Jose's Page on our Carrillo Family Card Games


This page is dedicated to our children Joseph and Kayla; with whom we still played card games in the 21st Century to keep old traditions alive...


This page was created on August 2, 2015

This page was last updated on October 17, 2015



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The game of Cribbage has a special place in the heart of the Carrillo family (long story... going back to 1998). Leah and I are the main Cribbage players. We play scoring on a Cribbage board or a pad of paper. The kids learned to play Cribbage in 2015, and then we started experimenting with some of the Cribbage Variants; especially Speed Crib, where each player is dealt a crib, and the dealer gets a 2nd crib made out of the discards.

Below are two of our Cribbage boards, the first for 3 players and the second for 4 players. The 2nd board allows tracking multiple different other categories. Underneath the boards below there are is a picture of some instructions that I found on the net for a similar Four Track Cribbage board.


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The game of Euchre is a family favorite. A common pastime here in Canada. The Carrillos play it to 11 points.

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Euchridge is the Carrillo variation of Euchre for 3 players. I play Euchridge with the kids when Mommy is not around. Euchridge introduces a dummy hand (dealt as the 4th player, but to be played by the player who declares the trump), and each one of the players plays on their own. The 3 players follow regular Euchre rules to determine the trump. After trump is declared, the player to the declarer's left leads his first card, the dummy hand is then revealed and placed to his left. The declarer plays the dummy hand and game continues clockwise. First player to reach 11 points wins.

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The game of Whist is a recent (2015) addition of a classic game to the family card games arsenal. Whist was the national cards game of Great Britain from the 1730s until the early part of the twentieth century, when it was supplanted by an early form of Bridge, now referred to as Straight Bridge or Bridge-Whist.

A very old cards game became an instant hit with the Carrillos due to its simplicity (In the era of video games, one needs to keep cards games to the bare simple, otherwise the kids would lose focus, and go back to the video games).

Edmond Hoyle describes how to play better Whist in his 1742 book: A short treatise on the game of whist (1743 reprint), however he assumed that one already knew the basics of how to play Whist. The 1823 book: Hoyle's games improved: containing practical treatises on whist (, quadrille ... and many other games) includes the basic rules to play the game. Interestingly, in the 1823 work, Whist is set to be played to 10 points. Traditionally, Short Whist was played to 5 points, while Long Whist was played to 9. In America, Whist was usually played to 7 points.

The laws of Whist published in Hoyle's A short treatise on the game of whist were regarded as authoritative until 1864, after which time they were superseded by the new rules written in The laws of short whist by John Loraine Baldwin.

The Carrillos play Whist either to 5 points (without counting honours), or up to 10 points counting honours (Ace, King, Queen and Jack [but not the 10]).

P.S. Read Script & Print's short essay by David Levy : Pirates, Autographs and a Bankruptcy: A short treatise on the game of whist by Edmond Hoyle, Gentlemen; for the very interesting story about Hoyle's first book on Whist, and its many reprints. (Appendices to the article)

Below is my new (but antique!) Pall Mall Whist Markers. They were made in 1892:

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Dummy Whist

"Dummy Whist" sounds like the name for a 3-players variation of Whist that I would have invented to play while alone with the kids, in the same spirit of my Euchridge game above.

However I can't take credit for this game, as this variation did exist at one time. In the 1864 edition of their book: The laws of short whist (page 18), John Loraine Baldwin and James Clay describe Dummy Whist, as a 3-players variation of Whist, where basically, there was a Dummy (4th) player and that the Dummy position always dealt the first game to a rubber. It is not clear whether the right to control the Dummy moves among the players with each subsequent deal within a rubber. The book also describes a Double Dummy game, where 2 players play against each other, and each one controls a Dummy hand.

Some Bridge historians believe that it was actually Dummy Whist which inspired what would develop afterwards: 4-player games being played with 3 "active" players and a Dummy.

In the 1881 edition of the same book (page 106), James Clay makes an interesting remark about Dummy Whist: "This, as played in England, is to me a dull game, and especially so to Dummy's opponents. The game is very frequently over, and the cards thrown down, before the hand is half played out, and as the player with the Dummy cannot deceive his partner, it is his interest always to play false cards, whereby the ordinary calculations of Whist become of little use."

One may deduce from this remark that only one player controled the Dummy throughout the game, which would definitely make this a dull game, and as Clay's puts it: "especially so to Dummy's opponents".

