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UMTALI CARD GAME

RULES

"Beginning Umtali" - Online Book! Free Download
PDF download (109 kb)


PLAYERS: Two.

CARDS: A regular deck of 52 cards. Aces rank low.

THE DEAL: A dealer is agreed upon before the start of play. Thereafter, the deal passes to the winner of each hand. In the event the hand is a draw, the same player deals again.

Cards are dealt alternately. Initially, one player receives 10-cards and the other player receives 11-cards. The player receiving the extra card is at the discretion of the dealer. The remainder of the deck is placed, face down, in the center of the playing surface to form the stock.

The player receiving the extra card plays first. After playing his playable cards (see MELD below) he will begin the discard pile by placing one of his remaining cards, face up, next to the stock. This is the only time a player is not required to draw a card.

THE PLAY: The object of play is to dispose of all the cards in your hand by transferring them onto the playing surface in front of you. The playing surface is divided horizontally between the two players, with the stock and discard pile serving as the center marker, and each player shall play his cards on his respective portion. (This ensures that cards are not co-mingled between the two players as it is essential that the cards remain separate for scoring purposes.)

In turn, each player must adhere to the following order:

    (1) DRAW. Player must begin by drawing one card from either the top of the stock or from the top of the discard pile. When drawing from the discard pile the player may take the top two cards if both of them can be played immediately. (Note: If two cards are drawn in this manner, neither card may be used as a discard for that turn.)

    (2) MELD. Player must then begin transferring any playable cards from his hand, face up, onto the playing surface in front of him. This process shall continue until the player has no cards remaining in his hand which can be legitimately played. Cards are considered playable if they meet any of the criteria listed in (a) through (f) below:

      (a) SEQUENCES. Three or more cards of the same suit, in consecutive order, as in 3-2-A of Clubs.

      (b) GROUPS. Three or four cards of the same rank, as in 9-9-9.

      (c) MARRIAGES. King and Queen of the same suit.

      Should you have cards which can be played in more than one of the above combinations you are free to choose the method of play.

      Each sequence, group, and marriage is overlapped in separate vertical columns on the playing surface. When cards of different ranks are involved, as in 10-9-8 of Diamonds or K-Q of Hearts, the highest card is at the top of the column with the others descending in rank to the lowest.

      (d) JACKS. Jacks are always playable, regardless of quantity or circumstances, and must be played as solo cards. As such, Jacks can never be part of an overlapped group or sequence. For example, if you had a group or sequence involving Jacks (i.e. J-J-J or J-10-9 of Spades) then all of the cards involved would be played individually. (See SOLO CARDS below.)

      (e) SOLO CARDS. Cards that must be played individually and not overlapped. Solo cards, also known as Proper Additions, are any cards from your hand which form a continuation or extension to a sequence, group, or solo card already on the playing surface.

      For example,

      • To an overlapped group of three, or a pair (see PAIRS), you can add solo cards of the same rank. (i.e. Another 9 would be a proper addition to a pair of 9�s or the 9-9-9 group.)

      • You can add solo cards that are consecutive in the same suit to either end of an overlapped sequence. (i.e. Both the 6-Clubs and the 2-Clubs would be considered proper additions to the 5-4-3 of Clubs sequence.)

      • To a solo card you can add (as a solo card) any card of the same rank, or the next higher or lower card in the same suit. (i.e. To a solo 8-Hearts you can play any or all of the following: 9-Hearts, 7-Hearts, other 8�s.)

        Solo cards may be played off the opponents cards as well as your own. When playing off your opponents cards merely inform your opponent as to the nature of the play. For example, point out that you are playing the 3-Diamonds off his 6-5-4 of Diamonds sequence. (Note: You would still play the 3-Diamonds on your side of the table for scoring purposes.) With each solo card you play, new opportunities to play additional cards may become available.

      The Rule: If a player is able to play on one turn a set of cards forming a valid sequence, group or marriage, they must be played as overlapped cards--they cannot be played as solo cards even if, individually, they would be valid proper additions. (Jacks are the exception. See JACKS above.)

      (f) PAIRS. Two cards of the same rank, as in 9-9. Pairs may only be played when going out (see GOING OUT).

    (3) DISCARD: Player must end turn by placing one card from his hand, face up, on the discard pile.

      Exception 1: A player�s final discard, after playing all of his remaining cards, may be made face down thus forcing the opponent to draw from the stock for his last turn. (See END OF HAND below.)

      Exception 2: A player is not required to discard if he has played all his cards and has no cards remaining.

GOING OUT: When a player has disposed of all his cards he thereby �goes out�. It is also possible to go out by discarding, if necessary, and going out with a pair (see PAIRS). (In this latter instance, the pair is overlapped, face up, and the opponent is allowed to play off of it using solo cards of the same rank.)

END OF HAND: After the first player has gone out, the second player receives one additional turn in which to go out. If he is successful then both players calculate their scores. However, if he is unsuccessful, then any cards which remain unplayed from his hand are forfeited to the winner for inclusion in his score. (The option of going out with a pair applies to the second player as well. However, if he fails to go out he must forfeit all of his unplayed cards to the winner without being able to discard.)

SCORING: Both players shall receive points for all cards which they played during the course of the hand. Points are awarded on a per card basis in accordance with the following table:

Card Point Value
King 5
Queen 5
Jack 5
10 5
Other 1

MARRIAGES SCORE DOUBLE

END OF GAME: Four hands comprise a game. The player with the highest cumulative score at the end of the fourth hand is the winner of the game.

END OF SESSION: Three games comprise a Session. A player winning two of the three games is the winner of the Session.

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History of Umtali Game

Questions about the rules?
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(Please include the word "umtali" in the Subject line. Thanks.)

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