What is Noddy?
Noddy is a two-player English card-game, with the first recorded instance of the game occurring in 1589, making it one of the oldest card games still being played today. The term Noddy refers to a fool, or an idiot, in reference to Jack of the Trump suit.
How to Play Noddy?
Noddy is played using the standard, Anglo-American 52-card deck.
This is in truth a fairly simplistic game, with Players being required to form combinations in their hand, with each combination offering a different number of points. These points should then be tallied, with the ultimate winner of a game of Noddy accumulating NO MORE than 31 points.
First, the deck should be shuffled by the Dealer, who is randomly determined. Once its shuffled, the Dealer should then deal 3 cards to the other player, and then 3 cards to themselves. The deck is then set aside, with the top card being drawn and turned over next to the deck.
The suit of this card represents the Trump suit for this game. If the upturned card is the Jack, then the Dealer automatically awards themselves two points.
Players then declare their hands, and any possible card combinations which they might have in their hand. The card turned over to demonstrate the Trump suit should be included in a Player’s combinations, if possible. Once both Players have declared, the non-dealing Player will start the game.
Players will then take turns adding cards from their hand onto the table, declaring the card they played as well as the running total of card values on the table. Face cards are always worth 10 points, and Aces are worth 1.
Peg score is only accounted for combinations made on the table, and Players may use each other’s cards for combinations, but they may use the Trump card.
Players cannot allow the running total to surpass 31 card points, and Players may not “bust” by playing a card that would bring the running total over 31. Instead, Players must declare “Go” and reward themselves with one peg point.
If a Player may still continue making legal moves, even after another Player must “Go” then they may do so without busting. If a Player plays a card that brings the card total to exactly 31, the game ends and that Player receives 2 peg points for the “hitter”.
The score, or “pegs” are traditionally represented, like in Cribbage, the game to which Noddy is a predecessor, by pegs inserted into a special wooden board designed to hold them. The same effect could be achieved with pen and paper, of course.
There are two scores in Noddy, the “Peg score” and the “running total”. The Running total is the total face-value of the cards played in a game, while the Peg score is the actual score total of both Players.
Players may not exceed 31 card-points in a game.
Noddy is played in individual games, with the overall winner of the game being the Player with more pegs than their opponent at the end of gameplay.
- Players must declare their possible combinations at the start of the game.
- Combinations may be made with the Trump card, and with other Player’s cards.
- Players must declare their card before it is played, and they may not bring the running total over 31 points.
- Players may only play one card at a time.
Noddy’s system of scoring is somewhat complex. This section will hopefully help alleviate any confusion:
Players may add grant themselves pegs for the individual values of the cards Played, including the Trump card. These pegs are gained at the start of the game, during the declaration phase. Players do not have to show their cards when declaring, they must merely say 15, 25, or 31, to declare their totals.
- 15 Card Points from two or more cards: 1 Peg
- 25 Card Points from three or more cards: 1 Peg for each card, a minimum of 3
- 31 Card Points exactly: Four Pegs
Pairs, like in other card games, are made up of two cards of the same rank.
- Pair: 2 Pegs
- Pair Royal, Also known as a Three-of-a-Kind: 6 Pegs
- Double Pair Royal, or a Four-of-a-Kind: 12 Pegs
Runs are like Sequences in other games, merely a set of cards which ascend in consecutive order. Runs in Noddy must always be ascending. 3,4,5 is legal, but 5,4,3 is not.
- Run of three cards: 2 Pegs
- Run of four cards: 4 Pegs
- Run of five cards or more: 1 Peg for each card in the run.
There are also two other combinations: The Flush, and the Noddy.
The Noddy, or the Jack of the same suit as the Trump card, is awarded to either Player plays it into the field during their turn. The card value of face-cards is always 10, meaning the Noddy will add 10 to the running total, and will give 1 peg. When the Jack is overturned as the Trump card, the Dealer will then give themselves 2 Pegs.
There is also the Flush, a set of three or more cards that are all the same suit. The flush awards one peg for each card contained in the combination, and if the Flush is the Trump suit, two extra pegs will be awarded.
The following is a possible opening hand in Noddy:
K♦, 4♠, 5♦
And imagine that the Trump card is the 6♠
Then a Player’s declaration at the start of the game might be “1 Sequence for 2, Fifteen for 1” Bringing their starting declaration to 3 Pegs.