Clag / Nominations
This page is based on information from Martin Brown.
- Players and Cards
- Nomination and Play in Normal Deals
- Nomination and Play in Special Deals
In Britain, the name Nomination Whist or Nominations is used for several different games, as listed on the Nomination Whist page. In this one, also known as Clag, the first few deals and the last few deals are played exactly like Oh Hell!, but in between these there is a series of additional deals with special rules.
This game is suitable for 4 to 7 players. A standard 52-card pack is used with the cards in each suit normally ranking from high to low: A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2.
Deal and play are clockwise.
A game consists of 22 deals, the turn to deal passing to the left. The dealer shuffles, the player to dealer's right cuts, and the cards are dealt one at a time, face down, clockwise.
The number of cards dealt changes from deal to deal. In the first deal each player is dealt just one card; in the second deal players receive two cards each, in the third deal three cards each, and so on up to seven card each in the seventh deal. The next eight deals (8 to 15) have special rules, which will be described below. In each of these deals the players receive seven cards each. The last seven deals (16 to 22) are again normal with the hand size reducing by one each time: seven cards each in deal 16, six each in deal 17, five in deal 18 and so on down to one card each in the final deal 22.
The normal deals (1 to 7 and 16 to 22) and played in the same way as Oh Hell! After the deal, the next card in the pack is turned face up to indicate the trump suit and the remaining cards are stacked face down and not used.
Beginning with the player to dealer's left and going around clockwise, each player in turn must nominate how many tricks he or she will win. The dealer speaks last, and must commit to a number that does not give a total equal to the number of cards dealt. This ensures that at least one player will fail to win the number of tricks nominated.
The player to dealer's left leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit if possible, playing the same suit as the card that was led: those unable to follow suit may play any card. If any trumps are played the trick is won by the highest trump in it. If it contains no trumps it is won by the highest card of the suit that was led. The winner of the trick gathers the cards, stacks them face down and leads any card to the next trick.
Players will score a point for each trick they win, plus a 10 point bonus if they win exactly as many as they nominated, neither more nor fewer.
The rules for the special deals are as follows. They are all played with seven card hands. Except where speified the nomination and play follows the same procedure as in the normal deals.
- Deal 8: No Trumps
- This is exactly like a normal seven-card deal except that no card is turned up after the deal and there is no trump suit. Each trick is simply won by the highest card fo the suit that was led.
- Deal 9: Misere
- This is like a normal seven-card deal with trumps, but everyone is assumed to have nominated zero. Therefore you score 10 if you win no tricks, but otherwise just one point per trick won.
- Deal 10: Guess Trumps
- The trump card is turned up after all players have made their nominations. So players predict how many tricks they will win having seen their cards, but not knowing what suit will be trumps.
- Deal 11: Blind
- Players nominate how many tricks they will take before the cards are dealt. The deal, trump making, play and scoring then proceed as in a normal deal.
- Deal 12: Twos Wild
- Trump setting, nominations and play are normal, but all four twos are wild. This means that when playing a two, the player names a rank and a suit - for example ace of diamonds - and it acts as a copy of that card. The following rules apply:
- If the card represented by the two is also played to the trick, the two is higher. For example if clubs are trumps and a player leads the ace of clubs, another player can beat it with the two of hearts, by nominating the two as another ace of clubs.
- If more than one two is played to a trick, they must represent different cards. So for example if the ace of trumps has already been beaten by a two representing the ace of trumps, a later player who also holds a two cannot use it to represent another ace of trumps in that trick.
- If a player has a card of the suit that was led, but chooses to play a two instead, it must be nominated as belonging to that suit. Suppose for example that hearts are trumps, player A leads the king of spades, player B trumps it with the 6 of hearts and player C holds one or more spades. Player C cannot play a 2 and nominate it as a trump to beat B's card. C has to follow suit so C's 2 can only be used as a spade in this trick.
- Deal 13: Aces Low
- This is exactly like a normal 7-card deal with trumps, except that the ace is the lowest card of each suit. The cards rank from high to low K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-A.
- Deal 14: Dealer Calls Trumps
- No card is turned up to set the trump suit. Instead, the dealer chooses the trump suit after looking at his or her cards. After the dealer has announced the trump suit, the nominations take place as usual, beginning with the player to dealer's left.
- Deal 15: Highest Number
- There are no nominations. Instead, whichever player takes most tricks scores 10 points and the other players score nothing. If there is a tie for most tricks no one scores. Therefore players who have no chance of winning most tricks will try to cooperate to cause a tie.
A cumulative score is kept for each player, all starting at zero.
- In all deals except 9 and 15, players receive one point for each trick won plus 10 points if they take exactly the number of tricks that they nominated.
- In deal 9, players who take no tricks score 10 points and the others score one point per trick won.
- In deal 15, if one player takes more tricks than any other, that player scores 10 points while the others score nothing. If there is a tie for most tricks, no one scores.
The winner is the player who has the highest score at the end of the 22 deals.
If playing for money, each of the other players pays the winner according to the differences in their scores at the end of the game. The stake should be agreed in advance, for example 5p per point. There can also be an extra payment per failed contract, based on the difference between the number of times the winner's nomination was wrong and the number of times the other player was wrong - for example 10p per contract. So with these stakes, if the winner scored 184 and failed 4 times, and you scored 142 and failed 8 times, you would pay the winner £2.10 + 40p, that is £2.50.
It is possible that the winner will not be the player who has fewest failed contracts. In this case the amount paid to the winner by the players who failed less often will be 5p per point difference less the difference in the number of failed contracts. In this case it is even possible that the winner might have to pay one of the other players if their point difference is very small.
I am not sure what happens if there is a tie for most points at the end. I suggest that in this case the winner is the player among those with most points who has fewest failed contracts. If there is a tie for failed contracts as well, then the joint winners should share the payments of the other players equally between them.
Martin Brown reports that there are variations of Clag which have additional special deals with different rules. We would be interested to hear from any readers with experience of other versions this game who can explain some of these other special deals.