Egyptian Rat Screw - The Card Game Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Egyptian Rat Screw - The Card Game

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The name might be misleading but Egyptian Rat Screw is an action packed card game, not the ancient art of molesting small rodents. It is also known as 'Slaps', 'Beggar My Neighbour', 'Strip Jack Naked' and 'Egyptian War'.

The game requires one deck of playing cards with the jokers taken out, at least two players and a good, strong, flat surface to play on. If you have more than four people playing you might want to throw in another deck of cards.

How to Play

Start by dealing the entire deck(s) of cards face down around the group. Once this is done the player to the dealer's left will put their top card face up in the center of the group. Then play proceeds around the circle with each player putting their top card face up on the previous player's card, forming a slowly growing stack.

Slapping Rules

If that was all there was to the game, then it wouldn't be terribly exciting, however, there are a number of slapping rules which can be used. Not all of these have to be used, and players should agree beforehand which rules are going to be used in the game.

Any player may at any time slap the top of the central stack of cards. If two or more players slap at the same time, then the player with the lowest hand, who therefore slapped first, wins. If you slap on a valid combination of cards, as described below, then you may add the stack of cards to the bottom of your deck. If you slap on a combination of cards which is nothing special, then you must put some of your cards onto the bottom of the stack. The exact number of cards depends on the variation, some variations are more 'slap-happy' than others.

  • Doubles - A double occurs when two adjacent cards on the stack have the same number, such as two sixes.

  • Sums - A sum occurs when two adjacent cards add up to ten, such as a three and a seven. A nine and an ace doesn't count, and neither does a ten on its own.

  • Sandwiches - With this rule, both sums and doubles count if there is an intervening card. For example, 4-8-4 counts as a double, and 2-9-8 as a sum.

  • Runs - A run occurs when three cards in a row form an ascending or descending sequence, such as 3-4-5 or 8-7-6.

Face Cards

If one player (call her Alice) lays down a face card (ie a Jack, Queen, King or Ace), then the next player (call him Bob) must put another face card down on top of it. If Alice put down an Ace, then Bob can use up to four cards to get the face card needed. Bob gets three chances for a King, two for a Queen, and just one chance for a Jack. If Bob does not manage to do this, then the stack of cards goes to Alice. If he does, then the player to his left must do the same thing. It continues to go around until someone wins the cards, or the pile is slapped under the slapping rules.


Players are eliminated when they run out of cards, and the last person left is the winner, who will have acquired all the cards. The winner may then deal the cards for the next game, if anyone has any energy left.

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