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Scrummy

 

 

Games on this page:

Scrummy

Four by Four

Texas Scrummy

Scrotch

X

A Brief History

Scrummy first surfaced in the West in the late 20th Century as yet another progeny of Mah Jong, an ancient tile game from the Orient. With such an elegantly lucent premise, to draw and discard for the purpose of creating sets, or "melds" as in the traditional deck Rummy, this timeless and insightful ancestor from the Far East continues to engender descendants around the globe well into the new millenium.

Although known primarily as a Scroker card game, Scrummy in its infancy actually resembled the Great Grandfather Mah Jong more than its contemporary cousins, possibly lending to its propensity to procreate. Predating Scroker cards, an embryonic Scrummy developed and hatched in a Woods Hole, Massachusetts house. In that colonial kitchen, plastic refrigerator magnates originally arranged to spell "TOM," "RYAN," and "ALLIE" periodically mutated into such phrases as "LAY ROMAN TILE" and "TALL NOIRE YAM" among other proliferations. This rather bulky form of Scrummy eventually inspired the more compact Scroker deck itself—that in turn, propagating the numerous families of games contained in this guide.

 

 
 

Scrummy

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Players

Best with three or four

Objective

Make words out of letters in hand to earn points and be the first player to "go-out"

Overview

Seven cards are dealt to each player. The remaining cards are used to comprise a stock and discard pile. In turn, each player draws from one of the two piles attempting to create and play words with the letters in hand. Completed words may be played face-up in front of a player in order to earn points. The hand is ended when one player "goes-out" (plays all of his cards). The deal then passes to the left and a new hand begins. At the end of each hand, if any player has reached a predetermined winning score, the player with the highest score wins the game.

Setup

  • Normal 52 card deck—no [Scrokers].
  • Deal seven cards to each player.
  • Place remaining cards facedown as a stock pile in the center of the table.
  • Turn top card over along side the stock pile as the first face-up card in the discard pile.

Rules

  • The player to the dealer’s left is the lead for any particular hand.
  • At the start of each hand, each player, in turn, is afforded the opportunity to exchange one of the cards in his hand with the single face-up card turned over by the dealer. Play then continues to that player’s left as if he had just taken his turn. If no players are interested in taking the face-up card, the lead proceeds with his turn.
  • A player always begins his turn by taking a card from one of the two piles and completes it by discarding a card. The act of discarding in this game is defined as a player removing one card from his hand and arraying it vertically on the discard pile.
  • A player may begin his turn by taking the top card of the stock pile and adding it to his hand. Although not obligated, the player may choose to word, if able, by removing the corresponding letters from his hand and displaying the word on the table directly in front of himself as a horizontal array.
  • Alternatively, a player may begin his turn by taking any one of the face-up cards of the discard pile provided that he (1) during that same turn, plays a word which contains that very card taken and (2) additionally takes all the cards on top of the card he targets. Strictly speaking, the discard pile is a breakable array.
  • Words must always be a minimum of two letters in length.
  • Firm lettering is required.
  • A word must be a minimum of five letters when played during a turn in which a player is "going-out."
  • At the beginning of his turn before drawing a card, any player may spellcheck any opponent to challenge the spelling of a displayed word. One spellcheck loser will always result for purposes of a point penalty—either the challenger or the player with the suspected word. If the loser is the misspeller, he must also return the faulty word to his hand. Additionally, if the suspected word was played as a player was going-out, each of the players, in turn, are allotted the opportunity to challenge that one word only.
  • A hand is normally ended by a player going-out. When the hand is over, the scores are tallied and the player to the left of the previous dealer becomes the dealer to start a new hand.
  • A hand also ends if the stock pile is depleted before a player goes out. Each player, beginning with the player that is first confronted with the depleted stock pile, is afforded one "bonus" opportunity to take a normal turn using only the discard pile. He may also play any words he may still have in his hand without drawing any cards.
  • At the end of each hand, if any player has reached 100 points, the player with the highest score wins the game.

