Ropebridge

Contributed by Keith Parker

Players and Equipment

This is a 2 player card game which requires a standard 52 card deck with 2 jokers.

Objective

To be the first to match 10 cards in order to cross the ropebridge step by step.

The Setup

Shuffle all 54 cards thoroughly. Decide who deals - the non-dealer will play first.

Deal a row of 10 cards face down - this is the Ropebridge.

Deal 1 card at a time face down to each player until both have 7 cards - these form their hands which the player can hold and view but not allow the other player to see

Place the remaining cards face down to form a stack to draw from. Turn over the top card of the draw stack and place it face upwards to start a discard pile.

Turn over the 4 left-most cards of the Ropebridge/row so you will start with 4 exposed and 6 unknown cards on the bridge.

The Play

Non-dealer plays first and they must do one of the following

  1. Match the first leftmost card or first two leftmost cards of the ropebridge/row by playing card/s from their hand, or
  2. Take either the top discarded card or the top face down card of the draw stack and add to their hand, and may then match one or two cards of the bridge row by playing cards from hand. If after drawing they hold more than 7 cards they must either play a card or cards to match the next bridge card or place one of their cards on the discard pile face up.

Matching cards

You must match against the leftmost card in the bridge row that remains unmatched for you before you can move on to the next card of the bridge.

How to match? Each number card in the ropebridge/row has a pip value irrespective of suit: Ace counts as 1, 2 as 2 and and so on through to 10. Jack, Queen and King have no pip value. Joker counts as any value.

You can match a number card in the bridge row using a number card of the same pip value.

You can use two number cards of different colour from your hand to match either the sum or the difference of their pip values to the pip value of the card in the bridge row. For example a 3 of hearts and a 5 of clubs could be played together to match either an 8 (=5+3) or a 2 (=5-3) on the bridge row. Alternatively the 3 of hearts could be played by itself to match a 3 or the 5 of clubs by itself to match a 5.

Since court cards have no pip value they can only be matched against with an equal court card or a joker. For example a queen on the bridge row can only be matched by another queen or a joker.

A joker in the bridge row can be matched by any card, and the two players may use different cards to match the same joker. A joker from hand can be used to match any card in the bridge row.

If you match your leftmost unmatched in the bridge row, you may also match the next bridge card in the same turn if your cards allow this. However you are not allowed to match more than two bridge row cards in a single turn.

Example

Suppose the bridge is dealt as follows (the suit of the cards in the bridge is irrelevant).

   9 8 * J - - - - - -        

Here '*' represents a joker. The dashes '-' represent face down cards.

You hold: Ah Jh 9h 3h Joker Qc 5s

You can lay down the 9h to match the 9 in the row and then the 5s and 3h to match the 8 in same turn. Since you are not allowed more than two matches per turn you cannot match the joker in the row on that turn.

Each time you match a card that neither player has matched before, you turn over the left-most face-down card in the row, revealing some more of the path across the bridge. In the example above, after your turn the game area will be as follows

   5
   9 3
   9 8 * J 4 2 - - - -

On your next turn you will need to match the next card, which in this case is a Joker, which can be matched by any card. Meanwhile your opponent still has to match the 9 and then the 8.

Play then switches to the dealer - note that in the game example the Dealer would first have to match the 9 in the bridge row.

Note you do not replenish your hand immediately after playing. A card taken from the stack or discard pile can only be added to a hand or exchanged for a discard from hand or played alone or with another card to match the next bridge row card.

Players continue to take alternate turns until a player reaches and matches the right-most card in the ropebridge row, winning the game.

Unbeatable Rows. If the rope bridge contains a set of cards that are impossible to match, such as all four Kings, the game is a tie. The cards are shuffled and redealt

Stalemate. A tie is possible if each player is holding all the cards the other player could use to match the next card in the bridge row.

Possible variants

The ropebridge row could be shortened to 7 length or extended to 12.

The number of exposed cards ahead of the leading player could be anywhere from 1 to 10 face up cards.

The game could be played with no jokers.

Harder Combo Matching Rule. Two number cards of the same colour are added together, two cards of different colours count as the difference. In this case 5d and 3h can match an 8 but not a 2. 4s and 3s can match a 7. 4s and 3h can match an Ace.

Simpler Combo Matching rule. Two number cards can be used to match their sum or difference irrespective of suit or colour. For example any 4 with any 5 can be used together to match 9 or A.

