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Rules

Setup



Russian Bank is played by two opponents, A and B, using a double deck of cards (without the jokers). The tableau consists of twenty piles: there are eight house piles, eight center piles, as well as one reserve pile and one waste pile per opponent.

Gameplay



Every card has a rank (ace, two, three, ..., jack, queen, king), a color (red, black), a suit (diamond, heart, spade, club), and may be face up (upcard) or face down (downcard). The rank, color, suit, and face of a nonempty pile is the corresponding rank, color, suit, and face of its top card.

Aim

A player who is in turn tries to move cards from their own piles (reserve and waste) anywhere else on the tableau, making sure the moves are legal and paying attention not to oversee any mandatory moves. A player who is not in turn keeps vigil, so that when the opponent oversees a mandatory move, they can interrupt the turn by knocking. The winner is the first one who manages to free both of his piles.

Start

Every opponent starts with a shuffled deck face down in their reserve pile. The first five cards are then moved to four house piles and their waste pile, face up. The first in turn is determined by the combined value of rank and suit of the waste pile; if the values are the same, then the opponents draw another card from the reserve pile, etc. [In this implementation, though, there is no set ranking of suits; the player always starts the game against the computer.]

Legal moves, mandatory moves, and knocking

A move is either a transfer of an upcard from some pile to another, or a flipping of a downcard, or a transfer of cards from the waste pile to the reserve pile.

Assuming A is in turn, the legal moves are determined as follows:

(a) Transferring an upcard from any pile except WB to any pile except RA, in accordance to (b). Flipping the top card of RA from face down to face up — which must then be moved immediately. Finally, if RA is free, transferring all cards from WA to RA, from face up to face down. [In this implementation, this is done by clicking the left arrow that shows up between the two piles.]

(b) Transferring upcards must satisfy the following, depending on the target pile:
  • To a house pile, when it's free, the card may be anything. When the house pile is nonempty, the card should change the color of the pile and decrease its rank by one.
  • To a center pile, when it's free, the card has to be an ace. When it's nonempty, the card should have the same suit as the pile, and should increase the rank of the pile by one. [An extra move in this implementation is to turn a king face down right after the card has been moved to a center pile.]
  • To the waste pile of the opponent (WB), when it's free, no card may be moved. When it's nonempty, the card should have the same suit as WB and should either increase or decrease the rank of WB by one.
  • To their own waste pile (WA), the card may be anything; after such a move the opponent is in turn.

A mandatory move is any legal move to a center pile.

If A is not in turn, the only thing they can do is interrupt the turn of B by knocking, when B has overseen some mandatory move. [In this implementation, by clicking on the "knock" button or pressing space.] In this case, A should justify the interruption by showing the missed target pile where B should have played; if A is right, then B's turn is over, else B continues. After three unjustified knocks, A misses the next turn.

Turn

As described above, the turn of A is over either when A moves a card to WA, or when there is a justified interruption by B, or, finally, when A frees both reserve and waste piles, hence winning the game.

Hints



When it is our turn to make a move, it is good to ask ourselves certain questions, roughly in the following order:

  1. Are there any mandatory moves to make?
  2. Can I pass some card to the waste pile of the opponent?
  3. Can I free some house pile, which I can then use as a target pile from my waste pile?
  4. Can I move the top card from my waste pile to some house pile?
  5. Is my reserve pile face down? (If yes, I should flip the top card and reconsider from 1, else I should move the card to my waste pile and end my turn.)

Notes



Russian bank is a card game that has been known to exist in various forms for over a hundred years. Unlike other versions, this implementation features no extra "hand pile" to the reserve and waste pile. Moreover, for reasons of simplicity, the depth regarding the mandatory moves is here restricted: an overseen combination of multiple moves ending with a mandatory one, does not warrant an interruption by knocking.
Bummer!
You lost the game. To cheer you up we'll tell you a joke:
"I'd like to buy a new boomerang please. Also, can you tell me how to throw the old one away?"
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Legal notice

Contact:

Rhea Marstaller
Schäftlarnstr. 168
81371 München
Germany
info [at] rhea-marstaller.net

Benjamin Marstaller
Walter-Flex-Str. 21 B
70619 Stuttgart
Germany
benjamin [at] zankpatience.net

List of references for used images:

Thanks!
To:
  • Yara, who introduced us to Russian Bank
  • Freddy for the jokes
  • Thanos for his reverse psychology and his (certainly involuntary) beta testing
  • Babis for helping with the Greek nomenclature
  • Ulrike Lotz for the inspiration
  • Tim Berners-Lee for the World Wide Web