Card games in the Maldives

This page is based on research by Alex de Voogt as published in The Playing-Card Volume 37 No 3 (2009).

The standard 52-card Anglo-American pack is in general use, sometimes with a joker.

Digu is a Rummy game for four players using the full 52-card pack without a joker. It is probably inflenced by Gin Rummy, since "digu" means "gin". Players are dealt 10 cards each except for the first player who begins with 11 and discards one. By drawing and discarding, players aim to collect sets and runs of at least 3 cards. When a player has 10 cards in sets and runs he wins and the others are penalised for cards remaining in hand, apart from one set of 3 cards if held. The winner scores a 100 point bonus. Four players can play as partners, combining their scores.

Thaas is a Whist-like game for four players in fixed partnerships. Each is dealt 13 cards from the 52-card pack. The first player must choose trumps based on the first five cards dealt. It is reminsicent of the Pakistani game Trumps, the Iranian game Hokm and the Goan game Seven Hands.

Dihaeh is also for four players in fixed partnerships, each receiving 13 cards from the 52-card pack. The last card dealt is trump and belongs to the dealer. Tricks are played; players must follow suit, and trump if unable to follow. The aim is to capture three tens or seven tricks: presumably the winners are the first team to achive either of these objects. Capturing four tens is called "baga" and capturing all the tricks is called "hukunbunye". Maybe there are bonuses for these feats - but it is unclear what happens if one team takes seven tricks while the other takes all four tens.

Joker is a form of Old Maid played with a 52-card pack plus a joker, the player left holding the Joker being the loser.

Lucky Seven is the local variation of Eights. A Seven causes the next player to draw four cards and a Jack causes the next player to draw two. Playing a card of the same rank as the previous card reverses the direction of play. The article does not mention any special card that can be used to change suit, nor any possibility of a player defending against a Seven or Jack by playing another Seven or Jack.

Juice is similar to the Sri Lankan game Juse. Three or more players use a 52-card pack, which is dealt out as equally as possible to the players. Players keep their cards stacked face down, and each player will have a face up discard pile. There will also be up to four face up discard piles in the centre of the table. All these piles begin empty. The first player turns up his top card and places it in the centre of the table to start the first pile there. Subsequent players, in turn, turn up their top card and may place it on any pile if it is the next card in rank following the one on top of that pile. The ranking order is cyclic: Queen is followed by King, Ace, Two, Three, etc. The first central card is not completely covered by the cards stacked on it but remains visible. A card of the same rank can be used to start a new central pile. If a player's card does not fit anywhere, it is placed on top of the player's own discard pile. At the start of his turn a player may move one or more cards from the top of his pile to any other pile where they fit. A player who has no face down cards left turns over his discard pile at the start of his turn and plays from that. The first player to get rid of all cards in is face down hand and face up discard pile wins. If a player ever fails to play a card on a pile where it fits, any opponent can call "juice" and the player at fault is given one card by each opponent as a penalty.

Dhashundhama. This is a purely automatic game, reminiscent of Western children's games such as Beggar My Neighbour and War, and like these can last a long time. The pack is first separated into numeral cards (2-10), red money (J, Q, K, A) and black money. The numerals are shuffled and dealt to the two players - 18 cards each. One player takes all the red money and the other has the black money - these are kept face up in front of the players. Players hold their cards in a face down stack and take turns to play the bottom card of their stack to a central face up playing pile. If a card played matches the previous card on top of the playing pile, the player takes the whole playing pile, turns it face down and puts it on top of his own stack. A player who has no more cards to play must buy cards using money. The values are Ace 15 cards, King 13 cards, Queen 12 cards, Jack 11 cards. The cards bought are taken first from the bottom of the playing pile. If there are enough cards in the playing pile, the money card used to buy them is placed face up under the playing pile and claimed by the player who next wins the pile. If there are not enough cards in the playing pile, the remaining cards are taken from the top of the opponent's stack, and the money card is given to the opponent. The player who eventually collects all the money wins.

Bondi is a shedding game similar to the Indian game Getaway. The 52-card pack is dealt out to the players - there can be up to 7. Tricks are played in which players must follow suit, and the winner of each leads to the next (Aces are high). If any player cannot follow suit, the incomplete trick is picked up by whoever played the highest card, and this player resumably leads to the next trick as in Getaway, though this is not stated. The player who first runs out of cards wins. Play continues among the other players until only one player has cards. The points in this last player's hand are counted: 15 for an ace, 10 for a picture, other cards face value. It is unclear whether these points are given to the winner, or assigned as penalty points to the loser, or perhaps both. Ranga Bondi is a variant in which a player unable to follow suit may give the winner of the incomplete trick as many cards as he wishes from one other suit.

Two gambling games Neelan and Chance with the 52-card pack and a language game Akuru Thaasbe invented by Abdullah Sadiq using syllable cards are also mentioned.

This page is maintained by John McLeod (   © John McLeod, 2009. Last updated: 6th March 2011