Single Table: Three to five may play, best with four.
Multiple Tables: Six or more may play, best with four or five per table. (see Multiple Tables Variant)
A standard pack of 52 plus two jokers. The cards are ranked as follows: 3 (low), 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A, 2, Black Joker, Red Joker (high). Which joker is which may need to be decided by mutual consent before the first hand. Suits are ignored with the following exception: on the first trick of the first hand, the person who holds the three of clubs leads, but is not required to lead with it.
The entire deck is dealt out one card at a time beginning with the dealer and continuing counter-clockwise. The first dealer is chosen by drawing cards, low card deals. In all subsequent hands, the Knave deals. (to be explained later)
- The Exchange is omitted for the first hand.
After dealing, the Knave must pass his highest-ranking card to the Master. The Master returns any card of his choice to the Knave. If the Knave passes a joker, he may request a specific rank of card (10 or lower) in exchange. The Master must comply if possible. If the Master cannot comply, the Knave may request a different rank of card. All cards during the exchange are passed face up. The Knave leads the first trick of the hand.
Master’s Privilege: The Master, if he so desires, may refuse to accept the high card passed by the Knave. If he does refuse the exchange then the Master leads the first trick.
Knave’s Revolt: If the Knave has both jokers he may keep them and lead the first trick.
The game is played in tricks. The player with the lead plays a card or cards from his hand that follow one of the Standard Forms (see below). Play passes to the left. Subsequent players have two options:
Follow Form – They may take their turn by playing a card or cards from their hands that follow form. Or,
Pass – If unable or unwilling to follow form a player can decline to play any cards on his turn by saying “Pass”. Passing only effects the player’s current turn. The player may choose to play later in the same trick.
The trick continues until one of the players follows form and all subsequent players pass. This player takes the current trick and leads the next one.
When a player plays their last card(s) the trick continues. If the player that played their last card takes the trick, the lead passes to the left.
The hand continues until only one player has cards in his hand. The first player to play all of his cards is called the “Master”. The last player with cards in his hand is called the “Knave”.
Master, First Out – 4 points
Second Out – 3 points
Others Out – 2 points
Knave, Last Out – 1 point
Single – A single card may lead the trick. To follow form requires a single card of rank higher than the last one played.
Pair – Two cards of the same rank may lead the trick. To follow form requires a pair of rank higher than the last pair played.
Bomb – (May be played out of turn.) Three cards of the same rank may lead the trick. To follow form requires a bomb higher than the last one played. Any Bomb follows form for a Single, Pair, Run or Double Run and changes the form mid-trick to Bomb.
Big Bomb – (May be played out of turn.) Four cards of the same rank may lead the trick. To follow form requires a Big Bomb higher than the last one played. Any Big Bomb follows form for a Single, Pair, Bomb, Run or Double Run and changes the form mid-trick to Big Bomb.
Run – Three or more cards of sequential rank may lead the trick. To follow form requires a Run made of the same number of sequential cards with the lowest card higher than the lowest card of the last Run played. The highest card allowed in any run is an Ace.
Double Run – Three or more pairs of sequential rank may lead the trick. To follow form requires a Double Run made of the same number of sequential pairs with the lowest pair higher than the lowest pair of the last Double Run played. The highest pair allowed in any Double Run is a pair of Aces.
Super Bomb – (May be played out of turn.) The Black Joker and the Red Joker, may lead, follows any other form and always takes the trick.
Completing a Bomb
Two cards of the same rank as the last Single played may be played to complete a bomb. Changes the form mid-trick to Bomb. The two cards may be played out of turn but must be played before a subsequent player follows form. Whichever player plays their card(s) first takes the turn. Play passes to the left.
The game is over after 12 hands. The player with the highest score wins.
Multiple Tables Variant
The game is played as above with the following changes:
Players: Players are split as evenly as possible between tables, best with four or five per table.
Cards: One deck of cards per table, as above.
Play: At the end of each hand the Knaves rotate tables and deal.
Winning: The game is over after 12 hands. The player with the highest score is the winner.
Ties: If after 12 (or more) hands there is a tie, the people in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place move to a single table and play an additional hand. The hand is scored normally. The person with the highest score is the winner.
Don’t Forget (FAQ)
- Card Rank: 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A 2 Jokers
- Three cards minimum in a run. Highest ranking card allowed in a run is an Ace.
- Only a pair added to a played single card completes a bomb. You cannot add a single or pair to a played pair.
- Any four-card bomb beats a three-card bomb. The bomb of two jokers beats everything.
- You may bomb yourself.
- The Double Run (i.e. 9, 9, 10, 10, J, J…)
- If the Knave’s highest card is a Joker, the slave may request a return card between 3 and 10.
- The master may reject the Knave’s highest card and take the first lead.
- If the Knave has both jokers he may Revolt by keeping both and taking the lead.
- The hand has not started until the person with the lead plays a card or cards. The lead cannot be “stolen” by someone else with a bomb. -August 4, 2012
My sister-in-law taught my mother-in-law who taught us this game. There seems to have been some deviation in the teaching… If it has a proper name we were never told what it is, so it was always just the “Chinese Card Game”. After a little research, I concluded that we ‘may’ be playing differently than intended. That being the case I have named our version “Bombs”. It is a fast paced game, evidently unlike the original, and can get rowdy.