Bassarah a Card Game for Two (part 1)

I have no idea whether I’m spelling Bassarah correctly: it’s pronounced like the fish plus ‘a’ as in rad plus ‘rah’ as in Sarah. I learned this card game for two on many nights during the summer of 1979. I spent that summer on a great program called the Junior Conservationist’s Award Program with a terrific group of guys. Our leader was a student at the University of Waterloo’s Man and the Environment program named Bob Pickering. I learned this game from him.


Use a standard 52-card deck.
Jacks and the 7 of diamonds (7D) are wild.
Winner is the first to 150 points but they must win by at least 20.
There are 2 goals: to gain the most cards in your pile (30 points) and to get as many bassarahs (10 points each) as you can.

High card deals.
Dealer deals well-shuffled cards in two’s in the following sequence:
2 face down to the opponent, 2 face down to yourself, 2 face up in the centre of the table, 2 face down to the opponent, 2 face down to yourself, 2 face up in the centre of the table. Cards for the table are lined up in a single perpendicular row halfway between the players. If, while turning up these table cards on the initial deal (only), a wild card is revealed it is immediately put to the bottom of the deck and replaced with the top card from the deck.
This is a counting game with all but the face cards. Aces are worth one, all other number cards are worth their own number except for the 7D which is the greatest card. It can be ANY card. Jacks can remove all the cards from the table. Queens and Kings are merely themselves and have no numerical value.
The opponent plays first. You can use any one of the cards in your hand to remove a like value from the table and start adding to your pile. If you have, for example, 7C KS QH JD in your hand and the table has 2H 6C 5C QD then your best move is to take the 2 and the 5 with your 7 and so you’d have 3 cards in your pile. Let’s say the dealer takes the 6 with his 6H. Then the only card left on the table is the Q and, as luck (or I the magic internet card shark) would have it, you’ve got a Q. If you take the Q you’ve cleared the table with a matching card and that is a ‘bassarah’ and worth 10 points. The dealer has to put a card on the table. If he puts down a K you’ll get another bassarah. Let’s say he does and you do. Then he puts down the AH. All you have left is the jack and so you clear the board BUT you didn’t clear it with a matching card so it isn’t a bassarah but you’ve just made an opportunity for one with the next deal.
The dealer plays his last card which is the 4C and then deals another round. This time (since it’s not the start) the opponent gets 2, he gets 2, opponent 2 and dealer 2. You’re always dealt a hand of 4 cards and this time you have 5D 7D 9H 10D. You put your K down and the dealer then puts down the QS. You then put your 9 down and he takes everything with a jack. You can’t give up your wild card so you have to put down the 5. He puts done a 3. You’ve got a bassarah since the 7D can be any card including an 8 (or a Q or K or even a Jack).

I’ll continue with more info about the game tomorrow.


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