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Imperium

Contributed by Erich Burkhardt (eburkhar@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu)

Number of Players.
Two.

The Pack.
A pack of 17 cards made up of the A K Q J of each suit and one Joker.

Rank of Cards.
The highest trump is the Joker, followed by the Jack of the trump suit (Right Bower), the other Jack of the same color (Left Bower), then Ace, King, Queen. For purposes of following suit, the Joker and Left Bower behave in all respects as members of the trump suit. The other three suits rank in the usual order (Ace (highest), King, Queen, Jack) but the suit which is the same color as the trump suit has no Jack. The Joker and Jacks are honors.

Chips.
For scoring purposes, a common pool of chips is placed on the table. Four white chips and eight blue chips are sufficient. A blue chip is worth three whites. Each player keeps track of his score by drawing the appropriate number of chips from the pool. He must keep his stack in sight so that both players can see the state of the score at all times.

The Deal.
Each player receives five cards, dealt either two to each player and then three or vice-versa. The next card of the pack is turned face up to fix the trump suit for that deal. If the turn-up is a Jack, dealer scores one white chip at once; if the turn-up is the Joker, dealer scores one blue chip at once and the cards are immediately thrown in.

Declaring.
Non-dealer declares first. He exposes any imperiums (see below) he holds and takes chips for them, then he makes the opening lead. Before playing to the opening lead, dealer exposes any imperiums he holds and takes chips for them.

Imperiums.
Imperiums are certain combinations of cards held by either player which are worth one white chip or one blue chip. The dealer, but not his opponent, may construe the turned trump card as part of his hand for the purpose of making imperiums. The following are valid imperiums:

The Play.
Non-dealer may lead any card for the opening lead. The second player to any lead must follow suit if able; must trump if able when void of a plain suit lead; and in any case must win the trick if he can. A trick is won by the higher trump, or, if it contains no trump, by the higher card of the suit led. The winner of a trick leads to the next.

Object of Play.
The object of play is to win as many tricks as possible. For winning three tricks a player receives one white chip, for winning four tricks a player receives two white chips and for winning every trick a player receives one blue chip (which is the same as three whites).

Scoring.
Each time a player collects three or more white chips, he returns three whites to the pool and takes a blue. Whenever a player takes a blue (in exchange for whites or in direct payment of a Major Sequence, etc.) his opponent must return to the pool all white chips he has at the moment. For determination of when whites must be so forfeited, scores must be settled in strict order:
  1. Turning up an honor (Jack or Joker)
  2. Imperiums (non-dealer always scores his imperiums before dealer)
  3. Majority of tricks
The first player to win five blue chips wins the game and the deal in progress is abandoned.


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Last updated 13th September 1999