Ugly was invented in Australia in the 1980's by the Committee for the Advanced Research into Deck Statistics (CARDS), a group of bored university students. It is loosely based on Hearts and Knaves, and is played in Canberra, Perth, and perhaps other places in Australia.

This description was contributed by Gavin Longmuir.

Players and Cards

Ugly is played by three or four players. The Deck is a regular 52 card pack. For three players one card is removed (the 2 of Spades). The Dealer then deals the cards equally to each of the players (no more than 2 cards at a time), until the deck is exhausted.


After the deal the person to the left of the dealer after viewing his or her hand selects a suit which is to be trumps. No-Trumps is also a valid choice.

Passing Cards

Each player then has to pass cards to the person to his or her left. In the first hand one card is passed; successive hands increase this number by two each time (ie. 3, 5, 7.. ).

The Play

The player left of the dealer leads for the first trick of the hand. Play goes clockwise. Players must follow suit if they can. A player who cannot follow suit is free to trump the trick or discard an unwanted card. The winner of the trick is the person who played the highest card of the suit led (if not trumped) or the highest trump card (if trumped).


Winning a trick counts as plus one point, but there are negative points for having Jacks in your tricks:

spade jack club jack diamond jack heart jack

  • Jack of Spades - minus one
  • Jack of Clubs - minus two
  • Jack of Diamonds - minus three
  • Jack of Hearts - minus four

Ugly The Seven of Diamonds is called the Ugly Card, and has the effect of doubling the negative value of any Jacks collected by the player who wins a trick containing this card. If the player who takes the Ugly card manages to avoid having any Jacks in any tricks for that hand, then the player has the value of his or her tricks doubled for that hand.

Charm The Seven of Clubs is called the Charm Card. It has no effect by itself, but if the same player takes both the Ugly card and the Charm card, the effect of the Ugly Card on jacks is cancelled (i.e. any Jacks won in the current hand are worth their normal negative value). If the player who took the Charm and Ugly cards has no Jacks in any tricks for the current hand, each trick taken by the player scores plus four points.

End of the Game

The game is completed after the final hand is played. The final hand is the one in which players are passing all of their cards to the left (ie. all 17 in a three player game, or all 13 in a four player game).

The winner is the person with the highest number of points at the completion of the game.

This page is maintained by John McLeod (   © John McLeod, 1996. Last updated: 29th August 1996