Scoring

  • 1 point is earned for every card played.
  • 1 point is subtracted for every card left in the hand.
  • 10 bonus points are earned by the player who "goes-out."
  • 10 penalty points are subtracted for losing a spellcheck.
  • The game is won by the high-scoring player at the conclusion of a hand in which a player accumulates 100 points.
  • In the event of a tie, all players remain in the game for a tie breaking hand.
 
 

Four by Four

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Players

Best with three or four

Overview

Four by Four is a simple variation of basic Scrummy. All words played, including when a player is going out, must be exactly four letters in length. Except for this difference, the Objective, Setup, Rules and Scoring are identical to that of basic Scrummy.

Tip

  • A player must be careful to control the total number of cards in his hand if he wishes to be able to go out. Taking cards from deep within the discard pile, therefore, becomes a factor.
 
 

Texas Scrummy

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Players

Best with three or four

Overview

Texas Scrummy is really just basic Scrummy with a liberal dash of Tabasco. The Objective, Setup, Rules and Scoring are identical to that of basic Scrummy. The dealer, however, is granted latitude to control some ingredients to his likin’. All declarations must be made before play begins. If a dealer makes no declarations, all the standard rules of basic Scrummy apply.

Dealer options

  • Designate a minimum or hard word length requirement for normal play and/or going out (i.e. "Three card minimum, hard five to go out" would mean all words played must be at least three letters and a player must play a five letter word to go out).
  • Call Chili Peppers hot. In this game, when the dealer declares "Chili Peppers are hot," the point value of any given Chili Pepper corresponds directly to the number of chili peppers depicted on that card (i.e. the [Five-chili-pepper-E] is worth five points in a word and is worth minus five points if still in the hand when another player goes out).
  • Require a discard by the player who goes out.
  • Allow word extensions. A player may play extensions on any word currently displayed. If he is extending one of his own words, he should play the extension directly on that word. If he is extending another player’s word, he merely places the extension in front of himself and announces which word he is extending. An extension may be on the front or back of a word. Generally, no length limits apply. A given word may only be extend once—the original extender is responsible for enforcing this rule. In the event of a spellcheck involving an extended word, if the same player that originally played the word also extended it, only the word in its extended form may be challenged. If the original word and its extension are split between two players, the challenger must be clear about which word is being challenged—the original word or the word plus the extension. Only one spellcheck loser will result for purposes of a point penalty—either the challenger or the specific player responsible for the challenged word. Regardless, both the original and extended words will be checked for legitimacy. If the original word is found to be faulty, both the word and the extension must be returned to their respective player’s hands. If only the extended word is faulty, just the player who extended the word must return the extension back into his hand.

Tips

  • Establish some "caps" beforehand on just how "spicy" a dealer can make the game. For example, word length minimums should probably be capped at six. Allowing dealers the latitude to require seven letter words or larger can adversely alter the character and pace of the game.
  • Capping the combined total of the two stated minimums to "8" or "9" is not a bad idea for most games as well. For example, the dealer may state "Four card minimum, four to go out." If the combined minimum had been capped at "8," this would be a legal declaration. In the same example, "Three card minimum, hard six to go-out" would not be legal because the combined minimum equals "9."
  • The difference between a combined total of eight or nine is significant, particularly when the going-out requirement is a hard number, because "9" requires any player wishing to go-out to draw multiple cards from the discard pile at least once while "8" normally does not. Recognize also that requiring a discard by a player going out would change this threshold.
  • Calling Chili Peppers hot may be a useful gamble for a player trying to catch up.
 
