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How To Play A New Card Game Tuna

Updated on April 28, 2015

I love to solve puzzles in my spare time. One I worked on recently involved two rows of letters, each with five letters, one directly above the other. So there were five pairs of letters. The puzzle required you to choose one letter from each pair so that the five letters formed a word. For the first puzzle of that type in the magazine, I had to choose top, top, bottom, top, bottom to find the word.

I wondered if this type of puzzle could be done with playing cards?

Word Puzzle Game

There are 26 letters in the alphabet, and each suit in a traditional deck of playing cards has 13 cards, which is half of 26. So you just have to assign a pair of letters to each card in a suit.

The simplest way to do this is to assign playing cards as follows:

I tried a number of assignments, and ended up using a chart that showed how frequently each letter is used in words to help me assign the letters. The new assignment looked like this:

I decided that when playing the game, letting each player use two suits of cards would make it easier to form the words. A simple word like 'PASTE' would require two Nines. I named the new game Tuna.

Rules of the Game

Tuna is a card game for two to four players. For two players, use one deck of cards, and give one player the red suits and the other player the black suits. With three or four players, use two decks of playing cards, and give each player either two red suits or two black suits from a deck.

You will also need a pad of paper and a pencil or pen. Write the players' names across the top of the pad to record the scores. Also make sure each player has a "CARD/LETTERS" chart.

At the beginning of each turn, each player chooses five cards that form a word, and lays them face-down in a line on the table so that they can be seen in correct order by the other players. When everyone has laid their cards on the table, each player turns their cards face-up. Then each player tries to guess one other player's word.


With three or more players, you try to guess a different player's word on each turn using a specific pattern of play. Three players each try to guess the word of the player to their right on the first turn, the word of the player to their left on the next turn, then back to the right, and so on. Four players each try to guess the word of the player to their right on the first turn, the word of the player to their left on the next turn, the word of the player across the table on the next turn, then back to the right, and so on.

If you think you know your opponent's word, say "Tuna", and then say the word. If you are right, continue playing that turn without doing any more guessing. If you are wrong, continue trying to guess the word.

If after several minutes one or more words have not been guessed, the players can decide that the turn ends.


If you were the first to guess a word you score 3 points, second to guess a word you score 2 points, third or fourth to guess a word you score 1 point. Add these scores to any previous scores.

Continue playing until a player has scored 12 points. That player wins the game.


- You can play with six-letter words.

- You can play with five-letter words, but use six cards. One of the cards on the end of your layout is a dummy card.

- Five or six players can play using three decks of cards. Five players would use the right/left pattern of play, and six players would use the right/left/across pattern.


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