Date: Sun, 26 Oct 1997 01:14:31 -0800
From: Geenius at Wrok (
Subject: Egyptian Rat Screw

Here's a Stump the Net question with a twist: I know the rules of the game, but I don't know what its official name is. The game came down to me with the highly implausible name Egyptian Rat Screw.

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Now, the stumper is: What is the real, original name of this game, and where did it come from?

Keith Ammann

Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 08:39:46 +0000
From: John McLeod (
Subject: Egyptian Ratscrew

Egyptian Rat Screw (ERS) is the name that I know it by. In some books I have seen it called Egyptian War. Judging by the posts in it was fashionable with US college students a couple of years ago but maybe somewhat less so now.

The basic mechanism of the game is based on the old children's game called "Beggar-my-neighbour", "Beggar-your-neighbour", "Beat your neighbour out of doors" or "Strip jack naked". This is a two player game in which each player starts with half the pack face down. The rules about ace and face cards are the same as in ERS but there is no slapping. David Parlett suggests that this may be the same game as the "Knave out of doors" referred to in Heywood's "A Woman Killed with Kindness" (1607).

The slapping idea has been added recently, I think. It may have been inspired by the children's game Slapjack, in which you simply turn over cards until a jack appears and then try to be the first to slap it. Maybe there was an (unrecorded) version of Slapjack in which you slapped when two equal cards appeared in succession (this would be a sort of combination of Slapjack and Snap).

I do not know exactly when these ideas were combined to make Egyptian Rat Screw. I am fairly sure this is a North American invention, probably recent. I have never heard of ERS being played anywhere outside North America, and in particular, there is very unlikely to be any connection with Egypt.

I hope this helps answer the question.

John McLeod
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