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Klaverjassen Card Game

Klaverjassen is a Dutch four-player trick-taking card game. It uses the piquet deck of playing cards. It is one of the most popular card games in the Netherlands, traditionally played in cafes and social clubs. The game is also very popular in South Africa and it was brought there by the Dutch settlers. Klaverjassen has been played in the Netherlands since the 1600s and it is said that the French Belote derives from it. The game is very addictive and requires technical skill, luck and a sense for bluffing.

How to play Klaverjassen?

Klaverjassen is played with a deck of 32 cards – A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8 and 7 from the four suits – Spades, Clubs, Hearts, and Diamonds. The dealing of the cards and the order of play is clockwise. In the beginning, each player receives three cards, then a set of two, and another three cards at the end.
The game is played in two teams. Each partner is situated in front of his teammate.
Before each round, the player on the left of the dealers must pick one trump suit. He also leads the first trick. The most important rule is to follow suit whenever possible. In case a player does not have a card from the suit requested there are three possibilities:

  • His partner has played the highest ranking card in the trick – the player can give any card he wants.
  • An opponent has played the highest ranking card in the trick and the player has trumps – the player is obliged to play a trump card.
  • An opponent has played the highest ranking card in the trick, but the player has no trumps – the player can give any card he wants.

At the end of each trick, the team that played the highest ranking card from the asked suit or the highest ranked trump card wins the trick and scores the points.

Points in Klaverjassen

Each card in Klaverjassen brings specific points to the team.
For the trump suit the points per card are as follows:

  • Jack -> 20 points
  • 9 -> 14 points
  • Ace -> 11 points
  • 10 -> 10 points
  • King -> 4 points
  • Queen -> 3 points
For the non-trump suit the points are:

  • Ace -> 11 points
  • 10 -> 10 points
  • King -> 4 points
  • Queen -> 3 points
  • Jack -> 2 points
  • 9 -> 0 points
NB: 7 and 8 are always worth 0 points.
At the end of each round, the points are counted. The game finishes when one of the teams reaches 500 points (some versions of the game last until a team reaches 700 or 1000 points).

Klaverjassen Declarations

There are bonus points, also called declarations or roem, which consist of taking combinations of cards in a trick.

  • Three card sequence of the same color – 20 points
  • Four card sequence of the same color – 50 points
  • Four of a kind (A, K, Q, 10) – 100 points
  • Four Jacks (J) – 200 points
  • King and Queen of a trump suit – 20 points
  • Three card sequence of the same color, including K and Q of trump – 40 points
  • Four card sequence of the same color, including K and Q of trump – 70 points

For sequences, the order of cards is 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A, regardless if it is a trump suit or not. The winner of the trick scores the declaration for his team’s overall round score.

Game Variations

There are two main versions of the rules of Klaverjassen:
Amsterdam rules: Undertrumping is only allowed when it cannot be avoided. A player who cannot follow suit and whose partner is not heading the trick must head the trick if possible. Only if your hand has lower trump cards you can undertrump. In the rest of the cases if the opposite team is winning with trump you must play a higher trump.
Rotterdam rules: A player who plays a trump must head the trick if possible, even if the player’s partner currently heads the trick. Undertrumping your partner isn’t allowed.

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