Category : A Collection of Games for DOS and Windows
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CANASTA Version 1.0
Copyright(C) 1994, Larry W. Nicholas
All rights reserved.


If you discover physical defects in the media on which this software
is distributed, the media will be replaced at no cost to you.

CANASTA is distributed "as is". The author disclaims all warranties,
either expressed or implied. The author will assume no liability for
damages either from the direct use of this product or as a consequence
of the use of this product.


This software is protected by both United States copyright law and
international treaty provisions. Therefore you must treat this soft-
ware just like a book, except that you may make an archive copy for
backing up this software. This software cannot be legally used by two
different people in two different places (unless you have violated my


If you have any questions with this software, please contact me at
2619 Quail Valley Rd., Solvang, CA 93463, or by telephone between the
hours of 9am - 4pm PDT, Monday through Friday, at (805) 688-7255.


Introduction GETTING STARTED Requirements.................1
Mouse Conventions............1

Chapter 1 GAME OPERATION Starting Canasta.............3
Playing the Game.............3
The Play Table...............3
One Human Player.............4
Two Human Players............4
Menu Bar.....................4
The Draw...................4
The Pile...................4
The Meld...................4
The Discard................4
The Score..................4
The Query..................4
To Quit....................4
Improper Melds...............5
Scoring Summary Table........6
The Canasta Score Sheet......6

Chapter 2 RULES OF CANASTA Definitions..................7
The Deal.....................7

Red Threes...................7
Black Threes.................8
Frozen Pile..................8
Stop Cards...................8
Taking the Discard Pile......8
Point Values.................9
Initial Meld Requirement.....9
The Play.....................9

Exhausting the Stock........10
Going Out...................10
Concealed Hand..............11
Asking Permission...........11
Selected Bibliography.......12

Introduction Getting Started 1



CANASTA requires the following equipment:

. IBM PC, XT, AT, or 100% compatible
. DOS 3.0+ or later
. Microsoft Compatible Mouse
. VGA/EGA and color monitor
. 720K Floppy or Hard Drive


For hard drive users, create a directory named Canasta as follows:


All files must be located in this directory. The directory should be
included in the PATH Statement of your AUTOEXEC.BAT File which allows
you to run CANASTA from any directory. Refer to your DOS manual for
details on the PATH Statement. Floppy drive users can execute the
program from the CANASTA Diskette.

Commands are always followed by the Enter key.


All input in Canasta is via the mouse and only the left button is
active. The mouse cursor is referred to as "cursor" throughout this
text. To "click" means to depress the left mouse button. To "select"
means to move the cursor to the appropriate card, button or box and

Important note: along the left-hand edge of each card, approximately
1/4" in width and continuing the length of the card directly
underneath the cards' suit is the "selection area". When you select a
card for meld or discard, you must place the cursor inside this area
and click. This area is referred to as the "left-hand edge"
throughout this text and will become obvious once you see your hand


Canasta is a card game derived from rummy. It originated in Uruguay
after World War II, and reached the U.S. via Argentina in 1949.

Canasta is a four-handed game of two opposing partnerships, which
embodies the principles of forming card combinations as in Gin, the
melding of Pinochle, the partnership understanding of Bridge, with the
deception of Poker.

Introduction Getting Started 2

The object of the game is to score 5000 or more points before your
opponents by building melds and then Canastas, while preventing your
opponents from accomplishing the same. Through Draws, Melds, and
Discards both offensive and defensive skills are used to out-maneuver
your opponents.

It is extremely important for you to read this manual before starting
the Game. Chapter 1 discusses the Game Operation while Chapter 2
presents the Rules of Canasta. If you have never played Canasta
before, or have only a passing knowledge of the game, you will need to
read Chapter 2 before proceeding to Chapter 1: Game Operation.

While Canasta can be intimidating to the first-time player, reading
the rules in their entirety, will greatly ease your understanding of
the game. Even if you are familiar with partnership Canasta, you
should at least browse the Rules Chapter, observing the paragraph on

Once you have read Chapter 2 and have become acquainted with the basic
definitions, melds, and the "play" then proceed to the Chapter 1: Game

Chapter 1 Game Operation 3



If you installed Canasta on your Hard Drive C and included the
directory in your PATH Statement, then issue the command:


If you did not include the CANASTA Sub-directory in your PATH
Statement then issue the commands:


If you wish to execute the program from your floppy disk, insert the
CANASTA Disk into disk drive and issue the following command:


In this version of Canasta, four players form two partnerships
(Player's 1 and 3 versus Player's 2 and 4). The game is played in
accordance with the rules of Chapter 2.

There are two play options available. Selecting the "One Human Player"
option teams you as Player 1 with your partner, computer Player 3.
Selecting the "Two Human Player" option adds a second human as Player
4 teaming with computer Player 2.

