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Pips: Original Playing Card and Dice Games


Players:  2
Average Duration: 30 minutes
Equipment: 1 deck of cards
Object: To score the most points over the course of eight hands by playing cards in such a way that pairs and runs are grouped together.

The Game

The game is played in eight hands; each player gets four turns at being the director and four turns at being the defender. After all eight hands have been played, the player with the highest score wins.

The Deal

For each hand, the director deals three cards to the defender, then nine cards to himself. Then the director chooses three cards to give to the defender; these three cards are placed face up in front of the defender and effectively become part of the defender's hand. Next, the director chooses three more cards to place face up in front of him; he retains ownership of these cards, but they become visible to the defender.

At this point, each player has six cards in his hand, three hidden and three face up on the table. The director leads by choosing one of his six cards to play and places it face up at one side of the table between the two players. The defender responds by playing a card of his own and placing it in front of the director's card. This second card must be of the same suit or rank of the director's card, if possible -- if the defender does not have a card of the same suit or rank, any card in his hand is legal to play.

Then the defender plays another card, placing it next to the previous card, and this serves as a lead back to the director. The director plays a card in front of this one (following suit or rank if possible) and then plays any card as a lead back. The result is a serpentine playing pattern. The following diagram shows the result after the first five cards have been played:

Defender Plays On This Row:
6th Card Goes Here
7th Card Goes Here
10th Card Goes Here
11th Card Goes Here
2nd Card 3rd Card
Director Plays On This Row:
8th Card Goes Here
9th Card Goes Here
12th Card Goes Here
1st Card 4th Card 5th Card

Play continues in this manner until the director plays his last card in response to the defender's last lead.

This completes the hand. The director's score is calculated according to the rules given below, and the hand is over. Only the director scores after a hand, so the goal of the director during a hand is to try to get the cards to be played in such a way as to maximize his score, while the goal of the defender is to try to minimize what the director will score.

Scoring is done by looking at pairs and runs of cards that are grouped together contiguously. Such groups of cards count one point per card in the group. For instance, a pair of queens that are next to each other (horizontally or vertically but not diagonally) count two points, one for each of them. Runs consist of at least three cards of consecutive rank (suit does not matter), with the ace ranking both higher than a king and lower than a two, with wrapping around permitted. The cards in the run need not be in any particular order, so long as they are all contiguously connected. For example, the following board scores nine points in runs for the director: three points for the run of 4, 5, and 6 on the left, and six points for the run of 10, jack, queen, king, ace, and 2 on the right.

Defender's Cards:
2nd Card 3rd Card 6th Card 7th Card 10th Card 11th Card
Director's Cards:
1st Card 4th Card 5th Card 8th Card 9th Card 12th Card

Cards may count in more than one group. Consider the following example:

Defender's Cards:
2nd Card 3rd Card 6th Card 7th Card 10th Card 11th Card
Director's Cards:
1st Card 4th Card 5th Card 8th Card 9th Card 12th Card

The pair of fives on the left count for two points as a pair. The left and middle eights count as a pair for two points, and the middle and right eights also count as a pair for two points, totalling four points between the three cards.

More dramatically, the 2, 3, 4, and upper-left 5 count four points for a run; and then the 2, 3, 4, and lower-right 5 count another four points for a run. But the 2, 3, and 4 cannot be connected to the lower-left 5, so that cannot be counted as a run. And neither run of 2, 3, 4, and 5 can be connected to the 6.

This particular arrangement of cards would score a total of 14 points, six for the three pairs and eight for the two runs.

After scoring is complete, the defender becomes the director for the new hand, and vice versa. The game is over after each player has been the director in four hands. The winner is the player with the highest score after these hands. In the case of a tie, two more hands are played -- one with each player as the director -- as a tiebreaker.

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