Tarock introduction and game rules deutsche Version
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Deutsche Siteversion

Tarock is an outstanding card game, played in several versions. The following description explains the original “Gumpoldskirchen” game slang. It uses the original German language based “Gumpoldskirchen” terms for the game titles. If someone knows more about corresponding English ones, I really would appreciate hints. Don’t be discouraged about the lots of explanations and rules. Many thanks to Kurt, as native he supported collecting the details. All sounds more complicated as it is in reality. After a certain training it really gets pure fun…

Translation trial of the Gumpoldskirchen terms see at the end (33)

1. General
2. Suits tricking rules, points
3. Card tricking rules, points
4. Basic tricking rules, suit obligation
5. Counting the cards
6. What finally counts
7. Shuffle, cut and deal
8. Starting playing
9. Roles overview

Jump directly to the interresting positions 1 - 32 by clicking on the yellow head lines!

Proceed by scrolling or use the (up) for returning to the top of the page.

10. Games overview
11. Koenigrufer (basic game)
12. Trischaken (kind of Klop)
13. Sechserdreier
14. Piccolo
15. Solorufer

16. Bettler
17. Aufrufer (also Besserrufer)
18. Dreier (also Blick)
19. Piccolo ouvert
20. Bettler ouvert
21. Solodreier
22. Pagat ultimo
23. “II” (called two)
24. “III” (called three)
25. King ultimo
26. Trula
27. Kings
28. Grammaboy
29. Roßputin
30. Valat
31. Contra
32. Contra contra
the Pagat

 

1 General (up)

Kings Tarock is a cards game for four players, played with a special deck of tarot cards. It’s a point-trump game with bidding. The 54 cards consist of 32 suit cards and 22 so called Tarock cards. The suit cards consist of the usual four suits: Hearts Diamonds Spades Clubs. The Tarock cards are numbered from I, II, III, … XXI and Skeench.

2 Suits tricking rules, points (up)

Order of red suit (Hearts, Diamonds) tricking is: King-Queen-Cavalier-Jack-One-Two-Three-Four, order of black suit (Spades, Clubs) tricking is: King-Queen-Cavalier-Jack-Ten-Nine-Eight-Seven. Tricking only possible for identical suit. Suit obligation (not trick obligation) is mandatory in every game. Point values are: King: 5 points, Queen: 4 points, Cavalier: 3 points, Jack: 2 points, all others 1 point.

3 Tarock cards tricking rules, points (up)

Besides the suit cards, the Tarock game includes 22 Tarocks, giving the game it’s name. The Tarocks are numbered in Roman Numerals I through XXI, plus the “Skeench” (it looks like a Joker). The I, the XXI, and the “Skeench” form a special group called the “Trula”. The XXI is also called “Mond” and the I is called “Pagat”. Within the Tarocks, the “Skeench” has the highest and the Pagat has the lowest tricking power. Point values are: Skeench, Mond, Pagat: 5 points each, all others 1 point each.


4. Standard tricking rules, suit obligation
(up)

If a suit card is played out, all other players must throw in the same suit if they can (no tricking obligation). If one hasn’t the played suit (he is blank), he has to play a Tarock. The player of the highest Tarock (no tricking obligation) would be winner of that round. If one hasn’t Tarock he can play what he wants without winning the trick. If Tarock is played out, everybody has to play Tarock too (but no trick obligation). Usually tricking is not mandatory except in negative games (see later). Within the suit cards the tricking rules of (2) and within the Tarock cards the tricking rules of (3) are valid. When tricking is mandatory, suit obligation goes before trick obligation. Tarock cards will trick every suit card. Tarock is always trump (“Atout”).

5. Counting the cards (up)

When the entire deck is counted, by a special method, there are 70 points total. In the "normal" games, the Declarer must have at least 35 points plus one extra card to win. If the “Declarer” has 35 points (without the extra card) or less, than he has been set! The way of counting is the following: take your stack of cards and add the points of the first three cards, then subtract 2 points. Then, do the next three...and so on. If you're new at counting, arrange the cards so you have 2 one-point cards and 1 multiple-point card in each group of three.This way you only need to add the multiple-point cards; the 2 one-point cards would be subtracted anyway! Occasionally, when you get to the end of your pile, you will have just one or two cards left. If this is the case, take the value of the remaining two cards and subtract 1, if only one card is remaining the value counts without subtraction. Only positive games and “Trischaken” are evaluated by counting the points.

