How To Play Authors

Authors is a card game for all ages, in which each player attempts to capture the most matched sets of identically ranked cards. Classically, this game was often played with special decks containing names of famous individuals from the literary world (i.e. Louise May Alcott, Mark Twain, William Shakespeare, etc) and their works, but can be played quite well with a standard 52 card deck.

Within this game, there is no real concept of card ranking in relation to the other cards in the deck, as the common goal of all players is to obtain as many four card sets as possible, with no specific card denomination outranking any other. Authors is usually played by between 3 to 6 players, each playing for himself. The first dealer as well as seating positions can be determined using any of the standard methods. Once this is determined, the dealer then distributes the entire deck out to the players in a clockwise rotation starting with the player to his immediate left. He deals the card one by one and face down around the table until the entire deck has been distributed. If some players receive one extra card at the completion of the deal, this is common and acceptable when playing with 3, 5 or 6 players.

In Authors the object is to create sets of four equally ranked cards
In Authors the object is to collect the most groups of four identically ranked cards, called books.
Play begins with the first player to the dealer's immediate left who picks up his hand to examine it. If he has any groups of four cards of the same denomination (called a book) he removes the group from his hand, shows it on the table, and then sticks it off to his side, face down. The player may then ask any player of his choice for a specific card by rank and suit (i.e. "Lucy, do you have the four of clubs?"). Note that the asker must ask a specific player for a specific card in the deck. If this player has the specific requested card, they must give that card to the asker. A player may never ask for a card they already hold in their hand, and their hand must contain at least one card of a rank in order to ask for another of the same rank. If this card completes a book for the asking player, they would then show it and set it aside on the table with a collection of any other books they may have previously captured. When a player receives a requested card he would then have the opportunity to ask the same player (or any other) for a different card.

However, if the player asked does not have the requested card, the asking players turn ends and the turn to request a card passes to the next player in clockwise rotation at the table. This continues around the table from player to player until the last card has been requested, received and made into a book. At this point, all participants count the number of books they were able to capture during the hand, and the player with the most books is declared the game winner. In the case of two or more players tied for capturing the most books, the player first in turn after the dealer would be declared the winner. If any player runs of out cards in his hand while other players have cards remaining in theirs, they would simply wait out the remainder of the hand, skipping their turn until the end of the hand.

Variations and Optional Rules

Avoiding Ties: Some players specify rules to help prevent ties in the game. There are several, separate rules that are sometimes added to help prevent or determine the winner in case of a tie, with the players mutually agreeing on a rule before play begins. These include the following:
Turn Advancement: Some players prefer an alternate rule for the movement of the turn. When a player unsuccessfully asks any opponent for a card, instead of the turn passing to the next player to that players left, the turn automatically passes to the player who was asked and did not have the requested card. If the player who currently has the turn completely runs out of cards (by making a book with cards requested) the turn passes to the next player to that players right as in the standard version.

Literature: Literature, is a partnership variation of Authors, usually for 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 players. The game uses a standard 52 card deck with the four deuces removed (making a 48 card deck). The players are divided into two partnerships containing half the participants. Thus, for an six player game, there would be two partnerships of three players each. When played by exactly six players, this game is sometimes called Canadian Fish.

Any of the standard methods can be used to determine these partnerships, with the usual method being in which all players draw cards, and the players drawing the highest play against the players drawing the lowest. Any players drawing cards of the same rank would redraw until they drew a card of a unique value. The partners would then sit at the table in such a manner that the order of play (moving in a clockwise rotation around the table) would alternate between players from each partnership. The player who draws the highest card of all would be the dealer for the first hand.

Whereas in the standard game, Authors, the players attempt to collect groups of four of a kind, when playing Literature, the partnerships are trying to collect groups of cards called half-suits. Each half-suit consists of six specific cards in a single suit. There are a total of eight half-suits in the full 48 card deck used in this game. The following table delineates these half-suits:
Card RankSuit Marking on CardHalf-Suit Name
3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8Spades (♠)Low Spades
3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8Diamonds ()Low Diamonds
3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8Hearts ()Low Hearts
3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8Clubs (♣)Low Clubs
9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, AceSpades (♠)High Spades
9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, AceDiamonds ()High Diamonds
9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, AceHearts ()High Hearts
9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, AceClubs (♣)High Clubs
The object of this game is thus to be the team that captures the most half-suits by the end of the game.

Complete Half Suit in the game Literature
When playing Literature, each partnership attempts to collect the largest number of half-suits.
Play begins with the first player to the immediate left of the dealer asking any player on the opposite team for a specific card. The player may only ask for a card from a half-suit in which they already have at least one card and may never ask for a card they already have in their hand. If the player asked has the requested card, they would then transfer the card to the asking player. In this case, the player would also receive another turn. If the player asked does not have the requested card, they would state this and, ending the current turn of the requester. The turn would then pass to the opposing player from whom the card was requested. Players with no cards in their hand may never be asked for a card. If a player, whose turn it is no longer has cards in his hand (due to having declared a half-suit), he may pass the turn to any other player in his partnership of his choosing.

If one player has collected an entire half-suit by themselves, they would place the entire set face up in front of themselves and their partnership would earn credit for the set. It gets slightly more complicated, however, if a half-suit is divided amongst all the members of the same team. If a player, on his turn, believes this to be the case, they would, sometime during their normal turn, declare it by stating who has which cards of the set. If the player was exactly correct in their statement, the cards are removed from the respective hands, placed on the table in front of the declaring player and the team would be entitled to score for the set. If the player was incorrect in the specific ownership of the cards in the set but all cards of the set are owned by members of his own partnership, the cards are still removed but set aside, with no one entitled to score for the set. However, if the player was incorrect and one or more of the cards stated are actually owned by members of the other partnership, all cards are removed from the respective hands but are entitled to be scored by the opposing partnership.

