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Three new card games by Keith Stevens

People have played cards for centuries. They can be a source of innocent pleasure to some, but can bring ruination and misery to others. Many are happy with simple games of chance whilst the more intellectual seek pure games of skill.

So, what makes a good card game? It can be said that the ideal game allows the winner to proclaim his superior skill but, at the same time, permits the looser to protest his ill-luck. For pure entertainment, therefore, the best card games are those which balance skill and chance. They should reward players who can apply logic, memory and strategy, but leave the door ajar for the less skilful by allowing them some "good hands".

To invent new card games is a difficult business. Who is going to play them? What is the motive of the inventor? Does he seek the egotistical pleasure of seeing his creation spread across the country or does he want to impress his local circle with his innovative flare? You can always test your new ideas on your friends and relatives, but they quickly tire of loosing at unfamiliar games. After all, if the inventor can’t win every time, it must be a shallow creation!

It’s also difficult to develop truly original ideas. They are usually influenced by the rules and experiences of well known card games and result in hybrid games which might merely "fall between two stools". There is also no guarantee that any new idea is genuine. It might turn out that a similar game has been played for years in some distant corner of the globe.

Despite these pitfalls, it is possible to do some lateral thinking and invent some new games. Card play can be either competitive, for loss or reward, or simply for entertainment; often it can be reduced to a simple trial or race between two players or two teams and the ideal game is one in which the score unfolds, say with ticks won or points scored, towards a visible winning post. In writing this book I’ve concentrated on competitive games for two players which combine the basis of luck, skill, memory and judgement. The reader will often see elements of play which are familiar in other games but will undoubtedly find many and stimulating new challenges.

So, here are three new games to try, each for two players. Please try them out and let me know what you think. They may even spread around the world!




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Last updated: 9th January 2002