This page is mostly based on information from Tomáš Němec, Jiří Soukup and Tomáš Svoboda.
| Play Mariáš online at
- Mariáš for three players
- Four-player Mariáš
- Two-player Mariáš
- Auction Mariáš
- Other Mariáš WWW Pages
Mariáš is the most popular card game in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia. It is a point trick game of the marriage group played with the Czech 32-card German suited pack. The name is a phonetic transcription of the French 'mariage'. As in all games of this group, there is a bonus for holding the king and over-knave of a suit in hand, the over-knave corresponding to the queen in French suited packs, where the king-queen combination is known as a marriage.
The basic and most popular version of is for three players, but it can also be played by four or (as a last resort) by two. In the three-player game, in each hand one player plays alone against the other two in partnership. Normally the lone player's objective is to win more card points than the other two players together; card points are obtained for winning aces and tens in tricks, for winning the last trick, and for holding the above mentioned combination of king and over-knave of a suit. There are bonuses for winning the last trick with the trump seven and for taking 100 or more card points, and the value of these bonues can be increased by announcing in advance in advance that you are playing for them. As an alternative to playing to win card points, it is possible for a player to undertake a contract whose objective is to win all the tricks or to lose all the tricks.
The 32 card pack consists of four suits: hearts or red (červené), bells or balls (kule), acorns (žaludy) and leaves or green (zelené), each with eight cards: ace (eso), king (král), over-knave (svršek or filek), under-knave (spodek), 10 (deset), 9 (devět), 8 (osm), 7 (sedm). Two designs of these cards are in use. The cards generally used in Bohemia have seated kings and are single headed. In Moravia and Slovakia Mariáš is often played using double headed cards of the William Tell pattern, pattern similar to that used in Austria and Hungary, with mounted kings. In either case, the cards have no indices. The over-knaves and under-knaves are distinguished by the position of the suit mark, which are at the top of the over, and lower down on the under of each suit.
|heart ace||bell king||leaf over||acorn under||heart ten||bell nine||leaf eight||acorn seven|
|William Tell cards|
When there is a trump suit, the cards of every suit rank from high to low: ace, ten, king, over, under, nine, eight, seven. The aces and tens are called sharp cards and are worth 10 points each. A further 10 points are awarded for winning the last trick, making 90 points in all. The king and over of trumps held together in one hand are worth an extra 40 points if declared when playing the first of the cards to a trick, and the king and over of a non-trump suit are worth 20. A king-over combination is called a mariáš or hláška.
In contracts that have no trumps (Betl and Durch), the cards of each suit rank from high to low: ace, king, over, under, ten, nine, eight, seven.
The game is played clockwise. The first dealer is chosen at random and after each hand the turn to deal passes to the left. The cards are not normally shuffled between hands - they are just gathered together, cut and dealt. This enables experienced players to judge the likely positions of the cards from the order in which they were played in the previous hand. Traditionally, the cards are shuffled at the start of the game, at midnight, and every two hours after that.
The player to the dealer's left is known as forehand (forhont). Forehand receives extra cards in the deal, chooses the trump suit, and is the lone player in the event that a trump contract is played.
Before the deal, the player to the dealer's right must cut the cards. The dealer then gives a packet of seven cards face-down to forehand, and continues dealing clockwise in packets of five, so that after two rounds of dealing forehand has 12 cards and the other two players each have 10. At this stage forehand is only allowed to pick up and look at the first seven cards dealt; forehand's other five cards are left face down on the table until trumps have been chosen. The other players may look at all 10 of their cards.
Forehand selects a trump suit on the basis of the first seven cards dealt, by placing a card of that suit face down on the table. If unwilling to choose a suit from the first seven cards, forehand can "choose from the people" instead, which is done by selecting an unseen card from the five cards that at this stage are still lying face down in front of forehand. Either way, after selecting trumps, forehand picks up his or her remaining cards, for a total of 11 cards in hand and one face down on the table. If the trump card was chosen from the people forehand is allowed to look at it, without yet showing it to the other players.
In basic Mariáš, there are five different contracts that can be played. Whoever is willing to undertake the highest contract will play alone against the other two players. In ascending order, the possible contracts are:
- 1. Suit
- This is an ordinary game with trumps, and can only be played by forehand, using the trump suit selected during the deal. The aim is to take the majority of the points, by winning tricks containing aces and tens, winning the last trick, and when possible declaring one or more Mariáš combinations. To win the game, forehand has to take more points than the other two players together. In addition to the basic game, it is possible to win various bonuses, explained below.
- 2. Betl
- There are no trumps, and the lone player has to lose every trick in order to win the game. The opponents win if they force the lone player to win a trick. The word Betl is adapted from the German "Bettler" (beggar).
