Thursday, December 10, 2015

Ric Rac Rummy, a Card Game for Family Gatherings, version of Contract Rummy

This challenging card game was an important part of extended family gatherings (on my Norwegian side) when I was a kid.

We called it Ric Rac Rummy, but I can't find any reference to that name anywhere. For the sake of someone else on this planet desperately searching for this game from their childhood, here it is!

I did find a card game nearly identical in "Official Rules of Card Games" by The United States Playing Card Company, known as Contract Rummy among many other names, popular for large gatherings.

This game works best if you have many players AND at least a couple hours to spend together. I remember epic games with aunties and cousins crowded around our fully extended dining table.

To help us keep track of the hands, as each hand becomes progressively demanding, my aunties created these little booklets from cut strips of paper. I found one of these booklets in a back drawer. Treasure!

For Thanks-Birth-O-Ween, I wanted to introduce it to my kids. Would they like it?
They loved it.


for 4-5 people, use a double deck WITH jokers as wild cards.
(with 5 players you might want to use a triple for the last few rounds)
for 6-9 players use a triple deck etc...
OTHER WILD CARDS -- the group may choose to use 2s as wild cards also.

Deal 12 cards to each player (for the first few hands)
Place rest of deck in center of table and flip the top card over to begin the discard pile.
Player to the left of dealer may choose this card or draw from the top of the deck.

Player draws the top discard or draws from the top of the deck.
At that point, the player may "go down" if they can.
If they have already "gone down" they may then play on other people's cards on the table.
If they have not gone down, discard one card and end the turn.


Each hand has different requirements. The first hand, for example, calls for 2 sets of 3.

SET: Three cards of any suit that are the same rank, such as 3 Queens or 3 sixes.
RUN: Three or more cards in the SAME SUIT in sequential order, such as 8, 9, 10, J, all in Diamonds.
ACES: can be played as a "one" = A, 2,3,4 OR can be played "high" = J,Q, K, A, but cannot be wrapped around -- such as K, A, 2, 3.

To go down, the player must have ALL the sets and/or runs called for in that round (No partial going down), and ONLY those sets or runs called for.  They may not place additional sets or runs on the table. They may add to those sets or runs however, for example, if they place a run of four hearts: 6,7,8,9  -- they may then add to it with a 5 or a 10 of hearts.

After a player has gone down, they may then play cards from their hand to other player's sets or runs on the table. Unlike Rummikub, they may not split or re-arrange those sets or runs to create new ones. They can however, replace wild cards with the cards they are representing, and according to your interpretation of the rules, the wild card can be used elsewhere in that run only OR you could decide to extend that rule to be able to use those freed wild cards elsewhere on the table.

TO GO OUT: The last card played out of a players hand must be a discard. You cannot go out by simply going down. You must have a discard.

BUYING: Keeps things interesting. After a player discards and BEFORE the next player draws to begin their play, any player may call out "I'LL BUY THAT!" meaning they want the card that has just been discarded.
The players are then given the opportunity to assert their rights for that card, beginning with the player whose turn is next and progressing around the table. If no one with higher rank in playing order wants that discard, the buyer takes the discard AND two more cards from the top of the deck.
If the person whose turn is next wants that card, they draw it normally. They do not have to buy it.

Each player may BUY up to three times per round.
The group may decide to allow four BUYS in the last few rounds.

BUYING becomes essential in order to have enough cards to go out later in the game.


First Round:
Two Sets of Three,
deal 12, each player may buy up to three times.

Second Round:
1 Run of Four
1 Set of Three

Third Round:
2 Runs of Four
Fifth Round: 
One Run of Seven,
One set of Three

Fourth Round:
3 Sets of Three

Fifth Round:
1 Run of Seven
1 Set of Three

Sixth Round:
2 Runs of Four
1 Set of Three

Seventh Round:
3 Runs of Four

Eighth Round:
1 Run of Ten
1 Set of Three
Deal 14 cards
(At any point, if you determine there are not enough cards for players involved,
add one additional deck of cards. Players may also decide to allow up to four buys per round)

Ninth Round:
1 Run of Five
3 Sets of Three
Deal 14 cards

Tenth Round:
3 Runs of Five
Deal 15 cards

SCORING: Play continues until someone goes out by playing the last card from their hand as a discard.
Players then count the cards remaining in their hand as negative points. Cards on the table are not counted.
Numbered cards may be counted their face value OR you may choose to count them all as five points. You decide.
Face cards are ten points.
Aces are fifteen points.
Jokers are twenty points.
If 2s are wild, they are also twenty points.

Lowest score wins!

If you are glad to find this game, let me know! Happy Holidays!