— Some History —
I was introduced to kreights in 1972 by bridge-player Steve Scott. The origin of this card game seems nearly as obscure as the beginnings of bridge. My best information, obtained with the assistance of early player Jerry Premo, suggests a startup in Chicago in the late 1960's (more detail on that is available on other game sites; look for "Crates" or "Creights"). I and my late wife, Pam, took it upon ourselves to serve as the "Johnny Appleseeds" of kreights, spreading the word up and down the West Coast.
By the mid-70s, the popularity of kreights was such that, at one Sacramento
Regional, four or five tables of kreights players could be observed in action between
sessions. The improved spelling of the name, barometer scoring, and the
penalty card feature, were instituted by Yours Truly. A group of converts
from San Diego, principally Paul Flashenberg and Jim Backstrom, added color to
the game, coming up with some catchy new jargon, a new dealing format, and
suggested improvements to the scoring. Many included features will not
be found in the
East-Coast versions of "Crates".
It is reputed that the original "first rule" of kreights required that a person be stoned before being allowed to play; however, in the interests of mass audience appeal, that stipulation has been suspended.
The game format is based upon Crazy Eights (hence its name?), with additional features unique to card games. The popular game Uno, published subsequently, is little more than a clone of kreights with pretty pictures, except that they left out the best part! Anyone can (and does) win at kreights. And it's much more fun than those other games.
— The Rules —
PLAYERS: Three or four may play.
Four-handed is the more social game; three-handed is the
so-called "expert" game; but it is more confusing to beginners
(and kibitzers, too!).
THE PACK: One regular 52-card deck. A fifth player can be accommodated using two decks; however, that format tends to be tedious and slow, and it is not recommended.
THE DEAL: Draw for deal; low (ace low) deals. Clubs are low, then diamonds, hearts, spades. The cards are dealt one at a time in clockwise rotation, starting at dealer's left. The pack is placed face down in the center of the table. Deal passes in clockwise rotation. A cut is optional but may be requested by any player.
OBJECT OF THE GAME: To go out — that is, to be the first to get rid of all the cards in one's hand. Cards remaining in the other players' hands count as penalty points against them (see chart). Lowest score wins the game.
GAME: Consists of 15 deals, starting with
8 cards each, one less card on each successive hand down to a
"1-deal", then back up to 8 cards, ending the game.
Many serious players prefer to start and finish with 7 cards, and each player
gets a 1-deal; this format is a faster, and arguably more equitable, setup.
CARD FUNCTIONS: Each denomination has a unique strategic function, excepting the face cards, which are grouped together and have no special powers. The card's value is the number of points added to score when caught holding that card at the end:
|A||follow to a 2-sequence; follow suit||1|
|2||initiate or follow to a 2-sequence||20|
|3||cancel value of another card (except 8) at end of hand||3*|
|4||skip the next player's turn||20|
|5||other players each draw a card||30|
|6||play again — another legal card||30|
|7||next after next player draws a card||15|
|8||wild card — name any suit||50|
|9||wild card — name a suit the same color as the pile||40|
|10||reverse the rotation of play||25|
|K Q J||follow suit||10|
* When caught at the end with some number of threes only, points are deducted from score:
|one = −50||two = −75||three = −100||four = −200|
Some examples of scoring:
|10 - 7 - 6 - 2||25 + 15 + 30 +20 = 90 pts|
|K - 9 - 3||the 3 cancels the 9: 10 + 3 = 13 pts|
|8 - 5 - 3||cannot cancel an eight, so cancel the 5: 50 + 3 = 53 pts|
|A - 3 - 3||a 3 cannot cancel itself, but it can cancel another 3: 1 pt|
|3 - 3||two threes = −75 pts|
THE PLAY: Dealer plays first by facing the
top card of the pack as a starter for the discard pile. This card retains
its standard function (see chart); if starter is a deuce, a
2-sequence begins; if a five or seven, dealer
hands out the penalty card(s) forthwith; if a six, dealer plays again;
if a wild card, dealer names a suit corresponding to the color of a
nine, or any suit for an eight. Play begins in clockwise
rotation unless starter is a ten. Each player in turn makes any
legal play to the discard pile.
A legal play is a card of the same suit or denomination as the last
card played, or any wild card (except during a
If a player has no legal play, he draws one card from the pack, ending his turn.
No player may draw if a legal play is available; failure to make a legal play
constitutes a revoke, the penalty for which is 1,000M
points added to score.
2-SEQUENCE: Whenever a deuce is first played,
2-sequence is initiated. Each player in turn must contribute
either an ace or another deuce (no wild cards) until someone cannot
play. That unfortunate draws a number of cards equal to the total accumulated
spots (ace=1, deuce=2), ending the player's turn. Play then reverts to
normal; the next player in turn may play any card in his hand.
2-sequence comes around to a player who has forgotten to call
"one card" (see below), he must follow to the 2-sequence
or draw, postponing the one-card penalty until his next turn.
The 2-sequence always continues to completion even if a player goes
out when following to the sequence; it takes precedence over everything.
ONE-CARD RULE: Whenever a player is about to play her penultimate (next to last) card, she must make the announcement "one card" (the designation "last card" is tolerated) before the played card touches the pile or playing surface. When a player forgets (penalty), she loses her next turn and draws two cards at that time. If another player goes out first, the penalty cards are drawn at the end.
