Games you can play for free – Chinese Ten

Continuing with my project to create a list of great games you can play for free, this post features a simple card game for two to four players.

Chinese Ten

Number of players: 2 – 4

Playing time: 15 minutes

You will need:

  • A standard deck of playing cards

The cards are shuffled and half are dealt amongst all players. If there are two players, each gets twelve cards. If there are three players, each gets eight cards. If there are four players, each gets six cards. From the remaining twenty-four cards, four are turned face-up in the centre of the table. The remaining cards form a face-down deck in the centre of the table.

The aim of the game is to capture cards from the centre if the table. Cards are captured as follows. Cards valued 1 (ace) to 9 are captured by the card whose value brings the total to 10. For example, a 1 captures a 9 and a 7 captures a 3. 10s, Jacks, Queens and Kings are captured by cards of the same rank. For example, a Queen captures another Queen.

On each players turn, they play one card from their hand. If possible, that card captures a card from the centre of the table (a card can only capture one card). Upon capturing a card, that player keeps both cards (the card played and the card captured), placing them face-down in front of them. If the card played was not able to capture a card, it is left face-up in the centre of the table. Cards added to the centre of the table in this manner are available to be captured by any player in subsequent turns.

Following playing a card from their hand (whether it captures or not), that player then flips over the top card of the deck. If able, it captures one of the face-up cards and both are kept by that player. If not able to capture, it is added to the face-up cards.

Following each player’s turn, play progresses clockwise to the next player. If played correctly, the last remaining card in the deck will be able to capture the last face-up card. Once this happens, the game ends.

Players then score points from the cards they have won based upon the following:

  • Red cards (hearts and diamonds) ranked 2 – 9 score their face value.
  • Red cards ranked 9 – King score ten points each.
  • Red aces (1s) score 20 points each.
  • If three or four players are playing, the Ace of spades score 30 points.
  • If exactly four players are playing, the Ace of clubs scores 40 points.

The difference between the average score (105, 80 and 70 with two, three and four players respectively) and each players score is the amount by which that player wins or looses by.

Note, if the initial four face-down cards contain three kings, three queens, three jacks, three tens or three fives; the fourth card of that rank captures all three of these cards. If the initial four face-down cards consist of four kings, four queens, four jacks, four tens or four fives; they are won by the dealer (or shuffled back into the deck before four more cards are turned face up).


Adventure on the High Seas

It was recently my dad’s birthday and I was due to go home the following weekend. My dad however had booked himself on a powerboat course in preparation for the eventual and controversial (with my mum) purchase of a boat. Instead of going home another weekend, I decided to join my dad on the two-day course.

Since the course was to take place in the sea, in November and, most importantly, in the UK. I made sure I put on plenty of layers (about seven in fact). The result, as you can see here was something akin to the Michelin Man. Indeed, measuring with a ruler shows that I am half as wide as I am tall. After a somewhat lengthy (as in I should have done this before putting all these layers on) toilet break, we were ready to hit the water.

The first part of the morning involved retrieving the instructor’s yacht from its current mooring and towing it to a slightly different mooring. Since there was only three of us and the instructor was piloting the powerboat, my dad was nominated to “hop” onto the yacht in order to separate it from the mooring. Unfortunately, my dad had a bad knee, so at the time, hopping was not one of his strong points. I will never forget the look on his face as he straddled the two boats, one foot on each as they bobbed around independently in the waves. In the afternoon, we practiced some slow speed maneuvers and did some theory work (attempting to tie knots and read maps) back on dry land.

On the second day, we were due to spend most of the morning and the whole afternoon on the water. Before heading off into the open sea however, we first had to plan our voyage. After a few minor hiccups (i.e. holding the plotter the wrong way round, giving us a course 180 degrees off of where we actually wanted to go) we were done. We started by going up the estuary away from the sea, following the course we had plotted by keeping an eye on the depth of the channel and avoiding the other boats by keeping an eye on the other boats.

Eventually, after getting a chance to hit maximum speed (around 40 knots) we reached our destination… the pub next to the beach. The instructor anchored the boat and we had some rather good value food. In the afternoon, we went along the coast to Portsmouth Harbour. For those who don’t know, Portsmouth is a very busy harbour, both for large passenger ships and military vessels. I therefore had to be extra careful not to do anything silly. After stopping to refuel, we pulled up alongside one of the historic ships, the HMS Warrior (the docked ship in the centre of the picture). I even managed to get close enough to touch it; however due to the false economy of pound shop batteries (as is the case with toilet roll – although that is another post for another day), I have no photographic proof. We then headed once again out to sea, this time getting around 2 miles off the coast. It was pretty exciting crashing over waves that I am sure seamed much bigger then they really were. Finally, under sunset, we headed back to the harbour on Hayling Island.

Games you can play for free – Counter-Cameroon

Continuing with my project to create a list of great games you can play for free, this post features a variation on the commercial dice game  Can’t Stop.  Counter-Cameroon is described by Reiner Knizia in ‘Dice Games Properly Explained‘.


Number of players: 2

Playing time: 15 minutes

You will need:

  • 4 dice
  • A score sheet

The score sheets used by the players should contain the numbers two to twelve. Next to each category must be space enough to put four marks.

The two players take turns in rolling all four dice. Upon rolling the dice, that player must split the dice into two pairs, which then combine to make two numbers between two and twelve. A mark is placed in the categories corresponding to those two numbers.

When one player has placed four marks next to a category, the category is won by that player. Any further numbers formed by either player that match that category are not recorded. The player who won that category scores points as indicated below:

  • Category 7 scores 1 point
  • Categories 6 and 8 score 3 points
  • Categories 5 and 9 score 5 points
  • Categories 4 and 10 score 7 points
  • Categories 3 and 11 score 9 points
  • Categories 2 and 12 score 11 points

When all categories have been won, the game ends. Players total up the points they have won. The player with the most points is the winner.

– For a more balanced game, use the following point distributions: 6-5-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-5-6.