(9 pages)                                                                                                                          Buy Tarock!      (the rules come with)

Created in the 15th century, Tarock has since grown in popularity throughout Europe.  Through the centuries, many different variations on the rules have come into play.  We have taken, we believe, the most interesting twists in the game and have combined them into Tarock: American Style. 

Tarock is a 4-player point-trump game with bidding.  The game is played with a special deck of cards that contains a trump suit called Tarocks.  The Tarocks are numbered in Roman Numerals I through XXI, plus there's the highest Tarock, called the Skeench (which looks like a Joker).  The lowest Tarock(I), the (XXI), and the Skeench form a special group called the Trula (sounds like "true love"), which you'll learn more about a little later.  

A typical Round of Tarock goes something like this: 

the cards are shuffled, cut, and dealt,

by a simple process of bidding, the players determine which game will be played,

(there are 12 or 13 different games)

the player who wins the bid becomes the Declarer,

(generally speaking, only the Declarer & the Declarer's partner, if she has one, will score points for the Round)

the Declarer "Calls a King," if required

(technically, the Declarer "calls a suit;" whoever holds the King of the called suit will be the Declarer's secret partner),

the Declarer exchanges some cards with the Talon (sounds like "the phone"), if required,

Bonus Announcements, if any, are made,

the cards are played out in twelve Tricks,

  the cards taken by each side are counted to determine the result,

the score for the Round is recorded.

The Cards:

The Tarock deck contains 54 cards: 8 cards in each of the four suits Clubs, Spades, Hearts and Diamonds, plus 22 Tarocks. 

Clubs & Spades rank from highest to lowest as follows: King, Queen, Cavalier, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7 (the 10 is higher than the 7).

Hearts & Diamonds rank from highest to lowest as follows: King, Queen, Cavalier, Jack 1, 2, 3, 4 (the 1 is higher than the 4).

The point values of the cards are as follows:

Kings 5 points each
Skeench 5 points
Mond (XXI) 5 points
Pagat (I) 5 points
Queens 4 points each
Cavaliers 3 points each
Jacks 2 points each

All other Tarocks & ordinary suit cards are worth 1 point each.

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 thirty-five points (without the extra card) or less, than he has been set! 

Counting the Cards: The cards are counted in groups of three.  Of course, there's a twist.  At the end of the Round, 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.

(For example, your first three cards are Kings. Three Kings added together equals 15 points, minus 2 points, for a total of 13 points. Your second three cards are Queens. Three Queens are 12 points, minus 2 points, equals 10 points. Add the 10 to the 13 for a new total of 23 points. Your third three cards are...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 card (or two cards) and subtract 1.

Remember, for most games, you'll need 35 points plus one extra card to win.  Any points you win over 35 are a special bonus that will be added to your score.

Shuffle, Cut & Deal: Tarock is played anticlockwise. The first dealer is selected by flipping the cards, one by one, anticlockwise, in front of each Player. Whoever gets the Skeench will be the first dealer.  (Sometimes, to speed things up, we'll say the first King, or first 5 point card up deals).  The turn to deal rotates anticlockwise after each Round.

The Dealer shuffles, gives the cards to the opposite Player to cut, then deals in packets of six cards. The first packet is placed face-down in the middle of the table, to form the Talon (sounds like 'the phone'). Then packets of six are dealt to the Players, starting to the dealer's right, until all cards are dealt.

It is crucial that the Talon is dealt in a bunch from the top of the pack without any shuffling or interchanging of cards.

Instead of cutting, the Player opposite the dealer is allowed to "knock", or tap the pack of cards. The cards must then be dealt as follows: the first six cards to the Talon, then four packets of 12 cards. Each Player in anticlockwise rotation, starting with the Player to dealer's right, chooses whether they will have the first, second, third or fourth packet. If the first Player chooses to have the first packet of 12, the others do not get a choice, but are automatically assigned the second, the third, and the fourth. If the First Player chooses the first packet, she can also specify whether the Talon is to be dealt first (as usual), immediately after her packet, or at the end.

Hand with no Tarocks:  If any Player is dealt no Tarocks that Player must immediately show all of his cards. The other Players must then throw in their hands; the cards are shuffled, cut, redealt by the same dealer, and a  game of Compulsory Klop (we'll get to that a little bit later)  is played.

