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Clockwork Spades

Contributed by Jamie Masculine

Players and Cards

This is a 2-player game, using one standard 52-card deck.

Game setup

In this game you take out all the spades and put them in a clock shape. The Ace is a 1 which goes in the place for a one in the clock, then the 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack as the 11, and Queen as the 12. You then put the King of spades in the middle, shuffle the rest of the deck, and put that face down on top of the King of spades.

Game Play

You choose who goes first before the game starts. That person begins by drawing three cards from the top of the deck in the center of the clock; and then the other person draws three cards.

The first person then looks at the Ace, 2, and 3 to see if they can play on them. To "play on" a card of the clock, you must play a card of the same rank.If the first player has any aces, twos or threes, they must play all of them on the corresponding cards of the clock. If they can't play any cards, then they must pick up one of the three spade cards on which they were supposed to play - the Ace, 2, or3 - and put it in their penalty card pile. They can choose which of the three spade cards to pick up. Spades removed from the clock count as one penalty point against the player who removes them, and the clock position that has been removed is skipped each time it comes by again on subsequent circuits of the clock.

At the end of every turn (but not before then), you must draw cards from the deck in the center until you have three cards in your hand again. If you ever draw a King, either among the three cards you take at the start of the game, or when replenishing your hand at the end of your turn, you must immediately give the King to your opponent, who places it face up on the table, and you must then draw a replacement card from the center, to bring your hand up to three cards.

After the first player has played and drawn, or has taken a penalty spade from the clock if unable to play, it is the second player's turn to play on the 4, 5 or 6, according to the same rules. After the second player's turn is completed, the first player plays on the 7, 8 or 9, and so on round and round the clock.

At each turn, the clock positions that are to be played on are the next three available spades in rotation, skipping any spades that have been removed from the clock. For example, if a player previously had to take up a spade from the Ace, 2, and 3 and chose the Ace, then when the Ace came around again, you would skip over it: if the previous player played on the 9, 10, Jack, the next player would play would play on the Queen, 2, and 3.

If you have any cards in your hand of the same rank as a spade that has been taken from the clock, you place them on the discard pile as soon as your next turn starts. These discards take no further part in the game. This action does not count as playing a card on the clock: if you discarded a card but were then unable to play on any of the next three available spades, you would still have to remove one spade and add it to your penalty cards.

When a spade is removed from the clock, any cards of the same rank that have previous been played on it are placed on the discard pile and take no further part in the game.

If a stage is reached when there are three or fewer spades left on the clock, then at each turn you have to play any cards you can on the remaining three, two or one spades, and if unable to play, you must remove a spade as usual.

End of the Game

Play can end in two ways:

  1. When drawing cards, a player exhausts the face down deck in the center, drawing the King of Spades, which is the final card of this deck. In this case the player who drew the King of Spades must keep it. This player wins the game if in possession of all four kings, and loses the game otherwise. (Getting the King of Spades is a bad thing. It's just unlucky, unless you have all the other kings. If you come to the King of Spades then you have to pick it up.)
  2. All twelve Spades, Ace to Queen, have been removed from the clockface, while the Spade King is still in place. In this case players count their penalty cards: the Spades they were forced to take from the clock though being unable to play, plus the Kings they were given by their opponent; each penalty card is worth one penalty point. The player with fewer penalty points wins.
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Last updated: 26th April 2005