French Tarot

These rules are taken from the Skill7 website and are used for playing French Tarot on their site. If you wish to try it out, just sign up and give it a go.

The rules

Deck

There is a total of 78 cards, including 21 trump cards and an 'Excuse' (or Joker) card. The four common suits of Hearts, Diamonds, Aces & Spades are comprised of 14 cards each: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Knight, Queen and King. Card values are shown in the table below.

Trump cards #21 and #1, as well as the Excuse card are particulary valuable and are often referred to as 'Oudlers'.

Card values are shown in the table below.

Card Value 21, 1, Excuse (Oudlers) 4.5 King 4.5 Queen 3.5 Knight 2.5 Jack 1.5 other cards 0.5 Total points 91
The Excuse card

Players may play the Excuse card without having to follow suit. Should the Excuse card start the trick, the second card played sets the suit. The Excuse card is always returned to the player who played it, even if he/she does not win the suit. To compensate the trick winner, a card to the value of 0.5 from the Excuse card player's won tricks will be automatically added to the winner's trick win. If the Excuse player has not won any tricks, he/she 'owes' the trick winner a card to the value of 0.5, which will be automatically transferred as soon as the Excuse card holder wins a trick. Until this automatic exchange takes place, the Excuse card will be shown face up.
 
The Excuse card is however, not returned from the final trick. The trick winner receives it along with all the other cards in the trick. The only exception is made when the Excuse card holder achieves a 'Slam' - made when a player wins each trick in the round. In this case, the Excuse card wins the final trick and is held by the reigning player.

Direction of play

French Tarot is played in an anti-clockwise direction.

Dealing

The number of cards dealt to each player depends on the number of players participating in the game.

3 players: 24 cards in each hand, 6 cards in the kitty
4 players: 18 cards in each hand, 6 cards in the kitty
5 Spieler: 15 cards in each hand, 3 cards in the kitty

Bidding

The person who wins the bidding, called the declarer, sets the contract. Each player may bid only once and must bid higher than the last bidder. Players may choose not to bid by clicking on 'Pass'. Once the bid has been won and the contract set, play begins in counter-clockwise fashion.

Contracts

  • Simple (Prise, Petit) - 1x points:

The declarer may take cards from the trick ('dog' or 'chien') to re-stock his hand (see heading 'Skat').

  • Doubled (Garde, Pousse) - 2x points:

The same contract as 'Simple', however the contract has a higher value and the dog is worth twice as many points as in the 'Simple' contract.

  • Guard (Garde sans le chien) - 4x points:

The dog is not shown in this game and the cards within belong to the tricks won by the declarer. The value of the trick is quadrupled.

  • Guard against the dog (Garde contre le chien) - 6x points:

The dog is not shown and the cards belong to the tricks won by the opponents and is worth 6x the base score.


Skat (L’écart)

Skat (L’éscart) means "the one put away". Once the simple or doubled contract has been set, all players are shown all cards in the dog before the declarer adds them to his hand. The declarer must then dispose of just as many cards as he picked up in the dog, adding them to his pile of won tricks. It is the declarer's choice which cards he puts down, however he cannot put down any trump or king cards. Should he have so many trumps and kings that he cannot comply to this rule, he may put down trump cards (not including the oudlers), however, the declarer is required to show any trump cards discarded in this manner.

Gameplay

Players take turns in a anti-clockwise direction. The person next to the declarer leads the first trick. Each following trick is then led by the winner of the previous trick. As an exception, if any player announces a 'Slam' in the bidding round, he/she must lead the trick.

Should any player have the trump card #1 and otherwise no other trump, all players must hand in their cards. The cards are then mixed again and re-dealt.

The trick is won by the player who plays the card with the highest value. Trump cards of any value are always worth more than suit cards. Players are forced to play the suit set by the first card played to the trick (suit rule). Should the player be unable to play suit, he/she may play a trump card. In this case, the players must play a trump higher that the most valuable trump card in the trick should they have one in their hand. If a player does not have any cards of the suit set by the trick, or any trump cards, he/she may play any card.

Players may view the previously won trick. This is acheived by clicking on the cards shown face-down next to the winner of the previous trick.

Additional declarations

Slam (Chelem)

A Slam attracts 200 bonus points and is acheived when a player takes every trick in a round. Should a player announce a Slam in the bidding round, he will lead the trick and receive 400 bonus points if he is successful. Players who announce a Slam do however stand to lose 200 points if they fail. In order to announce a Slam, players must hold the trump #21, as this card will always win the trick and is necessary to achieve a Slam. A player who has won each trick leading up to the final trick can then lead the final trick with the Excuse card and be awarded the trick (and thus a Slam). In this case, the player can also receive 10 bonus points by playin the petit (trump #1) to the second-last trick, as described in 'Le Petit'.

Handful (Poignee)

Players can announce a Handful if they have lots of trump cards in their hand (see table below). This must be announced before he plays his/her first card. Bonus points given are based on the number of trump cards shown. The bonus points are however awarded to the winner of the round, so players should be careful when announcing a Handful.

 Poignée Trumps Extra Points   3 4 5   Simple 13 10 8 20 Double 15 13 10 30 Triple 18 15 13 40
All trump cards announced will be automatically shown to other players.

The "Handful" button only appears when a player has enough trump cards in their hand. This button disappears as soon as the player has played his first card to the trick.

Smallest Oudler in the Last Trump (Petit au bout)

If the Trump #1 is played in the last trick, the taker receives 10 bonus points. In the case of a Slam, these 10 bonus points are also awarded if the smallest Oudler takes the second last trick, followed by the Excuse card taking the last trick.


Points

[[(25 + D + P) * M]] + H + C

  • 25 points for playing the round.
  • D - The difference between the value of cards in tricks taken and the minimum score set in the contract.
  • P - Bonus for taking the final trick with the Trump #1 (Petit au bout).
  • M - Multiplier according to the contract (see heading „Contracts“).
  • H - Bonus for a Handful announcement.
  • C - Bonus for a completed Slam, or alternatively, a negative bonus for a failed Slam announcement.


The points calculated are then taken from each loser and given to the winner. The declarer receives the calculated points from each player if he/she wins, or must give out this sum to each player if he/she loses. That is, in a game of 4 players, the declarer stands to win 3x the calculated sum or lose 3x the calculated sum. In a game of 5 players, the declarer stands to win/lose 4x the calculated sum should he play alone. If the declarer plays with a partner, he/she stands to win/lose 2x the calculated sum, whilst the partner receives points onefold.

End of the game

Players can join or leave the game in between rounds. The points counter is reset to 0 when players leave/join the game. Therefore players can only see their summarised points over multiple rounds as long as nobody leaves/joins the game. As each round is treated as a seperate game, summarised points are not used in calculations.



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