6. What finally counts (up)

The counting result only evaluates whether a game is won or lost. But the result to be recorded is calculated by addition or subtraction of the points which the games plus the bonus announcements represent. Winners/winner teams get their points referring to the result. Losers/loser teams pay points of their account to the winners accounts.

7. Shuffle, cut and deal (up)

Who first starts dealing is evaluated by picking up one card of the stack by everyone. The one with the highest card in terms of tricking rules starts. The order of dealing goes anticlockwise. First the dealer shuffles and lets cut vis a vis. Dealing starts with 6 cards for every player, beginning with the dealer’s right (he is called the “Rufer”). Then 3 plus 3 cards are placed face-down in the middle of the table, to form the Talon. Then again packets of 6 are dealt to the Players, starting to the dealer's right, until all cards are dealt. The player opposite the dealer is allowed to “knock”. The cards must then be dealt as follows: the first 3 plus 3 cards to the Talon, then four packets of 12 cards. All Players in anticlockwise rotation, starting with the Player to dealer's right (the Rufer), chooses whether they will have the first, second, third or fourth packet. If the first Player e.g. chooses to have the third packet of 12, the second will get the first packet, the third player will get the second packet, then the first player will get the third packet and finally the fourth player will get the fourth packet of 12 cards. Anticlockwise, players may select open packets. If after knocking the Rufer says “Havalez” then dealing works as follows: the first 3 plus 3 cards to the Talon, then the Rufer will get 6 cards, then all others get packets of 12 cards and finally the Rufer again gets 6 cards.

8. Starting playing (detailed game list see later) (up)

After dealing, all players pick up their cards and check them. Then the Rufer starts bidding by saying “I call”. Then it’s the next player’s run. Depending on his cards he may either declare a game (e.g. Piccolo, see later) or he may pass. Then it’s the next player’s run. If he wants to declare a game, it must be of a higher class. But one exception: the same class of negative games may be declared by more than one player at the same time. After the declarations of all four players, the highest class bid is temporary leader. But in a second or third round of bidding, it is possible that bidders make upgrades to higher classes (e.g. Piccolo to Piccolo ouvert) in order to get again an active playing position, if it got lost before. Finally is decided who is the Declarer and which game he/they will play. If it is a game including “Calling a king” this will happen now. Whoever holds the King of the called suit, will be the Declarer's secret partner for this game. If three kings are in Declarer’s hands, he only may call “the fourth”. Then the Talon will be opened. Talon cards can never be mixed or shuffled to create the "best" set. Cards will be taken, exchanged and others put down (depending on the game). Kings and Trula cards are not allowed being discarded. Tarocks only visible (face-up). In this phase upgrading the announced game is not allowed anymore. After the Declarer is ready, he opens the game by saying I am “ready”. In case of positive games the Declarer also may add additional announcements. Then he would say e.g. I am “ready with Trula, Kings and Pagat ultimo”. Now, starting with the player right to the Declarer, all others also may tell their announcements (either positive ones or contra). After that final rounds everybody’s position is fixed. But, in case that during the first bidding round all other players passed, which means that the Rufer (he started with “I call”) comes to the Declarer’s role, he besides all other games may announce one of the following three: Either “Königrufer” (the basic game) or “Trischaken” or “Sechserdreier”.

9. Roles overview (up)

The dealer shuffles and deals. The first turn is decided by picking up cards. Later the dealing role skips anticlockwise game by game.

The Rufer is the player who sits to the dealer’s right. Like the dealer’s role it skips game by game. The Rufer opens games by announcing “I call” after dealing. He has extended opportunities during bidding in case all three other players passed during the first bid round. He starts all positive games by playing out the first card.

The Declarer is the player who won the bidding, he is the active player.

