Original card games by David Parlett  


Settle your score with a bloodthirsty count

Players 2 (also 3, 4)   Cards 54   Type Arithmetical game
Parachute down
  This arithmetical game for two (but with versions for three and four) can conveniently be played for a small stake. Preferably through the heart.  
Use a 54-card pack including two Vampires. (If there aren't any vampires in your pack, use Jokers instead.)
Decide who deals first by each cutting a card from the pack. First dealer is the player who draws a red suit if both are of different colours, or the higher-ranking heart if both are red. If both are black, cut again, or play something else. Before dealing, the first dealer announces whether he or she will score the Queen's way (horizontally) or the King's way (vertically). The other player then has no option but to score in the opposite direction or refuse to play such a stupid game.
The deal alternates and there are six deals to a game. Deal four cards each, face down, turn the next one face on the table, and stack the rest face down. The faced card defines the centre of an eventual square of nine cards in three rows and three columns (as at Noughts & Crosses or Tic-tac-toe) which the players gradually build up on the table. This layout is called the coffin, and the initially faced card is the first nail in the coffin.
To make the highest-scoring line of three cards in your scoring direction. For this purpose numerals count at face value from Ace = 1 to Ten = 10. Face-cards count either 0 or 10 as explained below. The Queen-player scores only in the horizontal direction and the King-player only in the vertical direction.
Each in turn, starting with the non-dealer, plays a card face up to the table in any of the other eight positions that may be vacant, provided that it goes side by side to a card already in position (not just corner to corner). Keep going till all are full.
You each score the total value of the highest-scoring line of cards in your own direction - across for one of you, down for the other. If both your highest-scoring lines are equal, you each score your second-highest line - or, if still equal, your third highest (even if equal). The score for any line of three is found by counting each numeral card at face value and face cards as follows:
  1. A Jack counts 0 in either direction.
    A Queen counts 10 horizontally but 0 vertically.
    A King counts 10 vertically but 0 horizontally.
  2. The total face value of any line is -
    doubled if it contains two cards of the same suit,
    trebled if it contains three of the same colour, or
    quintupled if it contains three of the same suit.
    (The suit of a King, Queen or Jack that counts zero still remains valid for doubling, trebling or quintupling the score of the line in which it appears.)
  3. A Vampire drains all the score out of the row and column in which it appears, resulting in a whole line counting zero in both directions.
In the following illustration the Queen-player scores 38 for her best horizontal line and the King player 30 for his best vertical line.
club 2 spade K diamond 6 =  8
club K heart 9 heart Q = 38
heart J diamond 3 diamond 4 = 21
= 24 = 22 = 30  
Subsequent deals
The next dealer clears the coffin away, takes up the stock of unused cards, and deals four cards each face down and one face up as the first nail in the second coffin. Play and score as before.
At the end of six deals you each take note of your final total score. Whoever has the highest overall score adds a bonus equivalent to the difference between the two. For example, if Dracula finishes with 245 and Vampyra with 272, then Vampyra's game score is raised to 299. If equal, the bonus is equivalent to, and goes to, whichever of you made the highest-scoring individual line in the course of the game. If you want more than one game to a session, play up 1000 points.

QUADRACULA (Dracula for four)

  Deal four hands of 13 cards each, and add a Vampire to the hand of the dealer's left-hand opponent and dealer's partner. Dealer's left-hand opponent puts the first nail in the coffin, and the play and the turn to go first pass to the left. Play and score as in the two-player game.  

THRACULA (Dracula for three)

  • There are six deals to a game and the deal rotates to the left.
  • From the usual 54-card pack deal three cards each, face down, and nine face down to the table to form the first coffin.
  • Each player aims to make the highest-scoring line of three cards in either of two directions. The dealer scores only for the centre row or centre column (whichever scores higher). Each other opponent scores only for whichever is higher of the bottom row or the right-hand column of the coffin as they look at it. Thus, in the diagram below, North scores only for the horizontal or vertical line of cards in the spaces coloured green, Dealer only for either of those coloured red, and South only for either of those coloured blue.
Layout for Thracula
  • Each in turn, starting with the player at dealer's left, takes any face-down card from the table, adds it to their hand, and fills the space with any card face up from their hand. Keep going till there are nine cards face up.
  • Each player scores the value of their personal row or their personal column, whichever is higher. Scoring is the same as described above, except that a Vampire does not completely nullify the value of the row and column in which it appears. Instead, it counts zero in itself but doubles the score of the other two cards in the same row or column. (So if they are of the same suit, their total is multiplied by four, otherwise only by two.)
  • When a coffin has been filled, the player to the previous dealer's left clears it away and from the stock of unused cards deals nine face down as the next coffin. Play and score as before.
  • At the end of the fifth round of play no cards will remain in stock to mark out a new coffin. Instead, the discards are shuffled together, or even just cut, and the top nine cards of the new stock are dealt face down for the sixth and last round of play.
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