Last updated
Origin England
Alternative namesCuckoo, Chase the Ace, Screw Your Neighbor
Typesocial game, game of chance
FamilyShedding game
Age range6+
Deck French-suited pack
Card rank (highest first)K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 A
Playing time10 – 45 minutes
Related games
Coucou, Cuccú, Gnav, Hexenspiel, Kille

Ranter-Go-Round is a primitive gambling game and children's game using playing cards. [1] It is known in most European countries as Cuckoo; [1] the French variant being called Coucou. Other English-language names include Chase the Ace and, in America, Screw Your Neighbor. [2]


It is related to the dedicated deck card or tile games of Gnav and Killekort. [1]


Ranter Go Round is described as early as 1881. [3] The game "is said to have been first played in Cornwall," [4] however Cuckoo has been played in Europe since at least the 17th century, often with special cards. [5] An 1882 account describes Ranter Go Round as "a first-rate game for a winter evening." Players have 3 lives in the form of counters, receive one card each and exchange with their left-hand neighbours, the dealer exchanging with the stock. Players may stand i.e. refuse to exchange with their left-hand neighbour if they believe their card is high enough not to lose. There are no cards with special privileges. [4]

Confusingly, at about the same time the name Ranter-Go-Round appears in the literature associated with the different game of Snip, Snap, Snorem. For example, in 1879 in a publication by the English Dialect Society it is described as "an old-fashioned game of cards, marked with chalk upon a bellows or tea-tray. Now at a table, and called Miss Joan." This is followed by the lines "Here's a card, as you may see! Here's another as good as he! Here's the best of all the three; And here's Miss Joan, come tickle me. Wee, wee!" [6] The same description appears in the West Cornwall Glossary of 1880. [7]


Any number of players may participate, using a standard deck of 52 cards without jokers. The card rankings (from highest to lowest) are K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-A, or alternately A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2. Suits are irrelevant. The goal in each hand is to avoid ending up with a lower-valued card than any other player. [8]

Each player starts the game with the same number of chips or counters, usually two to four. When the game is played for money, all players contribute the same amount to a central pot. Each player is dealt one card face-down, after which play begins with the player to the left of the dealer. After examining his/her card, a player may either keep it or exchange it with the player to his/her left. However, if the intended recipient is holding a card of the highest value (depending on which set of rankings is being used), he/she turns it face-up and the trade is nullified. Any player who shows a top-value card in this manner is considered to have completed his/her play for the hand. Play proceeds clockwise around the table, with the dealer playing last; instead of trading cards with someone else, though, the dealer may exchange his/her card for the top one from the deck.

After all players have taken a turn, they turn their cards face-up and the one with the lowest-valued card loses one chip. If two or more players tie for lowest card, they each lose one chip, except in variants that include "pairing up". The dealer rotates one position clockwise around the table for each new hand. Players who lose all their chips are out of the game; the last remaining player wins and collects all the money in the pot. However, if the last two players both lose their final chip in a tie, the game has no winner; the money remains in the pot, and all players make a further bet and start a new game.


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Tippen, also known as Dreiblatt, Drei Karten, Dreekort, Kleinpréférence or Labet, is an historical German 3-card, plain-trick game which was popular as a gambling game for three or more players. The Danish version of the game was known as Trekort and more elaborate Swedish variants include Knack and Köpknack. It appears to be related to the English game of 3-Card Loo. It was banned as a gambling game in some places.


Triomphe, once known as French Ruff, is a card game dating from the late 15th century. It most likely originated in France or Spain and later spread to the rest of Europe. When the game arrived in Italy, it shared a similar name with the pre-existing game and deck known as trionfi; probably resulting in the latter becoming renamed as Tarocchi (tarot). While trionfi has a fifth suit that acts as permanent trumps, triomphe randomly selects one of the existing four suits as trumps. Another common feature of this game is the robbing of the stock. Triomphe became so popular that during the 16th century the earlier game of trionfi was gradually renamed tarocchi, tarot, or tarock. This game is the origin of the English word "trump" and is the ancestor of many trick-taking games like Euchre and Whist.


Bauerntarock also called Brixentaler Bauerntarock or Brixental Tarock, is a point-trick card game played in the Brixental, Austria. It may have originated in the 19th century as an adaptation of the 54-card Tapp Tarock game onto the cheaper and smaller 36-card German deck. Another possibility is that it was adapted from the 78-card Taroc l'Hombre game as the ratio of trumps to non-trumps is almost the same. It uses the Skat Schedule found in popular regional games such as Jass and Schafkopf. It is closely related to Bavarian Tarock, Württemberg Tarock, and especially Dobbm. Like Bavarian Tarock and Tapp, Brixental Bauerntarock and Dobbm do not belong to the true tarot games, but have adopted rules from Tapp Tarock. The most fundamental difference between these games and true tarot games is in the use of German or French decks instead of true Tarot playing cards.

Newmarket (card game)

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Mauscheln, also Maus or Vierblatt, is a gambling card game that resembles Tippen, which is commonly played in Germany and the countries of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.


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Bester Bube

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Bête French card game

Bête, la Bête, Beste or la Beste, originally known as Homme or l'Homme, was an old, French, trick-taking card game, usually for three to five players. It was a derivative of Triomphe created by introducing the concept of bidding. Its earlier name gives away its descent from the 16th-century Spanish game of Ombre. It is the "earliest recorded multi-player version of Triomphe".


Skwitz was a 19th-century Austrian card game of the fishing type for 2 to 8 players that was said to be of English origin. It may be a descendant of Cassino which it resembles.


Coucou, also called As Qui Court or Hère, is an historical French card game that uses a pack of 32 or 52 cards and is played by five to twenty players. It had the originality of being played with only one card in hand. As a shedding game, there was only one winner who may claim the stakes if there are any.

Costly colours

Costly Colours, sometimes just called Costly, is an historical English card game for two players and a close relative of Cribbage. The game "requires a moderate amount of skill in playing, and is well adapted to teach quickness in counting". It has more combinations than Cribbage and retains the original scoring system for points, but does not use a 'crib'. In the 19th century it was described as "peculiar to Shropshire."


  1. 1 2 3 Parlett 2008, pp. 482/483.
  2. Ranter-Go-Round at Pagat.com
  3. Cassell's Book of In-Door Amusements, Card Games and Fireside Fun 1881, p. 125.
  4. 1 2 Cassell's Book of Sports and Pastimes 1882, pp. 869/870.
  5. Arnold 2011.
  6. Specimens of English Dialects, 1879 & p 46.
  7. West Cornwall Glossary 1880, p. 46.
  8. Hoyle's Games, Edmond Hoyle, revised and brought up to date by R. F. Foster, 1926. A. L. Burt Company, New York.