Once you have made your selection you will see the cards being dealt
to each player. The stock pile is placed in the center of the table
with the upcard placed next to it. Your hand is displayed at the
bottom of the screen. Play begins with the first player to the
dealers left.


On the playing table you will see four quadrants, one for each player.
It is in these quadrants that melding takes place. In each quadrant
is the name of the player (Player 1, Player 2, ...) alongside a light
which illuminates when it is that player's turn. The player's folded
hand is placed either above or below the name.

As described in the Rules Chapter, a turn for each player consists of
the Draw (from the stock or the upcard), the Meld (optional), and the

When a player draws from the stock, a card is dealt from the stock
into the players folded hand. The player then removes the hand from
the table and can either meld or select a discard.

Chapter 1 Game Operation 4

When a player draws the upcard (takes the pile), it is placed on the
appropriate Meld and the remainder of the pile placed in the player's
hand. The player can then continue melding or discard.

When a player chooses to Meld, each card is placed on the table in the
proper quadrant.

When a player selects a discard, the card is removed from the hand and
placed on top of the pile as the upcard. The player's hand is now re-
turned to the table, face down.

This sequence of events holds for all players.


Your hand appears at the bottom of the screen. It is always sorted
for you in ascending order starting with the Ace, Three,...,King, and
the wild cards (Deuces and Jokers) placed at the end of the hand.

All cards melded are automatically displayed vertically and in
ascending order in each quadrant. You need only select the card to be
melded. Along the left-hand edge of each card, approximately 1/4" in
width and continuing the length of the card directly underneath the
card's suit is the "selection area". When you select a card for meld
or discard you must place the cursor inside this area and click.


If the "Two Human Players" option is selected, a message will appear
prior to the play of either Player 4 or Player 1 which says that
"Player 4 is Up" or "Player 1 is Up". This permits the other human
player to "look away" while the current player's hand is displayed at
the bottom of the screen. At the conclusion of the play a bell will
sound indicating that it permissible, once again to look at the table.


Near the bottom of the screen is the command bar where six commands
(Draw, Pile, Discard, Quit, Query, and Score) are available to you
during your turn. To select a command move the cursor to the desired
button and click. Three of these buttons, Draw, Pile, and Discard
have lights associated with them which illuminate when that command is
available for selection.

The Draw

To draw a card from the stock simply move the cursor to the Draw
Button, click, and the card is inserted into your hand.

The Pile

To draw the upcard, thus taking the pile, simply move the cursor to
the Pile Button, click and the upcard is automatically placed on the
proper meld with the remainder of the pile inserted into your hand.

Chapter 1 Game Operation 5

The Meld

The process of melding depends on whether you are trying to meld a
natural card or a wild card.

1) Natural Card: To meld a natural card move the cursor to the left-
hand edge of the desired card in your hand, click, and the card
will be placed on the table in the proper quadrant.

2) Wild Card: Melding a wild card is a two step process. Move the
cursor to the desired wild card in your hand and click. The
following message will appear:

"To play a wild card move cursor to the left column of the
selected melded rank and click."

First click to remove the message. Then move the cursor to the
left-hand edge of the meld where you want the wild card placed,
and click. The card is removed from your hand and placed on the
selected meld.

The Discard

To discard, move the cursor to the Discard Button, click, and the
button will illuminate showing it is active. Move the cursor to the
left-hand edge of the desired card in your hand, click, and the card
is removed from your hand and placed on the pile as the upcard.

The Score

To see the score of each partnership and their respective initial meld
requirements, move the cursor to the Score Button and click.

The Query

As explained in the Rules Chapter, there may be occasions when you
seek permission to "Go Out" from you partner. To request permission,
move the cursor to the Query Button, click, and your partner will

To Quit

You may exit the program only during your turn. Simply move the
cursor to the Quit Button and click.


Several error and informative messages have been included in this
program. They will be displayed in the center of the screen and
require no more action on your part than a click. You need not even
move the cursor.

Improper Melds

Should you make an improper meld or insufficient meld, you can always
have the melds returned to your hand by attempting to discard a card.
An error message will be generated and the cards will be returned to

Chapter 1 Game Operation 6

your hand. As an example, suppose your meld requirement is 120, but
you have only melded 110 consisting of multiple melds. If you try to
discard, an error message will be generated and one of the melds will
be returned to your hand. To have the remaining meld(s) returned,
select the discard function again.


Once a hand has ended, a new screen will appear showing the combined
melds for each partnership, the partnership's un-played cards
remaining and a scoring summary.

The top half of the screen is for Players 1 and 3, while Players 2 and
4 occupy the bottom half.

The melds for the partnership are combined and displayed vertically on
the left side of the screen. The cards remaining in the partnership's
hands are displayed horizontally in the middle of the screen, with the
scoring summary occupying the right side of the screen.

