The King of Hearts Has Five Sons

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The King of Hearts has five sons.

The King of Hearts Has Five Sons is a little known, but traditional American deduction card game, but is interesting because its methodology is reflected in the well known board game of Cluedo, which means that it might be a predecessor.[1]


The following rules are based on Faidutti and Branham:[1]

The King of Hearts Has Five Sons is best played by four or five players. The game uses the twelve court cards (four Jacks, four Queens and four Kings), as well as the ten Heart cards (Ace, Two, ..., Ten).

Before the game starts, the twelve court cards are shuffled and one card placed face down in the middle of the table; likewise the ten Heart cards are shuffled and one placed on the table. The remaining twenty cards are then shuffled together and dealt to each player.

The game itself resembles Cluedo. The aim is, through skilful questioning and logical deduction to work out which two cards (one court card and one Heart) are lying concealed in the middle of the table.

The first player asks the one to his left if he has certain cards. Suppose he wants to find out if his neighbour has the Queen of Spades and the Three of Hearts, he would say: "The Queen of Spades has three sons."

  • If his neighbour has both, he shows the questioner one of them - it doesn't matter which - in such a way that only the questioner can see it.
  • If the neighbour only has one of the two cards, he again shows it to the questioner without revealing it to anyone else.
  • If the neighbour has neither card, he repeats the question to the player on his left in turn and this continues until a player reveals one of the two cards.

Once a player has revealed a card, the next player may ask a question. After a question has been posed, any player has the right to name a solution. To do so, he writes his suspected solution on a piece of paper and looks at the face down cards.

If his suspicion is:

  • correct, the game ends and he has won.
  • wrong, he lays the two cards face down again in the centre of the table. The game now continues. The player who now knows the answer, cannot go on to win, but remains in the game to answer questions.


  1. ^ a b "The Secret of Winning at Cluedo" in Deduction Games at Retrieved 11 Feb 2019.

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