James Clay then moves on to describe another variation of the game, which he found while on a trip to Algiers, that he considered to be vastly superior to the old-fashioned Dummy Whist. He described the rules this way:

Clay proceeds to describe 2 examples, one where a player makes 12 tricks and scores 15 points (11 points in tricks plus 4 for the game); and the other where he makes 13 tricks (a grand slam) and scores 17 points. I do not know why in the first example the player scored 11 points in tricks, instead of 12. So there must be some additional calculations, like maybe substracting the opponents tricks from ones score.

The Carrillos play Dummy Whist using the strict interpretation of Clay's 1881 (Algiers) rules above. Therefore each player plays the dummy on their deal, and every player scores points based on how many tricks they won per game; with the winner of each game getting and extra 4 points. In order to keep the game aligned with the rubber score needed to win Sraight Bridge, we play Dummy Whist to 30 points (first player to reach 30 or more points).

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Straight Bridge (Bridge-Whist)

Quote: "From Whist came Bridge or BRIDGE-WHIST about 1896 - a game in which the dealer could name the trump suit; his partner's hand (called the dummy) was exposed and played by the dealer, and the hand could be played either with a trump suit or at no-trump." from the book: Hoyle's Rules of Games (in the introduction to the game of Bridge).

Note: The full Laws for Bridge-Whist or Straight Bridge (1904 edition, simply called "Bridge" back then) can be found in the Project Gutenberg's transcription of the 1909 version of Hoyle's Games Modernized (by Louis Hoffmann). You can also find the 1908 American Laws of (Straight) Bridge in the book: Bridge and Auction Bridge by William Dalton. Straight Bridge is very similar to Russian Whist or Biritch, as documented by John Collinson in 1886. In 1899 The Chicago Tribune reported that Bridge-Whist was the last fad and published the rules for the cards game that had become a favorite at the clubs.  

Below is the version of Straight Bridge as played by the Carrillo family. We rank the trumps in the same order as modern Contact Bridge, and limit the doubling and redoubling to only one time each. The beauty of Straight Bridge (and Whist) is that it allowed us to slowly introduce the concepts of Auction Bridge, and of the modern Contract Bridge (with its complicated scoring) to the kids, without losing their focus (and pushing them back to their video games).

Rules: The game of Bridge-Whist is a plain-trick game without bidding for 4 players in fixed partnerships. Straight Bridge is considered to be the immediate ancestor of Auction Bridge (1908 rules), which in turn lead to the very popular modern Contract Bridge.

Players: There are four players in two fixed partnerships. Partners sit facing each other. The game is played clockwise.

Cards: A standard 52 card pack is used. The cards in each suit rank from highest to lowest: A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2.

Choosing the Dealer: The first dealer is chosen by the drawing the highest card method. The highest card drawn becomes the dealer. (Aces are considered to be higher than the Kings)

Deal: The Dealer shuffles the cards and they are cut by the player to dealer's right. The dealer deals out all the cards one at a time (in pairs, 3 at a time or even 4 at a time) so that each player has 13.

Trump Suit: The dealer, having examined his hand, has the option of declaring what suit shall be trumps, or whether the hand shall be played at no-trumps.  

In Straight Bridge the dealer may also pass the choice of trumps to his partner, and his partner must choose trumps (or no-trumps). In either case the dealer's partner is dummy.

Doubling and Redoubling: Either opponent may double before the lead to the first trick, and if doubled, the dealer's side may redouble the value for the full score (only the trick points under the line, not the bonuses over the line) of the hand in play. A player cannot double (or redouble) his partner's bid. Any bid can be doubled and redoubled once, but no more.

After the trump suit (or no trumps) is set, the player to the left of the dealer must choose whether to double, or pass the choice to his partner. His partner then gets the chance to double or to pass. If both players pass, the game begins and eldest hand leads to the first trick.

If either of the opponents doubles the game, then the dealer has the first choice to redouble the game, or to pass the choice to redouble or pass to his partner (the dummy). The game then starts, and eldest hand lead to the first trick.

Play: Once the trump suit (or no-trumps) is set, the player to the dealer's left leads to the first trick. After the first trick is lead to, the dealer's partner exposes his dummy hand, which will now be played by the dealer.  

Any card may be led. The other players (including the dummy hand, to be played by the dealer), in clockwise order, each play a card to the trick. Players must follow suit by playing a card of the same suit as the card led if they can; a player with no card of the suit led may play any card. The trick is won by the highest trump in it - or if it contains no trump, by the highest card of the suit led. The winner of a trick leads to the next.

Scoring: When all 13 tricks have been played, the side which won more tricks scores points for each trick they won in excess of 6, based on the trump played, as follows:

We also score for Honours, Chicane and Slams. The table below summarizes all the scoring.