The partners are teams, playing together. Either twin- or triple-partnerships are possible. Only the game Trischaken is played everybody against everybody without partners. Twin-partners constitute if a king is called. The player with the called king in hands is the Declarer’s secret partner. The other twin-partners are the secret opponents. Triple-partners constitute always, when the Declarer selects a game only for himself (Dreier, Piccolo, etc.) or the called king is in the Talon. Then the 3 other players cooperate as Declarer’s opponents.

10 Games overview (up)

One may select between positive and negative games. Some games are played by two competing twin teams, some are played by the Declarer fighting against the other three players, and during “Trischaken” everybody competes against everybody.

In case of competing twin teams, it’s not immediately obvious who will be the partners (no conversation about that allowed). Some games are possible only for the Rufer, if all other players passed (see 8).

Positive games are won, if the result of cards count is 35 points plus one card. Negative games have specific winning rules. Same class negative games may be played by more than one players concurrently. If e.g. two players both win their negative games in parallel, the evaluation is like in two consecutive games. Games and bonus announcements may be won or lost separately, means one may win the game but miss the bonus. The positive games are:

“Koenigrufer” worth 1 point (the basic game, Rufer only)

“Solorufer” worth 2 points

“Aufrufer” worth 1 point (also called “Besserrufer”)

“Dreier” worth 4 points (also called “Blick”)

“Sechserdreier” worth 4 points (Rufer only)

“Solodreier” worth 6 points

The negative games are:

“Trischaken” worth 1 point (Rufer only)

“Piccolo” worth 2 points

“Bettler” worth 4 points

“Pokkolo ouvert” worth 5 points and

“Bettler ouvert” worth 6 points

All games in detail:

11. Koenigrufer (the basic game) (up)

The basic game (a positive one) only can be declared by the Rufer, if beforehand during bidding all others passed. The Rufer “calls a king” by selecting and announcing a suit. The holder of the called king is the secret partner of the Rufer. After calling the king, the Talon will be opened visible for everybody. Is the called king part of the Talon, the Rufer has to take the triple with “his” king. The cards which he discards will later count to his tricks. The other triple will count to the opponents. In case the called king is part of the Talon, the Rufer may give up the game with one point minus.

Usually, the called king is in the hands of another player. Then this player is the secret partner of the Rufer. The Rufer has free of choice which Talon triple he wants to take. After exchanging cards, he discards another triple which will later count to his tricks. The remaining Talon triple will later count to the opponent’s tricks.

Standard tricking rules (see 4). The team which finally earns together in minimum 36 point is the winning team. The Rufer is ready with or without additional bonus announcements and starts the game by playing out the first card. Winning the game counts 1 point for each partner, losing means paying 1 point to the winners.

12. Trischaken ( variety of Klop) (up)

Trischaken is a negative game. It only can be declared by the Rufer, if beforehand during bidding all others passed. Everybody competes against everybody. Final loser is the one, who’s tricks count most. All others are winners. The one who wins the final trick has to add the complete unopened Talon to his account. The Rufer and all others anticlockwise need to say “agree” or “not” (agree). The announcement agree doubles the final points (positive or negative), it’s announced if one can assume, that his actual hand is rather a weak one. Otherwise he will say not. Tricking and suiting is mandatory in this game. The Pagat must be played as final Tarock-card of ones hand. The Rufer starts the game by playing out the first card. The game loser has to pay points from his account to the winners. He pays to every not-winner 1 point and to every agree-winner 2 points. But if the loser either earned more than 36 points or he was the Rufer or he himself announced agree, then points will be doubled (positive and negative). If someone did not earn tricks at all, he finally will get paid the sum of all points that all winners collected together and the others will not get any point. If there is more than one player without tricks, the collected sum will be shared except one of them is the Rufer, then he gets nothing. In case of points equality the Rufer is the loser. After Trischaken games, every player gets one “wood” (match or toothpick) which must be kept visible on the table. The results (plus or minus) of later games (value of game plus bonus announcements) will be doubled by one piece of wood. In case that a player wins a game, he has to give back one piece of wood, even if he lost the bonus announcements.

