Trix

This page is based on information from Suad Harms, V M and others.

Introduction

The compendium card game Trix (sometimes known as "Trex" or "Ticks") is popular in many Middle Eastern countries, including Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria and United Arab Emirates.

Players, Cards and Deal

Trex is played by four people using a standard international 52-card pack without jokers. The cards in each suit rank from high to low: A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2. Deal and play are counter-clockwise.

To begin the session, the cards are shuffled, cut and dealt out to the four players, one at a time, so that each player has 13 cards. It does not matter who deals first, but the player who is dealt the 7 of hearts in this first deal will "own the kingdom". This player chooses which contract will be played, and will also be dealer for the next four deals, choosing a different contract each time.

After the first dealer has played all five contracts, the kindom passes to the player to his right, then to the player opposite, and finally to the fourth player. Each of these players, during their kindom, must deal five times, choosing a different contract each time, without repetition. After the four kindoms are complete, 20 deals have been played, every player has chosen every contract once, and the game is over.

The Five Contracts

The first four contracts are trick-taking games in which the aim is to avoid taking tricks, or particular cards. The dealer leads to the first trick, and the winner of each trick leads to the next. Players must follow suit if they can, and the highest card of the suit led wins the trick.

Contract 1. Sheikh Koobbah (King of Hearts)
The player who takes the trick containing the king of hearts scores minus 75 points. It is illegal to lead a heart unless you have nothing but hearts in your hand.
Contract 2. Dinari (diamonds)
Each card of the diamond suit taken in a trick counts scores 10 points. When a trick contains diamonds, the diamonds are kept face up in front of the winner of the trick, so that everyone can see what diamonds have been taken by whom.
Contract 3. Banat ("girls")
Each queen taken in a trick scores minus 25 points. Queens are stored face up in front of the winner of the trick in which they were played.
Contract 4. Eltoosh ("slapping"), or Collection
Each trick taken scores minus 15 points.
Contract 5. Trex or Trix
Despite its name, this is the only contract that is not a trick-taking game in the normal Western sense of the term. It is similar to Fan Tan or Card Dominoes. Players try to get rid of their cards as soon as they by playing them to a layout, which begins with the jacks, and continues upwards in each suit to the ace and downwards to the two. The dealer begins and play continues counter-clockwise. At your turn you must play one card if you can. Legal plays are: any jack, or any card that is one rank higher or lower than a card that has already been played. If you are unable to play, you pass. The first player who runs out of cards scores plus 200 points. The others continue playing and the second scores plus 150 points, the third plus 100 points and the last gets plus 50 points.
If Trex is announced, any player who holds four twos or three twos and the three of the fourth suit can require the cards to be thrown in. The cards are shuffled and redealt, and the dealer can choose any contract that he has not already played (including Trex).

Scoring

After 20 deals, when all four players have completed their kingdoms by choosing all five contracts, the game is over. The final scores indicate the result - the players with positive scores win by that amount, and the players with negative scores lose similarly.

The total points available in the five contracts are -75, -130, -100, -195, +500, so the total scores at the end of each kingdom and at the end of the whole game are always zero.

Doubling

If the contract is King of Hearts, the holder of the King of Hearts can double by exposing the King of Hearts before the lead to the first trick. The effect of this is as follows:

  • If another player takes the King of Hearts, the holder of the heartK scores +75 and the player who took it scores -150.
  • If the holder of the King of Hearts wins a trick with it, he scores -150 and the player who led to the trick that it wins scores +75. If the holder himself leads the heartK and it wins the trick he just scores -75.

In the same way, if the contract is Girls, any player who holds a Queen can double by exposing the Queen. The score for taking a doubled Queen is -50 and the holder of the Queen scores +25. But if the holder of the Queen wins it himself, he scores -50 and the player who led to the trick scores +25. If the holder of a doubled Queen leads it to a trick and it wins, he just scores -25.

Tactics

"King of Hearts" is generally best bid on hands with many hearts, since your other suits are then shorter than average and you will probably be able to discard the king. Although "King of Hearts" scores only 75, it is really a big hand, because the 75 all goes to one player, while the 195 points for eltoosh (for example) are usually distributed between the players. In the "Trex" contract twos and other low cards are a liability, as are aces to a lesser extent. A "block" of cards like 7-6-5 of a suit can be powerful in a suit in which the 4 3 and 2 are not held.

Variations

The game can be played without doubling.

Some play that in the first three contracts, a player who is unable to follow suit must discard a penalty card (king of hearts in contract 1, diamond in contract 2, queen in contract 3) if they have one.

Some players interchange the scores for Dinari (each diamond costs 15 points) and Eltoosh (each trick costs 10 points).

Some players allow hearts to be led at any time in the King of Hearts contract, even if the player has other suits.

Some players reverse all the scores, giving positive points for the first four contracts and negative points for Trex. The object is then to have as low a score as possible at the end. Clearly this makes no difference to the way the game is played.

Some play the contracts in a different order. For example in Jordan the sequence is sometimes: trix, girls, king of hearts, diamonds, collection.

Trex is sometimes played as a partnership game, partners sitting opposite each other. The game is played the same way - each player keeps their own score and gets a turn to choose contracts. The only difference is that in the contract "Trex", after each player has had their first turn, all players must put any 2's that they hold face up on the table, so that everyone knows who has them.

The most obvious way to score the partnership game would be simply to add the partners' scores together at the end, but some play that instead, the team of the player with the worst individual score loses (and the other team wins).

It can be agreed in advance that when Sheikh Koobbah (King of Hearts) or Banat (Girls) is announced, any player who holds a penalty card can place it face up on the table before the first lead. In this case the player who takes the card in a trick loses twice as much (-150 for the king of hearts, -50 for a queen) and the player who held the card scores +75 for the king of hearts or +25 for a queen.

Trex Complex is a recent variant in which a dealer can play two or more of the first four contracts at the same time. In this case all the penalty cards and tricks from the contracts being played are scored in that deal. The number of deals is reduced accordingly - for example if a dealer starts by playing Dinari, Banat and Eltoosh together, then he has only two more deals, which must be Sheikh Koobbah and Trex (in either order). This variation is not recommended since it increases the luck factor - a player who is fortunate to deal himself a hand full of low cards can get a huge score by playing contracts 1-4 all at once.

Other Trix Web Sites

Another description of Trex is available on Wikipedia.

Trix software and online games

Trix can be played online at the Jawaker website.

Some computer Trix games for Windows are available:

There is also a Trix program for iPhone and iTouch.