OBJECTIVE OF NINETY NINE: Be the player with the highest score after nine rounds.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3 players
NUMBER OF CARDS: 37 cards
RANK OF CARDS: (low) 6 – Ace (high)
TYPE OF GAME: Trick taking
INTRODUCTION OF NINETY NINE
Ninety Nine is a trick taker for three players designed by David Parlett. It is in the same vein as Oh Heck in that players are trying to capture enough tricks to meet their bids exactly. Although players earn points for the tricks they capture, bonus points are awarded for bid precision. The bidding mechanism also throws players for a loop because cards from the hand must be used to make the bid.
THE CARDS & THE DEAL
Ninety Nine uses a modified 52 card deck composed of 6 – Ace for each suit. The game also requires the use of one Joker.
Cut high card for deal and dole out 12 cards to each player. The single remaining card is turned face up and placed to the side. It is called the turn-up card.
The turn-up card determines the trump suit for the round. If it is a Joker or a 9, the round is played with no trump suit.
Players bid on how many tricks they believe they can capture. A player must capture exactly the number of tricks that they bid for. A player’s bid is made in secret by choosing three cards from their hand and placing them face down on the table.
Each suit has a bid value: Diamonds 0, Spades 1, Hearts 2, and Clubs 3. A player must choose three cards with suits that add up to their bid. For example, a Diamond, Heart, and Club would equal a bid of 5. Three Heart cards would equal a bid of 6. Which three cards a player chooses to represent their bid is up to them.
Players can increase the number of potential points possible for the round by declaring their bid. A declaration is done by turning the bid cards over for the other players to see. Only one player may declare, and the option begins with the player left of the dealer.
A player can bid over someone who has declared by offering to reveal. This is done by playing the round with the player’s hand turned up on the table. Only one player may reveal and the option begins with the player left of the dealer.
THE FIRST TRICK
The player on the left of the dealer begins the first trick. Continuing left around the table, players must follow suit if they can or else play any card. The highest card in the lead suit or the highest trump card takes the trick.
Play continues until all nine tricks are captured.
The Joker’s value is always equal to the turn-up card. For example, if the turn-up card is a 5 of Diamonds, the Joker represents the 5 of Diamonds for the round.
Players earn 1 point for each trick they captured. If a player meets their bid exactly, they are required to show their bid cards as validation before earning the bonus points.
If all three players meet their bid, each player earns 10 points. If only two meet their bid, each of those players earns 20 points. If only one player meets their bid, they earn an additional 30 points.
A player who declared gets 30 additional points on top of the bonus earned for meeting their bid. A player who revealed gets an additional 60 points on top of their bonus earned for meeting their bid. If the declarer or revealer fails to meet their bid, those bonus points are awarded to the other players.
The player with the highest score after 9 rounds wins the game.
For more information about this game including strategy and rule variations, head to David Parlett’s site here.