Click to proceed to the Canasta score sheet.


The Canasta score sheet shows the bonus points and net cards (melded
cards, less cards in hand, less any penalties) for the last four
hands. Shown at the bottom of the sheet is each partnership's
"Initial Meld Requirement" for the next hand. The first partnership
to reach or exceed 5000 points wins the game.

Chapter 2 Rules of Canasta 7



Rank: Cards with the same number (all the 8's)
Natural cards: Aces, Fours, Fives, Sixes, Sevens, Eights, Nines,
Tens, Jacks, Queens, Kings
Wild cards: All Jokers and the eight Deuces (Twos)
Stock: The remainder of cards after the deal placed face down
in the middle of the table
Upcard: The top discard shown face up
Discard pile: A pile of cards placed next to the stock


Four players form two partnerships. The partners sit opposite each
other at the table.


The game is played with two regular decks of fifty-two cards plus four
Jokers, all 108 cards shuffled together. These wild cards may be
designated during the play as any rank other than a three.


Each player is dealt a total of eleven cards, one at a time, in a
clockwise rotation. The remainder of the deck is placed face down in
the center of the table becoming the stock. Next, the top card of the
stock is turned face up (the upcard) and placed beside the stock,
starting the discard pile.

If the upcard is a wild card or a Three, then one or more additional
cards must be turned upon it until some other card appears.


A player finding a red Three in the hand must, at their first turn,
place it face up on the table and draw a replacement card from the
stock. A player who draws a red Three from the stock must immediately
place it face up on the table and draw a replacement card from the
stock. A player who takes the discard pile and finds a red Three in
it must place the red Three face up on the table, but does not draw a
replacement card.

Red Threes are bonus cards counting for or against the side to which
they belong.

Chapter 2 Rules of Canasta 8


The object of play is to form melds which eventually become Canastas.
A Meld is a combination of three or more cards of the same rank, with
or without the help of wild cards. A meld is valid if it contains at
least two natural cards of the same rank and not more than three wild
cards. A set of three or four black Threes may only be melded when
the player goes out in the same turn. Jokers and deuces may never be
melded separately from natural cards. A player may add one or more
cards of the same rank including wild cards to a previous meld. A
player may never play on an opponents meld. A partnership may not
make two separate melds of the same rank, but may meld a rank also
melded by the opponent.


Black Three's can be only be melded when "Going Out" and only if the
player holds three or more in the hand. Black Threes cannot be melded
at any other time, nor melded with wild cards.


A meld comprising seven or more cards is a Canasta. There are two
types of Canastas:

1) A natural Canasta consists of seven cards of the same rank without
any wild cards

2) A mixed Canasta must have at least four natural cards and not more
that three wild cards.


The discard pile is "frozen" whenever it contains a wild card or red
Three. The frozen pile may be taken up only when the player holds two
natural cards matching the upcard. It cannot be taken up to play on
an existing meld. Once the pile is taken, it is no longer frozen.


When the upcard of the discard pile is a wild card or a black Three,
it is a called a "stop card". The next player cannot take the discard
pile but must draw from the stock.


When the discard pile is frozen, the player may take it only to meld
the upcard with a natural pair of the same rank from the hand, thereby
creating a new meld.

Chapter 2 Rules of Canasta 9

When the discard pile is not frozen a player may add the upcard to an
existing meld, or may draw the upcard to complete a meld with two
natural cards of the same rank from the hand.

After the upcard has been melded, the remainder of the discard pile is
incorporated into the player's hand.

A player may not take the discard pile if it is stopped.

A "special rule" is that at no time may a player having only one card
in hand take a discard pile consisting of only one card.


Every card has a point value as follows:

Jokers ....................... 50 points
Deuces ....................... 20 points
Aces ....................... 20 points
K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8 ............ 10 points
7, 6, 5, 4, black 3 .......... 5 points


The first meld made by a player for the partnership must meet an
"Initial Meld Requirement" which depends on the accumulated score of
the partnership at the beginning of the hand:


minus ....................... 15 points
from 0 to 1495 .............. 50 points
from 1500 to 2995 ........... 90 points
from 3000 to 4995 ........... 120 points

The count of a meld is the total point value of its component cards.
To meet the minimum a player may meld two or more different ranks. If
the player takes the discard pile, only the upcard (and no other card
from the pile) may count toward this requirement. Bonuses for red
Threes and Canastas do not count toward the requirement.

After a partnership has made it's initial meld, either partner may
make any valid melds without reference to any minimum count.

When a player "Goes Out" concealed, this requirement is waived however
the player is still responsible for one Canasta.


There are three elements associated with the play:

. The Draw
. The Meld (optional)
. The Discard

Chapter 2 Rules of Canasta 10

Each player in turn, starting with the first player on the dealers
left, and proceeding in a clockwise rotation, must either draw a card
from the stock or the upcard in which case the player must take the
entire discard pile and either adds it to the hand, or melds.

