How to Play Knaves

Avoid these cards, which score -4, -3, -2, and -1 points, respectively.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.

Looking for an entertaining game to play when you don't have a foursome? Knaves is an easy trick-taking card game for three. Here's how to play:

Object: To win as many tricks as possible, but to avoid winning jacks (knaves).


The cards: One 52-card deck.

To play: Deal 17 cards to each player and turn the last card up as trump. Player at dealer's left leads to the first trick. Follow suit whenever possible; otherwise trump or play any other card; you are not required to trump if you don't have the suit led. The winner of a trick leads to the next trick.

Scoring: After all 17 tricks have been played, score one point for each trick taken. For each jack taken, you subtract points. The first to reach a score of 21 wins.

Tip: When you play second to a trick in a suit where the jack is still out, playing the Q, K, or A is taking a big chance. But as third and last to play, you may want to win a trick with the Q, K, or A -- even when you could do so with a much lower card. This saves you the risk of taking the jack on a later play.

Variation: Some use a rule that when the turned-up trump card is a jack, it goes to the winner of the last trick. Also, in one popular variant, 13 cards are dealt to each player instead of 17.

©Publications International, Ltd.