the obvious ancestor of Cribbage and its more elaborate relative
Costly Colours. The earliest reference
to it in the Oxford English Dictionary dates from 1589, though the basic term
noddy, meaning a fool or simpleton, is nicely illustrated in the line
"O beastly nody without brayne" (1550). In the gaming sense, Noddy is the name
given to the Knave of the suit turned up at the start of play.
Throughout the history of card games people have always tended to attach a
personal name to the Knave of the best or trump suit. It was called
Karnöffel in the 15th century game of that name, Pam (short for
Pamphilus) in the 18th century game of Loo,
and, most effectively of all - since it came to oust Knave itself - "Jack" in
the 17th-century game of All Fours.
Here are some more historic and literary references:
Let not me take you at noddy anie more, least I present you to the
parish for a gamster.
Thomas Nashe (attrib), An Almond for a Parrat
She'll sit up till you come, because she'll have you play a game at noddy.
Middleton Blurt, Master-Constable
By plaieing to much at primeroe and noddy he lost / Time and his monie
J. Day, Peregrinatio Scholastica (1610)
Noddie turn'd up, all made, yet lose the tricke.
Vadianus' Panegyric Verses in Coryat
You want four, and I two, and my deal: Now, knave noddy-no, hearts be
Samuel Foote, The Author (1757)
We have also... a game called noddy, the same, I believe, which we
call niddy-noddy; another name of which is the Lord Mayor of Coventry.
Edward Moor: Suffolk Words and Phrases.
A sketchy description of the game by
Randle Holme is interesting
for some otherwise unrecorded scoring features and terminology. The whole thing
reads as follows. (Note: The long S's will come out as question marks if your
browser doesn't support UTF-8)
2 or 4 may play at it, 61 being up. Each perſon hath 3 cards and one
turned up to which he makes as many caſts as he can. They are thus
merkett, Flat back or King of Spads is ſix, Countenance or Queen of
Hearts, four, Knave of the trump, 2, Knave of Hearts 5, a pair 4, pair
Riall 12, a pair Taunt 24. Every 15 as you can make is 2, and every 25 is
2. In playing down the cards you have the ſame advantage of 15, 25,
paires &c. and the next to 31 hath 1 caſt, if he make 31, there
is 2 caſts.
(Merkett = marked, scored, pegged. Pur Taunte, also recorded
as purtaunte, is a double pair royal (four of a kind).) In a section
on terminology, Holme records "Roger" as a name assigned to the Knave of Hearts.
Amongst other things, it was a generic name for a beggar posing as an
impoverished university student.
HOW TO PLAY NODDY Based chiefly on
Book of Plaies (c.1665)
Noddy is played by two with a 52-card pack running A2345678910JQK in
each suit. Cards count Ace 1, Two 2, and so on up to Ten 10, courts 10 each.
Ace is always low both in cutting for deal and in play. It always counts 1,
never 11, and whereas A23... is a valid run or sequence, AKQ... never is.
A game is played up to 31 points over as many deals as it takes, and scores
are recorded by pegging on a 31-hole Noddy board. (But they can easily be
scored on a Cribbage board or writing.)
Whoever cuts the lower card deals first and each then deals in turn.
Deal three cards each in ones. Stack the rest face down and turn the top
card for "trump" (so called). If it is a Jack, non-dealer pegs 2 for
To peg points for making combinations both in the hand and in the play
up to 31. The scoring features are as follows:
Jack of the trump suit: 1 (or 2
to non-dealer if turned up)
Fifteen (two or more cards totalling 15): 2
Twenty-five (three or more cards totalling 25): 1
per constituent card.
Thirty-one, or 'Hitter' (four or more cards totalling 31):
1 per constituent card.
Pair (two cards of the same rank): 2
Pair royal, or prial (three of the same rank): 6
Double pair royal (all four of a rank): 12
Run of three: 2
Run of four: 4
Run of 5 or more: 1 per constituent card.
Three or more cards of the same suit: 1 per
Each in turn, starting with non-dealer, announces (but does not show)
what scoring features they hold in the cards dealt, including the turn-up
as if it were the fourth card of their hand, and peg the appropriate amount
as they go along. As in Cribbage, any individual card can be counted more
than once provided that it forms part of a distinct combination each time.
(For example, 9-10-10-J counts as a pair of Tens and as two runs of three
for a total of pegging of 6 holes.)
Non-dealer plays a card to the table and announces its
face value. Each in turn thereafter plays another card and announces the
combined total of all cards so far played. Whenever you play a card that
creates a scoring feature in conjunction with the immediately preceding
card or cards, you peg the appropriate score.
The running total may not exceed 31. If you can't play without busting,
you announce this fact (perhaps by saying 'Go', as in Crib), and your
opponent may then keep playing and pegging as far as they can go without
busting. For playing the last card of the series you peg 1 for the Go, or
2 for the "Hitter" (= the card that makes it 31 exactly). Any cards left
unplayed in either player's hand are irrelevant, since (as in five-card
Crib) there is no second round of play up to 31.
Example of play.
Bertha deals -
to herself, and turns up
Arthur calls "Fifteen 2 and a run of four for 6".
Bertha calls "Fifteen 2, fifteen 4, twenty-five 7, and a pair's 9".
Arthur plays Four making 4, Bertha plays Nine making 13;
Arthur plays Six making 19, Bertha plays Six making 25 and pegging 6
(2 for the pair, 4 for the twenty-five);
Arthur plays Five making 30 and pegs 1 for last.
Score: On this deal Arthur has pegged 7 to Bertha's 15.