Old Maid

Old Maid

Infobox CardGame
title = Old Maid
subtitle = Also: Queen of Spades, Chase the Ace
image_link =
image_caption =
alt_names =
type =
players = 3+
ages =
num_cards = 49, 51, or 53
play = Clockwise
card_rank =
origin =
related =
playing_time =
random_chance =
skills =
footnotes =

Old Maid, Queen of Spades, or Chase the Ace is a card game for two to eight players. It takes its name from the expression "old maid", meaning a single, usually elderly, woman. The game most likely originated in China or India.

How To Play

There are retail card decks specifically for playing Old Maid, but it is just as easy to play with a regular deck of 52 cards. When using a regular Anglo deck, a card is either removed or added, resulting in one unmatchable card. The most popular choices are to remove the Ace of Clubs or the Queen of Clubs, or to add a single Joker. The Ace of Spades, Queen of Spades or Joker, respectively, becomes the "Old Maid"; it cannot be matched, and whoever holds it at the end of the game is the loser. It is possible to discard a single card from the deck face-down; if this is done, players cannot know which card is the Old Maid.

The dealer deals all of the cards to the players. Some players may have more cards than others; this is acceptable. Players look at their cards and discard any pairs they have (i.e., 2 Kings, 2 Sevens, etc) face up. Players do not discard three of a kind. In common variants, the suit colors of a discarded pair must match: Spades with Clubs and Diamonds with Hearts (when playing with one card removed, this means one unique card is always the Old Maid instead of it possibly being any of the three remaining cards of that rank).

Beginning with the dealer, each player takes turns offering his hand facedown to the person on his left. That person selects a card and adds it to his or her hand. This player then sees if the selected card makes a pair with their original cards. If so, the pair is discarded face up as well. The player who just took a card then offers his or her hand to the person to their left and so on. A player is allowed to shuffle his hand before offering it to the player on his left. In some variants, all players discard after the dealer has drawn.

The object of the game is to continue to take cards, discarding pairs, until all players except one have no cards. That one player will be left with the lone unmatchable card; they are "stuck with the Old Maid" and lose.


*One variant, played in the Philippines, is called "ungguy-ungguyan". The game is played exactly as Old Maid except "any" card can be removed at the start of the game. That card is revealed at the end of the game and the person left with its "partner" (the odd card) loses and is called "unggoy" (Tagalog for monkey).

*Another variant, "Baba-Nuki" (ババ抜き), is played in Japan. It is played exactly as Old Maid, but instead of removing a Queen or any other card, a Joker is added, and player who is left with it loses. It is depicted in certain anime where the characters play cards; e.g. Crayon Shin Chan

* Another variant is called Jackass, played with Jacks instead of Queens as the odd amount of cards. It is known in French as "Le vieux garçon" ("old boy"), in German as "Schwarzer Peter" (“black Peter”), in Dutch as "zwartepieten" ("playing Black Pete") or "pijkezotjagen" ("Chasing the jack of spades") and in Polish as "Piotruś" ("Peter").

*A variant from the UK is known as "Scabby Queen". The concept of this game is identical, with one exception. When the loser (the player with the single remaining Queen) is found, the deck of cards (including the remaining Queen but not the Jokers) is shuffled and the loser cuts the deck. The card on the bottom of the pile they picked up then decides their "punishment". If a red card (heart or diamond) is chosen, then the player is rapped on the back of the hand with the deck. If a black card (spades or clubs) is chosen, then he/she has the entire deck scrapped across their knuckles. The number of times this is performed is decided by the value of the card. Cards 2-10 carry face value, Jacks and Kings have a value of 10, Aces are 11 and Queens are 21. Be aware that this can rip the skin of your hands, and can be extremely painful, hence the name Scabby Queen. It is also better to use old or cheap cards, as the cards can also be damaged (cheap and older cards also tend to be softer and more bendable, so the "punishment" is less severe). However, today the game is often played without this punishment, especially where the pain inflicted is not considered appropriate by the players (such as when parents are playing with their children), though the game is still called Scabby Queen. As a result, the punishment aspect of the game is absent in some areas of the UK. As with all playground games, the rules are often lost in translation and regional variations are common (school specific rule-sets aren't unusual).

*Another variant played in Egypt in the Middle East is called "Abu Foul" or the "Blind King"; same rules roughly, except all kings removed save one -- pairs are discarded at the outset and everybody takes turns until only the King is left - if you can take a card, you must. Pairs are discarded as formed. Multiple decks can be used depending on the number of players. Jokers are not present. Punishment is played two ways, depending on the group; wishes or strikes (chosen before the game strikes) -- at the end, the cards are shuffled and spread and the loser pulls a card for every player - numbers are just that, pictures are worth 10, king 20. Strikes are to the hand outstretched, or wishes are short and simple, local to the area and usually involve some sort of mild humiliation.

*Another variant played in Turkey is called "Gır Gır" with nearly same rules.


The game spawns an element of bluffing, commonly used in poker.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Old maid — Maid Maid, n. [Shortened from maiden. ?. See {Maiden}.] 1. An unmarried woman; usually, a young unmarried woman; esp., a girl; a virgin; a maiden. [1913 Webster] Would I had died a maid, And never seen thee, never borne thee son. Shak. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Old maid — Old Old, a. [Compar. {Older}; superl. {Oldest}.] [OE. old, ald, AS. ald, eald; akin to D. oud, OS. ald, OFries. ald, old, G. alt, Goth. alpeis, and also to Goth. alan to grow up, Icel. ala to bear, produce, bring up, L. alere to nourish. Cf.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • old maid — old maids N COUNT (disapproval) People sometimes refer to an old or middle aged woman as an old maid when she has never married and they think that it is unlikely that she ever will marry. This use could cause offence. Alex is too young to be… …   English dictionary

  • old-maid — old maid·ish·ness; old maid·ish·ly; …   English syllables

  • old maid — old′ maid′ n. 1) off usu. disp. an elderly or confirmed spinster 2) a fussy, timid, prudish person 3) gam a simple card game, played with a deck having one card removed, in which players match pairs, the loser being the holder of the odd card,… …   From formal English to slang

  • old maid — noun count 1. ) an insulting word for an older woman who has not been married and is unlikely to get married 2. ) INFORMAL someone who has old fashioned opinions and is too worried about small details ╾ ,old maidish adjective …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • old maid — n old fashioned not polite an offensive word for a woman who has never married and is not young any more = ↑spinster …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • old maid — ► NOUN 1) derogatory a single woman regarded as too old for marriage. 2) a prim and fussy person. 3) a card game in which players collect pairs and try not to be left with an odd penalty card, typically a queen …   English terms dictionary

  • old maid — n. 1. a woman, esp. an older woman, who has never married; spinster: a mild term of contempt 2. a prim, prudish, fussy person 3. a simple card game played with a deck containing one card with no match, the loser being the player left with that… …   English World dictionary

  • Old Maid — Historische Schwarzer Peter Karten Schwarzer Peter ist neben Quartett das am weitesten verbreitete Kartenspiel für Kinder. Die Redewendung „jemandem den Schwarzen Peter zuschieben“ bedeutet, jemand anderen etwas Unangenehmes tun zu l …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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