Misdeal: If the dealer misdeals (giving out the wrong number of cards, dealing in the wrong direction, exposing cards during the deal, etc.) 20 points are subtracted from her score, and she gets an asterisk by her name on the score pad.  If the same Player misdeals again, she loses 40 points, and gets another asterisk, and so on.   The Player who misdealt deals again.

Bidding: After the deal, the bidding begins. You bid by naming the game that you believe you can win. "Three" is the lowest bid (worth only 10 points) and means you'll get to exchange three cards in your hand for a set of three cards from the Talon (the six cards that are face down on the table).  "Solo Barcelona" is the highest bid (worth 250 points) and means no one can even look to see what cards are in the Talon and that you are going to win all 12 tricks.  There are a variety of bids in between.

The Player to dealer's right Bids first or passes. Each Player in turn after that must either Bid or pass. Once having passed, a Player may not re-enter the bidding process. The bidding continues until three Players have passed. The Player who names the highest game wins the Bid and becomes the Declarer.

Sure, sure, during the bidding there is seniority. The Player to the dealer's right has the highest seniority; which, then, decreases from Player to Player around the table anticlockwise. If it's your turn to Bid and you have lower seniority than the previous bidder, you must Bid higher or pass. If you happen to have higher seniority than the previous bidder, you may match the Bid, Bid higher, or pass.

Just remember, if you make the first Bid, the other Players must Bid higher (or pass) until it is your Bid again. Then you may match the highest Bid, Bid higher, or pass.

Note: If all four Players pass consecutively, with no bidding, the Players keep the cards they were dealt and Klop (we'll get to that a little bit later, too) is played.

Now, the highest bidder declares the game that will be played.  This can be her final Bid, or any higher one.  If you win the Bid with Three, you can ultimately decide to go Two, Solo Two, Barach, etc.

Summary of the Bids: Here are the different games you can Bid.

Klop, is available in the case where all players pass. (You wouldn't actually Bid Klop, but you could Bid Barach).   And I know you haven't already forgotten about Compulsory Klop, which is played after someone is dealt a hand without any Tarocks.   Since that doesn't happen very often, discussion of Compulsory Klop is found in the section "Detailed description of the Bids."

In actual play, "Three" would be the first, possible Bid.

Name of the Game What the game's worth What you must do to win Bonuses?
Klop Lose the points you take! or +70 for taking no Tricks  /  or -70 for taking 35+ points No
Three 10 + extra Call a King / Exchange 3 cards with the Talon / Win 35+ points Yes
Two 20 + extra Call a King / Exchange 2 cards with the Talon / 35+ points Yes
One 30 + extra Call a King / Exchange 1 card with the Talon / 35+ points Yes
Three Solo 40 + extra Play alone / Exchange 3 cards with the Talon / 35+ points Yes
Two Solo 50 + extra Play alone / Exchange 2 cards with the Talon / 35+ points Yes
One Solo 60 + extra Play alone / Exchange 1 card with the Talon / 35+ points Yes
Barach 70 Play alone / Take no Tricks / Talon unrevealed No
Solo No-Peek 80 Play alone / Talon unrevealed / 35+ points No
Open Barach 90 Play alone with hand revealed / Take no Tricks / Talon unrevealed No
Colour Valat 125 Play alone / Win all Tricks / Tarocks are not Trumps / Talon unrevealed No
Solo Barcelona 250 Play alone / Win all Tricks / Talon unrevealed No

This may seem like a whole bunch of stuff to remember, but when you think about it, Three through One Solo, the "normal" games, are basically the same game except for the number of cards you get to exchange with the Talon and whether or not you're going solo. 

Then, there are only five "higher" games:  Barach, Bid when you have a really crummy hand; Solo No-Peek, Bid when you have a great hand but don't think you'll be able to win all 12 Tricks;  Open Barach, Bid when you have a really, really crummy hand; Colour Valat, Bid when you have all Kings & Queens or all of one suit complemented with high Tarocks; Solo Barcelona, you'll know it when you're dealt it!

Calling a King: So, if you've won the Bid with Three, Two, or One, now you Call your King.   The holder of the King of that suit becomes your  partner but does not tell anyone who they are. The partnerships are sometimes not discovered until quite late in the game.

It is legal to call your own King. In this case you play on your own against the other three Players, but they will not realize at first that they are all on the same side. This is generally not a very good idea, because playing Solo is worth 30 points more.

