Ronda

Thanks to Justus Pang for his help in compiling this page, and to Wadih Bargach for clarifying some of the rules.

Introduction

Ronda is a fishing game which is popular in Morocco, not only in and around Rabat, Marrakesh, and Fez but also in the north, from Tangier and Tétouan to Oujda and in Ceuta and Melilla. Therefore most of the technical terms of the game exist in several alternative forms: French, Spanish and Arabic.

Ronda is played with the 40-card Spanish pack and the objective is to capture cards from the table by playing matching cards from hand.

Players and cards

A 40 card Spanish deck is used.  The deck has 4 suits, clubs (khal), cups (copas), swords (chbada), and coins (dhab or dinar) and are numbered 1-7, 10-12 in each suit. Note that in this game the 10 is considered adjacent to the 7. The 10, 11 and 12 are the jack, horse and king. Some Spanish decks also includes 8's and 9's, but these cards are not used in Ronda.

The game is usually played by two players, or by four players playing as partners, with partners sitting opposite each other. A three-player game is also possible. The whole game is played anticlockwise.

Chips may be used to keep score. These begin in a common pile and one chip is taken by each player or partnership when a point is scored. There is also an alternative method of keep ing score by transferring cards - see variations.

Since suits are unimportant in this game it could be played if necessary a modified Anglo-American (poker) deck from which the 8's, 9's and 10's are removed so that the jack follows the 7. 

Deal and Play

The cards are shuffled and the person to the left of the dealer cuts. The dealer then deals a batch of three cards to each player, beginning with his right hand opponent, going around the table anticlockwise, and ending with himself. The next four cards are turned face up in the middle of the table.

The initial four cards must all be of different ranks and cannot form a four-card sequence (such as 6-7-10-11). If there is a pair or on the table, the second card of the pair is shuffled back into the deck and a replacement card dealt. If the four cards form a sequence the last card is shuffled into the deck and a replacement dealt.

The player to dealer's right plays first and the turn to play passes anticlockwise. Each turn consists of playing one card face up to the table and possibly capturing some of the cards that are there. Captured cards are placed face down in front of the player who captured them. When there are four players, partners keep the cards they have captured together in a single pile.

When all players have played their three cards, the dealer gives them each another batch of three from the undealt cards (but no more cards are dealt to the table) and play continues. When dealing the final batches of three cards the dealer should warn the players that there are no more cards to come. When the players have played their last three cards the play ends. The captured cards are scored and the turn to deal passes to the right for the next round of play. 

Ronda and Tringa

After each deal, the players look at their hands and call "ronda" if they have a pair of equal ranked cards, or "tringa" (or tringla) if they have a three of a kind.  Each ronda is worth 1 point and each tringa is worth 5 points.  The rank of the cards in the ronda or tringa are not announced. If more than one player has ronda or tringa, the player with the best combination wins the points for all of them. In this case the winner is determined and the points are awarded as soon as enough cards have been played to make it clear which is best. Any tringa beats any ronda, and between two rondas or tringas one with the higher ranked cards wins (12 is high, 1 is low). In case of a tie for best between opponents holding equal rondas, the points are divided equally between them, rounding half points down.

For example if two players have ronda, then the player with higher pair wins 2 points (1+1).  If one player has ronda and the other has tringa, than the tringa will win 6 points (5+1). If both players have tringa, then the player with the higher number wins 10 points (5+5). If there are just two equally high rondas they score 1 each; if a third player has a lower ronda the winners still score 1 each, and if all four players have a ronda, two opponents tying for best, they score 2 each.

If you have a ronda or tringa, you must announce it before you play the first of your cards, otherwise you suffer a penalty if it is discovered. Players may sometimes try to conceal a small ronda to avoid giving the points for it to an opponent who has a better one. The penalty for a player who is discovered to have a ronda that they did not announce is 1 point awarded to the opposing player or team. For a tringa not announced the penalty is 5 points.

Example: player A announces a ronda. Player B (A's opponent) has a pair of 3's but does not announce ronda, since he expects that A's ronda is higher. Player A immediately scores 1 point. If A notices when the cards are played that B also had a pair, then A can claim and score a second point, the penalty for B's failure to announce ronda. This is irrespective of whether A's ronda was in fact higher (for example 7's) or lower (for example 2's) than B's. If B's pair goes unnoticed then A just scores the 1 point for ronda on that deal.

If a player announces a ronda or tringa but is discovered not to have one, any points awarded for that player's ronda or tringa are taken away, and a penalty of 1-point or 5-points respectively is scored by the opponent(s).

Capturing

If you play a card whose rank matches one of the cards on the table, you capture that card, and place both the card you played and the captured card face down in front of you. (For example a 6 captures a 6).  You also capture all the cards that are higher than your pair and in sequence with it.  For example, if you play a 6 with  6, 7, 10, and 12 on the table, you would collect 6 ,6, 7, 10, but the missing 11 breaks the run so the 12 remains on the table.

You must always play one card on your turn, and if your card matches a card on the table you must capture the pair and any cards in ascending sequence with it. If you play a card that does not match anything, it stays face up on the table, and is available for capture in future turns.

If you capture the card just played by the previous player by playing an equal card, then you score 1 point.  This is called este, caida or cao (Spanish) or taper (French) or bouah'd, darba or b'wahed (Arabic) and the player making the capture calls "one". In a game with more than two players, the next player may call "five" if able to play a third card of the same rank - in Arabic this is called b'khamsa. This player then scores 5 points and takes all three cards (plus any cards in sequence with them) unless the fourth player also plays that rank calling "ten" and taking all four cards for 10 points for b'achra. The Arabic names are from the numerals wahed=1, khamsa=5, achra=10. In French you would call "un", "cinq", "dix".

