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Fun Games To Make Airport Waiting More Bearable!

Dice Game
Square 9 (also called Nine Card Golf)

Dice Game

Everyone starts with 3 units of the same denomination (we use 3 dollars, but you could use anything from pennies to twenties).  The first person rolls one die for each dollar they have.  Each die is used independently.  A one, two or three is considered “safe” and you keep the dollar.  A four means that the dollar is passed to the person on your left.  A five means that the dollar is passed to the person on your right.  If a six is rolled, the dollar is placed in the pot in the center.  The game continues until all units except one have made their way to the pot.  The person with the last remaining unit gets the pot.  This is best played with 6 or more people for an exciting game that lasts 15-20 minutes.  The fun part about the game is that once you are out of units, you are not eliminated from the game.  There is still a chance that a unit might get passed to you!


Each player begins the game with 3 pennies (or chips). Deal out 3 cards to each player from a standard 52 card deck (if more than 4 people are playing use 2 decks and give each player just 3 pennies). The undealt cards are placed on the table to form a face-down stock.

The player to the left of the dealer starts and the turn initially passes clockwise. On each turn you play one of your three cards face-up to the centre of the table, call out the total value of the face-up pile (as per the table below), then draw the top card from the stock. When the face-up pile is empty the count is zero. For each card played add the pip value of the card played to the total value of the pile. Jacks and queens count as 10. The following cards cause special effects:


If you cannot play without taking the value of the pile over 99, you lay down your hand. The play ends, and you toss one penny into the center; players who have no pennies left drop out of the game. After each hand, the deal passes to next player to the left of the previous dealer who is still in. Hands continue till only one player has any pennies left, and that player is the winner.


When someone plays a nine or a four they repeat the value of the pile, calling out "hold #" or "reverse #" (where # = the value of the pile) respectively. For example here is part of a four-player game; play is currently running clockwise. Player 1 plays a King and says "99". Player 2 plays a nine and says (looking at player 3) "hold 99". Player 3 plays a four and says (looking at player 2, since play order will now run counterclockwise until another four is played) "reverse 99". Player 2 plays a ten and says "89". Player 1 plays a eight and says "97". Player 4 plays a four, looks at player 1 and says "reverse 97" (now we're back to clockwise), and so on.


This game should be played very rapidly. It is easy to forget to draw a replacement after you play a card. If that happens it cannot be corrected afterwards - you must get by with just two cards for the rest of the hand.



From 2 to 9 or more people can play. Eric Kent suggests that the game is perhaps best when played with 3 players, but it should also work well with a larger group.


Cards and their value

A standard 52 card deck is used. For scoring hands, the ace is worth 11 points, the kings, queens, and jacks are worth 10, and all other cards are worth their pip value.

The value of a three card hand is calculated by adding up the value of the cards held in any one suit. So if you have three cards of the same suit, you can add up all three. If only two cards are in the same suit you can add those, or use the value of the odd card if it is higher than the sum of the other two. If you have three different suits the value of your hand is the value of the highest card in it. The maximum hand value is 31, consisting of the ace and two ten-point cards in the same suit.



heartK-heart8-heart5: value 23 (sum of all 3 cards)
spadeQ-diamond9-diamond8: value 17 (9 + 8)
clubA-spade6-spade4: value 11 (the ace is worth more than the spades)
clubJ-heart7-spade4: value 10 (the jack) 


Determine the first dealer in any manner you desire. The deal rotates clockwise with each hand. The cards are shuffled and the dealer deals the cards singly, starting with the player to dealer's left and continuing clockwise until everyone has a hand of three cards. The next card is turned face up on the table to start the discard pile, and the remaining undealt cards are placed face down next to it to form the stock. During play, the discard pile is always kept "squared up" so that only the top card is visible and available to be taken.



The player to dealer's left begins and the turn passes clockwise around the table. A normal turn consists of drawing the top card either from the stock or from the discard pile and discarding one card on top of the discard pile.


Note that if you choose to take the top card from the discard pile, it is illegal to discard the same card, leaving the position unchanged. You must keep the card you took and discard one of the cards that was previously in your hand. However, if you draw the top card of the stock, you are free to discard the card that you drew onto the discard pile, leaving your hand unchanged.


