Basic principles and rules
Table of contents:
- 1.1 Value of each card
- 2 Principle of the game
- 2.1 Points to be realized
- 3 Distribution
- 4 Bidding
- 5 Slam
- 6 The dog and the discard
- 7 Special announcements and bonuses
- 7.1 Poignée
- 7.2 One of trump at the end
- 7.3 One of trump dealt singleton
- 8 The play of the hand
- 9 Calculation of the scores
- 9.1 Calculating the score
- 10 Tarot with 3 players
- 11 Tarot with 5 players
The deck is composed of 78 cards:
- 4 suits: spade, heart, diamond and club. Each suit contains 14 cards. In descending order of force and value, the King, the Queen, the Cavalier and the Jack constitute the honors and 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 are the spot cards.
- Twenty-one special numbered cards are known as trump or tarot: the tarot take precedence over the suits by the power of ruffing. The number indicates the force of each trump, from the stronger (21) to the weaker (1 or Petit).
- Finally the excuse (or fool) is a card marked by a star and representing a player of mandoline. It's a kind of "joker" exempting to play the required suit or trump.
The 21, the 1 and the excuse are the 3 oudlers. It's around these 3 cards that all the game strategy is organized.
Value of each card:
- Oudlers (1 - 21 - Excuse)
- 4 1/2 pts
- 4 1/2 pts
- 3 1/2 pts
- 2 1/2 pts
- 1 1/2 pts
- Any other cards
- 1/2 pts
It's advised to count the cards two by two to facilitate the calculation:
- Oudler + a spot card or trump: 5 points
- King + a spot card or trump: 5 points
- Queen + a spot card or trump: 4 points
- Cavalier + a spot card or trump: 3 points
- Jack + a spot card or trump: 2 points
- 2 spot cards or trumps: 1 point
The total of all the cards is 91 pts
The principle of the play
The tarot is played with four players (it can be played also with 3 or 5 players with some changes in the rules).
The tarot is at the same time an individual game and a team game. Indeed, during the game, one of the players called the declarer is opposed to the three others, the defenders, who constitute a team (defense). But this association stands only the time of this deal. It can be constituted differently for deals following.
After having taken knowledge of his hand, a player can commit himself (by bidding) to reach a certain number of points while playing against his three associated opponents.
How many points the declarer does it have to realize to fulfill its contract? That depends only on the number of oudlers which are counted in its tricks at the end of the deal.
Points to be realized
- Without oudler: 56 points are needed
- With one oudler: 51 points are needed
- With two oudlers: 41 points are needed
- With three oudlers: 36 points are needed
This list shows the considerable importance of oudlers. The 21 and excuse cannot be lost. However, the excuse should not be played on the last tricks, except in the event of a slam. A player who brings the excuse at last trick must give it to the opponent. The 1, on the contrary, is vulnerable. The declarer can lose it... or take it to his opponents after a sucessfull HUNTING FOR THE PETIT.
Before the first distribution, a player spreads out the cards, face hidden, and each player draws a card randomly. The smallest card indicates the DEALER. In case of a tie, the suit determines: spade, heart, diamond and club; the club ace is the smallest card. The trumps have priority, but the excuse does not count: it is necessary to withdraw a new card in this case.
The deck must be shuffled by the player facing the dealer. Then the left-side player must cut the deck while taking or leaving at least 3 cards.
The dealer distributes the cards three by three, in opposite direction of the needles of a watch. During the distribution, the dealer constitutes a talon, card by card. This talon is called the DOG. It's forbidden to put at the dog the first or the last card of the deck.
In the event of a misdeal, the dealer redistributes, but cannot be declarer this turn.
A card turned over by the dealer at the time of the distribution involves misdeal, if the card is a honor or trump, the dealer redistributes and cannot be declarer.
Any card turned over by a defender at the time of the distribution involves a new distribution by the same dealer. A penalty may be given by the referee to the player having collected his cards before the end of the distribution.
The players gather up their cards only when the distribution is finished. In the event of fault of the dealer (misdeal), each player returns his play without looking at it.
Once the cards are distributed, each player can take a look at his cards. It is not essential to classify its cards before the end of the biddings, but for a beginner a well classified hand allows a more precise evaluation.
The player placed on the right of the dealer speaks the first. If he says "I pass", then its right-hand neighbor can talk. And so on, to the dealer.
If the four players pass, the right-hand neighbor of the dealer proceeds to a new distribution. But if a player wants to make a bid if it estimates that its hand enables him to play against its three opponents, he must announce by saying "Prise", "Garde", "Garde-without-the-dog" or "Garde-against-the-dog". The other players who have not already bid can possibly cover this bidding by a higher bidding. Each player can speak only once. The biddings by ascending order are:
- Prise, with an average hand which lets hope for only approximately 50% of chances of success and which is often based on the hope of discovered of a very good dog. This contract tends to disappear in tournaments
- Garde can be a higher bid after the Prise of an opponent. But it's generally the first bidding, when the declarer considers his chances of success much higher to his risks of failure.
