Vändtia

This page is based on information from Dan Glimne, Bengt Green and Johanna Kristoffersen.

Introduction

This Swedish game, whose name means "turning tens", is probably the ancestor of the international game Shithead, which became popular with young backpackers at the end of the 20th century. Vändtia may well have originated in Northern Sweden, as it seems to have been played longest there. According to Dan Glimne it is probably an invention from the late 1970’s, since none of the players he could find in 2000 could recall playing it more than about 20 years previously. In the Skåne area in Southern Sweden this game is often played under the name ”Skitgubbe", which causes confusion with the classical Swedish three-hander of the same name. However, it could be that the English name 'shithead' for the international version of this game is based on the Swedish word 'skitgubbe'.

The main account below is based on a description contributed by Dan Glimne in 2000.

Players, Cards and Objective

Dan Glimne described this as a two-player game but Johanna Kristoffersen points out that more than two people can play the same game with only minor changes to the rules. If there are more than two players the game is played clockwise.

A standard 52-card pack is used, the cards ranking in the usual order from high to low A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2 (but note that 2's and 10's are special cards). Suits are ignored in this game.

The object of the game is to run out of cards as soon as possible.

Deal and Rearrangement

The dealer deals three cards each, face down, in a row in front of each player, and then an additional three cards each but face up, one face up card on top of each of the face down cards. Then three more cards are dealt to each player, which are picked up and held in the player's hand. The rest of the pack is set face down between the players as the stock (draw pile). Now each player has 9 cards: 3 in hand and a row of three small stacks in front of him, each stack consisting of one face down card and on top of this one face up card.

Before play commences, each player may switch cards as he likes between his hand and his three face up cards. In doing so, he will as a rule ensure that the three face up cards in the row before him are high cards, or tens, or twos.

Play

The player to dealer's left begins by playing a card or a set of equal cards face up to the table to begin the play pile. Play continues clockwise.

At your turn you may play a card or a set of equal cards face up on top of the play pile, but the cards you play must be either higher than or equal to the previous play or you may play a special card (2 or 10). If after playing you have fewer than three cards in your hand you must replenish your hand to three cards by drawing cards from the stock. The turn then passes to the left.

If at your turn you cannot or do not wish to play any cards on the play pile, you must pick up the whole of the play pile and add it to the cards in your hand. It is then the next player's turn and since the play pile is empty, this player can play any card or set of equal cards to begin a new play pile. A player who has picked up the pile will have more than three cards in hand and will not draw any more cards from the stock until enough cards have been played to reduce the hand to fewer than three cards.

During the play, any of the following special events may occur.

Ten
A ten can be played regardless of what card is on top of the play pile. When a ten is played the entire play pile is "turned away" - the cards are set aside out of play. The same player then continues by playing any card or set of equal cards to start a new play pile.
Two
A two can be played regardless of what is on top of the play pile. The pile remains in place and any card or set of equal cards can be played on the two by the next player.
Four equal cards
If there are four equal ranked cards on top of the play pile, this has the same effect as a ten. The entire play pile is turned away (set aside) and the same player plays again to start a new play pile. Most often this occurs when one player plays a card or cards and the other player responds by playing all remaining cards of that rank. However, it is also possible for a single player to play four equal cards, having collected them by picking up the play pile.

Endgame

When the stock is empty, players can no longer replenish their hands, so eventually they run out of cards. When a player runs out of cards in his hand, he must play from his row of three before him, any face up card he likes. When one of the face up cards is played, the face down card beneath it is immediately turned face up. If a player who previously has emptied his hand is unable to play any of his face up cards (or chooses not to do so) he is forced to pick up the playing pile as usual. On subsequent turns the player will then have to play cards from hand, and continue doing so until he runs out of cards again. Only after his hand is once again empty is he allowed to play again from the row of face up cards in front of him.

A player who has no cards at all, having played all his hand cards and all the cards in front of him drops out of the game. The last player who has cards when all the others have run out is the loser.

Variations

Some play that when rearranging cards, if you have two or more equal cards they can be stacked on one of the three row positions in front of you. You will then have fewer than three cards in your hand, and you must immediately draw cards from the stock to replenish your hand to three cards, and you may continue to rearrange. In some cases you may then end up with more than 3 cards in your hand. Example: you have J, 7, 2 in hand and A, 7, 5 face up. You swap the 2 for the 5 and stack your 7 on the 7. Now you have only two cards so you draw one. It is another 7 so you add it to the stack and draw another card. This time you draw a 10, so you swap the 10 for the three sevens. Now you have A, 10, 2 in front of you and five cards in hand: J, 7, 7, 7, 5. You are ready to start playing.

Some do not allow a 2 to be played as a player's last card. So if you have a 2 face up on the table and nothing else, when your turn comes you must pick up the play pile.