Rules for ``Enid'' - A card game for 2 to 5 players

18th April 1989

Thanks to some neat archaeology on the part of Steve ``Haldane'' Sykes <>, I now have - finally - a copy of the rules for ``Enid'' that I wrote thirteen years ago when I was a humble maths-and-CS undergraduate at Warwick University.

At the time, I posted the rules to a newsgroup - I can't remember which one, but it was probably either misc.misc or talk.bizarre - and the original copy was lost. Since then, I've lived in hope that I'd stumble across an archived copy, and Steve found one at [local copy].

The text of this file is essentially identical to that message, but with a few typos fixed and some HTML formatting applied.

Date: Tue Apr 18 17:45:56 1989
From: mirk@warwick.UUCP (Mike Taylor)
Subject: A brilliant new card game (long but fabulous)
Disclaimer: This game invented by Carver/Hodge/Lessacher/Taylor

The game of Enid developed over a number of late nights towards the end of last term and start of this; it is based on the classic card-game Blackjack, but we hold it to be more educational, since it has strong influences from the fields of computer science, piscatorial zoology and english literature.

For the benefit of those readers not acquainted with the relatively pedestrian game of Blackjack, a summary follows. Those who already know this game can skip straight to the section detailing the ways in which Enid differs from Blackjack, after the dashed line.

In Blackjack, each player is dealt a hand of seven cards, and the remainder of the deck is placed face down on the table, except for one card which is turned face up. The first player to get rid of all his (or her; throughout this article, masculine pronouns are used in a non-gender-specific sense) cards is the winner. A player loses a card by placing it face up on top of the current face-up card; it must follow either suit or rank except in special circumstances mentioned below.

Play starts with the player to the left of the dealer, and passes to the left until one player has one. Any player unable to take his turn must instead draw the top card from the face-down deck. When this deck is exhausted, it is replenished from the stock of face-up cards.

This is ``natural'' Blackjack. As it stands it is a rather dull game; thus it is enhanced by the addition of ``magic'' cards. That is, cards of certain rank have special effects. These are:

Ace The player playing an ace nominates a new suit, which the next play must follow.
Two The next player is forced to pick up two cards unless he is able to lay another two, in which case the player after must pick up four cards. If he is able to play another two, he may do this instead, in which case the next player picks up six, etc.
Seven The direction of play is reversed.
Eight The player who laid the eight must immediately follow it with any other card in his hand; the second card need not follow suit or rank as in the usual case. If the player is unable to follow an eight (ie. it was his last card) he must draw from the deck.
Ten The player may lay any or all cards from his hand which are of the same suit as the Ten just laid.
Jack A black Jack causes the next player to pick up seven cards, unless he can follow with a red jack (which neutralises the black jack) or another black jack, in which case the next player must draw fourteen cards, unless able to lay a red jack (reducing the penalty for the next player to seven cards).
Queen The next player is skipped.
King The next two players are skipped.

One last rule is that a player with only a single card left must say ``Last card'' as soon as he has laid his last-but-one; otherwise he must pick up seven, in an astonishingly witty way.

This, then, is the usual game of Blackjack. Some regional variations exist in the exact powers of the magic cards, but those listed above are typical, and make a balanced and witty game.

In a different league altogether, however, is Enid. This builds on the usual rules in a number of ways. Firstly, the suits are renamed; no longer are they Clubs, Spades, Hearts and Diamonds, but Carp, Sturgeon, Halibut and Dalmations. (The dalmation is, of course, not a fish, but is included for historical reasons).

