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Two-Tray Tile Rummy

Contributed by Dennis Norby

This version of rummy tiles is intended for two players, with each using two trays (the "trays" in this game are the racks used to hold a player's tiles so that the other players cannot see their faces). Follow the rules that came with your tile game for basics such as determining who starts the game, definitions of groups and runs, and so on except as follows:

Each player draws two piles from the shuffled table pool with 14 tiles in each pile and places each pile on one of their trays. At no time may tiles, including jokers, be exchanged between the two piles or trays unless combining trays as described below.

Going down: A player’s first meld laid down on the table must consist of one or more combinations totaling 30 or more points formed entirely from one of that player’s trays, but not both trays. A tile may belong to more than one combination at the same time; however, its points are counted only once. A joker counts as the number of the tile it represents. Upon going down from one tray, that player is considered down for both trays, but cannot play from the other tray until their next turn.

During each player’s first turn, they must either go down from either tray or draw one tile from the pool to be placed upon the tray they choose. Each player will next play from their other tray, with play now continuing to alternate from tray to tray. It is helpful to place a marker by the tray to be played from next.

In subsequent turns, if already down, a player must either play at least one tile from their playing tray before the end of their turn or draw one tile from the pool to be placed upon that tray. If unable to go down, a player must draw one tile to be placed upon that tray.

After first going down, but not before, a player can in the same turn, and in all subsequent turns, manipulate all tiles on the table and play from the playing tray before and after such manipulation. Any meld, including those containing a joker, can have tiles added or removed or be split apart or rearranged in any manner. However, all melds must be valid and manipulated tiles and jokers be in valid melds by the end of that player’s turn.

A joker (J) can be removed from a meld or replaced by the natural tile it represents, taken either from the player’s playing tray or from any meld on the table. This joker can be used to create a new group or run of any color or moved to any existing group or run. If a joker is part of a three-tile group, each player whose turn it is to play can call its color so long as that color is not represented by one of the other tiles in the group.

The following groups and runs are valid combinations because they consist of more than two connected tiles in all directions:

Example 1:  

     Example 2:  

Some examples of allowable table manipulation in Example 1 include: A black 4 can be placed in the open central slot; the J, which each player can call black or orange, can be placed as a red 7 after the red 6, thus freeing the orange 7 to be used in a new or existing meld; the blue 4 and the black 5, 6 can be removed if they can be used elsewhere.

However, the blue 5 or 6 or the orange 7 cannot be moved because they are needed to retain their groups and run; the black 5 cannot be moved (unless the 7s are also moved) because it would leave only the connected black 6, 7; the blue 3 cannot be moved (unless the J is also moved) because it would leave only two connected tiles in that group.

Some examples of allowable table manipulation in Example 2 include: By moving the red 13, J, 11, 10 run elsewhere, the orange 13 can replace the J in the orange run and it can then be used elsewhere. The red J, 11, 10 run can be split off and the J placed on either end. The 13, 13, 13 can be split off to make a separate group, which could then include the red 13. A red 8, 9 can be added to the top, bottom, or end of the red 10. The black 13 can be moved to the 13 group. The orange 12 can be moved to make the bottom orange 11, 13 a run, allowing both top and bottom melds to be moved.

However, the orange 13 cannot be moved by itself, as this would leave only two connected tiles in that group. A player cannot call the combination J (top left) red because it completes the orange run. A joker or 1 cannot be used after a 13 in a run.

If a player plays a tile from the wrong tray upon the table, that player must return any tile(s) played during that turn back to their originating trays, draw one penalty tile from the pool to be placed on the correct playing tray, and forfeit the rest of that turn. The marker remains by the correct tray. Manipulated tiles, if any, do not necessarily have to be returned to their original position so long as they remain in valid melds. If the error is discovered after play has passed to the other player, the play stands without penalty.

The first player to empty one of their trays immediately proceeds to play from their second tray. If that player does not go out after playing from their second tray, the other player combines all their tiles onto one tray and plays all tiles. Both players are now playing from only one tray, and each player continues to draw one tile from the pool to be placed upon their tray any time they cannot play a tile on the table during their turn.

The first player to empty both trays wins the game.

© Dennis Norby, 2007

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Last updated: 21st June 2007