Nertz History

Nertz is an enigma in the world of card games. The most fascinating aspect of this game is how it has remained an underground cult-like classic since, at least, the early 1940's. The National Nertz Association's research of the game of Nertz has found that the people who play this game have a lot of pride in the way that they play it. Depending largely on the region, the Nertz game rules, terms, and even the name of the game itself, all vary. This makes it difficult to determine an original variation and just as difficult to find credible pioneers. As of now we have yet to find a single known inventor or place of origin for Nertz. If you were to take a poll, it would be accurate to say that the majority of the polled general public would not have a clue of what Nertz is. Amazingly despite the scattered and random way in which it has been spread, Nertz players can be found from the UK to Mexico, Pennsylvania to California, Texas to Utah, Russia to Brazil, Canada to Germany and almost everywhere in between. We do have some ancestry of Nertz. We can conclude that it is a direct descendant of the Solitaire family of card games. Unlike the typical card games that can be found in this family, Nertz is fast, competitive, and played with more than two people. Within the last 30 years the game Speed (also known as Double Solitaire or Spit) has crossed into mainstream America. This is the only other real-time card game that we are aware of. Still, this game is only played by two people and one deck of cards. So, it is doubtful that the game Speed was the inspiration for Nertz, since we have known about Nertz for at least 70 years. There is evidence to suggest that Nertz may have drawn inspiration from single player card games like Canfield and Demon Solitaire because of a close relation in the games' setup. Nertz has been passed through families and friends for generations all the while being modified to suit the preferences of the various groups that have learned it. The slight modifications these groups of people have made over the years has spawned countless variations of Nertz. Since all of these variations have rules so similar to one another we can only assume that all these variations had to have come from an original version. Sadly many proud Nertz players claim they play the original version but have little evidence to support them. The truth is we probably will never know what the original version was. In addition, there is a good chance that the original version may not have had a set of rules as complete as the variations of Nertz we play today. Taking all that we know of this game into account, you may see why Nertz has eluded mainstream society for so long. Yet, Nertz has survived over the years because it is a "One-of-a-Kind" card game. This card game is the only multi-player, multi-deck, real-time card game in existence. These qualities mixed with the speed, strategy, and skill required to play this game creates the perfect recipe for addiction. One thing that we do know for sure about the game of Nertz is that it continues to grow in popularity. It may not be long until the time comes that this game crosses into mainstream society with the aid of the many enthusiastic Nertz players all across the globe. Recent information may indicate that time may be upon us.

Racing Demons, another known name for Nertz used most commonly in the U.K., has been featured as a card game played by the characters in the popular TV series, Downton Abbey, in 2013 and 2014 episodes. It is unclear whether the writers of the show knew that the game was played during the time period in which this series is being depicted(1912-1920). However, it would not be surprising to know that this game has been around that long since Canfield, a solitaire game similar in set-up but not played with others(with the exception of the gambling aspect), has been around even longer. It may be that the writers play the card game and thought it would be a fun aspect to incorporate into the show. Or they may have knowledge, be it from family or documentation, that this game was played in the U.K. during that time period. I would like to believe the latter.

Popular American singer, Amy Grant, has mentioned multiple times on her twitter and blog that she plays Nertz. It is not unreasonable to believe that a few other celebrities have come across Nertz at some point in their lives as well. Maybe one or more of these celebrities will someday give Nertz the boost in popularity that it deserves whether they intend to or not. Until then, it up to us, the Nertz underground, to keep this game headed in the right direction.

ABOUT NERTZ: Nertz is commonly known to others as Hell, Nerts, Pounce, Peanuts, Racing Demon, and Squinch.

The following is a list of the alternate names that have been submitted by smaller groups of players: Ace Out, Coot, Crunch, Drats, Flip Flip, Gluck, Grouch, Hallelujah, Hoorah, Hurtigkabal("Quick Solitaire" in Dutch), Knertz, Lucky Thirty, Maxcards, Mertz, Moofles, Nerds, Nerdz, Nerf, Nerks, Nirche, Nirts, Nirtz, Nurts, Nurtz, Nuts, Nutsy, Nutz, Popeye, Pounds, Race Horse Rummy, Scrimble Scramble, Scooge, Scrooge, Scrub, Snerds, Squeak, Squeal, Squid, Stop, Swish, and The Race Game.