Secondly the card ranks are renamed after eminent computer scientists:

Black Ace Rob McMahon (Warwick computer Unit's SuperGuru)
Red Ace Jeff Smith (Warwick computer Department's Guru)
Two Marvin Minsky (AI pioneer and researcher)
Three Dennis M. Richie (Co-inventor of C and UNIX)
Four Brian W. Kernighan (Co-inventor of C)
Five Tarski (aka. "The Boring One")
Six Alan Turing (Pioneer of computational theory)
Seven Alonzo Church (as in the Church-Turing thesis)
Eight Aho/Sethi/Hopcroft/Ullman (Authors who only ever work together)
Nine Terry Wogan (Not really a computer scientist)
Ten Terry Winograd (Natural language researcher)
Black Jack Mark Rafter (Warwick C++ guru)
Red Jack John Buckle (Warwick frisbee guru)
Queen Julia Dain (Warwick compiler-design guru)
King Ken Thompson (The inventor of UNIX)

Obviously, players from other establishments may wish to rename the Aces, Jacks and Queen after local people. For historical reasons, the red aces are always referred to as ``Jeffy-pheasant(sic) without /cs/res'', the King as ``Kendall Mint Thompson'', and the Queen either as ``Julia Dain'', ``Julia Ordain'', ``Julia Hors d'Ouvre'' or ``Julia Hors d'Ouvre which must be obeyed as all times''. The Ten may be referred to as the ``Terry Winograd'', ``Terry who Mage can't pronounce'', or ``The bloke who wrote SHRDLU''. (Mage can't pronounce ``Winograd''.)

To encourage the use of these new names, each card played must be named by the player as it is laid, without reading it off a list. This is difficult at first, and tends to discourage the over-use of the eight, but in time becomes second nature. Any player unable to name his card is forced to draw from the pack, and the card's ``magic'' effect, if any, is nullified.

Whenever a Dennis M. Richie or a Brian W. Kernighan is played, the player must make up a middle name, beginning with the appropriate initial, which may not be re-used later in the same session of play, on pain of being forced, once again, to draw from the deck. The middle names may not be proper nouns unless they are really good ones. Any player nominating ``Water-buffalo'' as Brian Kernighan's middle name must pick up seven cards.

Whenever an Alonzo Church is played, reversing the direction of play, the player laying the card must shout triumphantly at the player who would have played next, had the Church not been played: ``Haaargh! Be Alonzo Churched! (a bit)''.

Anybody playing a black Alan Turing may force the next player to compose and recite a limerick, the first line being chosen by the player laying the Alan Turing, unless this player can follow the Turing with another black Alan Turing, which passes the limerick onto the next player, or a red one, which cancels it entirely. If it doesn't scan or rhyme properly - or if it is just no good - the other players may elect to force the poet to draw from the deck anyway.

The card from which the game draws its name is, of course, the Enid Blyton. This card is always a nine, and its suit during any game is determined by the suit of the first card to be turned over at the start of the game. The enid is a kind of ``smart-bomb'' among cards - it can get its possessor out of almost anything. For instance a Mark Rafter can be annulled not only by a John Buckle (to the ritual cry of ``My John Buckle casts your Mark Rafter to type void!''), but also by the Enid Blyton. Similarly, the Enid can cancel any number of consecutive Marvin Minskys, or indeed Alan Turings.

Another property of the Enid Blyton is that if the player laying it is able to name it correctly, then all other players are immediately forced to draw from the deck, thus making the Enid a useful weapon against a player with only one card remaining. (Incidentally, in this game, Blackjack's traditional call of ``Last card'' is replaced by ``Last St. Francis of Assisi;;. Forgetting this results, predictably, in being forced to draw seven cards from the deck)

Naming the Enid is a more difficult task than it may seem, since each time it is correctly named, the player laying it adds another middle name onto the list, which starts empty at the beginning of the session of play. (Note: it is not re-zero'd between games - only at the start of a whole new session.) Once four or five such middle names have been added, it can become quite difficult to remember them all (They must of course, be in the right order)

An example of a growing Enid, taken from the very first ever game of Enid that we played, is:

A player attempting to lay the Enid, but unable accurately to name it must draw a number of cards from the deck equal to the current tally of middle names, and forfeits the right to add a new middle name.

Well, there you have it. Curiously enough, this isn't just a set of silly rules, but does actually make a frogging good game - it keeps us amused for hours, and well repays the time taken in learning its rules, which are, of course, fairly fluid. I strongly urge you to have a go.

If you play this game, please email me with any comments, ideas for new rules, particularly good middle names for Enid Blyton, etc. My address is in my signature at the bottom of this article.

Feedback to <> is welcome!