As the name suggests, under some bids a Declarer may call a King to play as Partner. This is a game principally for four players but unlike the other ‘Call’ games, there is far greater emphasis upon the bids and declarations. These are more numerous than in the previous games and are subject to regional variation, as well as innovation within smaller groups.
Pack: A reduced tarot of 54 cards is used consisting of four regular suits of 8 cards, and a suit of 22 trumps (the 1-21 and Tomfool).
Ranking: Standard ranking is used...
Pips rank in suit from high to low:
King, Queen, Cavalier, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7
Empty Cards: These are cards that have values of 1 point or less.
Honours: The Magician, The World, and Tomfool are called The Honours. They are always among the highest scoring cards.
Card Points are:
A game consists of four hands
Deal: First Dealer is chosen at random or by consent with the role moving to the player on the left after each hand.
Dealer hands players two rounds of 6 cards, putting the last 6 cards aside as a stock.
Auction: Starting with Dealer’s left, players then take turns to bid to play as Declarer against the other players.
When a bid requires Declarer to call for a partner, Declarer calls the suit of a King not held and the player that holds the called card will player as Declarer’s Partner. As is common to this family of games, Partner may not announce him/herself. It is legal for Declarer to call a suit in which he/she holds the King and thus to play alone. If Declarer holds three Kings, then Partner is named by calling for “The Fourth King”, thus making it known that Declarer has three Kings but not revealing which is not held.
Where a bid allows Declarer to draw from the stock, Declarer exposes the stock in two groups of three cards and must chose one group to take into his/her hand. The remaining cards go towards Defender’s tricks at the end. Declarer must then discard three cards that may not include either King or Honours and may only include trumps if there is no other option – discarded trumps must be shown to all players.
Starting with the lowest, the available bids are:
- One Trick: Declarer plays alone and contracts win just one trick – no more and no less. However, if Declarer is able to win a trick, then he/she is obliged to do so. Scores 2 points
- Two Tricks: Declarer plays alone and contracts to win two tricks – no more and no less. However, if Declarer is able to win a trick, then he/she is obliged to do so. Scores 2 points
- Partner Against the Stock: Declarer calls a King for a partner and must take 36 or more card points to win the hand. The cards of the stock go unseen to the Defenders tricks. Scores 3 points
- Beggar: Declarer plays alone and contracts to lose every trick. All players are obliged to win a trick if they can. The cards of the stock go unseen and play no further role. Scores 3 points
- Partner with a Bird: Declarer calls a King for a partner and draws from the stock. Declarer contracts to win 36 or more card points and to win one of the Birds (see bonuses below) Scores 2 points (and the additional bonus for the Bird)
- Solo: Declarer plays alone against the other players, draws from the stock and is contracted to win 36 or more game points to win the hand. Scores 4 points
- One Trick Exposed: Declarer plays alone against the other players, placing his/her hand face up on the table. The stock is left unseen and plays no further role. Declarer contracts to win a single trick, no more and no less. If Declarer is able to win a trick, then he/she is obliged to do so. Scores 5 points
- No Trumps: Declarer plays alone against the other players and contracts to win 36 or more card points to win the hand. The stock goes unseen and counts towards the Defender’s tricks at the end of the hand. Trumps are played according to the normal rules but lose their power to trump cards of other suits. Scores 5 points
- Beggar Exposed: Declarer plays alone and places his/her hand face up on the table, while the stock goes unseen and plays no further role. Declarer is contracted to lose every trick of the hand and all players are obliged to win a trick if they can. Scores 6 points
- Solo with a Bird: Declarer plays alone against the other players, drawing from the stock and contracting to win 36 or more card points and one of the Birds. Scores 4 points (plus the bonus for winning the Bird)
- Solo Against the Stock: Declarer plays alone against the other players and contracts to win 36 or more card points. The cards of the stock go unseen towards the Defenders tricks at the end of the hand. Scores 8 points
Eldest (Dealer’s left) has a special privilege reserving their bid by calling “I wait” to delay bidding. If all Dealer’s right has called “I wait” and all other players have passed, then he/she becomes declarer and may announce which of three games will be played:
- Partner: Declarer calls a King for a partner, draws from the stock and contracts to win 36 or more card points. Scores 1 point
- All Beggars: This is a punishment round. There is no Declarer and each player plays for him/herself. The stock goes unseen and plays no further part. The object is to win as few points as possible. The player who holds The Magician may not play it until he/she has no more trumps left. The player with the most points is the loser and must pay each of the other players 1 point. However, if the loser has taken more than 36 points then the payment is double.
- Solo with the Stock: Declarer plays alone against the others, draws all six cards from the stock (discarding six according to the usual rules), and contracts to win 60 or more card points. The bid is worth 2 points if won but 4 points if it is lost.
Declarations: After bidding, player may then, in turn starting with Declarer, declare for any bonuses they mean to achieve. The bonuses are still scored if they have not been declared but then their points are halved. Bonuses are always one or lost as a team and as such the payments and penalties are shared equally. The available bonuses are:
- Sparrow: The last trick is won with The Magician. Scores 2 point
- Owl: The second to last trick is won with The High Priestess. Scores 4 points
- Cockatoo: The third to last trick is won with The Empress. Scores 6 points
- Vulture: The fourth to last trick is won with The Emperor. Scores 8 points
- Last King: Wins the last trick with the called King. Scores 2 points
- Slam: All the tricks are won. Scores 8 points
- Honours: All three Honour cards are won in tricks. Scores 2 points
- Kings: All four Kings are won in tricks. Scores 2 points
Play: Declarer leads to the first trick by placing a card face up on the table. Each player in turn, moving to the left, must play a card from their hand of the suit led – this is called following suit. If they do not have any cards of the suit led, it is called being void in that suit and they must play a trump card instead. However, if they have no trumps, they may then play any other card, though it will not win. Whoever plays the highest trump to the trick wins it, or if trumps are not played, then whoever played the highest card of the suit led wins it. The winner takes the cards and places them face down in their trick pile to be counted at the end.
The player that wins the trick then leads to the next one and play continues until the hand has been played out.
Emperor Trick: If all three honours are played to the same trick, then it is The Juggler that wins it.
Scores: The card points are counted individually, adding 1 point for each trick (cards from the discard/stock to not count as tricks), so with the exception of a Beggar’s game, Declarer will need to take at least 60 points to win.