- 3. Durch
- There are no trumps, and the lone player has to win every trick to win the game. If the opponents win any tricks at all, the lone player loses. The name is also from the German: in Austrian games this type of contract is often called "Durchmarsch" (march-through) or "Durch" for short.
- 4. Open Betl
- This is like Betl, but after the first trick, the lone player's cards are placed face up on the table. At this point all of the lone player's remaining 9 cards must be the lowest outstanding cards in their suits. If either opponent has any card that could be beaten by one of the lone player's cards, the lone player has lost.
- 5. Open Durch
- This is like Durch, but after the first trick, the lone player's cards are placed face up on the table. At this point all of the lone player's remaining 9 cards must be the highest outstanding cards in their suits. If either opponent has any card that could beat any one of the lone player's cards, the lone player has lost. Example: if your cards are
- Hearts: A-K
- Bells: A-K-O-9-8
- Leaves: -
- Acorns: A-K-O
The procedure for selecting the contract to be played is as follows. First forehand chooses and announces one of the five contracts. Forehand is not allowed to "pass", but must always play alone if no one else is willing to. If wishing not to play "suit", but one of the higher contracts without trumps, forehand takes the selected trump card back into hand. Whatever the contract, forehand must now throw away two cards face down to form the talon. If the chosen contract is "suit", forehand is not allowed to discard sharp cards; in other contracts any card may be discarded.
Forehand now asks each of the other players in turn - first the player to dealer's right and then the dealer - whether they would like to play a higher contract. The answer is either
- "good", which means that the player is content to allow the announced contract to proceed, or
- "bad", which means that the player wants to take over the right to play alone, and commits to play a higher contract.
If both players answer "good", the contract announced by forehand goes ahead. If it was a suit contract, forehand now turns the trump card face up and may announce bonuses (see below).
A player who answers "bad" immediately picks up the two talon cards discarded by forehand, discards two cards face down (which could be the same cards or others), and announces a higher contract. This player then asks the other two players in turn whether this new contract is "good" or "bad". If both say "good" the new contract goes ahead; if not, the player who answers "bad" takes the talon, discards and names a higher contract still. This process continues until a proposed contract is called "good" by both opponents.
If the contract is "suit" - an ordinary game with a trump suit - there are several bonuses and penalties that can apply. There are bonuses for winning the last trick with the trump seven and for taking 100 or more card points, and a penalty for having your trump seven captured in the last trick.
It is possible to announce in advance that you are trying for a bonus, thereby increasing the score for it. If both opponents say "good" to forehand's suit contract, forehand has the opportunity to announce "seven" or "100", or "100 and seven" if playing for both. After forehand has finished, each of the other players in turn has an opportunity to announce bonuses for the opponents' team ("7 against", "100 against") or to double the score for the game or any bonus announced by forehand by saying "flek" (see below).
- Seven (sedma)
- This bonus is for winning the last trick with the lowest trump - the seven. It is possible to announce in advance that you will play for this bonus, but if you announce seven and then fail to win the bonus - because your trump seven is forced out early or another player has a higher trump at the end - you suffer a penalty equal to what you would have won.
- Killed seven
- If the trump seven is played to the last trick - whether the seven was announced or not - and is beaten by a higher trump, the team that played the seven has to pay an extra penalty for "killen seven".
- Seven against
- This is just the same as "seven", but if it is one of the opponents of the lone player who wins the last trick with the trump seven, it is called "seven against". "Seven against" can be announced or killed in the same way as a seven by the lone player. Note that if one opponent plays the trump seven to the last trick and the other opponent also has a trump, the seven is killed, and the opponents have to pay the penalty to the lone player.
- 100 (sto)
- This is a bonus for winning 100 or more points including one Mariáš. Since the sharp cards and last trick total only 90 card points, you cannot reach 100 points without a Mariáš. If you have declared more than one Mariáš, you are only allowed to include one of them when qualifying for the 100 bonus. Therefore you will need at least 60 points in tricks if it is a 40-Mariáš and at least 80 if it is a 20-Mariáš. Having taken sufficient card points in tricks to qualify for the bonus, you can increase the size of the bonus by adding in the points for other Mariáš combinations you have delared. The 100 bonus can be increased by announcing it in advance, but if you announce it and then fail to make it, you have to pay a penalty.
- 100 against
- This is exactly like 100, but won by the opponents rather than by the lone player. It can also be announced in advance, which increases its value but risks a penalty if it fails.
