Barneblad: An old-fashioned card game for the entire family

A monthly feature to share with kids and grandkids

old maid, or svarteper

Old-fashioned card games are a perfect way for your family to get cozy and have fun together.

Brought to you by Lori Ann Reinhall

Gather around the card table
Last issue, we learned that Svarte­per­—Black Peter—is a traditional card game in Norway. Many people know this card game from childhood and are left with fond memories. For many, it was the first card game they learned when they visited their grandparents.

In America, many of us know this game as Old Maid. We, too, remember how much as fun it was to play it with our families.

Even today, card games are a great way to pass the time on a cozy romjul afternoon or evening. So this year, why not try a little nostalgia with this vintage card game? Best of all, it’s easy and can be enjoyed by all ages.

While you can still buy card decks for playing this popular old game, all you need is a standard 52-card deck. You simply need to add or remove a card to the deck, resulting in one unmatchable card. The most popular choices are to remove the ace or queen of hearts or to add a single joker.

The unmatchable card becomes the “old maid” or odd-one-out, in Norway, the Svarteper. (According to the Norwegian tradition, he or she would get a black spot on the nose with soot, like a chimney sweep.) But in a new version that we like, the “Old Maid” is called “Bold Made” and is a winner!

How to play:
The dealer shuffles and deals all of the cards to the players, one card at a time. (It’s OK if some players have one or two more cards than others.)

Players look at their cards and discard any pairs they have, face up. Players do not discard three of a kind.

The colors of a discarded pair must match: spades must match with clubs, and diamonds must match with hearts.

Beginning with the dealer, each player takes turns offering their hand face-down to the person on their left.

That person selects a card without looking and adds it to their hand. The player then sees if the selected card makes a pair with any of their original cards. If so, the pair is discarded face up as well.

The player who just took a card then offers their hand to the person on their left, and so on.

The objective of the game is to continue to take cards, discarding pairs, until no more pairs can be made.

The player with the card that has no match is “bold made” and wins.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 25, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.