If at the start of your turn, you believe that your hand value is at least as high as your opponents can achieve with one more turn, you can knock instead of drawing a card. Knocking ends your turn; you must keep the hand you had at the start of that turn, but each other player gets one final turn to draw and discard. After the player to the knocker's right has discarded, all players reveal their cards. Each player decides which suit is their point suit, and totals up their cards in that suit.

The player with the lowest hand value loses a life. If there is a tie involving the knocker, the other player(s) lose a life, but the knocker is safe. The knocker loses if his or her score is lower than that of every other player, and in that case the knocker loses two lives. If there is a tie for lowest between two or more players other than the knocker, then both (all) of those players lose a life.

There is just one case where it is possible to pick up your own discard. This happens when there are only two players left in the game and your opponent knocks. The card you discarded just before the knock is still on top of the pile, so it is now available for you to take back if you want it - for example if you had just broken up a suit for tactical reasons you can now restore it.


Declaring 31

If after drawing and discarding, or with the cards originally dealt, a player achieves hand value of 31, they show their cards immediately and claim victory. In this case all the other players lose. A player who gets 31 can declare it even after another player has knocked; victory is immediate and all the other players lose. If it happens that two or more players get 31 on the initial deal then all the players other than those with 31 lose.



The normal way of scoring is that each player begins the game with three pennies. When you lose a life, you have to put one of your pennies into the kitty in the centre of the table. If you knock and lose, having the sole lowest hand, you pay two pennies (if you have that many).

If someone declares 31, all the other players have to put a penny in the kitty. If someone declares 31 after another player has knocked, the knocker just pays one penny, like everyone else.

If you have no money left, having lost all three of your pennies, you are said to be "on the county" (meaning on the dole, on welfare, receiving charity from the county, etc.), or "on your face". If you lose while on the county, you are out of the game. The game continues until only one player has not been eliminated, and that player is the winner.




The game works best with from 2 to 4 players. A regular 52 card deck is used. Each numeral card (ace-ten) is counted as its numerical value (ace = 1, two = 2, etc). The goal is to capture cards from the table, by playing a card from hand which matches in number a table card or the sum of several table cards. Captured cards are accumulated in a pile to be counted at the end of the round.


The Deal

The dealer deals four cards to each player and four cards face up in the center (all visible). After everyone has played their four cards, another hand of four cards is dealt to each player from the remaining cards, but no more cards are dealt to the table after the first deal. After these cards have been played there is another deal, and this continues until all 52 cards have been dealt (this takes 6 deals for 2 players, 4 deals for three players, 3 deals for 4 players). The dealer must announce "cards" when dealing the last cards. After the last cards have been played and the hand scored, the deal passes to the left for the next round.


The Play

Starting with the player to the left of the dealer and continuing clockwise, each player in turn must play one card from his hand face up on the table. This card may or may not capture one or more cards from the table.


Regardless of whether a capture was made or not, the turn passes to the next player.

The possible types of play are as follows:


1. Capturing with a face card

If the card played is a face card (king, queen or jack) which matches the rank of a face card on the table, the face card on the table may be captured. This is the only possible capture with a face card. If the table contains more than one matching card only one may be captured.

Example: The clubQ and spadeQ are on the table, and the diamondQ is played. The player may capture one of the queens from the table but not both.


2. Capturing with a numeral card

A numeral card (Ace, 2, ..., 10) can capture any numeral cards on the table which are of the same rank as the card played, and any sets of numeral cards which add up to the rank of the card played, with the following restrictions:

         cards which are part of a build (see below) can only be captured by a card of the rank announced for that build;

         when sets are captured, each captured card can only be counted as belonging to one such set.

Example If an eight is played it could capture one, two or three eights from the table. It could also capture a five and a three, or a four and two twos. If the following cards are on the table: A 2 3 5 6 8, then an eight could capture 8 6 2 5 3 or 8 5 2 A, but not all six cards.