An opponent who does not think that the lone player will win the contract can double the payment for it by saying "flek" (meaning "stain", "smudge", from the German "Fleck") . After "flek" has been said, a confident lone player can double the payment again by saying "re". An opponent can then double again by saying "tutti", and in theory the lone player and opponents can continue doubling without limit. In some circles the next few doubles are announced by saying "shoes" (boty), "pants" (kalhoty), "kaiser" and after that further doubles are expressed simple by saying "higher" or "one more time".
If a no-trump contract was announced, the saying of flek is combined with the selection of the contract. So if a player announces a Betl or Durch and asks the others if it is good there are three possible answers: "good" means the game can be played; "bad" means that the game cannot be played, because the player saying "bad" will player a higher contract; "flek" means that the contract can be played but the payment for it is doubled.
In a suit contract, the payment for the game and for any announced bonuses are independent and can all be separately doubled. Therefore, if forehand proposes top play a suit contract, the opponents simply answer "good" or "bad". If both say "good", forehand turns over the trump and may announce bonuses. Forehand then asks the opponents in turn again, and this time they have the opportunity to say "flek" to the game or any bonus announced by forehand and to announce bonuses of their own. An opponent who does not want to flek or announce anything just says "good". After both opponents have spoken, forehand has the chance to say "re" to any "flek" and to say "flek" to any bonus announced by the opponents, and if forehand does this the opponents can speak again, and so on until one team expresses their satisfaction by saying "good".
The lone player leads to the first trick. Each trick is won by the highest trump in it, or if it contains no trumps, by the highest card of the suit led. Any card can be led to a trick, but the other players are forced to follow suit, to trump if unable to follow, and to head the trick whenever possible subject to those rules. In more detail:
- You must play a card of the suit that was led if you have one, and if possible you must play a card of the suit led which beats the card currently winning the trick (even if the trick is currently being won by your partner).
- If you have a card or cards of the suit led, but none of them beat the card currently winning the trick (either because you do not have a high enough card in the suit, or because a non-trump was led and the trick has already been trumped), you may play any card of the led suit.
- If you have no card of the suit led you must play a trump if you can. If there are already trumps in the trick, you must if possible play a trump that beats the highest trump so far played to the trick (even if that trump was played by your partner).
- If you have no card of the suit led, and the trick is currently being won by a trump that you cannot beat, you must still play a trump if you have one.
- If you have no cards of the suit led and no trumps, you may play any card you wish.
The obligation to follow suit and to beat cards already played to the trick when possible also applies in no-trump contracts.
In a suit contract, a player who wishes to score for a mariáš (the king and the over-knave of a suit held in hand) must play the over before the king and must announce "20" or "40" as appropriate when playing the over. No matter who wins the trick, the over is left face up in front of the player until the end of the play as a reminder of the score.
A player who has announced "seven" or "seven against" is not allowed to play the seven of trumps until there is no legal alternative.
When the play is finished, payment is made for the contract and any bonuses. The payments are expressed below in "units"; the value of a unit should be agreed between the players at the start of the session. Payments are collected by the lone player from both opponents, or paid by the lone player to both opponents. The opponents of the lone player are a team, and always win or lose the same amount. For example, if one opponent wins the last trick with the trump seven, both opponents are paid the bonus; if one opponent says "flek", both opponents are affected by the double payment.
The payments are as follows:
|Item||Payment in units||Notes|
|Unannounced ("quiet") bonuses|
(paid only in a suit contract)
|Quiet seven||1||Paid whenever the seven of trumps wins the last trick, without announcement.|
|Killed quiet seven||1||Paid whenever the trump seven is beaten in the last trick, without announcement.|
|Quiet hundred||2||The payment is 2 units for 100, 4 units for 110, 8 units for 120, 16 units for 130, etc - doubling for each extra 10 points.|
|Each extra 10||x2|
(paid only in a suit contract)
|Seven||2||A lost announced seven costs 2 points if the seven is forced out before the last trick. If the seven is "killed" in the last trick, the cost is increased to 3 units. A flek of the seven doubles the payments to 4 (won or lost) and 6 (if killed in the last trick).|
|Hundred||4||The payment is 4 units for 100, 8 units for 110, 16 units for 120, etc - doubling for each extra 10 points. If the announced 100 fails, the announcing side can count just one Mariáš. The cost is 4 units if the total is 90 points, 8 for 80 points, 16 for 70 points, and so on.|
|Each extra 10||x2|
|Penalty for a revoke (renonc) - i.e. when the rules of play are broken.||10 or more||This is paid by the offending player to both of the others. The cost is 10 units or the value of the contract and bonuses being played, whichever is more.|
In a suit contract with hearts are trumps, all payments for the game and bonuses are doubled.
