1. Sometimes, the three (or more) words are not at the same rank, for example, John and Steve, and all the other major players, in which John and Steve are tied together as a unit, as these two people have been discussed in a text together and "other major players" does not enjoy that sort of closeness, hence not at the same rank. 2. You also want to know that this so called "rule" is followed in a standard, or formal writing. In oral English or in literary texts, this rule doesn't have to be followed. One important thing to remember is that foreign language learners may have problems with the rule, as in many languages, this rules doesn't exist, so they always forget to follow this rule. Besides, we also have to remember that , though this is not a rule for many languages, the tendency is, because of the globalization, English has been influencing the whole world, which means even in those languages where the rule traditionally never existed, people are starting to follow this rule subconsciously. Hope this helps.
Student or Learner