It gives us the greatest of pleasure to share a card game which we have created and fine tuned over the past several years! SKUCK© is easy to learn, but a little challenging to play well. It should appeal to those who like to develop clever bidding strategies, have a good memory and can develop skilful play of the cards. In the long run, the more skilled player shall prevail. Also, for those of you who truly believe they are not dealt their fair share of good cards- don't worry! All cards in SKUCK© are neither good nor bad! Your grade of player level will depend on your ability.
We truly hope you gradually develop such an enjoyment of SKUCK© that you will also agree with others that it is one of the best two handed card games to come along in a long, long time.
Although we don't play a match every day, by a conservative estimate, we have played approximately 5,000 matches over the past several years in order to help the game gradually evolve into its present form.
Now, it is our wish that a small, yet enjoyable part of our day may be passed along, so that SKUCK© may also make a few of your days just a bit more enjoyable, too!
Ron & Sue Craig
Beginning Game: Approximately, the first nine tricks of a hand when you try to 'sense' as early as possible what kind of bid your opponent made, e.g., a highball, low ball or where ever in between.
Bid: The number of tricks which a player believes they will win. In SKUCK© all bids are recorded in silence, in secret, Qn paper. The bids are only disclosed to one's opponent at the conclusion of a hand.
Board: Each player's 16 cards which are dealt on the table.
Boolie: A perfect match in which a player scores a 'zero'- i.e.. no neggies in all 4 games. Very rare!
Click: When the secret bids of both players combine to total 27 and both players make their bids to earn a 'zero'.
Control: Occurs toward the end game at which time a player may have the opportunity to decide to win or lose tricks in order to make the bid.
Control Cards: As the end game draws to a close, those cards, high or low, which one uses to win or lose tricks in order to make one's bid. Example: A low (exit) card may be strategically saved, then played to lose the lead at an opportune time.
Demmies: They are demerits and are the negative scores (or neggies) which a player receives when a bid is not made. Example: Should a person bid 14, but take 16 tricks, that player is off the bid by 2. Therefore, there is a penalty of -2 neggies for that particular hand. Or, should a person bid 13, but take only 10, that player records -3 neggies.
Dove: A more conservative player whose bids, over time, when recorded, would average out to under 13.5. Doves have a penchant to bid lower than Hawks, as they prefer to adopt a strategy of ducking tric!cs more frequently.
End Game: This stage begins around the last 9 tricks of the hand, when players jockey for position. You might ask yourself: Am I on course? Do I need to take more tricks? Do I need to duck?
Floater: A trump caller, more prone to call the 2nd, 3rd , or especially the 4th weakest suit, on occasion, if it can be done without arousing suspicion.
Freewheeler: A game which occurs infrequently when both player's high card point counts combine to total less than 20 at the outset. Because most of the high cards are face down on the two boards, it is impossible to know which player has the majority of the power cards.
Game: Consists of the play of all 52 cards, 1/4 of a match.
Hail Mary Time: A 'No Trump' call, usually made when one player has fallen well behind (5 or more Demmies), particularly if it is late in the match, in the hope of taking advantage of the frequent, yet very unpredictable large scoring swings, enabling the person who is trailing to make up sufficient ground to get back in to, if not win the match.
Hand: The 10 cards each player holds in their hand at the completion of the deal.
Hawk: An aggressive player whose bids over time would average over 13.5.
Highball: An unusually high bid, given the player's stated point count, usually based on distributional values. Example: Lots of trump cards and a second strong suit that can be readily established, coupled with only a few losers in the remaining suits.
Match: Made up of 4 games, or quarters.
Middle Game: Between the 9th and 18th trick, usually considered to be the least difficult third of the game.
No Trump: A hand in which the higher card of the suit which is led is always the winner.
Plussies: When a player wins the exact number of tricks bid, that person scores a '0', or a plussie, for the particular game. A bonus of a (+1) score is factored in to the final score at the end of a match; a second '0' score in game two would result in a bonus of (+3); a third zero merits a (+6); a fourth '0' merits a (+10), or a Boolie---well done! Note: Remember- do not add 1+3+6+10 for a bonus of 20! A Boolie gets an award of 10 Plussies, no more, no less!