We use a regular Bridge Scoring Pad to score, with all trick points under the line, and all other additional points over the line.

Bridge Scoring Pad

Winning a Game: After playing several hands, the partnership that first reaches 30 points (or more) worth of trick points under the line, wins the game, and the next game is started.

Winning a Rubber: In the tradition of the grand old game of Whist, a Rubber is winning best out of 3 games (i.e. winning 2 games to nil, or to 1).

Winning the Match: Add all the points for the individual games per team to determine the Rubber scores. The Winner of the Match is the team with the most points. (Note: It is technically possible, while unlikely, to win 2 out of 3 games in a Rubber, and still lose the Match.)

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The game of Hearts is also a new family favorite (2015). Leah enjoyed the game much as a young girl, and was very happy to play it again, once I re-found the game and added it our card games arsenal. For the pass, we play the "center mixer" variation, where players choose three cards and discard them to a central pile. The Dealer then gathers, shuffles, and re-deals these cards. We also play the "shooting the moon" rule, whereby if a player gets all 26 points in a hand; he can choose between subtracting 26 points from his/her own score or adding 26 points to each one of the opponents scores. The Carrillos play it to 100 points, and we keep track of the scores by using a Four Track Cribbage board. After the first player reaches 100 (or more points) the game ends, and the players with the least points wins the game.

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Partnership Hearts

There are two ways that the Carrillos play Hearts in partnerships. Partners sit opposite each other, and again, we keep track of the scores by using a Four Track Cribbage board.

  1. Partners keep their tricks together. On each hand your team scores the total number of penalty points you have taken in your tricks. A slam occurs if one team takes all 14 penalty cards in a hand, they can choose give the opponents 26 penalty points or to subtract 26 penalty points from their own score.
  3. Each player keeps an individual score, and in order to "shoot the moon", an individual player has to win all the penalty cards. The game continues until an individual player's score reaches 100 or more; then the scores of the partners are totalled and the partnership with fewer points wins. Thus it is possible to win even if it is a player in your team who goes over 100. For example you have 105, your partner has 34, and your opponents have 78 and 69, then your team actually wins 139 points to 147.

We use the Cribbage board below to keep track of the scores of our Hearts games. On the outer tracks, we keep the individual player scores. The inner pegs are used keep track of the partnership combined scores, and the games won per side.

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Angels and Demons

While in the pursuit of finding new games to play during Carrillo Family Cards Night, I ran into one of the oldest card games in Iceland: Alkort, that is a member of the Karn÷ffel group of games; which is a very old group of trick taking card games dating back to 1426. In fact, Karn÷ffel is the oldest identifiable European card game in the history of playing cards.

According to in Karn÷ffel games the "trump" suit is properly called the chosen suit. Instead of designating a whole suit as trumps and having it rank in the same order internally as the other suits, the power to beat cards of the other suits is assigned only to certain cards of the chosen suit. Karn÷ffel games also have a special property of the sevens of a chosen suit. A chosen seven cannot win a trick unless it is led, but if a chosen seven is led it cannot be beaten, or can only be beaten by a limited number of specific cards.

While I liked some of the concepts in Alkort, I did not enjoy much the complexity and the weird ranking of the chosen suit, which is actually a trademark to Karn÷ffel games. At least, I expected the unusual ranking of the cards in Alkort ( [7's of S, H, D or C when lead], KD, 2H, 4C, 8S, 9H, 9D, [Aces of S, H, D, C], [Jacks of S, H, D, C], [6's of S, H, D, C], [8's of H, D, C] ) to cause some confusion to our kids, which in turn would have caused them to lose interest in the game. I experimented with Alkort (and Karn÷ffel) until I came up with a new game that could be more easily understood by 21st century (video playing) kids. My design goal was to keep it simple! The result was a new Karn÷ffel game that everyone in the family enjoyed! I called my new game: Angels and Demons.

The game is played by 4 players as partners, or between 2 or 3 players by themselves.

Angels and Demons is played with a deck of 44 cards. Remove the following 8 cards from standard 52-cards French suited deck:

Spades and Demons has permanent trumps, a few special cards that are promoted to high trumps, and useless rubbish cards.

The special trumps which have special trump/rubbish properties are:

The Bower is the highest trump in Angels and Demons. It can trump the Archangel, the Angels, the Demons, the Devil or any other card. The suit of the Jack to be promoted to Bower is chosen at random from deal to deal. Shuffle the four Tens and use them as trump indicators to keep track of the suit rotation for the Bower. (The word Bower comes from the German Bauer, which means farmer or peasant and is also a word for Jack.)

