When two consecutive players play matching cards, the first of those players is "snipped", "snapped" or "snored", depending whether he or she was the first, second or third player to play a card of that rank. A player who is snipped pays 1 chip to the pool, a player who is snapped pays 2 chips and a player who is snored pays 3 chips.

As soon as any player gets runs out of cards, play ends and all other players pay 1 chip to the pool for each card remaining in their hands. The winner, the player with no cards, takes the pool.

Earl of Coventry

Earl of Coventry is the same game with different sayings for the cards. For example, if Sevens are being played, the players of the first, second, third and fourth Sevens will say, respectively: "There's as good as Seven can be", "There's a Seven as good as he", "There's the best of all the three", "And there's the Early of Coventreee".

Nobble

Neil Darbyshire descibes Nobble, a variant played in Bolton, Lancashire, UK. Each player begins with five coins and the dealer deals five cards to each player.

The first player plays any card, and play continues clockwise until everyone has played all their cards, after which the next dealer deals a new set of hands. Each player must match the previous card if they can; if unable to, they may play any other card. If your card is matched by the next player you are "nobbled" and must pay one coin to the pool. If three consecutive players play equal cards, the first player is nobbled and pays one coin to the pool and the nobbler is "double nobbled" and pays two coins to the pool. If four consecutive players play equal cards, then the third player is "triple nobbled" and must pay three coins to the pool. If you don't have enough coins left you pay all that you have.

A player who has lost all five coins drop out of the game. Play continues until only one player remains and this final player wins the pool.

Elizabeth Burton's Party Card Games (1929) describes a version of 'Snip Snap Snore' which is equivalent to Nobble, except that all the cards are dealt to the players.

Other Variants

In his Round Games at Cards (1875) Cavendish describes a variant in which all the cards are dealt, and if the player to your left is unable to match your card, you play another card. You continue to play cards until one of your cards is matched, causing you to pay a chip to the pool, as usual. Example: player A plays a 7, but player B has no 7. Player A plays a 10 and player B plays a 10 causing player A to pay 1 to the pool. Player C also plays a 10 causing B to pay 2 to the pool. Player D has no 10, so it is C's turn to play again. In this game the players begin with 5 chips and any player who runs out of chips dropd out of the game. The play continues until someone wins the pool eaither by being the first to get rid of all their cards or by being the only surviving player who has not lost all their chips.