Once all eight half-suits have been captured or removed, the team with the most half-suits is declared the winner. If both partnerships have captured the same number of half-suits, the game is declared a draw.

The main variation seen with Literature or Canadian Fish is the cards that are designated to make up the half-suits. The following describes some of the half-suit designations that might be found for this game:
Diplomat: Diplomat is another variant of Authors which, although having simple rules, can be quite challenging and often requires a razor sharp memory. Diplomat uses the standard 52 card deck and is usually played by from 3 to 6 players. The determination of the seating positions and first dealer is usually done in the same manner as standard Authors.

Once the first dealer is determined this player then distributes the entire deck to the players in a clockwise rotation one face down card at a time. If the cards do not divide evenly amongst the current number of players, some players may get one extra card which is acceptable. After the cards are distributed, the player to the dealer's right has the first turn, with the turns then rotating around the table in a clockwise direction.

A potential capture in the game of Diplomat
Players attempt to gather groups of four cards formed from combinations of cards in the hand and from the center.
If a player, on his turn, can form four cards of the same denomination from his hand and any cards face up on the table (see below) he may gather them up, show them to the rest of the players and set them face down in front of himself for scoring at the end of the game. On his turn, a player may do one of the following actions: A player who runs out of cards would skip their turn, waiting for the current game to complete and be scored. When all cards have been captured, the player with the most captured books is declared the winner. If two or more players tie for the most books, the player, amongst the tying players, who took the first book is declared the winner.

Some players prefer a variant on the deal of this game for when the cards do not deal out equally to the players. In this variant, any cards that can not be divided evenly amongst the players are laid face up in the center of the table at the start of the game. In all other respects the remainder of the game is identical to the standard version.

Go Fish: Go Fish, (sometimes shortened to just "Fish") is probably the most well known card game in the entire world, with it being the first game taught to many young players. It is a simplified version of Authors.

Go Fish is designed for 2 to 8 players using one standard 52 card deck. As in Authors any of the normal methods for deciding seating positions and first dealer may be used. Once this has been determined the dealer then deals out the hands in a clockwise direction around the table, starting with the player to his left. For a game with 2 to 5 participants, each player would receive a total of seven cards in the deal, while with 6 players or more, each would receive five cards. The remainder of the deck is placed face down in a pile in the center of the table as the stock. After dealing is complete, play begins with the first player to the dealer's left.

On his turn, a player would then ask any player by name for a specific rank of cards (i.e. "Lucy, do you have any fives?"). A player may not ask for cards of a rank in which they do not already have at least one card. The player asked must then give to the requester all cards of the requested rank. If the requester, after obtaining these cards is able to make a book of four cards of the same rank they would then show them on the table and then place them face down in front of themselves. If however, they have no cards of the requested rank, they would instead reply "Go Fish". If told to "Go Fish" the asking player would then draw one card from the stock pile and adding it to his hand. If a player is able to complete the book (of the rank requested) either through cards given by another player or by "fishing" from the stock, he is entitled to take another turn, asking the same or any other player for any rank of card. As long as the player completes the book on each request or draw, he may continue his turn.

Once the stock runs out, play continues as normal, except when a player does not have any cards of the requested rank, the askers turn immediately ends with no draw and the turn passes to the next player to the left. Once any player runs out of cards (either by completing a book or giving his last cards to another player upon a specific rank request) or there are no cards left in the stock pile for a player to draw, the game ends. At this time all players count their books and the player with the most completed books is declared the winner. If two or more players tie for the most books, the game ends in a tie.

There are several variations of "Go Fish" which are often seen when playing this game. These include the following:

Chinese Go Fishing: Chinese Fish is another game of the Fishing family of games, but is played significantly differently than standard Go Fish. It appears to be a variation that is sometimes played in a few areas of China. This game has similarities to the card game Cassino.

The standard 52 card deck is used for playing this game and the setup and deal is similar to standard Go fish, with each player receiving a hand of five cards. This game is usually played by 2 to 8 players. The remainder of the deck is then set in the middle of the table. Five additional cards are then taken from the stock and placed face up in the center of the table, around the stock.

The player to the immediate left of the dealer takes the first turn. The object of play is to capture the face up cards from the center layout which will be worth points at the end of the hand. On his turn a player attempts to select a card from his hand which one or more of the face up cards on the table can exactly sum to. The player may capture each card or set of cards that forms this sum. The following chart shows the numerical value of the cards for purposes of summing as well as that cards scoring value after a capture (detailed below):

Card DenominationValue used in SummingScoring Value
2 to 10Value Marked on Card10
Chinese Go Fish Layout
In this example layout for this game, the player could capture three cards in playing his nine; The five of Diamonds, four of Hearts and nine of Spades.
For example, a player might have a 9 in his hand. With this card, he could capture a 4 and 5, another 9, a seven and 2 and any other combination of cards which would sum to 9. After making a capture, the player takes all the captured cards from the table and places them in a pile of his captured cards. He also adds the card he used to make the capture to the same pile. If a player is unable to (or elects not) to make a capture on their turn, they must simply select any card from their hand and add it to the center layout. To complete a players turn, they would draw one card from the stock to restore their hand to five cards. If before a players turn, there is less than five cards in the center layout, they may turn enough cards from the stock to ensure there are five face up cards in the layout. When the stock is exhausted, the play continues, however players do not draw a card at the end of their turn and, similarly, the face up layout may end up with fewer than five cards.

The game ends when the stock is exhausted, and all players have played the last card from their hands. The players then add up the scores (as per the chart above) for all cards they have managed to capture during the hand and the player with the highest total is declared the winner. If two or more players tie for the highest score, the game is a tie.
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