Issue 3, April 18th 1995



Astute observers will notice that this edition is somewhat shorter than the previous two. My excuse is the Easter weekend, when I took a break not only from study, but also from Thring. Next edition should be at least the biggest and best yet.

In developments this last week, we have been (officially) contacted by Agora Nomic, "the oldest and largest Nomic on the net". Players of that Nomic have remarked upon the current Thring ruleset, describing it as "quite interesting" and "quite amusing" but also containing "holes". We now have several observers from Agora, and possibly soon Players. We have also been cautioned about the possibility of developing into a copy of Agora - again by an Agoran Player.

I think that, though this is a possibility, we will maintain our integrity and unique approach to Nomic. As a small but growing Nomic Game, we can be proud of our creativity and bold experiments, even when they fail. I must confess that I have myself voted AGAINST some of the more radical Proposals, but I support the principle of frivolity and experimentation. We have every right to find our own solution to problems, even though in some cases others have found a perfectly reasonable solution.

On a lighter note, to promote our sense of identity, this newsletter is running a competition to choose a slogan for Thring Nomic. The details are in a later article, but I should mention that the prizes will (if possible) be provided by your humble editor.

If anyone reading this is interesting in discussing the possibility of an Internomic Game (i.e. a Game where Nomic Games are themselves "Players"), there is a mailing list set up specifically for that purpose. To subscribe, send a polite request to "". The list is somewhat low-volume at the moment, if you are thinking of subscribing but experiencing "email overload".

This newsletter also contains an introductory Bartok article, written especially for those unfortunates who've never played Bartok before. If interest continues, there may be a regular column on Bartok in Thring Weekly (I know there are a few experts reading this). Thanks to Damien Warman for composing a fine piece in the middle of eir Honours year in Pure Maths.

Without further ado ...

Luke Schubert ((the Surreptitious))


A brief run through a common variant.
by Damien.

[A brief note on typographic conventions. Here the text is to be read as italicised, here as if emboldened. I am giving up on using _underscores to denote italics_, as it breaks my text-to-LaTeX translator. Hope this helps, D.]

[I'll try to get this right for the HTML version - Ed.]


Bartok is a card game for any number of players. Throughout this discussion I will describe only the variants I am most familiar with. Please understand that all of the rules are negotiable, and players should agree upon them as necessary.

The object is to rid oneself of one's cards, at which time the hand is at an end, and the winner of the hand creates a new rule and then deals for the next hand. The other players may veto rules if the majority believe it to be too unwieldy or not enough fun.

The Core Rules

The dealer deals between five and seven cards to each player. The exact number may either be specified at the start of the game, or else left to the dealer to choose at the start of each hand. The remainder of the pack is placed face down in the middle of the players (who are arranged in a roughly circular group) and the top card is turned face up. No special significance is attached to this card, save that it sets a place for play to begin. The pack consists of as many cards as players desire; two packs is usually a nice number for around seven players. If the group is much bigger than this, things become somewhat unwieldy.

Once play has begun, no player may ask questions, nor pronounce any reserved word or phrase. The only reserved word to start with is "Bartok".

Play passes clockwise from the first player to the dealer's left. Each player either plays a card or else draws a card from the face-down stack. If after playing a card the player has but one card remaining, that player must say "Bartok". That player's turn is then at an end, and play passes to the next player.

One may play a card if in one's hand one holds a card of either

the same suit
or the same kind
as the top card of the discard pile. Here the same kind means either a number upon the same number or a King on a King, etc.

If one is too slow in any of one's actions (either to play a card, to pick up if one cannot play, or to say "Bartok" if one has but one card in one's hand) then one receives the standard penalty, being the top card of the face-down stack. How slow is too slow is up to the discretion of the least patient of the other players, unless sufficient outcry is raised by the other players.

The standard penalty is also attracted for other irregularities, including asking questions or pronouncing reserved phrases. In these situations, an accusing player may say the offending phrase or question, if preceeded by the word "quote", e.g., "Oi! You said quote Bartok and you still have six cards!", upon giving the offending player the standard penalty. This is not strictly required, however, and usually occurs only when the accusing player wishes to justify eir action. A false accusation results in the accusing player being penalised.

Receiving such a penalty does not conclude one's turn. So, for example, one may be too slow, and thus receive a penalty, misplay, receive a penalty, ask why one was penalised, receive a penalty for asking questions, and finally realise that one cannot play and draw a card, thus concluding one's turn.

If one plays irregularly and is not detected until after the next player has completed eir turn, one escapes any penalty.

When the pack is exhausted, the discard pile is turned over without being shuffled, the top card is once more turned up, and play proceeds.

Simple extensions

Most rules are created to speed game play or to confuse play.

Examples of simple play-speeding rules are: "all tens are now eights", so tens may be played as if the were eights---this does not mean that eights may be played as if they were tens, and "you may play all the cards of a type in your hand as if they were one card", thus allowing a person to discard all seven Jacks in eir hand as if it were one Jack (presuming a Jack is a legitimate play).

Examples of simple play-confusing rules are: "eights reverse the direction of play" and "all red threes make the next player skip a turn".

In a sense, the commercial game Uno is a form of Bartok in which the rule set has been fixed and most special rules (i.e., reserved phrases) have been removed.

Next time

This is already really late, so I will finish here. Next time, I will run through some nastier ways of constructing rules, some common variants to the core rules, a little history of the game and comment upon any feedback received. [Or someone else may want to contribute the next article - Ed.]

I'm told that there is a Web page on Bartok, but I have been unable to track it down. If anyone knows its whereabouts, please let me know. [I think you'll find that it's "", a page which includes slightly different starting rules and more examples, but we can improve on that page ... - Ed.]

Please send any comments to Luke,, or to me,

Forgotten Proposals

(by Luke Schubert)

This Weekly we look at Week 3. Again, all Proposals made in this Week were accepted, and are still Rules. They were Proposals 306 and 307, and are now Rules 306 and 307.

Proposal 306 passed with a vote of two FOR.

Proposal 307 was submitted by Luke Schubert, and passed with a vote of two AGAINST, by Rule 303.

Next time perhaps there'll be something a little more exciting ... but remember that by then we'll only be up to January.

Thring Weekly Competition

(by Luke Schubert)

Announcing a brand new competition, open to all readers of Thring Weekly except for its Editor!

Thring Nomic now has a name, several WWW pages (the number of these is growing all the time!) and is starting to gain international recognition among Nomic gameplayers. Therefore, this Editor has decided that we need a slogan.

The competition is to come up with the wittiest slogan for Thring Nomic that, if possible, relates to one of (or some of) this game's unique rules and situations. All slogans should be one sentence long (though a two sentence entry may be allowable if it's sufficiently clever) and must be submitted to the Thring Weekly Editor (at within two weeks; that is, by May the 1st. All the entries will then be published in that issue of Thring Weekly; the winning entry will be selected by a popular vote (details yet to be determined). Entry is free.

For Players of Thring Nomic, first prize is 5 points and second prize 2 points; the prizes will be donated by me (when and if I have enough points!). If a non-Player wins or comes second, they may either join Thring Nomic to collect their prize or arrange some appropriate alternative renumeration.

I repeat, the competition is open to all readers of this newsletter (and especially Players), and closes on May the 1st (a Tuesday) at 11.59 am (Adelaide time), with voting taking place at sometime shortly after that.

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