This page discusses game rules as implemented by the application, while rules provided by some other sources may differ. Customised rules are set up as Tweaks when starting a new session. For the detailed description of customised rules refer to Tweaks page.
The game uses 32 cards ranked from Ace (highest) to Seven (lowest). By default, the pack also includes Joker, making 33 cards in total. Presence of Joker is set up by switch No Joker at Trump tab.
Like its predecessor Euchre, the game uses special rank order for the trump suit:
FYI. Word Bower comes from German Bauer, usually meaning farmer, but may also refer to a Jack card.
For example, if Spades (♠) is the trump suit, the following trumps cards are used:
Joker J♠ J♣ A♠ K♠ Q♠ 10♠, 9♠ 8♠ 7♠
Other suits have standard rank order with Ace as the highest card.
As a result, trump suit is extended to 10 cards (9 cards, if played without Joker), while same-colour-as-trump suit has only 7 cards and other suits have 8 cards. This encourages bidding by increasing the possible number of taken tricks in trumps.
This application can be configured not to use additional trumps and/or special rank order (switches No Joker, No Left Bower and No special Jack ranking at Trump tab), however that is not recommended, since it undermines the game idea.
The game uses the following order of trump suits, which affects scoring and bidding:
A trick-taking bid specifies minimum numbers of tricks (6 or bigger), the bidder is obliged to take using nominated trump suit, or no trump. Examples: 6 clubs — take at least 6 tricks with clubs as the trump suit; 7 no trump — take 7 or more tricks in a non-trump game.
This application also supports two nil bids:
Bid value determines the number of points the player scores/loses for winning/losing a contract. It is evaluated based on the order of trump suit (a bigger order number always corresponds to a bigger bid value) and nominated number of tricks, using a score system, specified by choice Score system.
Tweaks information page contains detailed description of score systems. Actually, you can rely on the application which shows the table of available bids and their values, when it is your turn to make a bid.
A bid with a bigger value usually overbids at an auction, however there are some exceptions, depending on the score system.
A game session consists of several games (sometimes called hands), each involving the following stages:
Each player is dealt 10 cards, the remaining 3 cards (2 cards if played without Joker) form the kitty.
The cards are dealt clockwise starting from the player sitting left to the dealer. This player is sometimes called eldest player, we prefer term initiator. 3 cards are dealt to each player, then to the kitty, then 4 cards to each player and again 3 cards to each.
The first bid is made by the initiator. Instead of making the bid he/she may pass. Next player can either make a bid higher then the previous bid, or pass. A passed player is withdrawn from current auction.
After two players pass the last bid becomes the contract and its bidder becomes the contractor (also soloist or attacker).
It may happen that all three players pass. The application offers several ways to handle this situation (set up by All pass choice). By default an All-Pass Positive game is played, that is a non-trump game where players score 10 points for each taken trick. Other options All-Pass Negative (10 points deducted for a trick), Dealer must bid and Skip.
The application allows to limit an auction to a single round (switch One bid each), so each player can bid only once. Another option is to allow the contractor to increase own bid after winning an auction (choice Own overbid).
Some sources suggest that Misère (but not Open Misère) cannot be called before 7-trick bid, this can be enabled by Bid misère after 7 switch.
The contractor takes cards from the kitty and add them to their hand. Then he/she discards the same amount (3 or 2) unwanted cards face down that are removed from the play. This allows the contractor to improve cards.
As an option (switch Show taken kitty) content of the kitty is shown to other players, however discarded cards are never revealed.
In case of All-Pass game the kitty content is discarded and not revealed.
The contractor leads the the first trick in a contract game. In an All-Pass game the first trick is lead by the player sitting left to the dealer (the initiator). If switch Initiator leads first is enabled, the initiator leads to the first trick even if someone else contracted the game.
The trick leader places a card (referred as leading card) face up. The others must follow the suit, i.e. play a card of the same suit as the leading card (the leading suit). Note that Left Bower is considered as a trump suit card even though its actual suit is different.
By default, a player who is void of leading suit may either play trump (ruff), or play any unwanted card (renounce). If Must trump if void of suit (in Trump tab) is enabled, a player, who cannot follow the suit but has trumps, must play trump.
The trick is won by the highest trump card, or (if no trumps were played) by the highest card of the leading suit. Winner of the trick takes it and leads to the next trick.
A player who leads with Joker in a non-trump game assigns the leading suit (except the very last trick where the suit doesn't matter). By default any suit can be requested, but there are alternatives, specified by choice NT Joker lead.
The contractor tries to accomplish the bid, while the other players, called opponents (also defenders) try to prevent that and score trick points as much as possible.
The initiator deals in the next game.
By default, the trick points are enabled. It means that each opponent scores 10 points for a trick taken by himself/herself in a trick-taking contract, or for a trick taken by the contractor in a nil contract. This may create a slight rivalry between the opponents. Disabling trick points using the switch Only contractor scores makes the opponents more consolidated.
Trick points are always scored in All-Pass game, however instead of All-Pass Positive game, where each taken trick is rewarded by 10 points, you may prefer All-Pass Negative option, where taking a trick is discouraged by deducting 10 points, making the players more active in bidding.
As opposed to contract points, trick points are scored immediately as the trick is taken.
Contractor who succeeds in taking nominated number of tricks (or takes no tricks in a nil game) scores corresponding bid value. Normally the player is not rewarded for taking more tricks, however if bid value is below 250, and the contractor takes all 10 tricks, this is named Slam, and the contractor scores 250 points instead of bid value.
If the contract fails, the bid value is deducted from contractor's score, which can become negative as a result of that.
A player whose score becomes 500 points or more as a result of winning a contract is the winner.
If trick points are enabled, an opponent can reach 500 points after scoring trick points in a contract game. Such a player is not yet a winner, but a postponed winner, so the game session continues.
The application keeps a queue of postponed winners, so the one who reaches 500 points earlier appears earlier in the queue. In a nil game there is (a very narrow) chance for both opponents to reach 500 points at same time, in which case player sitting left to the contractor is placed earlier in the queue.
Position in the queue for a potponed winner is shown in brackets after the number of scored points.
A postponed winner whose score gets below 500 is no longer considered as such and removed from the queue.
When all players pass while there are postponed winners, the first in the queue becomes the winner.
A player whose score is negative 500 or less is declared the loser. If there are postponed winners, the first in the queue is declared the winner.
There are no postponed winners in All-Pass game. A player who reaches 500 in All-Pass positive becomes the winner, while a player who gets score negative 500 in All-Pass negative is the loser. However the current All-Pass game will continue in order to evaluate final score.
If trick points are enabled, the winner is rewarded with additional 250 points, so his/her score is expected to become the highest, even if some postponed winners have a better score originally. (Actually, the score may still be not the highest, however probability of that is extremely low.)