Point Count: Refers to the way to measure the strength of a player's hand and board, with values as follows: Ace=5 King=4 Queen=3 Jack=2 Ten=1. No distributional points apply.
Promotion: An upward movement between divisions of a league. Go to "Leagues" for the example.
Psychic Bid: Either an unusually high (highball) or low (lowball) bid, given your point count and/or distribution. You may consider a highball bid if you have a low point count, but a skewed distribution (example: you hold 5 or more trump cards in your hand, plus several more on your board). This is a powerful trick taking hand, especially if you have more winners in other suits. You may not have a high point count, but you will be able to take more tricks than your opponent could predict. You may wish to lowball bid if you have a skewed point count (example: you may have 4 Aces. That is already 20 points; however, 4 Aces only take 4 tricks!) You don't have as strong a hand as your point count may indicate, especially if you also hold many low cards, such as 2's, 3's, 4's, etc. This may be a good time to make a low bid!
Relegation: A downward movement between divisions of a league. Go to " Leagues" for the example.
Renege: Not following suit when a player can.
Ultimate SKUCK©: In theory, a tournament in which the very best players adapt the format of duplicate bridge in which all competitors play identical cards. (Hopefully, such a day may come to pass!)
How to Play
- OBJECT OF THE GAME
- To win exactly the number of tricks you bid - or at least come closer to making your bids than your opponent does over the course of the four hands in a match.
- All 52 cards of a standard deck are used.
- 2 Players, starting with 10 cards in their hands, as well as 16 overlapping cards, (8 face up and 8 face down) on their boards.
- THE DEAL
- Cut for deal. Ace is high. High card deals. If there is a tie, cut again. Boards are dealt first, then hands. (see sequence and placement of how the board's cards are dealt, as shown below).
(10 cards hidden in hand)
|U = Upturned Cards
D = Downtumed Cards
|Numbers indicate the order
in which cards are dealt.
(10 cards hidden in hand)
|U 2||D 10||D 18||U 26||U 25||D 17||D 9||U 1|
|U 4||D 12||D 20||U 28||U 27||D 19||D 11||U 3|
|U 6||D 14||D 22||U 30||U 29||D 21||D 13||U 5|
|U 8||D 16||D 24||U 32||U 31||D 23||D 15||U 7|
|Fully exposed cards|
- EVALUATION OF HAND AND BOARD
- Both players must first evaluate the strength of their respective hands and boards. Remember: Ace=5, King=4, Queen=3, Jack=2 & 10=1. Totaling point count values, each player informs the other of their strength of hand plus exposed board cards. By the way, if you can't trust your opponent to tell you their exact point count, you shouldn't be playing with them in the first place ... !?
- CALLING TRUMP
- The player with fewer points calls trump. Should both players have the same high card point count the person having the most deuces will call trump. Try the threes if the tie continues, etc.
- THE JACK OF CLUBS
- If clubs are named the trump suit, only the Jack of Clubs cannot be used to trump in. Furthermore, the Knave of Clubs shall also be counted by itself as a 'trick'. With the 52 card deck, there are 26 original tricks available. But, whoever wins the club Jack will gain one more trick, whether the player wants that special trick or not. Therefore, in SKUCK© there are really 27 tricks to be won. (Hint: Please consider that if a player can't follow suit to spades, diamonds or hearts, and even when clubs are trump, a player may discard the Jack of Clubs if he thinks he is winning too many tricks.)
- RECORDING THE BID
- After trump is called, both players determine how many tricks they believe they have the best chance of winning. As previousely emphasized in silence, in secret, each player records their bid on a sheet of paper. (You may want to keep the sheet scores to track your statistics over time).
