Novatarok

Contributed by John Wright

For two, three, four or five players, using a 78 card Tarok or Tarot pack, with two blank cards. (French Tarot packs are normally sold with two spare cards showing the maker's name and a scoring summary. These can be used as the two blanks. The blank cards are not used when three play.)

After shuffling, several "rounds" are dealt by the same dealer. Each round uses only a part of the pack. The undealt cards are set aside until the round has been played, and the next round is then dealt from these remaining cards. When the whole pack has been used, it is shuffled and the turn to deal passes to the next player. Deal and play are clockwise.

  • Two players are dealt ten cards each, and there are four rounds, each round using the cards not so far used.
  • Three players are dealt thirteen cards each, and there are two rounds, each time using the cards not so far used.
  • Four players are dealt ten cards each, and there are two rounds, each time using the cards not so far used.
  • Five players are dealt eight cards  each, and there are two rounds, each time using the cards not so far used.

Play begins with the player on dealer's left leading a card. and the other players play a card in turn. Everyone must follow suit if they can, and if they cannot, they must play a trump if they have one. The trick is won by the highest card of the suit led, or by the highest trump if any trumps are played. The long suit (1-21) is trumps, the 21 being the highest. In the other suits the king is the highest card, and the 1 is the lowest.

The Joker (Fool) is an excuse card - the holder may play it to any trick, but it cannot win the trick. The player then keeps it himself. It scores 5 points. The two blank cards are excuse cards in the same way, but they have no score.

If an excuse card is led to the trick, the next player may play any card. The first non-excuse card in the trick determines the suit of the trick. If all the cards in a trick are excuse cards the players keep the cards they played and the same player leads to the following trick.

At the end of the round players score for the cards they have taken - one each for ordinary cards (apart from the blanks), 5 each for kings, three each for queens, cavaliers and valets, five each for the 21 and 1 of trumps and the Joker (Fool).

Melds. If, in his hand or in his tricks in any round a player holds all four kings, he scores 20 points (for "Kings"). If, in his hand, or in his tricks a player holds trumps 21, 1 and the Joker(Fool) he scores 20 points (for "Trull").

Pagat. If the last trick of any round contains the 1 of trumps, the winner of the trick scores 20 points.

Note that each round is scored separately, so that Trull and Kings are only possible if all three or four cards happen to be dealt in the same round. Players cannot collect cards over several rounds to achieve these.

The game is played until one or more players have a score of 600 or more. The player with the highest score then wins the game.