3. Building

A numeral card may be played and combined with other cards on the table, placing them together to form a build. A build can be made out of any collection of numeral cards which can be captured by a single numeral card according to rule 2 above. The player making the build must announce the capturing number (saying, for example, "building 5"), and must hold a numeral card which can later make the capture. There are two types of build: single builds and multiple builds.

         A single build consists of two or more cards whose capture values add up to the capture value of the build - for example a 5-build made of a 2 and a 3, or a 10-build made of A-4-5.

         A multiple build consists of two or more cards or sets of cards, each of which equates to the capture value of the build - for example a 5-build made of a 2 and a 3 plus a 4 and an ace, or a 5-build made of A-4 and 5, or a 9-build made of two nines, or a 9-build made of 6-3 plus 5-4 plus 9.

When you make a build, it must include the card you just played - you cannot create a build consisting entirely of cards that were already on the table. Cards which have been made into a build can subsequently only be captured as a unit, never separately.


         If there is a 5 on the table, a player holding a 3 and an 8 may put the 3 on the 5 and announce "make it an 8"; this single build can now only be captured by an 8.

         If there is an ace and a two on the table, a player holding two threes and a six could play one of the threes and either:

1.        capture the two and the ace;

2.        combine the played three with the ace and the two and make a single build, announcing "make it a 6";

3.        combine the played three with the ace and the two and make a multiple build, announcing "make them 3’s";

It would not be legal to play the three on the ace, building four, or on the two, building five, as the player does not hold a four or a five.

4. Capturing a build

A build can be captured by playing a numeral card of the rank which was announced when the build was made. It is thus possible to "steal" a build created by another player, if you have the right numeral card.

If on your turn, the table contains a build which you created or added to yourself, and no other player has added to it since your last turn, you are not allowed simply to trail a card (as in rule 6) on your next turn. You must either make a capture of some kind, create another build, or add to a build (i.e. follow rule 3, 4 or 5). It is always possible to capture in this situation - if nothing else, you must hold the capturing card for the build you just made, otherwise your build was illegal.

While capturing a build, you can also capture any loose cards on the table that add up to the same number. For example you have made a build of 9 and there is a 5 on the table. If the player before you plays a 4, you can capture the 4 and the 5 at the same time that you take in your build.

It is not possible to capture a build with a card of any other rank than that announced for the build. For example the table contains a 4 and a 3 combined into a build of 7, plus a separate 2. You cannot play a 9 to take the build of 7 plus the 2 - the build can only be captured with a 7.

5. Adding to a build

There are two ways of adding to a build:

1.        You may add a card from your hand to a single build, increasing the capturing number, provided that you also hold a card which will capture the new build. At the same time you may incorporate additional cards from the table into the build, if they are equal to the new capturing number. In this case the build will become multiple. You can never use a card from the table to change the value of a single build.

Example A The table contains a build consisting of two threes, announced as a build of six. If you hold a two and an eight, you can add the two to the build announcing "building 8". The next player, holding an ace and a nine, could then add the ace and say "building 9".

The capturing number of a multiple build can never be changed. If the original build of two threes in the above example had been announced as building three (rather than building six), it would not be possible for a player holding a two and a five to add the two to the build, making five.

Example B The table contains an ace, a two and a four; the ace and the four have been combined by a previous player into a build of five. You hold a three, an eight and a ten. You can play your three onto the single five-build and announce "building eight", but you are not allowed to incorporate the two from the table into this build to make it a build of ten.

Example C The table contains a three and a four, built into a seven, and a separate nine. You hold a two and a nine. You can play your two, combining it with the seven-build to make nine, and at the same time incorporate the nine on the table into the build, converting it to a multiple build and saying "building nine".

2.        You may add to any build, single or multiple, by playing a card from your hand which, either alone or combined with other cards on the table which are not yet in builds, matches the existing capture number of the build, provided that you hold a card which can capture the combined build.

Example The table contains a 9-build consisting of a 5 and a 4, and there is also a 3 on the table. You hold a six and two nines. You can play your 6, combining it with the 3 and the existing build to make a new multiple build of 9. Then on your next turn (provided that no one else captured) you could add one of the nines from your hand to the build. Finally, on the following turn, you could capture the whole build with your second nine.