- Garde-Without-the-dog, with a very strong hand, the declarer may estimate that he can fulfil its contract without incorporating the dog in its play, therefore without discarding 6 cards. The points of the dog are counted to him at the end of the deal and constitute for him a cushion of safety. Of course, no player must look at the dog as long as deal is not played.
- Garde-against-the-dog, with an exceptional hand, the declarer may estimate that he can fulfil his contract without the assistance of the dog and therefore give the value of the dog to its opponents.
The slam is a bonus for taking all the tricks during one deal. Perhaps you will play during years without never realizing or suffering this extremely rare coup.
The slam bonus is added to the contract; the points are counted according to the required contract and a prime (or a penalty) sanctions the success (or the failure) of this slam:
- Slam announced and succeeded: additional bonus of 400 points.
- Slam not announced but succeeded: additional bonus of 200 points.
- Slam announced but failed: 200 points are deduced from the total.
In the event that a slam is announced, the declarer gains the right to make the opening lead of the deal, whatever the dealer is. In the event of successful slam, the declarer must make all the tricks and play the excuse at the end: consequently, the Petit will be considered at the end if it's led to the last but one trick.
Paradoxically, it happens that defense inflicts a slam to the declarer. In this case, each defender receives, in addition to the normal score, a prime of 200 points.
The dog and the discard
On a Prise or a Garde, when the biddings are finished, the declarer turns over the 6 cards of the dog so that all players can look at it. He incorporates them in his hand then draws aside (discards) 6 cards which remain secret during the play of the hand. These cards are part of declarer's tricks.
Declarer cannot disacrd kings, nor oudlers and trumps; in the event where declarer is forced to discard trumps, he must show them to the defense.
When it finished its discard, the declarer says "Play" and the discard cannot be modified any more, nor consulted.
- On garde-without or garde-against, the cards of the dog remain hidden.
- On garde-without, they are placed in front of the declarer and will be counted with his tricks.
- On guard-against, they are placed in front of the player located opposite the declarer and will be counted with the defense's tricks.
A player having a Poignée can announce it and present it, the tarots classified in descending order, complete and right before playing his first card.
- To the simple Poignée (10 trumps) corresponds a bonus of 20 points.
- To the double Poignée (13 trumps) corresponds a bonus of 30 points.
- To triple Poignée (15 trumps) corresponds a bonus of 40 points.
These bonuses keep the same value whatever the contract is and are acquired to the victorious camp of the deal. Examples:
The declarer presents a double Poignée. If the contract succeed, each defender gives him, in addition to the normal score, a bonus of 30 points. If contract loses, it is him which gives this bonus to each defender, in addition to the normal score. A defender presents ten trumps. If the declarer gains, each defender gives him a bonus of 20 points. If the declarer loses, each defender receives a bonus of 20. The poignée must include indeed ten, thirteen or fifteen trumps. When a player has eleven, twelve, fourteen, sixteen or seventeen trumps, he must hide one or two of them, but by complying with this very significant rule: the Excuse in the poignée implies that the announcer does not have other hidden trumps.
The one of trump at the end
If the petit is part of the last trick, it is "at the end". The camp which brings the petit at the end collects a bonus of 10 points, multipliable according to the contract, whatever the result the deal is (cf the calculation of the scores). Examples:
The declarer makes a garde-without-the-dog. A defender brings the petit at the end. Declarer must pay a bonus of 10 * 4 = 40 points to each defender.
If, in spite of the loss of the petit at the end, the declarer gains his contract, the bonus is then deduced from its profits.
The one of trump dealt singleton
A player having the petit dealt singleton in its hand (it is its only trump and it does not have the excuse) must obligatorily announce it, spread out his hand to cancel the deal before the biddings.
The card play
The declarer having finished his discard says "Play". The opening lead is made by the player placed at the right of the dealer. Then each player plays in his turn.
The player who wins the first trick leads the next one and so on. The play proceeds according to the following rules :
- On trump play, players are forced to go up with a stronger trump that the trumps already played, even if it belongs to a partner.This play is called "overruffing". A player not having a higher trump than highest already played, plays a trump of his choice, generally the smallest. This play is called "underruffing".
- On suit play, the only obligation is to follow the suit with any card.
- A player unable to follow a suit must ruff with a trump or overruff a trump already played on this trick. With no higher trump, the player must underruff.
- A player unable to follow the suit and not having a single trump can discard any card.
- If the first card of a trick is the excuse, the following card played determines the suit to be played on the trick.
- The excuse cannot gain a trick (with the exception of a slam, when played on the last trick) but it remains the property of the camp which holds it. If an opponent gains the trick where the excuse is, its holder must replace it in the trick by any other small card (or trump) taken in the tricks already won by his camp.
- In case of a slam by a declarer not having the excuse, this card remains to the defense and score 4 points. Of course, the card must be played before the last trick.
- The tricks won by the defense must be collected by the player sitting at the opposite of declarer.
- As long as a trick was not collected and returned face down, any player can consult the preceding trick.
- A player should never play before his turn, nor even touch a card in his hand before its turn did not arrive.
Calculating the score
When the hand is played, declarer and defense must calculate the points contained in their tricks.