If you have all four Kings, and declare a Three, Two or One, you would normally have no option but to call yourself. In this case, the player who holds all the Kings is allowed to call a card of the Trula: Skeench, Mond, Pagat. 

If you have three Kings, and declare a Three, Two or One, you may call your King by simply saying "the fourth King", without specifying its suit. This can make things somewhat more difficult for the opponents.

You play alone if the called King happens to be in the Talon.

Losing the called King: Upon calling a King, one of the team's responsibilities is to keep the King from being captured by the opponents. If the called King is captured, the team's score for the Round is decreased by 15 points. This rule also holds true if the called King happens to be in the Talon.

Exchanging cards with the Talon: OK. The Talon is now exposed in two sets of three cards, three sets of two cards, or as individual cards, depending on the Bid. The cards can never be mixed or shuffled to create the "best" set.  The Declarer chooses one of the sets and adds the cards to his hand.

The remaining Talon cards, which the Declarer does not take, are put in a face down pile off to the side for they will eventually be counted as part of the opponent's Tricks.

If a King was called, the pile of rejected Talon cards must at first be kept separate from the opponent's tricks, since some of the players do not yet know who is on which side.

After taking the chosen set of cards into his hand, the Declarer then discards the same number of cards face down into his Trick pile.  His discards will eventually be counted as part of his winnings.

Note: The Declarer cannot discard any part of the Talon that he adds to his hand. It's a good idea to discard before adding the Talon cards to your hand.  Also, five-point cards (Kings and cards of the Trula, the Pagat(I) Mond(XXI) and Skeench) may never be discarded; other Tarocks can be discarded freely but must be discarded face up, so that all the players know how many Tarocks are in play

If the called King happens to be in the Talon, then you can win the remainder of the Talon (the part not taken by you) by (1) exchanging the cards in your hand with the part of the Talon that contains the called King, and (2) winning a Trick with the King. When the called King is played, the remainder of the Talon is tossed face up on top of it, so that it is collected by the winner of the Trick. If the opponents win the Trick,  you not only surrender the remainder of the Talon to the opponents, but will also be penalized 15 points for losing the called King.

Hint: If the Declarer chooses the part of the Talon that contains the called King, be sure to keep the remaining part of the Talon apart from the opponent's Trick pile.

Announcements : There is now a round of announcements. An announcement is simply a statement that you are going for one of the bonuses.

Bonuses: Bonuses are additional ways of winning points in the "normal" Bids (Three, Two, One, Three Solo, Two Solo, & One Solo). Bonuses can be scored without prior announcement and some can be announced in advance (um, during the announcements, Susan) for double bonus value. 

Bonus Unannounced Announced Description
Trula 10 N/A Win Skeench, Mond (XXI) & Pagat (I) in Round
King Ultimo 10 N/A Team wins called King in last Trick of Round
Kings 10 20 Win all 4 Kings in Round
Pagat Ultimo 25 50 Win the last Trick of Round with the Pagat
Valat 100 200 Win all 12 Tricks

Except for Valat, the scores for the Round and scores for Bonuses are independent of each other. A team may win some and lose others, so a Player may have conflicting objectives.  It is quite possible to win the Round and yet lose points because the Bonuses were worth more than the Bid points & extra points combined!  

Notes on the Trula and Kings

If either side wins only part of the Trula or one, two or three Kings, then no bonus nor bonus penalty applies.  If the opposition wins all three cards of the Trula or all four Kings, only then is the Declarer's side penalized.

Notes on Pagat Ultimo and King Ultimo

For King Ultimo it is good enough for either partner to win the last Trick with the called King in it.

For Pagat Ultimo, the Pagat actually has to win the last Trick. If not, the bonus is lost even if the Trick is won by the partner of the person playing the Pagat.  This is somewhat difficult because the Pagat is the lowest Tarock (except in the Emperor's Trick).

If Pagat Ultimo is announced, the Player making the announcement is obliged to keep the Pagat until the last trick (if possible). It is customary to turn the Pagat around so that other Players can see it.

If either bonus is not announced, but you play the called King or the Pagat to the last Trick, you are deemed to be attempting to get the bonus, and you (you and your partner) lose the bonus if you lose the Trick.

The Play: "Teacher, my brain is full." 

