Contributed by Nick Reid


The game is called Dawn and its object is to be the first player whose hand contains no black cards. The name is a reference to the increasing light or redness and the receding darkness present at dawn. Conversly, the game could be called Dusk and the object reversed so that players attempt to discard red cards.


It is played with at least one standard 52 card deck. At the begining of the game the dealer deals 12 cards face down to each player, which may require the addition of one or more decks depending on the number of players, plus two piles of two cards each, also face down on the table. The remaining cards are placed in a stack.

Pre-Game / Swap

The players pick up their hand and are allowed to rearange their cards in any way they desire in preperation for the swapping phase which takes place after each new hand is dealt. At this point players hold up their hands in a fan with the cards backs facing out. Each player draws any two cards of their choice, unseen, from the hand of the player to their immediate left and then, without looking at their faces, places them face down on the table in front of the player they were taken from. Once this step has been completed for all players, each player in turn picks up a pair of cards from the table, starting with the player to the left of the dealer and, going all the way around clockwise. You can pick up the cards in front of another player or one of the two spare piles that were dealt, but not the cards that were taken from your hand, which are in front of you.

Players may try to use psychology in the rearrangement of their cards and selection of cards from their neighbour's hand to try to get rid of their own black cards and take red cards from their neighbour.

At the end of the swapping phase there will be two piles of two cards left over. These are not used in the play, and should be set aside unseen until the next deal.


Now the player to the left of the dealer places any card from their hand face up in the center of the table. Traditionally this player will choose their highest black card (cards rank from King (high) down to Ace (low)). Players now take turns to lay down one card from their hands. The cards must be in descending sequence, and the turn to play passes clockwise. If you have a choice of more than one possible play - for example the player to your right played a ten and you have several nines, you will of course play a black card, since the aim is to get rid of these.

If a player has no card of the required value, they must draw a card from the pile of undealt cards, which can be detrimental or beneficial depending on the colour of the card drawn. If the card has the currenly required value it must be played. If not it becomes the next player's turn and the same rules are followed until it either a player is able to play a card or it becomes the turn of the player who originaly could not lay a card. At this point they must play the next lowest card in their hand. Example. Player A plays a seven. The next player, B, has no six and draws a card, which is also not a six. The other players C, D, E, ..., A do the same and no one has or draws a six. Now it is B's turn again. B has no 5 or 4 but does have a 3, so B must play a 3.

When an ace is played, the play pile is discarded and the player who played the ace must start a new pile by playing any card of their choice from their hand. They can play another ace if they wish. The same happens if all players are unable to play after drawing. In the example above, if the turn comes back to B and she has no card lower than a 6, the play pile is discarded and B may play any card from hand to begin a new one.

If the stock of undealt cards runs out, all the played cards except the top card of the play pile are shuffled and placed face down to make a new stock to draw from.


If at any point a player achives a hand free of all black cards they announce that it is "dawn" and display their hand at which point they are declared the winner. The deck is reassembled, the turn to deal passes to the left and a new hand is dealt.

Note: one way to win is to get rid of your entire hand - you can be free of all black cards by having no cards at all. However, it is more usual for the winner to have some red cards left.

Last updated: 5th February 2010