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A Piece of the Action

Star Trek Day

Sep 8

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"Captain Kirk: Yes, but what you're after is a Royal Fizzbin, but the odds in getting a Royal Fizzbin are astronomical. Spock, what are the odds in getting a royal fizzbin? / Mr. Spock: I have never computed them, Captain." ~ Star Trek, A Piece of the Action, 1968

In the iconic television series Star Trek, Fizzbin is a card game said to originate from the planet Beta Antares IV. Captain James T. Kirk invents this game as a diversionary tactic to free himself, his first officer, Spock, and his chief medical officer, Leonard McCoy, from captivity at the hands of a group of Iotians who have mimicked early 20th century Earth-style gangsters and are fond of card games. While Kirk is explaining the extremely convoluted rules of the game to his captors, he used what he called the last card, the "kronk," as a distraction to knock the captors unconscious. 🃏


Fizzbin is a fictional card game created by James T. Kirk in the Original Series episode "A Piece of the Action". While being held hostage on Sigma Iota II with Spock and Leonard McCoy, he spontaneously invented a confusing card game to distract the henchmen guarding them.

The rules were intentionally complex. Each player gets six cards, except for the player on the dealer's right, who gets seven. Simultaneously, the first and second card are turned up, except on Tuesdays, when the first card alone is turned up. Kirk dealt the henchman two like cards (jacks), which are a "half-fizzbin". When the henchman said he needs another jack, Kirk warned that a third jack is a "shralk" and is grounds for disqualification. With a half-fizzbin, one wants a king and a deuce, except at night, when one wants a queen and a four.

At this point, Kirk dealt a third jack, but to keep the ruse going, he ignored the disqualification rule he had just made up. He explained that, had a king been dealt instead of a jack, the player would get another card, except when it is dark, in which case he'd have to give it back. The top hand is a "royal fizzbin", consisting of a king, a two, a jack, a six, two queens and two aces during the day, and a queen, a four, an ace, an eight, two kings, and two jacks at night; however, the odds against getting one are c. 1,022 to 1.

Kirk called the last card a "kronk", which is two like cards and either a king, queen, jack, ace, two, four, six, or eight (time of day applicable), and then purposely dealt a card such that it fell on the floor. As the henchman being taught reached down, Spock nerve-pinched him while Kirk and McCoy attacked the other guards, allowing the three to escape!

If you'd like to see this classic scene, click the Fizzbin cheat sheet!


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