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Steeplechase Rook

Invented at lifeFORCE, and perfected and contributed by Luke Bunger

Steeplechase rook is a highly interesting variant of call-partner rook but should only be undertaken by very serious players as it can take many hours to play a full game, and may in fact take several sessions to complete. It works best with four players.

The basic premise is simple, and really a scoring system, rather than a variation, and could probably be applied to almost any standard version of rook. The aim is to go down to -1000 before making your way back up to +1000. It has usually been played with lifeforce call partner rook rules.

We went through several versions before settling on this one. The main problem with the first ones was getting to -1000 was simple, the first person to bid would bid 200 [the maximum possible bid in the call-partner Rook variation played at LifeFORCE], call themselves and not make it, therefore the following bidding system was imposed.

The first person to bid (clockwise from dealer, which rotates clockwise per round) has a choice.

  1. Accept the first (imposed) bid of 120
  2. Pass.

The next person is then faced with the same question

  1. Accept the current bid (increases by 10 every time someone accepts)
  2. Pass

This continues in a clockwise fashion with everyone still in (i.e. who has not passed) choosing to accept the increased bid (10 more than the previous bid) or pass until only one person remains in the bidding. You can raise your bid indefinitely, so long as someone is bidding against you and you have not previously passed.

If all players other than the dealer pass on the first round, the dealer can bid any amount. In the first stage of the game, this would allow the dealer to bid 200, and for that reason it rarely happens.

There are basically two strategies in bidding when trying to get down to -1000. You can either pass, allowing whoever takes the bid to have it for a low amount and do your best to ensure that he and his partner make it, or you can bid, hoping you will get involved in a bidding war, and come out with the 200 (or other high) bid, call yourself and go down. there is inherent danger in both, Bidding in the hope of starting a bidding war can easily leave you with a 130 bid. Passing can allow someone else a free ride down if they do start one, and also, if it does turn out that someone takes it low, you may be called as partner.

Once you get to -1000 the climb begins. It is entirely possible you will be trying to go up, while your partner is trying to go down. This situation can prove very interesting, with a lot of it's own specific strategies and idiosyncrasies.

The average game can easily take 6 or more hours to complete, Therefore dedicated players are an essential.


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Last updated 28th April 2005