Skítakall – card game

We mutually tought us several card games from back home. Playing games during the long, dark Icelandic winter in the remoteness is essential to get some distraction. I now know, for instance, how to play the Russian “durak” (The Fool) which seems to be popular in Latvia, too. I introduced German Schickane, where the first challenge  basically was to find an appropiate English translation. We now stick to “Bully” as it is about how to get rid of of one own cards by piling them up on the stack of other players and therefore bully them.

We eventually learned an Icelandic card game last week. Ever since we are addicted to it. It is called Skítakall [pronounced ‘skietakatl’], which is literally translated into shitty guy. This is due to the way how you can get your fellow players into quite some trouble. It is really easy and big fun.

What you need:
  • 1 deck of Poker cards
  • 2-5 people

Rules of the game:

  1. First of all: Remove all jokers from the deck and put them aside.
  2. Now deal the cards the following: Every player receives 3 cards side by side facing upside down on the table, as well 3 disclosed cards each on top of the hidden cards. Additionally every player is dealt 3 cards, which are held in hands. Having dealt 9 cards in total (3 facing down, 3 on top facing up, 3 in hands) to each player you pile up the remaining cards in the middle of the table.
  3. To start the game the dealer takes one card from the card pile and diclosures the starting card in the middle of the table.
  4. The clockwise following player of the dealer starts the game:
  5. Special cards:
    1. #2 – This card virtually starts the game from beginning. You now have to play cards with higher numbers to move on. You may also play the same number (#2).
    2. #5 – This card requires a lower card next. This means either #4, #3 or #2 have to be put on the stack. You may also play the same number (#5). Following one lower card, the game continues normally, which means cards with increasing numbers are played.
    3. #10 – This card “explodes” the stack. This means, all cards on the stack are removed, put aside and are now out of the game. Disclose a new card from the pile to restart the game.
    4. #Ace – Ace, as usual, is the highest card in this game. Ace is followed by one of the special cards – 2, 5 or 10. You may also play the same sort (ace).
  6. The following player has, accordingly to the special cards mentioned above, either react with a higher or less valued card.
  7. At the end of your turn, you have to pick up as many cards from the pile as are missing in your hand, so you always have 3 cards in your hand.

    Skítakall - how the game begins
    How the starting card distribution looks like
  8. Special actions:
    1. If you have two of a kind holding in your hands, you are allowed to put them out at the same time, if it is your turn.
    2. If you have the same card which is played by another player you can jump in and put it up the stack. You also somehow “interrupt” the sequence of the game. It’s the turn of your left neighbour then again. This move is only allowed, if you were faster than the person whose turn it actually was. So, it’s about reaction.
  9. If it is your turn and you can’t react accordingly to the cards on the stack, you have to take up the whole stack. Which can be painfully big. If you had to pick up the stack, your turn is finished. You’ll most probably will be horribly busy managing your new cards anyway!
  10. If the pile in the middle of the table is empty while the game was on for a while, you don’t have to pick up cards anymore. You stick to the cards in your hands until they’re also finished. Then continue with the 3 disclosed cards on the 3 piles in front of you. Leave them as they are, don’t take them up in your hands. Sense of this: Your fellow players can see, what you’ve got. You’re now more or less exposed and your reactions become predictable what makes you vulnerable and brings in a tad of strategy.
  11. If you also used all of your 3 disclosed cards, the fun begins: You now have to play with the 3 flipped over cards you can only guess.
  12. The player who first got rid of all her/his 9 cards first wins!

p.s.: Before I wanted to publish this blog post, one of our guests from UK came in and was amazed that we also play “Shitty Man”, how he called it. So, this game apparently is not originally Icelandic. Anyway, for me it from now on is as I learned it here. And a lot of games exist in several  countries in one or the other version, don’t they. So, for all of you guys who knew this game before: Now you FINALLY know the Icelandic name for it!

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