Friday, April 27, 2007

Honeymoon Gin ad infinitum

The Babe and I play a lot of gin rummy together. It gives us an opportunity to say really rude things to each other in a structured environment. ("Gin!" "Screw you!") Gin rummy is an effective and inexpensive form of marital therapy.

There's an interesting variant called "Honeymoon Gin." (I have no idea where the name comes from.) The play is the same as regular gin but the scoring is different. So what I'm going to do is tell you how to play Gin Rummy first, then tell you how to do Honeymoon Gin, then how to play Honeymoon Gin forever.

Gin Rummy

Object of the Game
The object of the game is to arrange the 10 cards in your hand into runs or sets. A run consists of three or more cards in the same suit in consecutive order, such as 5D, 6D, 7D or 10C, JC, QC, KC. Aces are always low (A, 2, 3). You cannot "wheel" your cards in a run (Q, K, A, 2). A set is three or four cards of the same rank, such as 9H, 9D, 9C, 9S.

You can’t use the same card in a run and a set simultaneously (7H, 8H, 9H, 9D, 9C).
Deal 10 cards to both players. The top card of the remaining cards is turned face up to start the discard pile. The remaining cards are placed face down next to the discard pile to be the stock.

The player who didn’t deal the cards looks at the face up card. If s/he doesn’t want it, the option to pick up the first card goes to the dealer. If the dealer doesn’t want the card either, the other player then draws from the top of the stock. S/he then discards a card, ending the turn.

Play continues with each player in turn drawing a card from the top of the discard pile or the top of the stock and then discarding a card.

Finishing and Scoring a Hand
The hand ends when a player gins or knocks. To gin, a player must have all 10 cards in grouped into runs and/or sets. The player draws a card as usual, then discards a single card face down and says "Gin." (The other player is allowed to respond to this declaration as seems appropriate.) The hand is then scored. The player who didn’t gin counts up the points in their hand as follows:
  • Face cards count 10 points each.
  • Numeric cards have their face value.
  • Aces are 1 point each.
A bonus of 25 points is then added to the total of the cards, this score is recorded, and the next hand is dealt.

A player can knock if they don’t have all the cards in their hand grouped in runs or sets and the total of the unmatched cards in their hand is less than or equal to the value of the first card turned up for the discard pile. For example, if the first card was a 7 and you have 2, 2, 3 unmatched in your hand, you can knock. Similarly, a 10 or face card turned up means that you can knock with up to 10 points in your hand. (If the first card was an ace, you must complete the hand by ginning; knocking is not allowed.) As with a gin, the player draws a card as usual, then discards a single card face down and says "Knock with…" followed by the number of points they’re knocking with. For example, if a player knocks with a hand of 6H, 6C, 6D, 6S, 10D, JD, QD, KD, AH, 7C, they’d declare "Knock with 8."

Scoring a knocked hand is slightly different from scoring a ginned hand. The player who didn’t knock only has to score cards in their hand that aren’t already grouped in runs or sets and that they can’t lay off against cards in the knocked hand. To lay off cards, the player who didn’t knock adds cards in their own hand to runs or sets in the knocked hand. For example, if a player is counting up their points against the hand described above and they had a hand of 2H, 3H, 4H, 7H, 7S, 7C, 8C, 8D, 9D, JS, the 2H, 3H, 4H and 7H, 7S, 7C wouldn’t be scored because they’re already groups in sets. 8D and 9D can be laid off against the other player’s 10D, JD, QD, KD run, leaving only the 8C and JS for 18 points. The number of points in the player’s knock is then subtracted from the points in the hand, leaving 10 points for their score for knocking.

If a player knocks and the other player has a lower number of points, they underknock. For example, if a player knocks with a hand of 6H, 6C, 6D, 6S, 10D, JD, QD, KD, AH, 7C, and the other player has a hand of AD, 3D, 2H, 3H, 4H, 7H, 7S, 7C, 8D, 9D, their final score would be 4, 4 points less than the knocked hand. The knocked player receives no points and the other player receives 25 points less the number of points in their hand (in this example, the other player would receive 21 points). A reasonable amount of gloating is allowed at this juncture.

  • You can knock or gin on any turn, including the first if you’re lucky enough to have really good cards. (Do not expect to escape unscathed if you knock on the first card.)
  • You are never forced to knock. You may want to have cards that would allow you to knock with one or two points and then wait to see if you can gin or catch your opponent by underknocking.
If you reach the end of the stock with neither player able to gin or knock (a situation caused when both players are waiting for a card the other has in their hand), the hand is discarded with no points and the same player deals again.

Deal alternates between players.

Winning the Game
The game continues with hands until one player's cumulative score reaches 500 points or more.

Honeymooon Gin

Right then, you've got the hang of Gin; now we're on to Honeymoon Gin. The play is the same, but you change the scoring a bit. At the end of the first hand, you post the score. At the end of the second hand, you post the score to the first game's score (like always), then start a new game with that score. At the end of the third hand, you post the score for the hand to the first and second games, and then start a third game. Thereafter, you play three separate games, with the scores posting across each game score until there's a winner in all three games.

For example, suppose I win the first hand for 57 points. The first game would be 57 points for me. You win the second hand, for 83 points. We'd post 83 points to the first and second games, so the scores are now 83-57 in the first game and 83-0 in the second game. I win the third hand for 74 points, so that's added to the first game for me (74 + 57 = 131) and posted to the second and third games, so the scores are now 83-131, 83-74, and 0-74.

Honeymooon Gin ad infinitum

So, the Babe and I were playing Honeymoon Gin at one point early in our relationship and she said "Why do we have to stop at three games?" "Gosh, I dunno," I said. "Well, what if we just kept starting a new game with each hand?" "Sure, we can try that."

This evolved into a never-ending gin game, which then evolved into a gin game that starts on New Year's and ends a year later. We keep a deck of cards and a book of the games (usually in the back of her car) and frequently play gin while waiting in restaurants and so on.

So far, I've won 3 years and she's won 1. We're a little more than a third of the way through 2007 and I'm a few games ahead (128-79 or so), but there's still a lot more of 2007 left.


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