Chameleon

Invented by Francis Dobbs and contributed by Roger Dobbs (Roger.Dobbs@btinternet.com)

Introduction

A game for 3 players with a 32 card pack ranking high to low from ace to seven in each suit. Scores are accumulated at the end of each deal and the game may end at any time after a specified number of deals, providing each player has dealt an equal number of times.

The turn to deal, bid and play passes to the left. The dealer, after shuffling and having the cards cut from the right, deals 10 cards, two at a time to each player. At any stage in the deal 2 excess cards are dealt face down to the table as a talon.

The Play

The player on the dealer's left (forehand) commences the auction and must either pass or make a bid after which each player in turn must either bid higher or pass.

A bid must consist of a proposal to win at least 6 tricks and a proposed trump suit, e.g. 7 hearts, 9 diamonds or misère / misère ouverte. Jump bidding is allowed. A player who has passed cannot come in again. When each of 2 players pass in turn, the last to bid becomes the declarer. If all 3 pass, the hands are thrown in and the deal passes.

The declarer takes up the talon, adds it to his hand without showing it and makes any 2 discards face down. The declarer then either confirms his bid or announces any higher contract, which may be in no trump, although this may not be bid in auction. This procedure will be discussed in detail later. Forehand leads to the 1st trick, and suit must be followed if possible, otherwise any card may be played.

Bids are scored as follows : (+ if successful, - if not)

For any bid (minimum 6 tricks and maximum 10 tricks) naming trumps/NT:
Number of tricks bid are squared :
e.g. 6 tricks score 36 (6 x 6)
7 tricks score 49 (7 x 7)
and so on up to 10 tricks, which scores 100.

A Slam (10 tricks) must be played with all hands face up on the table before a player leads.

Each trick taken by an opponent scores a value equal to the number of unbiddable tricks (e.g. Contract of 7 tricks score 3 per trick (10-7)).

A bid of Misère (to lose every trick) score +/- 50 (with 0 for opponents) and Misère ouverte (to lose every trick with hand laid face up) scores +/- 100 (with 0 for opponents), both played at no trump.

For any given number of tricks bid, the first bid may be made by naming any suit as trump, which may be overcalled by no more than 1 later bid, providing it is made in either suit of different colour to the original. (e.g. First bid 6 diamonds, second bid 6 clubs/spades). Please note a player may not overcall himself in this context either during or after the auction. However this does not preclude him when finalising his bid as Declarer, having taken the talon and made the necessary discards, from overcalling his bid by naming no trump (e.g. current bid 6 spades, final contract 6 no trump).

A comparison of relative scores for a series of successful contracts (declarer having obtained the bare minimum of tricks required) based on the previous information is shown below.

Declarer's
No. of tricks
Score of
declarer
Total score
of opponents
Relative score
of declarer overall
6361620
749940
misère50050
864460
981180
misère ouverte1000100
101000100

Chameleon Variant

During the last deal, the hands are not thrown in if all the players pass, but instead the dealer exposes the top card of the talon as trump, takes it into his hand and discards any card face down. Forehand leads and the dealer scores 5 points for each trick he wins above 4. Each opponent scores 5 points for each trick he takes above 3.

Dummy Chameleon

In this 3 handed version for 2 players, the hand dealt to the right of the dealer is left face downwards as dummy. Each player, after examining his hand, may bid or pass in turn. If one player outbids his opponent and becomes Declarer, the game proceeds in the usual manner, Dummy's hand has been previously been exposed and sorted into suits and ranks before play begins.

Cards of each suit form parallel columns facing between the players and rank from high to low from top to bottom.

Dummy's hand is played in rotation clockwise by the opponent of the declarer as well as his own hand. Upon winning a trick, he leads to the next from whichever hand furnished the previous winning card. Any tricks taken by the Dummy are ignored for scoring purposes.

In the event of both players passing, each in turn has the option of bidding 6 in dummy. i.e.. To take Dummy's hand after first discarding his own as a replacement dummy and confirm his bid by specifying a suit for trump or if the player considers his hand to be worthless, he may concede by throwing it in, thus scoring -36 points and his opponent zero.

However, if he confirms his bid, he adds the talon to his hand without showing it, makes any two discards face down and may increase his bid in accordance with the rules of the game. Dummy's hand is exposed as previously explained and forehand leads to the first trick.
If both players refuse to bid 6 in dummy, whenever this option becomes available, the hands are thrown in and the deal passes.

Dummy Chameleon Variant

During the last deal of the game, the hands are not thrown in if both players pass twice. Instead the dealer stacks Dummy's cards and exposes the top card as trump. Each of the players in turn then adds one card from the talon to his hand without showing it and discards any card face down. Forehand leads and each player scores 5 points for each trick he takes above five.

It is worth noting that a bid of six in dummy should be considered when holding not more than one ace in a hand containing one of the following:

  1. One or more voids
  2. One singleton (excluding ace)
  3. Two singletons