Mao (game)

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Mao (also sometimes called , Maw, Mile, 5-Card Mao, Chairman, The Chairman's Game, Dictator, Point of Order, Bjorn, Maul, Maal, Maui, Mauii, Peebo, Mau, King Mao, Meow, or Moneyclip) is a card game of the Shedding family, in which the aim is to get rid of all of the cards in hand without breaking certain unspoken rules. The game is from a subset of the Stops family, and is similar in structure to the card game Uno or Crazy Eights.[1][2][3][4]

The game forbids its players from explaining the rules, and new players are often told only "the only rule you may be told is this one."[5] The ultimate goal of the game is to be the first player to get rid of all the cards in their hand. Specifics are discovered through trial and error. A player who breaks a rule is penalized by being given an additional card from the deck. The person giving the penalty must state what the incorrect action was, without explaining the rule that was broken.

There are many variants of Mao in existence.[6] While beginners sometimes assume that the dealer (sometimes called the "Chairman" or the "Mao") and other experienced players are simply making up possibly inconsistent rules (as in the game Mornington Crescent), the rules of Mao are consistent within each game and can be followed correctly.



Mao is most likely descended from the German game Mau Mau, or from Eleusis, which was published in Martin Gardner's column in the Scientific American in June 1959.[7] Both of these games share similar principles of inductive reasoning.

Other inductive games in which not all players know the rules include Penultima and Zendo; however, the secret rules in those games are made up at the start of play and disclosed at the end of each round, and the scope and subject matter of Eleusis, Penultima or Zendo rules may be more explicit and closely circumscribed.

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