To gain his contract, the declarer must totalize a certain number of points which is function of the number of oudlers it has on its tricks (in the event of a garde-without-the-dog, a possible oudler in the dog is acquired to declarer). If the number of points is obtained exactly, the contract is "made" (or "cold" in bridge slang); if the number of points is higher, the additional points are points of profit; if the number of points is lower, the contract is "down" and the missing points are points of loss.
Any contract arbitrarily being worth 25 points, 25 points are thus added to the total points of profit or loss.
This new total is multiplied by a coefficient, according to the required contract:
- in case of a PRISE, this total remains unchanged.
- in case of a GARDE, this total is mutiplied by 2.
- in case of a GARDE-SANS, this total is mutiplied by 4.
- in case of a GARDE-CONTRE, this total is mutiplied by 6.
Each defender scores the same number of points: into negative if the declarer wins, into positive if the declarer goes down.
The declarer scores three times this total, into positive if the contract is won, into negative if the contract is down.
The total of the 4 scores are thus equal to 0, at any stage of the game.
Examples of scoring
- Declarer bids a Garde and shows a single Poignée (10 trumps). He brings the Petit at the end and totalizes 49 points in its tricks, includind 2 Oudlers. Since he needs 41 points to win (because he has 2 oudlers), the contract is made by 8 extra points (49 minus 41). The calculation is: 25 points (contract) + 8 (extra points) x 2 (coefficient of a Garde) = 66 points. To this total we must add the bonuses: 20 points for the Poignée and 20 points for the Petit at the end (10 points x the coefficent of a Garde). The new total is 66 + 20 + 20 = 106. Each defender scores -106 and declarer scores +318 (3x106).
- Declarer bids a Garde-without-the-dog and wins by 4 extra points but the defense brings the Petit at the end. The calculation is: 25 points (contract) + 4 (extra points) x 4 (coefficient of a Garde-without-the-dog) = 116 points. Now the bonus for the Petit at the end must be substracted. This bonus of 10 points is multiplicated by the contract coefficient (4): 10 points x 4 = 40 points. The new total is 116 minus 40: 76 points. Each defender scores -76 and declarer scores +228.
- Declarer bids a Prise, shows a single Poignée, brings the Petit at the end but goes down by 7. The calculation is: 25 (contract) + 7 (extra missing points) + 20 (single poignée) minus 10 (Petit at the end) = 42 points. Each defender scores 42 points and declarer scores -126.
- Declarer bids a Garde and win by 11 extra points. The defense showed a single Poignée. The calculation is: 25 points (contract) + 11 (extra winning points) x 2 (coefficient of a Garde) = 72 points. The defense must pay an extra 20 points for the Poignée, so the new total is 92 points. Each defender scores -92 and declarer scores +276.
- Declarer bids a Garde and announce a slam. Declarer also shows a double Poignée (13 trumps), brings the Petit at the end and succeeds the slam. The defense has only the Excuse. With 2 Oudlers, declarer needs 41 points to make the contract. Since he has 87 points in its tricks (91 minus the 4 points of the Excuse), the contract is made by 46 (87 minus 41). The calculation is: 25 (contract) + 46 (extra points) + 10 (petit at the end) x 2 (coefficient of a Garde) = 162 points. We must add the bonus for the double-poignée (30 points) and the announced slam (400 points). The new total is 162 + 30 + 400 = 592 points. Each defender scores -592 and declarer scores a juicy +1776.
Tarot with 3 players
The rule is the same as for the game with 4 players, but the cards are distributed 4 by 4.
Each player receives 24 cards, the dog 6 cards. The contracts are identical. The Poignées must contain: 13 trumps (single); 15 trumps (double); 18 trumps (triple).
At the time of the calculation, it is necessary to count exactly for the half points. A declarer who has to make 41 points goes down if he makes 40,5. The round-off is done by always privileging the camp which will mark points. In the preceding case, the declarer goes down by 1 point. Conversely, if he has made 41,5, he would have gained by 1.
Tarot with 5 players
The cards are distributed 3 by 3. Each player receives 15 cards, the dog 3 cards. The contracts are identical. The Poignées must contain: 8 trumps (single); 10 trumps (double); 13 trumps (triple).
Before turning over the dog, the declarer calls a king of his choice and the holder of this king becomes his partner. If the declarer has the 4 kings, he calls a queen or a cavalier if he has also the 4 ladies. If the selected king is in the dog, then the hand is played 1 against 4. Opening lead cannot be made in the suit of the king chosen by the declarer except if this lead is made with the king. The distribution of the points (including the bonuses of Poignées and/or Petit at the end) is made 2/3 for the declarer, 1/3 for his partner. If the declarer play 1 against 4, he cashs the totality of the points of profit or failure. If it misses a half-point to declarer, the contract is failed.
Note: there is no official rules for the tarot with 5 players. The French Federation of tarot did not define any rule for this variation, in particular with regard to the obligation for the declarer to call for a king or the prohibition to make opening lead in the suit of the king called by declarer. We definitively prefer the following rules:
- A declarer can call the card of its choice (including a card of its own hand if he wishes to play alone).
- A defender can make the opening lead of the game with any card of any suit (including the suit of the king called by declarer).