Solitaire Frenzy, Ligretto, and Dutch Blitz are well known retail game sets inspired by the free version of Nertz. Perpetual Commotion, Wackee Six, and NayJay! are also Nertz inspired game sets that have been more recently developed. Though not related to Nertz, Rook playing card decks are often used in certain religious sects of Nertz players. Nertz Solitaire, Solitaire Race(free), Nerts Showdown(free Facebook app), eNerts(trial), and Nerts High Speed Card Game are some of the Nertz-inspired computer games available online. Ligretto also has a free computer version available. There are also a few Nerts and Pounce apps available for the iPhone, iPad, iTouch, Andriod, and Windows 7 phone platforms. Independent developers have also made versions of Nertz games for the Xbox 360 and Facebook. Take a look at some Nertz Products of the Past.

THE NATIONAL NERTZ ASSOCIATION: The National Nertz Association (NNA) is an organization committed to the growth and welfare of the game of Nertz. The NNA is the national governing body for the game of Nertz and the recognized leader in promoting and developing the game's growth in the United States. We strive to grow Nertz at every level with a goal of making it accessible to everyone. We make an effort to support various events so that the public has more opportunities to learn and play the game. The NNA was officially formed in 2004 following the publication of the first Official Nertz Rulebook. Prior to that, the NNA had unofficially convened since the 90's. After some serious deliberations, the NNA went online in January 2007 opening PLAYNERTZ.com and the NNA up to the public.

OUR GOALS: To continually spread the game of Nertz until it is nationally recognized as a common household game. To protect the integrity of Nertz, ensuring that it is kept fun and pure. To make sure our members are happy with the services and information we provide. To someday host live, national events as well as develop a superior, universal, electronic Nertz game application that keeps players engaged in the Nertz playing community.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Play Nertz as much as possible. Teach the game to as many people as you can. Refer your friends to our site. Ask people if they have heard of Nertz and enlighten them if they haven't.

NERTZ VARIATIONS: The NNA has discovered many fun and exciting ways to play Nertz. Since there are absolutely no other card games that come close to being compared with it, Nertz seems to be a category of it's own. Within this Nertz category though, many variations can be found. Take a look at some different ways to spice up a Nertz game that have been provided by our growing member base.

VARIATIONS CAN DIFFER BY :
- Name
- The terminology used
- How many River columns it's played with
- How many cards are put in the Nertz pile
- Whether the Nertz pile is dealt facing up or down
- How many Stream cards are flipped at a time
- Giving certain cards the power to change the numerical direction in which the Lake piles are played
- The value of a called "Nertz", Nertz cards, and Lake cards
- Whether or not the hand score is kept track of or if the "games won" count determines a winner
- Whether players are allowed to play with both hands at a time or just one hand
- Choosing to play Singles, Doubles(or both), Mandatory Mixed Gender Doubles, or Rotating Partner Games
- The way partners are chosen and how the winners are determined in rotating partner games
- Whether or not you are allowed to play from both ends of your piles
- Choosing to handicap a certain team or player
- How penalties are enforced for breaking the rules
- Whether or not talking is allowed during play
- Giving certain cards more or less value when played into the Lake or not played from a Nertz pile
- Whether or not it is legal to look at blocked cards in the Nertz pile
- Whether or not "Stacking"(playing more than one card at a time) is allowed
- Whether or not a point bonus is given for calling Nertz and how much that bonus is worth

PLAYNERTZ.COM: From learning the history of Nertz to discovering the many ways to play, playnertz.com provides the most information about Nertz on the web making it your Nertz information headquarters.

8 comments:

dlwilcoxen said...

My husband's family has been playing this game for at least 50 years. It is so cool to know that other families are in on the fun!

Chase said...

This is practically my family's game! We play it so much and have a ton of fun. I teach it to everyone I know!

quoter said...

This has long been part of my (Cincinnati) family's heritage as well, under the name Scrooge. The way we play differs only in terminology: Nertz pile = Scrooge pile, and we don't have terms for Lake/River/Stream.

Mrs. Nertz said...

My husband plays Nertz but I don't believe he's playing it properly. He leaves it so there are 3 rows and one open for him to maneuver his cards. Is that legal? Or do they ALWAYS need to have 4 rows going? Please help end our debate!

NNA said...

Mrs. Nertz - It is legal according to the NNA, but it isn't always the best strategy.

Janet said...

We actually call it "Pounds." What a hoot to find your website! Been playing this game since I was a kid!

Nona Narvaez said...

They just played it on the latest episode of Downton Abbey! In the show, which is set in England in the 1920s, it is called Racing Demons. If the show's depiction is accurate, then the game can be traced back about 90 years. Any chance that could help to determine the origin?

I've been playing it for 40 years under the name of Pounce, and teaching it to campers, college students, and extended family.

Anonymous said...

I found this site because of the Downton Abbey card game, Racing Demons. My family has been playing Nertz under the name Hell since I was a child. We've taught it to many people over the years. We play with the 1 hand rule. One additional rule is that nothing said during the game should be taken personally. (We do get a little loud and irreverent as we play.)