SHUFFLE PRESSURE: Whenever a player must
draw and insufficient cards remain in the pack to complete that draw, a
5-point penalty is assessed; the player then shuffles the discard pile,
excepting the last card played, which remains to continue the discard pile.
The shuffled cards replenish the pack; the player completes the draw, ending his
COOPER COUP: When someone plays a six, then has no other legal play, the player draws a card and calls "cooper coup" (allegedly, Cooper did it first) as the other players jeer. Obviously, one cannot go out by playing a six (one not only gets to play again, but is required to do so).
STARS: The player who goes out is awarded a star on the deal; a player who is caught with only 3's at the end is awarded two stars. Stars are ego trips, and are used to break ties.
HA HA NO STAR: When someone plays her last
card during a
2-sequence, but the sequence gets back to the player
who went out, the penalty cards are drawn. Play is over, but no star
is awarded on the deal.
CLEAN: If someone goes out during a
2-sequence and another player subsequently plays her last card
during the sequence, that player is considered "clean".
Her score is zero on the deal, but the first player to go out
is awarded the star.
PENALTY CARDS: When someone plays out of turn or plays an illegal card, that card remains face up on the table and must be played at the first legal opportunity. If a player has more than one penalty card that may legally be played at a turn, the player who has just previously played chooses which penalty card is to be played. Note: cards accidentally exposed are not treated as penalty cards. A card exposed by the dealer or during a draw is not subject to penalty, and is not replaced to the pack.
BAROMETER SCORING: This is an optional feature wherein the scoring is done with colored pens. Each player is assigned a color and, after each deal, the scores are entered in the color of the current leader.
— Notes —
GETTING STARTED: The play itself is somewhat confusing for beginners, but it usually takes only one game or so to get the hang of it. That's the price paid for being able to play with an ordinary deck of cards. It is convenient to have a copy of the Card Function Chart handy for newcomers, but it also can slow down the game. It is recommended that one provide a chart of the score values only; this forces a novice to learn the cards' functions, rather than consult a cheat-sheet at every turn. When one has played kreights long enough, one will appreciate that there are certain elements of skill involved! The best players will not win any particular session, but they will win more games overall.
It is common to allow a single "Mulligan" to a new player who invariably forgets to call "one card". Thereafter, the penalty should be applied. Similarly, the penalties for misplays also may be suspended in a newcomer game.
Unlike at the bridge table, gloating is perfectly acceptable behavior, and no player should take offense. After all, it's just a game, and it is supposed to be fun.
ABOUT WILD CARDS: Remember that wild cards
have no real suit of their own. When an eight is played,
any suit is named; the player always must specify one, including
a choice to retain the current suit. Similarly, when a nine is
played, the player has two choices, and must specify one. When a
nine is played upon another wild card, the choice is limited to
the color of the suit specified for the previous wild card.
Example: if the eight of clubs is showing, the suit is not necessarily clubs,
but whatever suit was selected by the person who played the eight. A nine's
suit is relevant only when turned up as the starter, whereupon dealer selects a suit
corresponding to the nine's actual color
(red = hearts or diamonds, etc.).
Remember also that a wild card cannot be played during a
STRATEGY: Each player will develop his own preferences, such as hoarding threes, or saving up a number of aces and deuces; others will more aggressively apply maximum pressure at every opportunity.
LEXICON: Besides the aforementioned "One Card", "Shuffle Pressure", "Cooper Coup", and "Ha Ha No Star", there are some other popular phrases, many spawned by the the San Diego contingent:
"She's a Dink!", when making a play that forces a player to draw.
"Whipsaw!" when someone plays a ten, forcing a draw, then the next person plays another ten, forcing another draw by the same player.
The 2-sequence Chant: When a person plays a deuce to intiate a
2-sequence, he slowly chants, "Two...Two...Two..."
When another card is contributed, the chant changes to "Three...Three..."
or "Four...Four...Four...", etc.
Make up your own jargon! It's fun!
PENALTIES: Obviously, kreights can be played without the penalty card regulations. They were instituted in order to discourage carelessness and inattentiveness. The fastest, most orderly games are the most enjoyable to play. Of course, a group may adopt any level of strictness that it so chooses.
The revoke rule is a different matter; it must be rigorously enforced. Short of peeking at the pack, the only way to cheat at kreights is to illegally hoard strategic cards, such as aces and deuces for insurance, or threes for their potential scoring value. Revokes are not to be tolerated, because they ruin the game.
Whether a player has committed a "one-card" infraction is determined by the other players. It usually will be obvious whether an announcement was an afterthought (unacceptable), or merely slow in arriving (okay). In general, if the player has released her card, then it is too late to begin the announcement.
FASTEST GAME: A 3-hander was played in 9 minutes in Reno, Nevada, by Jerry Premo, and Pam and Ted Muller.
GOOD SCORES: The lowest known score, 31,
was recorded in a
3-handed game in Carson City, Nevada. In a
4-player session, a score under 300 points usually wins; under 200 is
excellent. For a 3-hander, a score under 200 might be needed
to finish in first place.
OTHER RECORDS: The maximum possible 2-sequence (12) has been recorded only once. There is no known instance of anyone going out holding all four threes.