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Kirk inventing fizzbin

James T. Kirk inventing fizzbin in a somewhat historical moment

Fizzbin was a card game said to originate from Beta Antares IV. It was used by Captain James T. Kirk 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 had mimicked early 20th century Earth-style gangsters.

While Kirk was explaining the extremely convoluted rules of the game to his captors, he used a supposedly very rare hand of fizzbin, the "kronk", as a distraction to knock the captors unconscious. McCoy and Spock then escaped back to the USS Enterprise. (TOS: "A Piece of the Action")

In 2373, Quark offered to teach the game to Odo. (DS9: "The Ascent")

In the Nintendo game Star Trek: 25th Anniversary, you must win back McCoy's communicator by playing a game of fizzbin. The hand you need to win is called a supernova.

Approximate rules

The rules for fizzbin were intended to be complex, so that Kirk could lull his audience into lowering their defenses long enough to be overwhelmed.

  • The game can be played with a standard Earth deck of cards, despite the slightly differing deck on Beta Antares IV.
  • Each player gets six cards, except for the player on the dealer's right, who gets seven.
  • The second card is turned up, except on Tuesdays.
  • Two jacks are a "half-fizzbin".
  • If you have a half-fizzbin:
    • a third jack is a "shralk" and results in disqualification;
    • one wants a king and a deuce, except at night, when one wants a queen and a four;
    • if a king had been dealt, 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", but the odds against getting one are said to be "astronomical".
It was never explained how a game seemingly invented on the spot by Captain Kirk could have spread to other parts of the galaxy by the next century. However, it can be fairly deduced that Kirk, as a major galactic celebrity would have published tales of his adventures, or that biographers found them and published them to a curious galaxy, hungry for tales of voyage and adventure. Referring to Quark's awareness of the game, Ronald D. Moore commented, perhaps tongue-in-cheek: "Kirk evidently marketed this game after he brought the original Enterprise home." (AOL chat, 1997)

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