When Demons are lead to start a trick, they become a high trump and will always win the trick (except when trumped by the Devil or the Bower). Otherwise if a Demon of Hearts, Diamonds or Clubs is played after the initial lead, they are plain rubbish which cannot win a trick. When the Demon of Spades is played after the initial lead, it becomes a simple trump, lower than the 8 of Spades.

The Devil has three peculiarities:

Neither the Archangel, the Devil or a Demon can be lead to the very first trick of a hand.

The rank of the trump cards in the chosen suit is as follows:

  1. The Right Bower: As in Euchre, the Jack of trumps. It can be played at any time, and it always wins. It is also known historically as the "Karn÷ffel".
  2. The Left Bower: The other Jack, of the same color as the Right Bower. It can also be played at any time, and it can only lose to the Right Bower, otherwise it always wins. Historically, the 2nd highest trump was known as the "Pope".
  3. The Archangel (the 2 of Spades) when played after a Devil or Demon is lead. If the Archangel is lead, it draws the Devil and the Demons. (i.e. All players [including the partner] must play [and sacrifice] the Devil or a Demon). Otherwise, the Archangel ranks as lowest trump.
  4. The Devil (the 7 of Spades) when lead. If the Devil is lead, it draws Angels and Spades. (i.e. Players must play [and sacrifice] an Angel or a trump). The Devil will also trump an Angel or Demon lead. Otherwise, the Devil ranks as a regular trump, lower than the 8 of trumps.
  5. The Angels (the non-trump 2s) when played after the Demon of the same suit that is lead. Otherwise, the Angels are rubbish.
  6. The Demons (the non-trump 7s) when lead. Otherwise, the Demons are rubbish.
  7. Ace of Spades
  8. King of Spades
  9. Queen of Spades
  10. 10 of Spades
  11. 9 of Spades
  12. 8 of Spades
  13. 7 of Spades (when not lead)
  14. 6 of Spades
  15. 5 of Spades
  16. 4 of Spades
  17. 3 of Spades
  18. 2 of Spades (if not lead, or when not used to trump a Demon)
  19. The three Non-trump Aces
  20. The three Non-trump Kings
  21. The three Non-trump Queens
  22. The two Jacks of the opposite color of the trumps

The other cards are all useless rubbish which cannot win any tricks, except that a player who leads a rubbish card wins the trick if the other cards played to the trick were also rubbish.

After shuffling and cutting, each player is dealt 9 cards in batches of 3, clockwise. The stock which is left over is placed face down on the table.

A player who is not dealt any of the permanent trumps; may show all his cards, then secretly choose and keep 1 card, discard his other 8 cards and pick 8 new cards from the top of the stock. In 2 or 3 player games, up to 2 players can replace their hands once (in case they were initially dealt a hand without any permanent trumps).

In 4-player games, before play begins, partners show each other their highest card. Elder hand leads first and the others follow in clockwise order. Players are not required to follow suit. The highest card played takes the trick. If two or more equally high cards are played (e.g. two jacks or two aces or two rubbish) then the one played earliest to the trick counts as highest.

The goal of the game is to take as many tricks as possible, and as fast as possible. All odd tricks over 4 tricks count for a point (i.e. the first 4 tricks do not count). If a player/team takes 5 tricks before the opponents take a single trick (this is called a mock) then they score 4 extra points. These 4 extra points are called: Four for the mock.

In 2 or 3 player games, each player plays and scores by themselves. If a player takes 5 tricks before the opponents take a single trick, they still score the Four for the mock bonus.

The first team/player to reach 11 points wins the match. We use Whist markers or a Cribbage board to keep track of the scores.

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Another Karn÷ffel group variation that I found while in the pursuit of finding new games to play during Carrillo Family Cards Night. Brus is played on the Swedish island of Gotland. Brus is unlike other card games in that the players play with unplayable cards!

The description of the Gotland version of Brus is found at the site.

However, as it happened with Alkort, I did not enjoy much the complexity and the weird ranking in the chosen suit. Once again, I expected the unusual ranking of the cards in Brus ( [7's of C, S, H or D when lead], JC, 8S, KH, [9s of C, S, H or D], [Aces of C, S, H or D], [Jacks of S, H or D], [6's of C, S, H or D] ) to cause some confusion to our kids, which in turn would have caused them to lose interest in the game.

This time, instead of experimenting with Brus (as I did with Alkort) to create a new Karn÷ffel variation, I mainly kept the principles of the game intact. I changed the actual cards that made up the chosen suit, again, to make sure the game could be more easily understood by 21st century (video playing) kids; I also improved on the scoring a little bit.

