OBJECTIVE OF UGLY: Be the player with the highest score at the completion of the game

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3 or 4 players 


RANK OF CARDS: (low) 2 – Ace, Trump Suit (high)

TYPE OF GAME: Trick taking



Ugly is a trick taking and trick avoidance game similar to Hearts.  Created in the 1980’s by Australian college students, this game is played over a number of rounds.  During each round, players will pass an increasing number of cards from their hand, choose a trump suit, and avoid capturing any Jacks.  The player with the highest score at the end of the final round wins the game.


 Ugly uses a 52 card deck.  For a three player game, remove the 2 of Spades.  Cut for low card to determine the first dealer.  Shuffle and deal out all of the cards evenly.  Thirteen cards are dealt in a four player game, and seventeen cards are dealt in a three player game.


After the deal and after looking at their cards, the player left of the dealer calls trump.  They may also call no trump if they wish.


Before play begins, players will pass a certain number of cards to the player on their left.  Each round the number of cards passed increases by two.  For the first round, one card is passed.  On the second round three cards are passed and so on.  On the final round of the game, players will pass their entire hand one player to the left.  Remember, this pass occurs after the trump suit has been called.  



Beginning with the player seated left of the dealer, they may lead the trick with any card.  Following players must follow suit if they can.  If they cannot follow suit they can play any card.  The highest ranking card played in the lead suit or the highest ranking trump card takes the trick.


The player who captures the trick leads next.  Play continues until all of the tricks are played.


A player earns 1 point for each trick captured.

Players lose points for the following:

Jack of Spades = -1 point

Jack of Clubs = -2 points

Jack of Diamonds = -3 points

Jack of Hearts = -4 points

The 7 of Diamonds is referred to as the Ugly Card.  If a player captures the Ugly Card, any Jacks they capture are worth double negative points.  If a player captures the Ugly Card and avoids capturing any Jacks, their score is doubled for the round.

The 7 of Clubs is referred to as the Charm Card.  If the player captures the Charm Card and the Ugly Card, the Ugly Card has no effect on Jacks.  If a player captures both the Charm Card and the Ugly Card, and avoids capturing any Jacks, each trick they capture is worth 4 points rather than 1.  


After the completion of the final round, the player with the highest score wins the game.


I am still surprised at the sheer number and variety of games out there.  So many popular games that are played today were created over a hundred years ago.  They have claimed their place in our lives, and they are quite enjoyable.  Because of this, it is easy to pass over games that are more modern.  Ugly is an example of a game that should be given a shot by anyone who enjoys Hearts, Spades, or Oh Heck.  The students who created Ugly took the best components of trick avoidance games and pushed them to their limits.  Although Hearts can be taken more seriously, I think there is room for Ugly at any card table.

Mark Ball
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