Klabberjass is a point trick taking game for two players, played widely in Sweden and in France where it is known as Belotte. The objective is to score points by declaring sequences, and to win tricks with valuable cards in them.
Take a standard deck of playing cards and remove all the 6’s and down. This will give you a deck of 32 cards – A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7 in each suit.
In the trump suit, cards rank:
J, 9, A, 10, K, Q, 8, 7
And in any off-suit, cards rank:
A, 10, K, Q, J, 9, 8, 7
Beginning with the Player, the Dealer gives six cards to each player, face down, three at a time. The very next card is turned face up and placed beside the deck in the middle of the table.
Bidding on the upturned card, the Player may say:
- "Take it", meaning he/she accepts the suit as trumps, becomes the Maker, and play begins; OR
- "Pass", in which case he/she rejects the upturned suit as trumps; OR
- "Schmeiss", which is an offer to through the hand in or play the upturned suit as trumps. If the Dealer says “Yes”, the hand in thrown in and there is a new deal with the same person dealing. If the Dealer says “No”, the Dealer becomes the ‘Maker’ and the hand is played with the upturned suit as trumps.
If the Player passes, and only if the Player passes, then the Dealer is given the options to ‘Take it’, ‘Pass’ or ‘schmeiss’. If the Dealer passes, then the Player may call any one of the other three suits as trumps, may pass or schmeiss. If the Player passes, the Dealer may then either name a suit trumps or start another deal.
As soon as one player has either accepted or named a trump suit, the bidding ends. The player who either accepted or called the trump suit is the ‘Maker’, and the opponent is the ‘Defender’.
After the trump is determined and before play begins, the Dealer deals out three more cards to each player, face down, one at a time. Any player may who holds the 7 of trumps, the deece, may exchange it for the upturned card.
A sequence is a run of 3 or more cards. For the purposes of scoring sequences, cards rank A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7. A sequence of 3 cards is worth 20 points, and a sequence of 4 or more cards is worth 50 points. Only the player with the higher scoring sequence scores for it.
Thus, beginning with the Player, he/she announces the value of their sequence. For example, if the player held 9, 10, J, he should would say, “Twenty”. If the Dealer can’t beat it, he/she says “Good”, but if the Dealer thinks he/she can equal it, he/she says “How high?”, at which point the Player must name the rank of the card that heads his/her sequence. If both tie again, then precedence goes to a sequence held in trumps. If this doesn’t resolve the tie, then neither scores for it.
The Non-Dealer leads first, and thereafter the winner of the trick leads to the next.
These strict trick taking rules apply:
- You must follow suit to the card led, and you must try to win the trick
- If you can’t follow suit, then you must trump in, if you can
- If a trump is led, then you must follow suit and you must play a higher trump, if you can
- If you can’t follow suit, and you can’t trump in, then you can play any card
After both players have played to the first trick, the player who scored for the highest sequence, can now score for any other sequences they may hold in their hand amongst their remaining five cards. Additionally, if the player is holding the King and Queen of trumps, he may declare “Bella” and score 20 points for it after he has played the second card of the combination to a trick.
The player who wins the last trick scores 10 points for it.
At the end of play, each player takes up the cards they have won in tricks and counts up their points tally:
Jack of Trumps – 20
Nine of trumps – 14
Each Ace – 11
Each Ten – 10
Each King – 4
Each Queen – 3
Each other Jack – 2
The Maker must score more in points and melds combined than the Defender. If the Maker is successful, then both players score the points they have made. If the Maker and Defender are tied, then the Maker scores nothing, and the Defender takes as points what the Maker made in sequences and melds. If the Defender wins, he/she takes all the points scored by both players in that hand, and the Maker scores nothing.
Klabberjass is played over several hands to a grand total of 500 points. If both players are over 500 at the end of the hand, then the higher score simply wins the game.
The description of Jass games presented on this website have been adapted from:
David Parlett: The Penguin Book of Card Games
Penguin Books Ltd, 1979, London, pp. 223-228
ISBN 07139 1149 2
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