 

Scrotch

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Players

Two

Objective

Make words out of letters in hand to earn points and be the first player to "knock" (a form of going-out)

Definitions

  • Deadwood: cards in the hand that are not used to make words
  • Knock: end the hand by discarding a card facedown on the discard pile
  • Knocker: the player who ends the hand by knocking
  • Scrotch: a player’s hand that contains no deadwood

Overview

Ten cards are dealt to both players. The remaining cards are used to comprise a stock and discard pile. In turn, each player draws from one of the two piles attempting to create suit specific words with the letters in hand. A hand is ended when one player "knocks:" he turns his final discard facedown on the discard pile to indicate he has either scrotch or very nearly scrotch (he holds less than the maximum allowed deadwood). Both players then present their hands to compare the point value of their respective deadwood. The player with the lowest value deadwood wins the hand and earns points accordingly. At the end of a hand, if either player has reached a predetermined winning score, the player with the highest score wins the game. Otherwise, the winner of the hand assumes the deal and a new hand begins.

Setup

  • Normal 52 card deck—no [Scrokers]
  • Deal ten cards to each player
  • Place remaining cards facedown as a stock pile in the center of the table
  • Turn top card over along side the stock pile as the first face-up card in the discard pile
  • Agree upon the maximum deadwood for knocking if different than "two"

Rules

  • At the start of each hand, each player, beginning with the non-dealer, is afforded the opportunity to exchange one of the cards in his hand with the single face-up card turned over by the dealer. If either player chooses to exchange a card, then play continues from that point as if that player had just taken his turn. If no players are interested in taking the face-up card, the non-dealer proceeds with his turn.
  • A player always begins his turn by taking the top card from one of the two piles and completes it by either discarding or knocking. A player "discards" in this game by removing one card from his hand and stacking it uniformly face-up on top of the discard pile so as to completely cover the previous card. No player may randomly inventory the discard pile at any time.
  • In order to knock, a player must hold no more than the allowed maximum deadwood. Immediately following the knock, the knocker presents his hand of ten cards on the table as a collection of firm horizontally arrayed words clearly separated from any deadwood he might hold. If the non-knocker wishes to spellcheck his opponent, he must do it before presenting his own hand. If any of the knocker’s words are proven to be foul, the appropriate point penalty is charged and then the non-knocker has the option of allowing the round to end with no other points earned by either player. Alternatively, he may require the knocker to pick up all eleven cards just played and continuing play with a standard discard as if the knock had not taken place.
  • After the non-knocker is satisfied that his opponent correctly knocked, he presents his hand in the same manner. Additionally, provided the knocker does not have scrotch, the non-knocker if able may word with any of his deadwood cards by extending one or more of the knocker’s words. If a spellcheck proves any of the non-knocker’s words to be foul, after the appropriate point penalty is charged, the foul word is treated as deadwood. No "after-the-fact" rearrangement of letters is allowed.
  • Words must be clean, but hot-’n’-sour lettering is allowed. As a reminder of how these definitions are applied, Animal words may not contain Chili Peppers. Only the Lemons and Limes suits may contain chili pepper vowels. Furthermore, Lemons, Limes or Animals may not be mixed with each other in any combination to create a word.
  • All words must be at least four letters.
  • Upon a player’s successful knock, the player with the lowest total deadwood value (not necessarily the knocker) wins the hand, adds the appropriate score to his cumulative total of previous hands and earns the deal for the next hand.
  • The bottom two cards of the stockpile may not be taken. If neither player knocks before this point, the hand is deemed a "draw"—same as if both players had equal deadwood values. In a draw, neither player scores points and the same dealer collects all cards to deal another hand.

Scoring

  • Cards used in words have no value for scoring purposes
  • Winner of each hand scores the loser’s deadwood value, minus his own, plus any bonuses
  • The game is won by the first player to accumulate 100 points

Deadwood Value

  • 1 to 5 points for Chili Peppers (cards in this suit are worth the number of chili peppers depicted on a given card)
  • 5 points for any Lemons or Limes
  • 10 points for an Animal

Bonuses and Penalties

  • Minus 10 points for losing a spellcheck
  • 10 points (bonus) to knock
  • 25 points (bonus) for the knocker having scrotch
  • 25 points (bonus) for an "undercut" (non-knocker wins the hand)
 
 

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