Aces count as 1 or 11 pip value - they can be matched by a joker, an Ace, or a pair of cards combined to make 1 or 11, for example 2 and 9 , or 7 and 4.

Court Cards may count as 10 pip value allowing much easier matching.

One step at a time rule. Fairly self explanatory: players may only match one row card per turn.

An example game with comments

Normal rules applied. '6c' = 6 of Clubs, '**'=Joker, 'T'=10, 'J'=Jack, '--'= face down card.

Cards are dealt as follows:

  • Non-dealer: As 4h 5d 8s 9c 9h Qh (hand not visible to dealer)
  • Bridge row: 6c 9d ** 6h -- -- -- -- -- -- --
  • Discard pile: **
  • Stack: --
  • Dealer: 4c 6d 7c Th Td Jh Qd (hand not visible to non-dealer)

Non-dealer's turn - plays As and 5d to match the 6c the 1st in the row and turns over the left most face-down card (8c) in the row, and then plays his 9c to match the 9d and turns over another card, the Jd:

    5d
    As 9c                                  Discard Pile    Stack
    6c 9d ** 6h 8c Jd -- -- -- -- --         **              --

Dealer's turn - the dealer picks up the Joker from the discard pile, plays his 6d against the 6c and then plays the Joker against the 9d in the row. Then he turns over the next 2 face down cards in the row. [I don't understand why more cards are turned over here, as the first two cards of the row have already been matched. JM]

    5d
    As 9c                                  Discard Pile    Stack
    6c 9d ** 6h 8c Jd Qc Ks -- -- --         (empty)         --
    6d **

Note that the empty discard pile is not replenished

Non-dealer's turn - he can match any card against the Joker in the row, but as he can see he will need the 8 and Q later he decides to play the 9h and turn over the next face down card in the row.

    5d
    As 9c 9h                               Discard Pile    Stack
    6c 9d ** 6h 8c Jd Qc Ks 5s -- --         (empty)         --
    6d **   

Dealer's turn. The dealer now holds 4c 7c Th Td Jh Qd. He needs to match the Joker first and then the 6 - he decides to use the 7c to match the Joker and then the Th and 4c to match the 6 and turns over 1 face down card in the row. [Note that only one new card is turned here even though two cards were matched, since the joker had already been matched by the non-dealer. JM]

    5d
    As 9c 9h                               Discard Pile    Stack
    6c 9d ** 6h 8c Jd Qc Ks 5s 6s --         (empty)         --
    6d ** 7c 4c
             Td

Non-dealer's turn. His hand is 4h 8s Qh. He cannot match the 6 so will need to draw - as the discard pile is empty he can only draw 1 card from the stack - he draws Jc which is useful for later so adds it to his hand, ending his turn.

Dealer's turn. He needs to match the 8 but cannot so draws from the stack - he draws 3h so cannot do anything and decides to add this card to his hand. His hand is now 3h Th Jh Qd.

Non-dealer's turn - still needs to match the 6 so draws from the stack again. He draws the Qs, which is not that useful as he holds the Qh, but with a Q in the row discarding this card would help his opponent so he keeps the card. He now holds 4h 8s Jc Qh Qs.

Dealer's turn - he needs to match the 8 so draws from the stack. Luckily he draws 2h. He cannot use the Th and 2h to make 8 (as they are the same colour). However he keeps the 2 as it could be useful. His hand is now 2h 3h Th Jh Qd.

Non-dealer's turn - still needs to match that 6 so can only draw - he draws 7h and decides to keep it. His hand is now 4h 7h 8s Jc Qh Qs

Dealer's turn - he draws again: 5h - not useful now but there's a 5 near the end of the row so he keeps the card. Now he has 2h 3h 5h Th Jh Qd.

Non-dealer's turn - he draws 4s and decides to keep it. His hand is 4h 4s 7h 8s Jc Qh Qs.

Dealer's turn - he draws 3c and can now match the 8 and the Jack in the row - so he places the 3c and 5h to match the 8 and his Jh to match the J in the row then turns over the remaining face down card in the row

    5d
    As 9c 9h                               Discard Pile    Stack
    6c 9d ** 6h 8c Jd Qc Ks 5s 6s Tc         (empty)         --
    6d ** 7c 4c 5h Jh
             Td 3c
   

Non-dealer's turn - he still needs to match that 6, so he draws Kc. Though this is not useful at present, with a K further in the row it will be useful later. With more than 7 cards in his hand after drawing, he must noe either match of discard something. Since he is unable to match he discards the 4h. His hand is now 4s 7h 8s Jc Qh Qs Kc.