What follows is the Carrillo Family Brus variation:

Brus is a partnership game for four players in two teams with partners sitting opposite to each other.

A 36 card pack is used, obtained from an ordinary 52 card French-suits deck by removing:

There are 22 playable cards and 14 unplayable (rubbish) cards.

The 22 playable cards, ranking from highest to lowest are:

The four 7s (for all suits), AS, AC, KS, KC, QS, QC, JS, JC, 10S, 10C, 9S, 9C, 8S, 8C, 6S, 6C, 5S and 5C.

The sevens act as automatic trick cards when led. There is no order of ranking among the sevens. Sevens cannot be beaten.

The other 14 cards in the pack (all the "non-7" red cards) are unplayable cards and are unusable, except that the King of Hearts is the tie-breaker card, possession of which decides some games which would otherwise be drawn.

The dealer shuffles and the player to dealer's right cuts. Each player is dealt 9 cards in groups or 3 cards.

The player with the eldest hand (Eldest) leads first and play then proceeds clockwise. First, if Eldest has any sevens he lays them on the table. As sevens cannot be beaten, each seven led counts as an automatic a trick. Eldest then leads a playable card. Each of the other players in turn must play a higher card and win the trick if they can. A player who cannot beat the previously played card does not discard a card, but passes (i.e. does not play a card to that trick). When every player has had a chance to play, whoever played the highest card wins the trick. The winner of the trick leads to the next trick, by first playing any sevens he has and claiming them as automatic tricks and then leading a playable card. If a player on lead has no sevens or playable cards left, the turn to lead passes on to the next player in rotation. Notice that because not every player plays to every trick the total number of tricks played may be greater than the number of cards dealt to each player at the start.

Play continues until neither team has any more playable cards (black or 7s) to play. The team that has six or more tricks, scores one point, plus one point for each odd trick over six tricks. If a team manage to score 6 trick in a row, they score an extra 3 points. If all the playable cards are exhausted and neither team has taken six tricks then a team with five tricks and the tie-breaker card (King of Hearts) can count it as their sixth trick and win. If the game cannot be decided even in this way then there is no score and the next player to the left deals the next hand.

As many hands are played until one team scores 11 points. We keep track of the points on a small Cribbage board.

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Players: Two or three play each by themselves. Four, two against two as partners, facing each other.

The Deal: The game is played with a Spanish deck. Dealer gives each player three cards, one at a time in order to his right (counter-clockwise), instead of to the left as in most other games. In the three-player version, a four (of any suit) is removed from the pack, thus playing with only 39 cards.

Stock and Trump Suit: The undealt remainder of the pack is placed face down in the center of the table, forming the stock. Its top card is turned face up and placed partially underneath the stock. This card fixes the trump suit ("la Vida" or "el Palo del Triunfo" ).

The Play: The object is to get the highest score by wining the most point scoring tricks (tricks where there are "Briscas" (1s or 3s) or, 12s, 11s and 10s). Each trick consists of a card led by one player plus a card played by each other player in turn. The player at the dealer's right makes the first lead, and thereafter the winner of each trick leads to the next. Players may lead and play cards of any suit, as they are not required to follow suit ("asistir"). A trick is won by the highest card played of the suit led, or if it contains a trump ("una Vida" or "un Palo del Triunfo" ), by the highest trump it contains.

The Draw: At the end of each trick, and before the start of the next trick, the winner of each trick draws a card from the top of the stock, and the other players follow in order to his right (counter-clockwise). For the last drawing round, the last player to draw will draw the trump suit card.

The Win: When all tricks have been played (20 tricks in 2-player games, 13 in 3-player, and 10 in 4-player) each player or team scores the points in his/their won tricks. Player or team with highest score wins the game, and draws are possible.

Exchanging the trump suit card rule: The use of this rule is optional and is generally agreed between the players before play starts.

When the trump suit card is a 10 or better (11, 12, 1 or 3) , it can be exchanged by the 7 of the same suit by any player holding it, and before the very first hand is played, it can be exchanged by the 2 of the same suit by any player holding it. Before the first hand is played, exchanging the trump suit card with the 2 has precedence over exchanging it with the 7.

When the trump suit card is a 7 or less (4, 5 or 6), it can be exchanged with the 2 of the same suit at any time.

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Leah played Tuck (rules here too) as a young girl. Tuck is a board game similar to Pachisi, but played with cards (instead of dice). We now have her Grandmother's 100+ years old homemade wooden board, and play it once in while. We also found a travel version, which we carry with us to play when we are on the road.

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