- THE PLAY OF THE CARDS
- The player who did not call trump plays first. either from the hand or the top exposed card from any of the four columns. (The only exception to this rule is when there is a difference of 12 or more high card points between the two players. In this case, the declarer of trumps has the option to lead first or request the opposition to do so.) The second player must always follow suit if possible, either from the hand or the first totally exposed card from the board. A player may discard or trump in, in the same manner, if they cannot follow suit. After the player who wins the trick takes it, any card on the board which may now become the top card. must be turned over and exposed, if it was face down. (At this time, it is appropriate to note that according to the official interplanetary rules of SKUCK©, players are allowed to look back only to the last trick.) Please tum all tricks face down, if you would. Thank you. For easy reference, place your tricks in piles of six, when possible. The player who won the last trick will be on lead. The game continues in the same manner until all cards have been played.
- SCORING THE GAME
- All tricks plus the Jack of Clubs are now tallied up. Obviously, the combined tricks of both players must total 27. Each player records his or her score beside the bid that was made for that game. Only after each hand is completed, will players make their bids known to their opponent
- SCORING THE MATCH
Players now tally up the scores of their four games. Refer to accompanying example:
Player'A' Player 'B' Game Bid Made Score Bid Made Score 1 16 11 -5 16 16 0 2 12 13 -1 13 14 -1 3 14 14 0 14 13 -1 4 15 15 0 10 12 -2 Bonus +3 +1 Final Score -3 -3
These players both scored -3 Neggies in the match. (Remember the power of Plussies?) Player A wins the tiebreaker, which rewards the player with the most '0's. If both players had the same final score with the same number of '0's, or Plussies, because there are no more tiebreakers, this match would have ended in a draw.
In the above example of the two players who both scored -3 Neggies in their match, they would be rated as excellent players according to the evaluation system provided below. We arrive at this conclusion by dividing the final score (-3) by the number of games played.
Example: -3.00 ÷ 4 = -0.75
This converts to a ranking of 'Excellent' and a grade of A+.
|- 0.99 to 0||Excellent||A+|
|- 1.99 to - 1||Very Good||A|
|- 2.99 to - 2||Good||B|
|- 3.99 to - 3||Average||C|
|- 4.99 to - 4||Below Average||D|
|below - 5||Keep Trying||H-m-m-m|
Strategy (Basic Samples)
When given a choice, it is much more important to play a card from your board instead of a card from your hand. For example, if your opponent leads a Diamond and you want to win tricks and you have the 8 in hand and only the 9 available to play from your board, strategy dictates you play the 9. Try not to exhaust your hand before your board, or your opponent will have a huge advantage. Conversely, consider whenever feasible, leading suits which can't be played by your opponent from his board.
Keep your 4 columns of cards as even as possible, if you can. This retains more choices for as long as possible.
Learn to identify which suits you may control. If you have A K 5 4 3 2 of a suit, you control both ends of that suit. You may want to try to control that suit by avoiding it until the end game, or at least as late in the hand as possible. As an extreme example: you are in the lead and want only 2 more tricks. Your last 6 cards are A K 5 4 3 2 of a non trump suit, which has never been played. You naturally play the AK, and then exit wrth any of your low cards.
Learn to recognize lowball and highball opportunities.
Become aware, as early as possible from your opponent's leads and discards, if you are being highballed or lowballed. Adjust your trick taking accordingly, e.g., is your opponent trying to make you win more or fewer tricks than you bid for?
Hawks usually tend to bid for, and try to generate, as many tricks as possible. Some Hawks may lowball less, therefore they are quite effective when they identify an ideal hand to do so. Hawks are more prone to call their strongest suit as Trump, as it is usually easier to control a hand with strength rather than weakness. Plus, rt is always easier to develop more tricks for the aggressive bidder who calls the strongest suit as trumps. (Turning over just a few high cards from one's board can readily sabotage and sink a lowballer's ship!)