Dealer's turn. Holding 2h 3h Th Qd, he plays the Qd to match the Q in the row - there are no more face down cards in the row so nothing more to expose and his turn ends.

    5d
    As 9c 9h                               Discard Pile    Stack
    6c 9d ** 6h 8c Jd Qc Ks 5s 6s Tc         4h              --
    6d ** 7c 4c 5h Jh Qd
             Td 3c

Non-dealers turn - all he can do is draw 5c - he keeps this and discards the Qs. His hand is now: 4s 5c 7h 8s Jc Qh Kc

Dealer's turn. He needs to match the King - he draws 2d which could be useful so keeps it, and now has 2d 2h 3h Th.

Non-dealer's turn. He needs to match 6 so he draws and is lucky. He draws Ad he can now play the Ad with the 5c in his hand to match the 6 in the row and he can also play his 8s to match the 8.

    5d       Ad
    As 9c 9h 5c 8s                         Discard Pile    Stack
    6c 9d ** 6h 8c Jd Qc Ks 5s 6s Tc         Qs              --
    6d ** 7c 4c 5h Jh Qd
             Td 3c

Dealer's turn - he cannot match the King so draws 3d. His hand is now 2d 2h 3d 3h Th.

Non-dealer's turn. He holds 4s 7h Jc Qh Kc - he plays the Jc and Qh to match the J and Q in the row.

    5d       Ad
    As 9c 9h 5c 8s Jc Qh                   Discard Pile    Stack
    6c 9d ** 6h 8c Jd Qc Ks 5s 6s Tc         Qs              --
    6d ** 7c 4c 5h Jh Qd
             Td 3c     

Dealer's turn - still needs to match that King so draws - a 4d

Non-dealer's turn. He plays Kc to match the King

    5d       Ad
    As 9c 9h 5c 8s Jc Qh Kc                Discard Pile    Stack
    6c 9d ** 6h 8c Jd Qc Ks 5s 6s Tc         Qs              --
    6d ** 7c 4c 5h Jh Qd
             Td 3c     

Dealer's turn - draws to find a match for the King - no luck yet but another red card - the 7d. He decides to keep it.

Non-dealer's turn. He must match the 5 but cannot, so he draws a card. It is the 8h which could be useful so he keeps it. He now has 4s 7h 8h.

Dealer's turn. Dealer holds 2d 2h 3d 3h 4d 7d Th and is still stuck on this King. He draws a Js which is no use so he discards it.

Non-dealer's turn. He draws 10s - very useful to finish so he keeps it.

Dealer's turn. He draws 8d, which is not useful so he discards it

Non-dealer's turn - he cannot match the 5 so needs to draw - Kd. This could help block his opponent so he keeps it.

Dealer's turn - he really needs to match the King - he draws 2s. Thinking ahead, he could use this with a red 3 or red 7 to match the 5 or with the red 4 to match the 6. The 2s is very useful but he has to discard has he his currently holding 7 cards - he decides to discard the 2d. Dealer now has 2s 2h 3d 3h 4d 7d Th.

Non-dealer's turn. He holds 4s 7h 8h Ts Kd. He still has no card to match the 5 but in future he will also need to match the 6 so he decides to take the 2d from the discard pile.

Dealer's turn - still needs to match the king. He draws 7s, keeps this and discards 3h.

Non-dealer's turn. Holding 2d 4s 7h 8h Ts Kd he still needs to match the 5. He luckily draws 2c. He combines this with his 7h to match the 5 and then uses the 2d and 4s to match the 6.

    5d       Ad             7h 4s 
    As 9c 9h 5c 8s Jc Qh Kc 2c 2d          Discard Pile    Stack
    6c 9d ** 6h 8c Jd Qc Ks 5s 6s Tc         3h              --
    6d ** 7c 4c 5h Jh Qd
             Td 3c     

Dealer's turn - still unable to match the king, he draws 3s and discards it.

Non-dealer's turn. He plays his Ts to match the final 10 and win.