That's OK, because the deluxe Tarock kit contains a quick ref so you can view the Bids & Bonuses at a glance.

So, you declared Three, Called the King of Hearts, exchanged three cards with the Talon, and announced Pagat Ultimo.

Who leads the first card?

In Klop, Compulsory Klop and in the normal Bids, the Player to dealer's right leads the first card, no matter who is Declarer.

In the higher Bids, from Barach upwards, the Declarer leads. The Declarer also leads first in a Colour Valat.

And the following statements form the foundation for, well, nearly every Bid:

You must follow suit if you can.

If you cannot follow suit you must play a Tarock.

If you cannot follow suit and are out of Tarocks, you can play any card you choose.

You cannot lead a Tarock until a Tarock has been played.

The Trick is won by the highest card played of the suit led, unless the Trick contains a Tarock, in which case the highest Tarock wins (exception: Colour Valat).

Renonce: If a player breaks any of the rules (plays the wrong suit, discards wrong number of cards, fails to beat the highest card on the table when he could have done so in Klop, Barach or Open Barach, or talks in such a way as to give away information about his cards), he is punished by having the full score of the game (the Bid value + 35 difference, + bonuses) subtracted from his score.

The Scoring: A cumulative score is kept on paper. In most cases only the Declarer (and the Declarer's partner, if he has one) score. In general, solidarity of partnerships applies, so if the Declarer has a partner, both members of the  team will win or lose the same amount.

    The exceptions are:

    Klop, where everyone may score separately;

    Captured Mond, (we'll get to that very, very soon) which applies only to the player who looses it;

    Penalties for misdeal & Renonce, which apply only to the culprit.

The point value of the Bid plus the card point difference is added to a Player's score if she wins the game, or subtracted from it if she loses.

Meaning, you went Three and you and your partner counted your cards and won 42 points (your opponents confirmed    this because they counted 28 points).  So far, your score is 10 (for going Three) plus 7 (42-35 (you needed to win 35              points plus an extra card and you actually "made it" by 7)) for a total of 17.

But wait, there's more!

The value of any bonuses won by the Declarer's team are added; if they lose any bonuses, the values are subtracted; if the opposition wins any bonuses, the values are also subtracted.

Meaning, you announced Pagat Ultimo and actually won that last Trick with the Pagat (very clever for your first time),   that's worth 50; your opponents won a King and part of the Trula, so no bonuses there (if neither side wins the complete     Trula or all four Kings, then it's considered a wash); however, your partner was clever enough to hold the King of Hearts          (the Called King) until the last trick, King Ultimo, worth 10 more.

Your score for the Round is 17(Bid & what you made it by)+50(Pagat Ultimo announced)+10(King Ultimo) =77!  That's mighty good.  Both you and your partner get 77 points added to your scoresheet.

Note: If you had lost that final trick of the game, you and your partner would have ended with a negative score; instead of adding the 60 points for the Ultimo Bonuses, you would have subtracted 75!  (-50 for Pagat Ultimo announced, -10 for King Ultimo, & -15 for losing the Called King).

Remember, as far as extra points & Bonuses go, in the higher Bids, Barach and above, you simply win or lose the value of the Bid. There are no extra points and no bonuses.

The Emperor Trick: If the three Trula cards, the Skeench, the Mond(XXI) and the Pagat(I) are all played in the same Trick, the Pagat transforms into the highest Tarock and therefore wins the Trick. (The only exception would be if you were playing a Colour Valat and led a non-Tarock; if the other three cards played in the Trick were the Trula your non-Tarock would win).

Captured Mond(XXI): This rule applies in the normal Bids (Three, Two, One, Solo Three, Solo Two, Solo One) but not in the higher Bids or Klop.

The Mond is the highest trump with Roman Numerals; there is only one trump higher, the Skeench.  If you lose the Mond to the Skeench, you are penalized by having 21 points immediately subtracted from your score. This penalty applies whether you lose the Mond to your partner or to an opponent; it also applies in an Emperor's Trick.

It is an individual penalty - the partner(s), if any, of the player of the Mond do not lose anything.

The penalty for captured Mond also applies if the Mond is found in the Talon when it is exposed and the Declarer chooses not take the part of the Talon which includes the Mond, thus giving it to the opponents. However, if the called King and the Mond are found in different parts of the Talon, and (1) the Declarer takes the called King and (2) wins a Trick with it, thus winning the rest of the Talon, which includes the Mond, there is no penalty.

