Hidden Xiang Qi

I discovered an intriguing Xiang Qi variant. It is played like tradtional Xiang Qi with the following differences. 

At the begining of the game all  of the player’s pieces  except the general are mixed up face down . The player then places the general on it’s normal postion in the fortress. The remains pieces are put  face down on spots for a normal starting postion.

A piece that is upside down moves like a piece whose starting postion it occupies. For example, an upside down piece that starts on the intersection where a chariot starts the game moves like a chariot. After a piece has had it’s first move, it is flipped over showing what kind of piece it is. A  piece that is flipped over moves as it tradtionaliy does in Xiang Qi. Elephants and Advisors may cross the river.

If anyone has experience playing this style of Xiang Qi, please write about it in the comments. 


Skelly, A New York Street Game


While visiting New York I wanted to find a place to play one of my favorite street games. After much searching, a Skelly court was found in a playground on Mulberry street.

Skelly is best with 3 to 6 players. Players use their  fingers to flick a bottel cap into each of the numbered boxes in order 1 thrue 13, and then back down 13 to 1. If the player’s cap is not inside the lines of the numbered box they were shooting for, the cap stays where it is and it is the next players turn. 

If a player’s cap lands in the outer box surrounding number 13( the dead box), the player is trapped untill hit  by another player who gets moves up two boxes in his or her sequence for knocking the player out of the dead box.

If a player’s cap hits another player’s cap, the shooters cap is moved to the next box in his or her sequence.

When a player has completed the full course from 1 to thirteen and back to 1, he or she can become a killer. The cap is flicked  from the 1 box to the 13 box. After reaching the thirteen box the player shoots to each of the 4 quadrants of the dead box and becomes a killer. If the player misses any of the four quadrants they must start again from the one box.  

A cap that is a killer can go into the dead square without being trapped.

When a killer hits another cap, that cap it is removed from the game.  When all but one cap is left in the game that player  is the winner. 

Some play if a killer cap is hit the shooters cap becomes a killer, other play that it he shooter’s cap is removed from the game.

If you have an experiences playing Skelly or making Skelly caps please share them in the comments.


When asked what game should I learn before going on a trip to Poland, the answer was Tysiąc.  This three player trick taking game has an interesting rule that allows the trump suit to change mid hand. Chcesz ze mna zagrac? 

Players 3


A deck of cards with the 2-8 cards removed

Score pad

How to play

The ranking of the cards and the points earned when collected in a trick are as follows

Ace     11 points

Ten.    10 points

King.     4 points

Queen  3 points

Jack       2 points

Nine      0 points

A player also earns points by declaring a combination of a king and queen of the same suit( called a mariage)

    King and Queen of Hearts 100 points
    King and Queen of Diamonds 80 points
    King and Queen of Clubs 60 points
    King and Queen of Spades 40 points

The dealer is chosen at random. The dealer deals seven cards to each player and three to the center of the table. The three cards in the center are called the prikup. 

The bids are numbers: the lowest bid is 100 and all bids must be multiples of 5, so the possible bids are 100, 105, 110, 115, 120, etc. The highest bidder undertakes to win at least this number of points from cards in tricks plus declarations.

The player to the dealer’s left bids first must  bid at least 100. The bidding continues clockwise and each player must either bid higher than the previous bid or pass. A player who has passed cannot bid again. The bidding continues  until two of the players have passed. The winner of the biding is the declarer.

Since there are only 120 card points, higher bids can only be fulfilled by declaring king-queen pairs. A player can only   bid more than 120 unless if he or she  has at least one king-queen pair in thier  hand.

The declarer then turns over the three prikup cards  for the other players to see. The declarer then adds them to his or her hand. The declarer next gives away any two unwanted cards from his or her hand. One card is passed face down to each of the other two players. Every player will now have eight cards.

After the card exchange the declarer is allowed to increase the bid to any higher multiple of 5, or to keep his or her original bid.

After the prikup has been exchanged, if any player has all four nines, that player can show his or her cards and demand that the hand is abandoned, with no score. The cards  are shuffled, cut and redealt by the same dealer. 

Play begins with the declarer leading the first trick, and the winner of each trick leads to the next. 

There are no trumps trumps at the start of the game. This changes when the winner of a trick holds the king and queen of a suit. He or she may announce them and the suit  of the king-queen combination then  becomes trumps. The trump suit stays the same  until another king-queen combination is declared or the hand ends.

To declare a king queen combination the player must have won the previous trick, have both cards in his or her hand at the time of the declaration, and  must lead the next trick with the King or the Queen.

Players must  follow suit if possible. When there are no trumps, a player who is unable to follow suit may play any card. When there is a trump suit, a player who cannot follow suit must play a trump if possible. A player unable to follow suit who has no trumps may play any card. A trick is won by the highest trump played to it, or, if it contains no trump, by the highest card of the suit led. 

After all the tricks have been played each of the three players adds up the card points in their own tricks and adds the value of any king-queen combinations they announced. 

If the declarer’s points total is at least as much as the bid, the bid is added to the declarer’s  score. If not, the bid is subtracted from the decalarer’s scoreea

Each of the other players rounds the point value of their tricks and announcements to the nearest 5, and adds the result to his or her  score.

The first player to reach 1,000 points wins.


To make a more challanging game many players use the following extra scoring rules.

A player may not to have a score between 880 and 1000. If a player whose score was previously below 880 scores enough points to take it to 880 or more (but less than 1000), the player’s score becomes 880 and a box is drawn around it  is to show that the player is on the barrel. 

A player on the barrel has three chances to be the declarer and score at least 120 points on a hand to win the game . If the player is still on the barrel after three hands they fall off the barrel and lose 120 points.  If the player on the barrel is not he declarer, they do not get to keep any of the points collected in thier tricks. If a player is on the barrel and loses a bid as the declarer, they are no longer on the barrel. 

An opponent of the bidder is given a horizontal line in thier score colum if , they not on the barrel and take no points in  thier tricks. The player has 120 points subtracted from his or her score for every thrird horizontal lines in thier score colum.

If the declarer thinks he or she can not make thier bid after having seen the prikup, they  may declare a Rospisat’ (Росписать). The hand is discarded and a P is entered into the decalarer’s score column. Each opponent earns 60 points. A player loses 120 points for every three P in thier score column. A player on the barrel may not declare a Rospisat 


Rengo………The Tag Team Go Game

If you are a Go player searching for a new challange, then try this variation of partnership Go. Players  playing with a partner take turns placing the stones on the board for the team. And just to make it a little more challanging, the players can not  consult with each other about what moves they should make.

Rengo is played like tradtional Go with the following changes.

A team is made  up of two players. One team plays black and the other plays white.   A player from one team plays a stone and then a player from the other team. Afterwards the player from the other team who did not place a stone that turn places a stone followed by the oposing teammate who had not placed a stone last turn.

During the game, the partners can not talk about the game except about the following execteptions. 

They may ask if it thier turn. 

Alert a player that they played out of sequence.

Ask  if the team can resign.

If an out of sequence play is noticed before the next play and it was intentional, the game is forfeit by the player. If unintentional there is a 3 prisoner penalty and normal rotation continues from the player who just played. No moves are undone.