Abracadabra

Contributed by Paul Newton (paul.newton@cwctv.net)

Players: Four, three, or two players may play the game; The four handed version is described first.

Cards: Two packs of cards are required, which should be distinguishable from the backs; Each pack consists of 52 cards plus one Joker, ranking from the Ace down to the Two.

Preparation: Before the deal, the Dealer sorts the second pack of 52 cards into suits, and places them in four separate piles in the middle of the table. Each player also recieves a slip of paper, to write down the tricks he will try to win (see below).

Deal: Each player receives thirteen cards in ones; the remaining card is placed face up in the middle of the table to determine the trump suit; if it is the Joker, play at no trump.

After looking at their hands, each player, starting with the player on the dealers left, and ending with the Dealer, chooses a complete suit from the middle of the table, these are the players' bid cards, and they will score according to how many cards they have taken in their bidding suits in tricks.

Bidding: Before play begins, each player, starting with the player on the Dealers left, bids as to how many exact number of tricks he hopes to win, the bids range from one to thirteen, and there is only one round of bidding. Each bid must be higher than the previous one, and a player who does not wish to bid can pass.

The highest bidder is the Declarer, and places the same number of bid cards as he bid face down in a row on his left, the remaining bid cards are placed in a face down pile next to him; After the Declarer has done this, each of the other players likewise places a number of bid cards face down on their left to determine their bid, however, the number of bid cards thus placed must be less than the Declarer's. Each player's bid is written down on the score sheet, in addition each player writes down the tricks he will try to win on his slip of paper. The rank of each bid card determines which tricks he will try to win, each Jack counts as the eleventh trick, each Queen as the twelfth trick, and each King the thirteenth, e.g. if a players bid cards are a 4, a 9, and a Jack, this indicates that he will attempt to win exactly three tricks, which will be the fourth trick, the ninth trick, and the eleventh.

Declaring: After all the players have placed their bid cards face down, the Declarer has two further options; Firstly he may expose one or more of his bid cards for all to see for a greater score, if he does this, however, he must transfer these cards to his right; Secondly he has the option of exposing his pile of bid cards for a greater score, this second option also applies to the other players.

Play: The player on the Dealer's left leads to the first trick, and normal rules of trick taking apply, the Joker assumes the identity of the card turned for trump, as is played as such.

Whenever a player happens to win a trick that corresponds to one of his face down bid cards on his left, he announces "abracadabra", and exposes the relevant card immediately. Any other players who have bid for the same trick then expose the relevant cards, and place them face up in the centre of the table; As soon as the Declarer loses a trick that corresponds to one of his face up bid cards on his right, he turns the relevent bid card face down.

Any player who does not win a particular trick he has bid must expose the relevant bid card immediately after the trick has been played, and place it face up in the centre of the table; This means that at the end of play only face up cards will be left in front of the players.

Scoring: The scores for succeeding, i.e. winning the exact number of tricks are as follows-:

  • If one player succeeds, he scores 40 points;
  • If two players succeed, they each score 30 points;
  • If three players succeed, they each score 20 points;
  • And if all four players succeed, they each score 10.

A player who fails to win the exact number of tricks scores nothing for success, but can still score for taking specific tricks, which is the total of the face value of a players face up bid cards on their left, (Ace=1, up to King=13), e.g. if as in the above example a player wins the fourth trick, the ninth trick, and the eleventh, he would score 24 points.

The scoring for the Declarer's right hand bid cards is slightly different, in that each face up bid card scores double the face value. From the total of these face up bid cards the Declarer then deducts the total of double the values of the face down cards, giving a net result.

In addition each player scores 1 point per trick taken, regardless of whether they have succeeded in their bids or not, plus 2 points for each card of a suit that corresponds to the suit of their bid cards; Should any player have exposed their pile of bid cards before play began, then this score is doubled to 4 points.

Example of scoring-: At the end of play Helen and David have succeeded in their bids, they therefore each score 20 points for success. Helen had bid and won the fifth and eleventh trick, bringing her score up to a total of 36 points, to which is added 7 points for tricks taken, and 12 points for taking 6 Hearts, which was the suit of her bid cards, bringing her grand total to 55 points. David had bid and won the fourth and twelfth tricks, which added to the score for success, totals 36 points, to which is added 4 points for tricks taken, and 10 points for taking five Spades, which was the suit of his bid cards, bringing his grand total to 50 points.

Game: The game may be played up to an agreed target score, or an agreed number of deals.

Variations-:

  1. There is no joker, the Declarer announces the trump suit after he has laid out his bid cards.
  2. Players need not try to win an exact number of tricks; The players in this version of the game score for success if they have won the same or more tricks than what they bid.

Three players

Cards: A 36 card pack is used (with or without a Joker), ranking from the Ace down to the Six, in addition to twelve cards from the second pack ranking from the Ace up to the Queen.

Deal: Each player receives twelve cards in ones.

Scoring: The scores for success are as follows-:

  • If only one player succeeds, he scores 30 points;
  • If two players succeed, they each score 20 points;
  • And if all three succeed, they each score 10.

All the remaining rules are as in the four handed game.

Two players (with a dummy hand).

This is the same as for three players except that the third hand is dummy, and is placed face up after the live players have bid and Declared. If both players initially pass, then there should be a further round of bidding after the Dummy has been exposed.

The dummy belongs to neither player, and is always played third to a trick, the live players playing to the trick first. If, however, a card from dummy wins a trick, the player who played the winning card from dummy leads from it, the player's opponent then plays second to the trick, and the other player then plays third. Any trick won by the dummy belongs to whoever played the card.

The scores for success are 20 points if only one player succeded, or 10 points if both did.

Two players (without dummy)

A 24 card pack is used, ranking from the Ace down to the nine, each player receives twelve cards.