Beggar My Neighbour, also known as Strip Jack Naked,The first card game my grandfather ever taught me! or Beat Your Neighbour Out-Of-Doors,A[p. 12] is a simple luck-based card game from England for two or more players. No decisions are required to be made during the course of play, so it is an ideal children’s game.
A wonderful defence of this simple game as the ideal playing-card game may be found in the Meerut Universal Magazine.B
It is mentioned as early as 1603 by the British playwright Thomas Heywood under the name “Knave out of Doors” in his play A Woman Killed with Kindness (1603, published 1607).C[p. 1] A song about the Rump Parliament called The Rebells Reign (from some time between 1639–61) also refers to the game under this name:
The Parliament sate as snug as a Cat,
And were playing for mine and yours ;
Sweep-stakes was their Game, till Oliver came,
And turn’d it to Knave out of doors.D[p. 317]
It is called “Beat the Knave out of Doors” in 1739,E[p. 4]It also appears under this name in the 1754 tract Serious reflections on the dangerous tendency of the common practice of card-playing; especially of the Game of All-Fours, as it hath been publickly play’d at Oxford (p. 15). and appears under the name “Drive the Knave out of Doors” in 1751.G[p. 245]
To play, all cards are dealt out to the players. Players do not look at their cards but instead hold them face down in a pile. When it is a player’s turn, they turn up the top card of their pile and play it face-up to the middle.
If the played card is not a face-card, then the next player plays a card, and this continues until a face-card is turned up. Once this happens, the follwing player must play a number of cards until they play their own face card, or the required number is met. The number of cards to be played is determined by the rank of the face-card: for a, one card must be played, for a two, three, and four. If jokers are being used they can count for five cards.
If the player playing on top of the face card either meets the number without turning up another face card or runs out of cards, then the player who played the last face card captures the whole pile and adds it to the bottom of their pile. They then restart the game by playing a card from the top of their pile.
On the other hand, if the player playing on top of the face card turns up another face card, then the next player must play the required number of cards for that face card, and so on, until someone plays the required number of cards without turning up a face card.
The last player left with any cards is the winner.
A game named Knocking Dolly Out O’ Bed is described in London Street Games (p. 14), which seems to be a variation on the game, with card values: =3, =2, =1, =0. However, it is unclear how the game should function with a 0-valued card!
Verity, A. Wilson (editor) (). Thomas Heywood; The Mermaid Series, series editor Havelock Ellis. Vizetelly & Co.: London.
Henry Brome and Henry Marsh (publisher) (). Rump: or an Exact Collection of the Choycest Poems and Songs relating to the Late Times. Henry Brome and Henry Marsh: London.
Gurthie, James (). The Life and Heroick Actions of the Eighth Champion of Christendom. Webb: London.
Smith, Gyles (). Serious reflections on the dangerous tendency of the common practice of card-playing; especially of the Game of All-Fours, as it hath been publickly play’d at Oxford. London, England, UK.
Midnight, Mary [Christopher Smart] (). ‘A Letter from Mrs. Midnight to Mr. Hoyle, partly complimentary, and partly objurgatory’. The Midwife; or, The Old Woman’s Magazine vol. 1 (5): page 193.