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Switch is a card game I invented many years ago. I tried it out at a party with a group of six, and everyone liked it and caught on to it quickly. It's a perfect game for groups of four to nine players, and it's strictly a fun game, not a gambling game.
I. The Deck
A standard 54-card deck is used (including the two Jokers). Depending on how many players there are, it is permitted -- but not required -- to add one or two Jokers from an identical deck so that everyone gets the same number of cards. However, it is okay to play with some players short-handed since the deal changes after each hand (clockwise around the table).
II. Object of the Game
The object of the game is to score points by knocking out the player after you by leading him a card he cannot follow; also by playing certain cards after those that are led to you. There are no teams. Each player plays for himself. The first player who scores 50 points wins.
III. How to Play
Designate the most reliable person to keep score throughout the game.
The dealer shuffles the deck and deals all the cards face-down clockwise around the table, dealing himself last. Organize your hand by suits and by rank within each suit as a convenience.
The first player to the left of the dealer leads any card, placing it face-up in the center of the table. (All cards will be played onto this "pile".) The next player must follow either the suit or the face value of that card. Play continues with each player following either the suit or the face value of the previous card. If you follow the suit, you are "in suit"; if you follow the face, you are "switching" (that is, switching suits). This "sequence" continues until a player is unable to follow either the suit or the face and cannot save himself with a Joker, which is played to stop the sequence. He is "knocked out." The number of cards he is left holding is scored for the player who knocked him out. After a sequence is stopped by a knock-out or a Joker, the next player begins a new sequence by playing any card he wishes. The hand is played out until only one player is left. You will play as many hands as necessary for someone to reach 50 points.
IV. One-overs and One-unders
If a player plays one over the face value of the card that has been played to him, he scores one point. However, if he plays one under the face value, he loses a point. (Important: you cannot score one-over or one-under after a sequence stop, regardless of what the last card on the pile is.)
V. Aces and Deuces
If an Ace is played in suit or to begin a sequence, it scores one point. However, no point is scored if it is used to switch.
If a Deuce is played in suit or to begin a sequence, it scores minus one point. However, no point is lost if it is used to switch.
If an Ace is played after the King, it scores two points -- one for the Ace in suit, and one for one-over.
If a Deuce is played after the 3, it scores minus two points -- one for the Deuce in suit, and one for one-under.
It is possible to have a negative score, and this may happen early in the game. It is also possible for a player to score more than one way with the same card, including a knock-out.
The Joker stops the sequence. Although it can be played at any time, you would normally use it to avoid being knocked out. The Joker is not scored in any way. After a Joker has stopped the sequence, the next player begins a new sequence by playing any card he wishes.
VII. Last Player/Last Card
The last player can only play ONE card, and he only plays it if the previous card requires a reply. The last player does NOT play after a SEQUENCE STOP. The hand is over, and any cards he has left are stranded.
VII. The Winner
The game is over as soon as one player has 50 points, even if it is in the middle of a hand.
IX. House Rules
X. Strategy and Tips
You want to stay in the hand as long as possible, so favor your long suits and protect your short suits.
Pay attention to what suits other players appear to be favoring or avoiding.
It is possible to bluff by leading a sequence with a suit that is not your best or deliberately taking a minus point.
Your strongest cards are those of your longest suit and those of which you have several of the same face value since they may be more difficult for the next player to follow. (If you have half the , the next player will run out before you do. If you hold three of the Queens, the next player probably can't switch on the Queen you feed him.)
Try to avoid giving the next player one-over opportunities. For example, if you have the 6 and 7 of , play the 6 first. You know the next player can't play one over. Once someone has played the 8 of , you know they can't score on your 7.
Don't sit on your Aces too long in the hope of scoring 2 on a King. Especially do not sit on an Ace in a long suit, as that suit will not go around the table very long.
I hope you'll try Switch with your friends. Why not have an "all-nighter" in your college dorm and send us a photo!
If there are any questions about rules, e-mail us for a clarification.
Let's run through a complete hand of Switch so you get the idea.
We have six players with a 54-card deck. Here's what they're holding:
John: A (scores 1 for leading the Ace)
Andy: 3 (wants to get into his long suit!)
Nancy: Joker (stops the sequence. Now everyone assumes Nancy is out of clubs. Next player is free to play any card.)
Jane: A (scores 1)
Andy: K (scores 1 for the one-over)
Claire: J (a stronger card than the 8 because Claire has the J and knows John cannot switch back into diamonds, which he may be favoring)
John: J (better to switch because he is long in hearts and may dupe Claire into thinking he has no spades)
Nancy: Q (scores 1 for one-over)
Jane: A (scores 1 for playing the Ace in suit)
Claire: K (doesn't want to give up her last heart!)
John: Knocked out. (with six cards left. Claire scores 6.)
Nancy: 3 (can lead anything in the new sequence and wants to use her longest suit)
Jane: 3 (Nancy's cue to keep hitting Jane with hearts)
Andy: Knocked out. (stranding his A , too bad! Bob scores 6.)
Claire: J (knock-out is a sequence stop, so Claire is free to play any card.)
Jane: 2 (scores minus 1 for the Deuce in suit. The Q would also have scored minus 1 for a one-under, but better to play the Deuce now and play the Q safely later)
Bob: 2 (dumping the Deuce on a switch with no point lost)
Claire: 2 (same thing)
Bob: Knocked out. (Jane scores 4)
Claire: 8 (does not score minus 1 because the sequence stopped when Bob got knocked out; hence, not a one-under.)
Jane: Knocked out. (Nancy scores 3)
Claire: 7 (doesn't want to lead the heart since Nancy has favored hearts)
Nancy: Joker (Saved again! Sequence is stopped. Next player plays anything.)
Claire: 10 (last card)
End of hand.
Endings Explained Further
In our example, Nancy played a card that Claire was required to follow, which she did. To make sure you understand endings, here are the variations:
* If Nancy is knocked out, leaving Claire as the last player, the game is over. Claire's remaining cards are stranded. (The last player never begins a new sequence.)
* If Nancy plays a Joker as her last card, the game is over. Claire's remaining one or two cards are stranded.
* If Claire has two cards when Nancy plays her last card (other than a Joker), she must play one if it is legal, and the others are stranded.
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