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COVER STORY : Following the Rules


A brief primer on some commonly played card and dice games:

Bonkers: a dice and card game. The object--getting bonkers--is to get cards numbered 2 through 6, 8 through 10 and two face cards turned over as the dice are rolled. If a player rolls a 7, the dice is given to the person on the right. If a number cannot be used (because the card is already turned over), the dice are handed to the person on the right.

Bridge: a game descended from various card games played in England during the 16th Century. Bridge is played by four people divided into two teams. Bridge has two main parts: bidding and play. In bidding, a team proposes how many tricks it will win.

Bunco: a six-round game in which players earn points by rolling three dice. In each round, players try to roll the same number as the number of the round (rolling 3s in round 3, for example). A point is granted each time a player does so. The round is over when one team reaches 21 points. If each of a player's three dice rolls the number of the round being played, that is a bunco.

Mah-jongg: a 1,000-year-old Chinese game played with 144 colorful tiles or printed cards, plus eight big jokers in the modernized version. Four players start with 14 tiles each, trying to show a complete hand to win the deal.

Pinochle: an American game based on the French bezique and the German sixty-six, traditionally played by two, three or four players. The object is to score points by melds or by winning tricks containing counting cards.

Poker: an international card game in which the object is to build sets of two or more cards of a kind, sequences of cards or hands composed all of the same suit. Players bet on the value of their hands, and the bets form a pool that is taken by the player with the highest hand. Two to 14 can play; 52 cards are used.

For information on games, consult "According to Hoyle," "The Oxford Guide to Card Games" or "The Dictionary of Gambling and Gaming."

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