13. Sechserdreier (up)

Sechserdreier is a positive game. It only can be declared by the Rufer, if beforehand during bidding all others passed. The Rufer plays alone against all others. He is allowed to pick up and exchange all 6 cards from the Talon. The 6 cards he then discards will be counted with his tricks. Kings and Trula cards are not allowed to be discarded. Tarocks only visible (face-up). The Rufer is ready without or with additional bonus announcements and starts the game by playing out the first card. Standard tricking rules (see 4). The winner gets 4 points, if the game gets lost, he has to pay 8 points to every winner.

The games 11 to 13 are only possible for the Rufer, if beforehand during bidding all others passed. The following games 14 to 21 are the general games open for every player (also to the Rufer). The order complies to the games class. Piccolo has the lowest class and Solodreier the highest. During bidding, games with higher class win towards games having a lower class.

14. Piccolo (up)

Piccolo is a negative game. If the Declarer earns exactly one trick, he wins the game. He starts the game by playing out the first card. Suit obligation (as always) and trick obligation is mandatory. The Talon remains untouched. Winning the game counts 2 points, losing means paying 2 points to each other.

15. Solorufer (up)

Solorufer is a positive game. The Declarer calls a king. The player holding the called king in his hands is the Declarer’s secret partner. The Talon remains untouched and will finally count to the opponents account. In case that the called king is within the Talon, the Declarer has to play against three opponents without being aware of that. At the end he then would get the Talon triple containing his called king to his tricks. The Declarer is ready without or with additional bonus announcements. The Rufer starts the game by playing out the first card. Standard tricking rules (see 4). The winner/team gets 2 points. If the game gets lost, he/they have to pay 2 points to every opponent. All bonus announcements are counted double.

16. Bettler (up)

Bettler is a negative game. If the Declarer remains without any trick, he wins the game. He starts the game by plying out the first card. Suit obligation (as always) and trick obligation is mandatory. The Talon remains untouched. Winning the game counts 4 point, losing means paying 4 point to each other.

17. Aufrufer (also called Besserrufer) (up)

Aufrufer is a positive game. The Declarer calls a king. The player holding the called king in his hands is the Declarer’s secret partner. The Declarer may take one Talon triple. In case the called king is within the Talon, the Declarer has to play against three opponents. In such case the Declarer may give up the game with 1 point minus for the game and 2 points minus for the minimum necessary bonus announcement. Each opponent would then get 3 points from his account. The Declarer is ready in minimum with one of three additionally required bonus announcements: “Pagat ultimo” or “II” or “III” (see later). The Rufer starts the game by playing out the first card. Standard tricking rules (see 4). The winner/team gets 1 point. If the game gets lost, he/they have to pay 1 point to every opponent. All bonus announcements are counted single.

18. Dreier (also called Blick) (up)

Dreier is a positive game. The Declarer plays alone against the three opponents. The Declarer may take one Talon triple. The 3 cards he then discards will be counted with his tricks. The other triple is shifted to the opponents. The Declarer is ready without or with additional bonus announcements. The Rufer starts the game by playing out the first card. Standard tricking rules (see 4). The winner gets 4 points. If the game gets lost, he has to pay 4 points to every opponent. All bonus announcements are counted single.

19. Piccolo ouvert (up)

Piccolo ouvert is a negative game. If the Declarer earns exactly one trick, he wins the game. He starts the game by plying out the first card. After the first complete round and trick, everybody puts his cards face-up to the table. Conversation is allowed. Suit obligation (as always) and trick obligation is mandatory. The Talon remains untouched. Winning the game counts 5 points, losing means paying 5 points to each other.

20. Bettler ouvert (up)

Bettler ouvert is a negative game. If the Declarer earns no trick, he wins the game. He starts the game by plying out the first card. After the first complete round and trick, everybody puts his cards face-up to the table. Conversation is allowed. Suit obligation (as always) and trick obligation is mandatory. The Talon remains untouched. Winning the game counts 6 points, losing means paying 6 points to each other.

21. Solodreier (up)

Solodreier is a positive game. The Declarer plays alone against the three opponents. The Talon remains untouched but finally counts with the opponents. The Declarer is ready without or with additional bonus announcements. The Rufer starts the game by playing out the first card. Standard tricking rules (see 4). The winner gets 6 points. If the game gets lost, he has to pay 6 points to every opponent. All bonus announcements are counted double.

