Molimba is a quick two-player card game of taking and losing tricks that may feel at times like a tug-of-war. Here's how to play:
Number of players: Two
Object: To reach molimba -- a hand with cards of two suits only.
The cards: A regular 52-card deck is used.
To play: Deal nine cards to each player and two cards, called the shed, face down on the table. Put the rest of the cards aside.
Nondealer leads the first trick. You must follow suit if possible, otherwise play any card (there's no trump suit). Ace is the highest card in each suit. If you win the trick, then pick up both cards and add them to your hand. If you lose the trick, discard two cards, and then pick up the shed. The discards are the new shed.
After picking up the shed, if you have only two suits left, you have molimba, and the hand ends. But if you have cards of three or more suits, play continues, with the winner of the last trick leading to the next. As before, the winner takes the cards, and the loser gets to exchange with the cards in the shed.
Scoring: Basic molimba scores 10. Multiply the basic score times 2 for black molimba (suits are and ), times 3 for red molimba (suits are and ), times 3 for pat molimba (being dealt molimba), and times 4 if you have solid molimba (just one suit). Play to 200 points.
The highest scoring hand possible is nine cards dealt in either or -- solid pat red molimba -- 360 points (10 x 4 x 3 x 3). It is very rare.
Tips: Occasionally someone gets molimba after the first or second play, but usually it requires strategy in using the shed. Often, you can plan a play ahead. For instance, if you expect to lose two tricks in a row, you can use the first trick lost to put cards in the shed that you'll be getting back right away, since you plan to lose the next trick too. That may help you get molimba: Remember, your hand has become smaller since you also lost two cards on those losing tricks.
In contrast, when you lose one trick but think you'll be winning the next one, then put cards in the shed your opponent won't like.
Variation: For an even quicker game, deal eight cards each, but if you want to slow it down, deal ten.
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