Nein Nine

Designed by Mark S. Ball


Nein Nine, the first game in the Misfortune Series, is a fast paced and feisty trick taker for three players.  Each player tries to capture as many tricks as possible and avoid the painful 9’s.  8’s make trump, 7’s change rank, and the Joker can win or lose the trick.  Keeping track of cards is key, but it is easier said than done.


Play with a standard 52 card deck by stripping the pack down to 7’s through Jacks.  Also, include one Joker to complete the 21 card deck.

A piece of paper and pencil is needed for keeping score.  


To determine the first dealer, shuffle the pack and deal out cards one at a time.  The first player to receive a 9 is the dealer.  

Dealer shuffles the deck and deals out seven cards to each player.  


The player seated left of the dealer leads the first trick.  They may play any card from their hand.  That card is placed face up in the center of the table.

Continuing left around the table, players must follow suit if they can.  If they cannot follow suit, they can play any card they like.

(Example) Billy leads the first trick with a 10♣.  This means that the other two players must play a Club card if they can.


The trump suit is set by the first 8 played to the trick, and it goes into effect immediately.  The suit that becomes trump is the highest ranking suit for the round.  As soon as trump is set, the dealer turns up that trump suit indicator card.

The trump suited 7 becomes the highest ranking trump card for the round.  The other 7 of the same color becomes the second highest trump card.   It is also considered part of the trump suit.  These two 7’s are called Spits. 

(Example) An 8 of Hearts is played to the trick.  Hearts become trump immediately, and the ranking for that suit changes to: 8 9 10 J 7 7

In the above example, the 7 is the Little Spit, and the 7 is the Big Spit.


The Joker can be played any time regardless of whether or not the player can follow suit.  When playing the Joker, that player must immediately declare whether they win or lose the trick.  If they say win, the Joker ranks higher than any other card played.  If they say lose, it ranks lower than any other card played.


The highest ranking card in the suit that is led, the highest ranking trump card, or the Joker (if win is declared) wins the trick.  That player collects the trick and keeps it face down in front of them.  Players are not allowed to look at the cards they have collected until the end of the round.

(Example) Billy leads the trick with the 7.  Wendy follows suit with the 9.  Lilly also follows suit with the 8.  As soon as the 8 is played, Diamonds becomes trump.  This makes the 7 the Big Spit and the highest ranking card.  Billy wins the trick.


The trick-winner leads the next trick with any card from their hand.  Play continues until all seven tricks are completed.


Paper & Pencil Scoring

Each trick captured earns the player 1 point.  After totaling up their trick-score, penalty points are deducted for any 9’s captured.

Capturing one 9 = -1 point
Two 9’s = -2 points
Three 9’s = -4 points
Four 9’s = -8 points

(Example)  Wendy captures six tricks for a total of 6 trick-points.  There are three 9’s in the tricks, so she must deduct 4 penalty points from that score.  Her total score for the round is 2 points.

River Stone Scoring

For a more tactile scorekeeping method, use dark and light stones.  Each player determines their score for the round.  If their score is a positive number, they add that many light stones to their collection.  

If their score is a negative number, they remove that many light stones from their collection.   If a player no longer has any light stones, but they still have penalty points to account for, they add that many dark stones to their collection.  A player with a collection of dark stones is said to be in the dark.

If a player is in the dark, their dark stones can be removed with positive points.

(Example)  Wendy is in the dark and has two dark stones in her collection.  She ends the round with three tricks and no 9’s.   That is three positive points.  Wendy removes the two dark stones from her collection and adds one light stone.  Wendy is no longer in the dark and has a positive score of 1.


Once the score for the round is totaled, collect the cards.  Deal passes left from the previous dealer.  Continue playing rounds until the game ends.


The game is typically played for nine rounds with each player dealing three times.  At the end of the final round, whoever has the highest score (or most light stones) wins.  If there is a tie, continue playing until there is a winner.   

If a player reaches a score of -9 (nine dark stones) or +9 (nine light stones) before the end of the final round, the game ends.  At this point, whoever has the highest score (most light stones) wins.  If there is a tie, continue playing until there is a winner.

Free PDF of Nein Nine

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