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KLABERJASS

KLABERJASS is probably better known in America than in Britain, because under the names of Clabber, Clobber, clubby, Klab and Klob, it occurs in Damon Runyon’s amusing stories, and in 1937 a variation of thegame, under the name of Jo-jotte was publicized by Ely Culbertson. 

Despite the similarity of names it is not identical with the Hungarian game of Kalabrias, which is a game for three or four players.  There may have been a common ancestor, or possibly the game was taken to the New World by Central European immigrants and there adapted as a two-handed game with Klaberjass as a bowdlerized version of Klabrias.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS

Klaberjass is primarily a game for two players, but can be played by four, in two partnership, as descried later.

CARDS

The card game is played with a pack from which the 6s,5s,4s,3s and 2s have been removed.  In the trump suit the cards rank in the order Jack, 9, Ace, 10, King, Queen, 8, 7; and in the other three suits Ace, 10, King, Queen, Jack, 9, 8, 7.

Six cards are dealt to both players, in two lots of three cards each.  The next card of the pack is turned face upwards on the table (it is known as the turn-up card) and the rest of the pack is placed face downwards so as partly to cover it.

BIDDING

The non-dealer bids first.  He may take-it (i.e. accept the turn-up card as the trump suit); pass (i.e. refuse to accept the turn-up card as the trump suit); or schmeiss (i.e. offer to play with the turn-up card as the trump suit or throw in the hand, as his opponent prefers ). 

If the opponent says ‘Yes’ to a schmeiss there is a fresh deal; if he says ‘No’ the hand is played with the turn-up card as the trump suit.  If the non-dealer has passed, the dealer may either take-it, pass or schmeiss.

If both players pass there is a second round of bidding.  Now the non-dealer may name any one of the other three suits as trumps, or he may schmeiss (i.e. offer to name one of the other three suits as trumps or throw in the poker hand, as his opponent prefers), or he may pass.  If he passes, the dealer may name one of the other three suits as trumps, or throw in the hand. 

When a player accepts or names a trumps suit, the bidding ends, and the player who has accepted or named a suit as trumps is called the maker.

There is never more than two rounds of bidding, and when the trump suit has been settled, the dealer deals three more cards, one at a time, to the two players.  He then turns up the bottom card of the pack and places it on top of the pack.  It takes no part in the play, and is put where it is only to be seen.

If either player has been dealt the 7 of the trump suit, he may exchange it for the turn-up card.

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