Note: Don't let anyone Skeench your Mond!

Detailed descriptions of the Bids:

Klop  It's every man for himself. The object of the game is to win as few card points as possible. At any rate, you want to avoid losing (taking more than 35 cards points), and if possible you want to win (take no tricks at all). The additional rules for Klop apply. Also, in each of the first six Tricks, a card is turned up from the top of the Talon and added to the Trick as a "vitamin" to the player who won the Trick. Since Klop is played after everybody passes, the Talon cards tend to be rather juicy. If a Player loses (takes more than 35 card points), he scores minus 70. If a player wins (taking no tricks), his score is +70.

If any Player wins or loses, then only the the winners and losers score; the other Player's score is not altered. If no one loses and no one wins, the card points (by the counting method) taken by each Player are subtracted from the Player's score.

Additional rules for Klop, Barach & Open Barach (1). You must beat the highest card on the table if possible. (2). You are not allowed to play the Pagat until you must play it: if it's your last card, if it's your last Tarock, or if it's the only card that will win the trick (i.e. Emperor Trick).

Compulsory Klop In certain circumstances a Round of Compulsory Klop has to be played. In this case the bids from Three to Berach inclusive are unavailable. The bidding must begin with Solo No Peek or higher, and if (as will often happen) all four players pass, Klop is played. Compulsory Klop makes certain Contracts available because the cards have been or are about to be redealt. Compulsory Klop is played after any Player's cumulative score reaches exactly zero (a new twist) and after a Player is dealt no Tarocks.

Three, Two, One The Declarer chooses a partner by calling a King, and gets to exchange the appropriate number of cards with the Talon (Three exchanges 3 cards...). The object of the game is to win at least 35 card points plus one extra card. The score for the game is (10 or 20 or 30) + bonuses + difference.

Solo Three, Solo Two, Solo One   The Declarer plays alone and gets to exchange the appropriate number of cards with the Talon. The object of the game is to win at least 35 card points plus one extra card. The score for the game is (40 or 50 or 60) + bonuses + difference. The Declarer can also raise the contract to Colour Valat (125, no bonuses, no difference) after exchanging with the Talon.

Barach The Declarer plays alone and doesn't get to exchange any cards with the Talon. The object of the game is to take no Tricks. The additional rules for Barach apply. The Talon remains face down in the middle of the table and the Declarer starts the game by placing his card to his side of the Talon. Other Players do the same. The Player who wins the trick leads the next trick by placing his card on top of his first card, but doesn't cover it completely, then others do the same. In time, a kind of a cross is formed on the table to enable all the players to see all the cards that have been played so far. The score for the game is 70.

Solo No-Peek The Declarer plays alone and doesn't get to exchange any cards. The Talon (unrevealed) goes to the opposition. The object of the game is to win at least 35 points plus one extra card. The score for the game is 80.  

Open Barach   This Bid is played the same way as Barach, except for one major difference. After the first Trick is played, the Declarer arranges all her cards face up on the table so that the other Players can see them. This makes the Bid extremely hard to win. The Declarer's opponents are not allowed to discuss the play. The score for the game is 90.

Colour Valat   The Declarer plays alone with the object of winning all the Tricks, but the Tarocks function as an ordinary suit. The Declarer leads. A player unable to follow suit is still obliged to play a Tarock, but the Tarocks are not trumps - the Trick is won by the highest card of the suit led. When a Tarock is led, players must follow with Tarocks if possible and the highest Tarock wins. The score for the game is 125.

Solo Barcelona  The Declarer plays alone with the object of winning all the Tricks.  No one is allowed to look at the cards in the Talon and it is set to the side.  The score for the game is 250.

The Skeench-a-tola:When the Players wish to end the game (maybe at a certain time, like 4:00 AM, or when a Player reaches a certain score - usually 1000 - or when the Players are simply too sleepy or too fed up to continue with the session), the Dealer calls Skeench-a-tola. The cards are dealt and a Round is played as usual, but the Players note who ends up with the Skeench. Whoever ends up with the Skeench in the Skeench-a-tola Round will be the last dealer of the game. For example, if in the Skeench-a-tola Round, the dealer ends up with the Skeench, another four Rounds will be played. If the Skeench ends up in the Talon, the next Round is the Skeench-a-tola Round.