Players: 2–4

A skilful adding game for 2 players, also playable by 3 or 4, in which players take turns to play cards totalling each number from 1 to 20. Contributed by Brian Stovel.

Class: Adding games, Draw and Discard Games, Shedding Games

Related games: Ninety-Nine (adding game)

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Contributed by Brian Stovel

NO OF PLAYERS: Best with 2 players but also good for 3 or 4.

DEAL: 7 cards face down to each player, from a standard 52-card pack. The remaining cards are stacked face down. Players look at their cards.

OBJECT: To get rid of all your cards first OR to have lowest value when a player achieves a count of 20.

PLAY: With two players, the player opposite the dealer begins and turn to play alternates. With three or four players the player to the left of the dealer begins and the turn to play passes clockwise.

COUNT: The count begins at 1. Each time a player makes the count, it increases by 1, until it reaches 20. When a player makes a count of 20 the play ends. It may also end earlier if a player runs out of cards.

COUNT VALUES: For the purpose of making the count, the cards have values as follows:

  • Ace counts 1
  • 2 to 9 count face value
  • Ten, Jack, Queen count 10, but a pair of tens, a pair of jacks or a pair of queens played together can count 10 instead of 20 if the player so chooses.
  • King is wild and counts any amount from 1 to 20 at the choice of the player.

PLAYING A TURN: On your turn you have just two options:

  • Either draw one card from the top of the stack of undealt cards and add it to your hand.
  • or make the count, by playing a card equal to the count or a set of cards that add up to the count.

Note: it is always legal to draw a card instead of making the count, even if you would have been able to make the count.


  • The first player MAY make the count of 1 (using an ace OR a KING), but play is NOT mandatory so instead he MAY elect to draw one card from top of the deck, which ends his turn. If he CANNOT make the COUNT he MUST draw top card from the deck.
  • After one player starts the COUNT at "1", the COUNT then becomes "2", which could be made up of a single two or two aces or a king and an ace or a king by itself. The COUNT now becomes "3", which could be made up of a single 3, three aces, two aces and a king, an ace and a 2, an ace and a king, etc.
  • If you held two queens, a jack and a 4, and the COUNT NEEDED was 14 (previous player made the count 13) you could play BOTH the queens and the 4, or elect to just play one of your two queens and the 4, or the jack and the 4, but not Q+J+4 which would make 24.

Note: The COUNT continues to increase but ONLY IF the number is made -- sometimes this may take several turns before it is achieved.

END OF HAND: The hand is over when one player gets rid of all his cards OR a COUNT of 20 is made. At this time all players score penalty points according to the cards remaining in their hands.


  • Each card ace to 9 scores 5 penalty points,
  • ALL tens, jacks, queens score 10 penalty points (so 20 points penalty for a pair of queens)
  • Kings score 20 penalty points each.

END OF GAME: For two players, when penalty points of one or both reach 100 or more the game ends and the player with fewer points wins. For more than 2 players, a target of 200 makes a better game.

© Brian Stovel, 2009

Last updated: 1st June 2024