This card simulation of Cricket for two players was played by British prisoners of war during World War II, and apparently taught with some success to the German camp guards. It is still played to some extent in Britain and also in a rather different form in South Africa.
It is an attempt to re-create as nearly as possible the play in a real live cricket match. However, there are certain limitations: there can only be one batsman and one bowler in play in this playing card version, and there are no 6-ball overs by the bowler. Many of the conventions of cricket can be used including draws, follow-on and declarations. For this reason 11 batsmen are named at the start of play. The players should decide at the beginning of play if all 11 batsmen should bat, or the innings finish at the fall of the 10th wicket as in real cricket.
Two innings test matches can be played, or single innings club matches.
There are two players. One standard English pack of 52 cards is used, without jokers. In play, aces have a value of 1 and pictures (jacks, queens and kings) have a value of 10 each.
A means of keeping score is also needed. A standard "real" cricket score-sheet can be used if desired.
The cards are shuffled and cut to decide who starts. The player who cuts the higher card chooses to bat or bowl. The cards are then stacked face down.
The player representing the bowling side plays first, and the bowling and batting play alternate turns until the innings is ended.
A turn, for either player, consists of taking cards from the top of the pack and placing them face up in a 3x3 grid, continuing until no further cards can be placed. The grid is filled row by row, beginning at the top left, as shown by the numbers in the diagram.
If at any stage there are two cards showing whose values add up to 11 (for example 8 and 3, or ace and queen, or 6 and 5), the player may cover both cards with new cards before continuing to fill the grid.
If at any stage there are three cards of the same rank (for example three 8's) in a straight line showing on the grid, the player may cover all three cards. The line may be horizontal, vertical or diagonal.
If at any stage there is a king, a queen and a jack showing anywhere on the grid, not necessarily in a line, the player may cover all three cards before continuing to fill the grid.
When covering a pair of cards adding up to 11, the player must cover both cards before doing anything else; the same applies to covering sets of three. A player is not allowed to interrupt one covering operation to begin a different one.
Play continues until all 9 grid positions are filled and no further cards can be covered. If the cards run out before this happens, all 52 cards are gathered up, the deck is stacked face down and cut, and the same player continues playing with a new grid. There is no limit to the number of times the pack can be played through in this way. A player's turn is over when the grid is full and there are no pairs or sets of three cards that can be covered. Even if this happens when the last card is played from the pack, the turn ends. The turn also ends if the last wicket falls (see below), ending the innings.
During a turn, the cards played from the pack are counted by both players. Although the bowling and batting players play cards in the same way, the effects are different, as follows.
After all 10 wickets (or 11 wickets if agreed) have fallen, the bowling and batting players exchange roles, and another innings is played. In a two innings test match, each player plays two innings as bowler and two innings as batsman, and the winner of the match is the player (side) that scored more runs.
Some of the normal conventions in cricket can be used in this playing card version:
In a letter to the Daily Mail in May 2006, Derek Hill described a simpler version of the above game. The differences are as follows.
In this version, because a triplet or run always results in a wicket, the batsman will try to minimise the chance of this by always covering cards when allowed and delaying the completion of the grid, while the bowler will prefer to deal the whole grid as soon as possible to maximise the chance of a wicket.
Kerry Allemann describes the following variation played in South Africa. This is much faster than the British game: runs are scored more quickly and wickets are more frequent.
It is compulsory to cover any pair of cards whose values add up to 11 before playing any other card. If the batting player fails to do this he loses a wicket and ends his turn, scoring no runs. If the bowling player fails to cover, his turn ends and he takes no wicket.
The batting player scores 1 run per card played, as above. The bowling player takes 1 wicket for every 11 cards played (instead of 21 cards).
Threes of a kind and three-card sequences have no effect and are not covered. A king, queen and jack have no effect unless they appear in a straight line. KQJ in a straight line (in any order) score a half century (50 extra runs) if they appear during the batting player's turn. KQJ in the bowling player's turn take 5 wickets. In each case the three cards must be covered before any further cards are placed, and the penalty for not doing so is the same as for a pair.
When covering cards, a player may not look at the card in his hand before placing it. He must decide which cards he is going to cover (he need not announce this) and then cover them without first looking at the covering card in the hope of influencing the game later.