Pebbles and Nuts
Invented by Howard Fosdick © BestFreeNewGames.com
This game requires players to "thread the needle" by winning certain cards in tricks
while avoiding others. The challenge is to collect the tasty "nuts" whilst evading
Pebbles and Nuts is among the rare good
trick-taking games for two. It also makes an engaging three-player game.
2 or 3 players
recommended. Also playable by 4 in two partnerships.
Use one 32-card
French deck. (You can create this deck by removing all cards below 7's from a standard 52-card pack. Also,
remove any Jokers.)
Cards rank from high to low: A-10-K-Q-J-9-8-7
The 10 ranks second-highest.
Win a deal by winning the
most points. Win Game by being first to win 70 points across deals.
Deal 7 cards to each player. Remaining cards
become the draw pile.
Hearts are always trump in this game.
Non-dealer leads any
card to the first trick. His opponent
must follow suit, if able. If he cannot follow suit, he may play any
If no trump (no Heart) is played to the trick, the highest card of the
suit led wins the trick. If any Heart(s) are played to the trick, the
highest Heart wins.
Players then draw one card each from the draw pile,
and the trick-winner leads any card to the next trick.
Ace of Spades:
If a player leads a trick with any
Heart, the follower may play the Ace of Spades at will, and it trumps
any Heart. The player following the lead can play the Ace of Spades
even if he has Heart(s) in hand.
One is never required to play the Ace of Spades in response to a Heart
In all other respects, the Ace of Spades is simply a normal
Spades-suit card. It counts as a spade when played to a spade lead,
and one must play it in response to a spade lead if it is the only
spade one has in hand.
Scoring for Melds:
Players can score points by creating certain combinations of
cards called melds
. After each
trick, both players each draw one card from stock. The winner of the
trick may then optionally
meld. He scores
meld points by laying the appropriate cards face up on the table before
|King and Queen
of same suit
|King and Queen
|Adding a Jack of
same suit to an
Though placed face up on the table, melded cards are still considered
part of the player's hand. They are played to tricks as either desired
or required, in the same manner as any of the cards hidden in the
Score for a Ménage by adding the Jack of the same suit to a Marriage
already on the table. The Marriage must have been scored in a previous
trick, with both cards still on the table, with the Jack added after
winning a separate subsequent trick.
Scoring for Card Points:
After all cards have been played to tricks, players score points for cards they've won:
A player wins the Ace, King, and Queen of Hearts, the Ace and King of Diamonds, and
the Ace, King, and Queen of Spades.
He scores 5 + 10 + 10 for his Hearts, 5 + 5 for his Diamonds, and -5 + -10 + -10 points,
for a grand total of 10 points.
End of Play:
until all cards have been played to tricks. Players may
meld, if able, after the draw pile has been depleted.
For 3 Players:
Add an extra 8 of Hearts to ensure an even
draw from a 33-card deck. There will be two 8 of Hearts in the deck,
each worth 10 points. First to 50 points across hands wins the game.
For 4 Players:
Partners sit across from each other and their scores are
added together at hand's end. Players cannot play off their partners'
declarations (melds remain unique to each player). Optional Rule:
After a partnership wins a trick, either
member may make one declaration.
Partnership Play with 2 Decks:
32-card packs together. If identical cards are tossed on a trick, the
first wins the trick. A single King or Queen can be used in two
declarations. To do this, a player wins a trick and scores one
marriage, then he plays either the King or Queen from the meld to a
subsequent trick. After winning another trick, he may re-constitute
the declaration by adding a King or Queen (as appropriate) to the
remaining face up card before him. First partnership to 130 points
To win points in tricks, one must "thread the
needle" by winning positive point cards (nuts
and avoiding negative card points (pebbles
Oftentimes there exists a trade-off between winning trick points
versus scoring melds. Try to maximise scores for
both. Or concentrate on one or the other, depending on the
direction fate forces your hand.
Hearts have a special role since they are always trump. They are
potential trick-winners. As a suit they offer the highest card points.
Optimise Hearts to win tricks and try to make good the lower-ranking
Hearts like the Queen and 8.
Whilst melding scores points, it also exposes part of one's hand to
the opponent. Clever opponents use this to their advantage. For
example, a Spade Marriage scores 20 points. But the downside is that
the opponent may force their declarer to "eat" (win) the exposed
spades in subsequent tricks. The Ace of Spades is similarly dicey.
Trump a Hearts King, Queen, or the 8 with it, and score 5 points on
the trick (10 for the Heart minus 5 points for the Ace of Spades). Or
slough off the Ace of Spades on a losing trick, forcing -5 points upon
one's opponent. Avoid winning the Spade King, Queen, or 8 with the Ace
A net total of 30 card points are winnable in tricks the two- and
four- player games. 40 points are out in the three-player game, due to
the addition of the second 8 of Hearts to the deck. Meld points scored
per hand vary.
Players with good memories will know what cards the opponent holds
after all card stock has been drawn. They should use this to their advantage.
Feel free to print, copy, and distribute these rules, so long as you retain this paragraph. Invented by Howard Fosdick © 2023, distributed under Creative Commons License BY-ND