In positive games certain bonus announcements are possible as upgrades. The final game’s result is calculated by adding the game’s points plus (or minus, if lost) the bonus points. Bonus Announcements may be played “announced” or “unannounced”. Announced means, that all bonus announcements will be declared during the bidding rounds before the game starts. The Declarer says I am ready with … and now follows the order of bonus announcements, e.g. Trula, Kings, Pagat ultimo. Also other players may announce “announced” bonus announcements now. Unannounced announcements are publicly announced during or after the game and count half the points of announced ones. Games and announcements may be won or lost and counted separately. The following announcements may be declared:

22. Pagat ultimo (up)

The announcer’s Pagat must win the trick of the final round. The winner gets 2 points. If the announcement gets lost, he has to pay 2 points to everybody.

23. “II” (called two) (up)

The announcer’s Tarock II must win the trick of the penultimate round. The winner gets 4 points. If the announcement gets lost, he has to pay 4 points to everybody.

24. “III” (called three) (up)

The announcer’s Tarock III must win the trick of the pre-penultimate round. The winner gets 6 points. If the announcement gets lost, he has to pay 6 points to everybody.

25. King ultimo (up)

The called king must be within the trick of the final round and the trick must be won by the announcer or his team. The winner gets 2 points. If the announcement gets lost, he has to pay 2 points to everybody.

26. Trula (up)

The Pagat, the Mond, and the Skeench, called the Trula must be within the tricks of the the announcer or his team. The winner gets 2 points. If the announcement gets lost, he has to pay 2 points to everybody.

27. Kings (up)

All four kings must be within the tricks of the the announcer or his team. The winner gets 2 points. If the announcement gets lost, he has to pay 2 points to everybody.

28. Grammaboy (up)

The opponent(s) must not reach a game’s score of 20 points. Grammaboy is not possible unannounced. The winner gets 2 points. If the announcement gets lost, he has to pay 2 points to everybody.

29. Roßputin (up)

Winning two specific consecutive tricks. The first with Tarock XVII while announcing “Roß”, the second with Tarock XVIII while announcing “Putin”. The winner gets 4 points. If the announcement gets lost, he has to pay 4 points to everybody. Between the World Wars this game was called Ross! - Topschin! as Friedrich Torberg tells us in his famous anecdote collection "Die Tante Jolesch"
(Aunt Jolesch).

30. Valat (up)

The announcer or his team must win all tricks. Announced Valat multiplies the game’s score (not the announcements) by 8 either for the announcer (if won) or for the opponents (if lost). Unannounced Valat multiplies the game’s score by 4.

31 Contra (up)

If one may suppose that a Declarer will not win his game or an announcer will lose his announcements, one may announce contra. It’s possible to put contra on games and announcements separately. In positive games an announced contra is valid for all opponents. In negative games every opponent may vote contra separately. After successful contra the own points are doubled, otherwise the points of the opponent.

32 Contra contra (up)

If in case of contra one may suppose that the contra is a weak one, one may announce contra back. One may vote contra back for games and announcements separately. In positive games an announced contra back is valid for all opponents. In negative games every opponent may vote contra back separately. After successful contra back the own points are doubled, otherwise the points of the opponent.

In order to finish a game, the rule is “Skeench plus one round”. Means, the player who holds the Skeench in the next game, will start dealing the last set of four games. In minimum 4, in maximum 7 games are open then.

33. Translations (a trial) (up)

Königrufer: Calling a king

Trischaken: Translation not possible, proper name

Sechserdreier: The Declarer plays against 3 and may use all 6 Talon cards

Piccolo: Weak deal, hands have only power for one single trick

Solorufer: Calling a king solo (without any Talon exchange)

Bettler: The Declarer is a beggar, his hands have not power even for one single trick

Aufrufer: Calling a king plus “calling” an announcement

Dreier: the Declarer plays against 3

Piccolo ouvert: Like Piccolo but with visible hands

Bettler ouvert: Like Bettler but with visible hands

Solodreier: The Declarer plays solo against 3 (without any Talon exchange)

Last Update: June 2006 - send me an email
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