The player then ends the turn by selecting a card from the hand for

First and Second Players:

The player may pick the top card from the stock and meld if the player
can and wants to. The player then must discard one card. The first
(initial) meld must total at least 50 points.

The player may pick up the entire discard pile if the upcard can be
used with two other natural cards of the same numerical rank to form a
meld. Again since this is the player's initial meld, it must total at
least 50 points.

Third Player and Fourth Players (partners of the first and second

If the respective partner has not completed the initial meld, the
rules as stated for the first and second players also apply to the
partners. If the partner has completed the initial meld, then the
player may draw a card from the stock or take up the discard pile if
able to do so.

The object of play is to score by melding, those melds eventually
becoming Canastas. The play ends when any player removes the last
card in the hand either by meld or discard, or when no card remains
that can or must be drawn.


If a player draws the last card of the stock and it is a red Three,
the card is placed face up on the table and the play ends.

If the last card is not a red Three then play continues and the next
player is "forced" to pick up the discard provided it can be melded on
an existing meld. If it can't, then the player has the option of
taking the pile so long as a valid new meld can be created, otherwise
play ends.


A player "Goes Out" when the last card from the players hand is either
melded or discarded. When any player goes out, play ends and the hand
is scored. The player's side must have melded at least one Canasta.
Failing this requirement, the player must keep at least one card in
hand. A player need not make a discard after going out and may meld
all remaining cards.

Chapter 2 Rules of Canasta 11


A concealed hand is one in which a player goes out without previously
having melded on the table. This may be done in one of two ways:

1) By playing on the partner's exposed melds. In this case the side
must either have previously made a Canasta or the player must
complete a Canasta in the course of melding out.

2) By melding out with a Canasta concealed in the hand. In this case
the Initial Meld Requirement is waived.


A player is legally entitled to ask, "May I go out, partner?". The
partner must respond either "Yes" or "No". The player is bound by the
reply for that round only. Permission may only be asked after the
player has drawn but before any meld. Should the player not abide by
the answer, a 100 point penalty is assessed. A player may go out
without asking permission.


When a player goes out, each partnership counts the points contained
in their melds, adds any earned bonuses and deducts any penalties or
un-played cards.

The bonuses earned by a partnership are credited to their score in
accordance with the following table:

Canasta (natural)............ 500 points each
Canasta (mixed).............. 300 points each
Red Threes (all four)........ 200 points each
Red Threes (up to three)..... 100 points each
Melding out.................. 100 points
Concealed hand............... 100 points

If a partnership has not satisfied the initial meld requirement, any
melded red Threes are penalized 200 points each.

The value of all melded cards less any cards still remaining in the
players hand plus all bonuses are added together and the game
continues until one side's aggregate score reaches or exceeds 5000
points. If both sides exceed 5000 points, the side with the higher
score is the winner. If both sides are tied, a new hand is played to
determine the winner.

Chapter 2 Rules of Canasta 12


The object of the game is to take the pack and do a lot of melding.
The more cards you have in your hand the better your chance to get the
pack. The beginners worst mistake is melding fast and reducing the
hand to a few cards.

Make mixed Canastas fast rather than wait for natural Canastas.

Don't be in a hurry to go out if you have a better chance for further

Build up a hand of pairs.

It pays to keep your score just under 1500, or just under 3000 even at
the sacrifice of a few hundred points you might have scored.

If the other side manages to get the first large pack, a good player
often abandons hope for that particular hand and attempts to "Go Out"
as quickly as possible thus reducing any further scoring by the


Single Card Announcement: A player must announce if holding only one

Improper Meld: If a player makes an improper meld either from an
insufficient meld count or number of cards contained in the meld, the
meld must be returned to the hand.

Failure to Declare a Red Three: If at the end of play a hand is found
to contain a red Three, the side is penalized 200 points for each red
Three found.

Irregularity in Asking: If a player asks, "Partner, may I go out?" and
does not abide by the answer for one round, a 100 point penalty is


A frozen pile cannot be taken with one natural card and one wild card.

No provision is made to ask any player how many cards they are

Several minor penalties have been omitted in the game.

Selected Bibliography

1. ACCORDING TO HOYLE, Frey, Richard L., Hawthorn Books, Inc, 1970
2. AINSLIE'S COMPLETE HOYLE, Ainslie, Tom, Simon & Schuster, 1975
3. HOYLE'S RULES OF GAMES, Morehead, Albert H., Signet, 1983
4. SCARNE'S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GAMES, Scarne, John, Harper & Row, 1973

  3 Responses to “Category : A Collection of Games for DOS and Windows
Archive   : CANAST_1.ZIP
Filename : CANASTA.DOC

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