(sufi,Nasrudin Stories)


Carrying home a load of delicate glassware, Nasrudin dropped it in the street. Everything was smashed. A crowd gathered.
"What's the matter with you, idiots ?" Howled the Mulla. "haven't you ever seen a fool before ?"

A card game for two or more players. The ideal number of players is two or three; four is doable, and more may be possible with multiple card decks, though I haven't tried that.

Idiot is a fun way to spend an hour or two with someone in whose company you're always glad to do most anything. The rules are simple, the action is fast and doesn't tax your brain so there's plenty of bandwidth available for conversation. It's more fun than poker, blackjack, etc., (IMHO) because too much time is spent in the overhead of those games (shuffling, dealing). Sometimes a single hand can go on between two players for half an hour -- that's rare, though.

I have no idea when the game was invented, where, or by whom.

How to play

Deal three cards to each player, face down, then three more to each, face up, on top of them. Each player then gets three more cards which e holds in his hand. The rest of the deck forms a draw pile. A player's six cards on the table won't come into play for a while, but before the game starts, any of the three showing can be exchanged with a card in the player's hand if e wishes, based on the value criteria described later. The player who first plays all of eir cards is the winner. To conclude the preparations, the top card from the draw pile is placed face up on the table to initialize the play pile.

As is common, play begins with the person to the dealer's left and continues around in that direction. A person can play any card that is equal to or higher than the top card on the play pile. (The suit of cards is not significant.) If e holds more than one of that value card, e may play any number of them. After doing so, if e holds fewer than three cards, he draws cards to replenish his hand to three. (After the draw pile has been exhausted, a player may then hold fewer than three cards in eir hand.) If a player cannot play any card, e must pick up all the cards in the play pile and add them to his hand; the next player then plays any playable card to start a new play pile.

If a player has no cards in eir hand, e then starts to play from his three face-up cards on the table. If e has played all of those, e then plays from the face-down cards, by picking one at random (i.e., e cannot look at them to choose). Note that though e has reached either of those two stages, if e is unable to play at some point and must pick up the play pile, e then must wait until e once again holds no cards before e can resume playing from the table.

Of course, that all makes it sound too idiotic ... err, easy. Naturally, there are exceptions to the rules which are what make it interesting.

  • A two (the lowest value card) can be played on top of any other card, regardless of its value
  • A ten can also be played on any card, but when a ten is played, the entire play pile is then picked up and permanently removed from the game. The player who played the ten then plays again to restart the play pile.
  • If, after playing one or more cards, the top four cards on the play pile are of the same value, the player who played the last one continues as though e had played a ten.

Knowing all that, one then can see what e generally wants to do in the card exchange phase before play starts: make your face-up cards consist of tens, high-valued cards, two- or three-of-a-kind, and twos.

The way I know this game is that each player is dealt three cards face down, then six cards which they pick up. From those six, they choose three cards and lay those three face up over the face-down cards. Aces are high; jokers are wild. After the cards are dealt, the deck is placed face down in the middle of the table and the top card is turned face up, next to the deck, to begin the pile.

If you play with more than four people, you combine two decks.

Each player in turn must place one or more cards on the pile, face up. If you play more than one card, all the cards you play must have the same value. (For example, if there is a three on top of the pile, and you have two fives and a six in your hand, you may place both fives over the three.)

You may only play a card with a value equal to or higher than the card on top of the pile. If you do not have a card with equal or higher value, you may play a special card. Twos, tens, and sevens are special cards.

A two resets the count (the next card played can be three or higher). A ten removes all the cards in the pile from the game. A seven requires the next player to play either a seven or lower.

After you play a ten, you play another card to start the pile.

If a player doesn't have a valid card to place on the pile, they must pick up the pile and add it to their hand.

After a player has played, if they have less than three cards in hand, they draw cards from the deck until they do. If they have three or more cards in hand, they do not pick up any more cards.

Once the deck is exhausted and a player has no more cards in hand, they play their three face-up cards.

Once those cards are gone, they use their face-down cards, blindly turning one over each turn. If it is a valid card, turn passes to the left. If it's invalid, player must add the pile to their hand.

The winner is the first to get rid of all their cards.

Id"i*ot (?), n. [F. idiot, L. idiota an uneducated, ignorant, ill-informed person, Gr. , also and orig., a private person, not holding public office, fr. proper, peculiar. See Idiom.]


A man in private station, as distinguished from one holding a public office.


St. Austin affirmed that the plain places of Scripture are sufficient to all laics, and all idiots or private persons. Jer. Taylor.


An unlearned, ignorant, or simple person, as distinguished from the educated; an ignoramus.


Christ was received of idiots, of the vulgar people, and of the simpler sort, while he was rejected, despised, and persecuted even to death by the high priests, lawyers, scribes, doctors, and rabbis. C. Blount.


A human being destitute of the ordinary intellectual powers, whether congenital, developmental, or accidental; commonly, a person without understanding from birth; a natural fool; a natural; an innocent.

Life . . . is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. Shak.


A fool; a simpleton; -- a term of reproach.

Weenest thou make an idiot of our dame? Chaucer.


© Webster 1913.

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