Knowledge is power. The most advanced player when presented wrth the opportunity will develop the ability to keep track of such things as:
a) How many cards and which ones are left to play in each suit, (particularly trumps). Here is one method to use in learning to keep track of the cards. Pretend that spades are trump and you want to know just how many trumps are left, as the game evolves. Before the first card is played. count up the number of spades in your hand, those visible on your board, as well as those on your opponent's board. Let's say that this total is 8. This means that there are 5 spades left outstanding somewhere amongst your board's face down cards, your opponent's board's down cards and your opponent's hand. As each spade becomes known from any of these three sources, simply subtract them from your starting number, 5, until the
count gets down to zero. After you develop the ability to keep track of all the cards in the first suit (trumps), try to keep track of the cards in a second suit, and so on. (Given time, it is surprising how tar the powers of concentration, determination and perseverance may take you!)
b) How many high card points are left in the opponent's hand.
c) How many points are left in the face down cards.
d) Determining the 'breakdown' of the missing cards whenever possible. (If 5 high card points remain outstanding with your opponent, have you the extra information to determine exactly which high cards they are? For example: Is it 1 Ace, or King-10, or Queen-Jack, or Queen-10-10, or Jack-10-10-10?)
1. Miscounting High Card Points
(Very difficult to prove unless High Card points are recorded when played)
First Game = 2 Demmie Penalty
Second Game = 3 Demmie Penalty
Third Game= Disqualification!!?! ( ... even if you're opponent is your MOTHER-JN-LAW! Well, perhaps not...!)
First Time = 1 Demmie Penalty
Second Time = 2 Demmie Penalty
Third Time= Disqualification? It's optional, eh? (We're Canadian, so we say 'eh'?)
3. Time Infractions
May be considered only by the most advanced, serious players during tournament play, if then! One game should take approximately ten minutes to play. (a time clock such as those used in Chess could be considered). A one Demmie penalty per game could be assessed whenever a player exceeds his 5 minute time limit per game - unless you both agree to be 'slowpokes.'
4. Touching a card on the board
If you touch a card on your board, you are obligated to play it. Therefore, think first!
So, you've decided with some friends to form a league. Good for you! Perhaps we may offer some suggestions. Here are possible formats, depending on your number of players. With a multiple of 4 players we suggest 4 players in each division, so with 8 players you will have two divisions A and B, with 12 players three divisions, or with 16 players 4 divisions A, B, C and D.
Here is a simple proposal. In each 'season' each player plays each other player in their division. At the end of the season, (3 matches) all averages are calculated (scores divided by games). The two lowest averages in highest 'A' Division will drop down to 'B' Division, one lower level of play. This is an example of RELEGATION (whereby players will gravitate to their most appropriate level of ability). The 2 highest finishers in 'B' shall be rewarded by PROMOTION to 'A' Division. Similarly, the two lowest averages in 'B' will drop to 'C'. The two highest in 'C' move up to 'B', and so on.
Possible Groups That Might Consider a League
a) Families on holidays-at the cottage, lake or traveling.
b) A once in a while change for the afternoon one or two tables of bridge.
c) A variation for the mah-jong, domino or book club groups.
d) An alternative clubhouse activity after golf or tennis.
e) A new way to use the local community club.
f) A duplicate bridge club might try using 1/2 a day of down time by introducing SKUCK©.
g) .... and finally, how about bingo players?!!!
There are several ways by which different achievements could be acknowledged after 4 matches.
- BEST HAWK AVERAGE
- BEST DOVE AVERAGE
- HIGHEST PERCENTAGE OF '0'S - HAWKS ( One zero out of 4 games would give a player an average of 1/4. or 25% for one match.)
- HIGHEST PERCENTAGE OF '0'S - DOVES
- BEST WINNING PERCENTAGE OF MATCHES - HAWKS (e.g., 6 wins vs. 2 losses= 6/8 = 75% for 2 matches.)
- BEST WINNING PERCENTAGE OF MATCHES - DOVES
- MOST IMPROVED HAWK (Compare wins versus losses %age to the average in the previous 4 matches)
- MOST IMPROVED DOVE
- MOST HAWK BOOLIES
- MOST DOVE BOOLIES