, Queen of Spades
, or Chase the Ace
is a card game
for two to eight players. It takes its name from the expression "old maid", meaning a single, usually elderly, woman
. The game most likely originated in China
How To Play
There are retail card decks specifically for playing Old Maid, but it is just as easy to play with a regular deck of 52 cards
. When using a regular Anglo deck, a card is either removed or added, resulting in one unmatchable card. The most popular choices are to remove the Ace of Clubs or the Queen of Clubs, or to add a single Joker. The Ace of Spades, Queen of Spades or Joker, respectively, becomes the "Old Maid"; it cannot be matched, and whoever holds it at the end of the game is the loser. It is possible to discard a single card from the deck face-down; if this is done, players cannot know which card is the Old Maid.
The dealer deals all of the cards to the players. Some players may have more cards than others; this is acceptable. Players look at their cards and discard any pairs they have (i.e., 2 Kings, 2 Sevens, etc) face up. Players do not discard three of a kind. In common variants, the suit colors of a discarded pair must match: with and with (when playing with one card removed, this means one unique card is always the Old Maid instead of it possibly being any of the three remaining cards of that rank).
Beginning with the dealer, each player takes turns offering his hand facedown to the person on his left. That person selects a card and adds it to his or her hand. This player then sees if the selected card makes a pair with their original cards. If so, the pair is discarded face up as well. The player who just took a card then offers his or her hand to the person to their left and so on. A player is allowed to shuffle his hand before offering it to the player on his left. In some variants, all players discard after the dealer has drawn.
The object of the game is to continue to take cards, discarding pairs, until all players except one have no cards. That one player will be left with the lone unmatchable card; they are "stuck with the Old Maid" and lose.
- One variant, played in the Philippines, is called ungguy-ungguyan. The game is played exactly as Old Maid except any card can be removed at the start of the game. That card is revealed at the end of the game and the person left with its "partner" (the odd card) loses and is called unggoy (Tagalog for monkey).
- Another variant, Baba-Nuki (ババ抜き), is played in Japan. It is played exactly as Old Maid, but instead of removing a Queen or any other card, a Joker is added, and player who is left with it loses. It is depicted in certain anime where the characters play cards; e.g. Crayon Shin Chan
- Another variant is called Jackass, played with Jacks instead of Queens as the odd amount of cards. It is known in French as Le vieux garçon ("old boy"), in German as Schwarzer Peter (“black Peter”), in Dutch as zwartepieten ("playing Black Pete") or pijkezotjagen ("Chasing the jack of spades") and in Polish as Piotruś ("Peter").
- A variant from the UK is known as Scabby Queen. The concept of this game is identical, with one exception. When the loser (the player with the single remaining Queen) is found, the deck of cards (including the remaining Queen but not the Jokers) is shuffled and the loser cuts the deck. The card on the bottom of the pile they picked up then decides their "punishment". If a red card (heart or diamond) is chosen, then the player is rapped on the back of the hand with the deck. If a black card (spades or clubs) is chosen, then he/she has the entire deck scrapped across their knuckles. The number of times this is performed is decided by the value of the card. Cards 2-10 carry face value, Jacks and Kings have a value of 10, Aces are 11 and Queens are 21. Be aware that this can rip the skin of your hands, and can be extremely painful, hence the name Scabby Queen. It is also better to use old or cheap cards, as the cards can also be damaged (cheap and older cards also tend to be softer and more bendable, so the "punishment" is less severe). However, today the game is often played without this punishment, especially where the pain inflicted is not considered appropriate by the players (such as when parents are playing with their children), though the game is still called Scabby Queen. As a result, the punishment aspect of the game is absent in some areas of the UK. As with all playground games, the rules are often lost in translation and regional variations are common (school specific rule-sets aren't unusual).
- Another variant played in Egypt in the Middle East is called "Abu Foul" or the "Blind King"; same rules roughly, except all kings removed save one -- pairs are discarded at the outset and everybody takes turns until only the King is left - if you can take a card, you must. Pairs are discarded as formed. Multiple decks can be used depending on the number of players. Jokers are not present. Punishment is played two ways, depending on the group; wishes or strikes (chosen before the game strikes) -- at the end, the cards are shuffled and spread and the loser pulls a card for every player - numbers are just that, pictures are worth 10, king 20. Strikes are to the hand outstretched, or wishes are short and simple, local to the area and usually involve some sort of mild humiliation.
- Another variant played in Turkey is called "Gır Gır" with nearly same rules.
The game spawns an element of bluffing
, commonly used in poker