Note that when making or adding to a build, you must contribute a card to it from your hand. You cannot just combine various cards which are already on the table to form a build. Note also that once a build contains more than one card or sets of cards which add to the capturing number, it is a multiple build and the capturing number can no longer be changed.

Example. There is a multiple 8-build of 3-5-8 on the table, and there is also a loose 6 on the table. In your hand you have 2, 8, 8, 10. You may add one of your 8s to the build, making 3-5-8-8, or to add your 2 together with the 6 on the table, making 3-5-8-2-6, still with capture value 8. You cannot use your 2 to change the capture value to 10.


6. Trailing

If you simply play a card without building or capturing, the card is placed face up on the table alongside any other layout cards and remains there to be captured or built on in future. It is then the next player's turn. Playing a card without building or capturing is sometimes called trailing. You are allowed to trail a card even if that card could have made a capture.

Example Suppose that in a four player partnership game your partner has two tens and you have one. Your partner plays a 10 and the next player does not take it. On your turn, if you suspect that your partner has a second 10, you can play your 10 and not capture, leaving both tens on the table for your partner.

The only case in which trailing is not allowed is when there is a build on the table which you were the last player to add to.

When all the cards have been played in the final deal, the last player who made a capture also wins any cards which are left on the table. That is why it is important that the dealer should announce "last" when dealing the last cards.

Hint on tactics: it is often good for the dealer to hold back a face card to play last if possible; this will capture a matching face card on the table and thereby also win any other table cards that remain.



Each player (or team) counts their score based on the pile of cards they have won. There are eleven possible points in each hand:

If there is a tie for most cards or most spades, no one gets those points.

Whoever first reaches a total of 21 or more points, over however many rounds it takes, wins the game. If two people reach the target on the same round, whoever has the higher score wins. If there is a tie, another round is played.


Buildikng Rules

Building is the most intricate part of the game, and there are several variations in exactly what is allowed when creating or capturing builds, and many of the card game books are ambiguous on this point. Some people play by more permissive rules, for example:


Other targets for winning the game are possible - some play to 11 points; some play to 50.

Some people, instead of scoring three points for cards, award two points to the player with most cards and one point to the player who made the last capture during the game.



Some people play that a Sweep is worth one point. A sweep occurs when a player takes all the cards from the table, leaving it empty and forcing the next player to trail. When making a sweep, the capturing card is stored face-up in the pile of won cards, so that the number of sweeps can be checked when scoring. Capturing the last cards from the table at the very end of a round does not count as a sweep.


Square 9 (also called 9 Card Golf)


Square 9 (also called 9 Card Golf) is a game for two or more players in which the object is to score as little as possible. In front of each player is a layout of 9 cards arranged face down in a square. Players try to improve their score by replacing cards in their square.


Two to three standard 52 card decks with Jokers are used.  More decks can be added for more than 5 players.  Deal and play are clockwise.


Nine cards are dealt to each player who places them face down in a square in front of them.  The remaining cards are placed in the center of the table to form a drawing stock.  The first card is turned face up to start the discard pile. Each player chooses one card to expose, turning it perpendicular to the rest of the cards in the square. This is the only card that can be replaced more than once during the game.


The player to the dealer's left begins by either drawing the top card from the stock or taking the top discard card.  The drawn card can be used to replace any of the cards in the layout, but you are not allowed to look at layout cards before deciding which card to replace.  Place the drawn card face-up in your layout and discard the card that previously occupied that position. 


Note:  If you drew the card from the stock and decide not to use it, simply discard the drawn card and it is the next players turn.


After a player's last face down card is exposed, each of the other players has one more turn before the hand is scored.


Scoring:  At the end of the play, any remaining face-down cards in each player's layout are turned face up.  3 matching cards in a row or diagonal are considered to be zeroed out.  The remaining cards are scored as follows:


Numeral cards score face value (Ace=1, Two=2, etc.)

Each Jack or Queen scores 10 points

Each King scores 0 points

Each Joker scores -2 points 


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BJ and Tony Morris