Note, however, that you do not score for matching the last card played by the dealer using the first card played after the new deal. Also there is no score for capturing the card just played by taking it as part of a sequence. For example if there is a 3 on the table, a 4 is played, and the next player plays a 3, capturing the 3 and the 4 that was just played this does not score a point.

If a card is played that captures all the cards on the table, then the player or team who made the capture receives 1 point.  This is called missa (French) or mesa (Spanish) or lahsa (Arabic). If the card used to clear the table also matches the card played by the previous player, the points for caida are also scored, so the player calls "two" instead of "one", the next player would call "six" if making a triplet and the fourth player "eleven" for a quartet that cleared the table.

There is one exception to the above rule: there is no score for clearing the table (missa/mesa/lahsa) with the very last card played by the dealer in the last deal. This last card can however score for este/caida/taper as usual if it matches the card played by the previous player.

After the very last card has been played and there are no more cards to deal, any cards that remain on the table are taken by the player who last made a capture. 

Scoring

At the end of the play, the cards in each team's stack of captured cards are counted. In a two-player or four-player partnership game the player or team with more cards scores 1 point for each card in excess of 20 card (for example a team will score 6 points if they captured 26 cards during play). In a three-player game each player with 14 or more cards scores a point for each card in excess of 13.

When a team reaches a score of 41 points, they immediately win the game. This can happen in the middle of the play or at the end when the cards are counted.

Note that if only one player or team announces ronda or tringa, it is scored immediately and this could cause the game to be won without any cards being played. If two opponents each announce a ronda, so that it is not clear which is better, then the award of points is delayed until enough cards have been played to determine which is best. In this case the game may be ended by a caida or mesa before the ronda points are scored, and the ronda points are not counted in this case.

Note that when both sides are close to winning, it may be skilful for a player may counter an opponent's ronda by announcing a non-existent ronda in order to delay the ronda points and have the possibility of winning by caida or mesa before the false announcement is exposed. This tactic is entirely legal. If the game continued, the opponent would score for the false announcement, but only after enough cards have been played to prove that the announcement was false. If the player who made the false announcement has meanwhile scored enough to win the game, the win is valid.

Sometimes a player may be able to work out, by remembering what has previously been played, that an opponent who announces a ronda or tringa cannot really have what they announced. In such a case the player can challenge the announcement without waiting for the cards to be played out, and the announcer's cards must be shown. If the announcement was indeed false it cannot be scored and the announcer's opponents score the penalty points. However if the challenge is wrong, the challenger's opponents win the game immediately. Therefore it is only worth challenging early if the points for the announcement would be enough to enable the announcer's team to win the game before the cards have been played out. Otherwise it is safer to wait until the cards have been played, at which time any false announcement can be penalised without risk.

Variations

Advanced game
The dealer in Ronda has the slight advantage of having the last opportunity to capture, for which he can often keep a card whose pair is still in play, thereby taking the last cards from the table. The dealer's right-hand opponent also has the disadvantage of fewer opportunities for este/caida/taper. To counterbalance this, some give the dealer a duty to make a capture with the very last card played.
  • If the dealer captures with a 12 as the final card, the dealer's side scores 5 points.
  • If the dealer's duty is fulfilled by capturing with a 2-7, 10 or 11 there is no special score.
  • If the dealer's last card does not match anything, or if the dealer's last card is a 1, the opponents score 5 points.
(Making the final capture with a 1 is too easy, since 1's can only be taken by 1's and are therefore nearly always paired.)
No cards dealt to table; four-card hands
In the four-player game, the first deal is often four cards to each player with no cards dealt to the table. In subsequent deals three cards each are dealt as usual. It is also possibile to play the two-player game with four cards each dealt throughout and no cards dealt to the table at the start. When four-card hands are dealt, it is possible for a player to hold two rondas, which can be announced for 2 points. If a player is dealt four cards of the same rank, this counts as two rondas, not as a tringa. If the player announces it as a tringa and the false announcement is detected, then as usual the points scored for it are taken away and 5 points are given to the opponent(s).
Score by transferring cards
Many players keep score by transferring cards rather than with chips. So when points are scored during play for a ronda, missa, caida, etc., the appropriate number of cards is taken from the opponent's pile of captured cards and added to the capture pile of the player who scored the points. This causes a slight problem if the opponent has not yet captured enough cards: in this case the score must be remembered and the cards transferred when available. In this version points are scored only at the end of the play when the cards are counted: in a two- or four-player game a player or team with more than 20 cards scores 1 point for each card in excess of 20.
In a three-player game, a player who scores a missa is paid a card by each opponent, but one who scores a caida is paid only by the player whose card is captured. At the end of the play, any player(s) with more than 13 cards score(s) one point for each card in excess of 13.
Rank of rondas and tringas
Some play that a set of aces (1's) is the highest ronda or tringa, followed by 12, 11, etc. with 2's lowest.
Scoring variations
There are variations in scoring. For example in the case of a caida on a caida (a b'khamsa) some play that the player of the first card gives one captured card to the player of the second card, and the player of the second card gives five captured cards to the player of the third card. Some play that a single caida is worth 1, playing the htird matching card is worth 6, and if the fourth player also matches the card the score is 15. Some play that the penalty for failing to declare a ronda is 5 points, the same as for a tringa.
Some play to target scores other than 41 - for example to 25 points.

Software

You can play Ronda online at http://www.mufts.org/ronda/.  This program is a 2-player version of the game and includes both “beginner” and “advanced” rules.

You can download freeware DOS-based Ronda program from zerioh.tripod.com.

You can download a Ronda program from Thanos Card Games.  This program is a 4-player version of the game, which at the time of writing lacks the scores for ronda, tringa and caida.

Sources of Information

Apart from the rules provided with the above software, the following pages have information about Ronda.