The game and bonuses are paid independently - for example it is possible to win the basic game but lose a seven. An exception to this is that the score for a "quiet hundred" replaces the score for "game". If the game was doubled and silent 100 is made, then the bonus for 100 is doubled - so a game with flek in which forehand takes 100 card points in worth 4 units.
There are two cases in which the cards are not played out.
- If forehand plays a suit game without announcements and there is no "flek", it is assumed that forehand will win. The cards are not played, and forehand can claim 1 unit from each opponent for the game (or 2 units if hearts were trumps).
- If forehand plays a suit game with seven announced, and there is a "flek" to the game but no other announcements or doubles. Then it is assumed that forehand will win the seven but lose the game. The cards are not played and there is no payment, because the payments for announced seven and double lost game are equal and opposite.
Some play that for each extra 10 points above 100 (or for each extra 10 points by which an announced 100 fails) an amount equal to the value of the 100 is added, rather than a double being applied. So an announced 100 with 130 points made is worth 16 units (4+4+4+4) rather than 32 units (4*2*2*2). Some play that the additional amount for each extra 10 is only half the value of the 100, so 100 announced with 130 made would be worth only 10 units (4+2+2+2).
Some allow sharp cards in the talon when playing a suit contract. In this case, forehand must announce when discarding that a sharp card has been discarded. If the suit contract is played, the point value of any discarded sharp cards counts for the opponents.
It is possible for four people to play three-player mariáš in which the dealer sits out of each hand. This game is known as "pauzírovaný mariáš" (paused mariáš) or "pauzírák" for short. The dealer counts as an extra defender when settling up, so the lone player collects or receives 3× the cost of the contract, winning from or losing to the two opponents and the dealer.
There is also the following version, in which all four players are active. Rules are the same as for three-player mariáš unless otherwise stated.
The dealer deals a batch of four cards to each player. Forehand looks at the first four cards, and places one card face down on the table to determine the trump suit. Forehand also names (by rank) a card of the trump suit whose holder will become forehand's partner and the other two players will form a team against them. The dealer then completes the deal with another batch of four cards to each player. The player who holds the called trump must not do or say anything to indicate who they are - if a suit contract is played the partnerships will become clear in the course of play, when the called trump appears, or perhaps during the announcements of bonuses and doubles. If forehand has the called trump and a suit contract is played, forehand will play alone against the other three in partnership. (This happens when the called trump is dealt in forehand's second batch of four cards).
Forehand can reveal the face-down card and stay with the suit contract or can announce a higher contract (Betl, Durch, Open Betl or Open Durch), in which the bidder plays alone against the other three players. The others in turn either say "good" or bid higher, exactly as in the three-player game, except that there is no talon. If everyone says the suit is good, all have the opportunity to announce seven or hundred on behalf of their team, forehand's opponents can say flek to the game, and anyone can say flek to bonuses announced by the other team.
The scores for the contracts are as in the three-player game. In games played two against two, each player pays or receives from one opponent; in games played one against three the lone player pays or receives from all three opponents.
In the four-player game, some play with two partnership Durch games, which rank below Betl in the bidding - so the possible games in ascending order are: suit, durch with partner, durch with the wise one, betl, durch alone, open betl, open durch.
- If a "durch with partner" is called good by the other players, the bidder names a card whose holder becomes declarer's partner. Between them they must win all the tricks. If they fail and the bidder has won fewer than 6 tricks, the declarer pays double and the partner pays nothing.
- In "durch with the wise one", the bidder undertakes to win the first seven tricks. If this fails, the declarer has to pay the cost of a durch to the other three players. If it succeeds, the winner of the eighth trick (the wise one) becomes the bidder's partner, and the bidder and the wise one are paid by the opponents. If the bidder is wise enough to win the last trick as well as the other seven, the bidder is paid by all three opponents.
A common rule in the four-player game is that an opponent of forehand in a suit contract who holds the king or the over-knave of trumps is obliged to say flek to the game. Some also play that an opponent of forehand who has a trump mariáš must flek and announce 100 against.
This two-player game, known as lízaný mariáš (draw mariáš), is simpler and far less interesting than the three- or four-player versions. It is played by Mariáš players who cannot find a third player or by children.
The card ranks and point values and the scores for a hláška or mariáš are the same as in the three-player game.
The dealer gives four cards to each player (in a single batch), the non-dealer chooses and announces a trump suit, and then the dealer deals another batch of four cards each, so that each player has eight. The remaining 16 cards are stacked face down on the table to form the talon.
There is no possibility of betl or durch, but bonuses are scored as in the three-player game. Before the first lead, either player can announce 100 or seven or both. The dealer can say flek to the game, and either player can say flek to bonuses announced by the other. Further doubles (re, tutti, boty, kalhoty, kaiser, etc) are possible.
The non-dealer leads to the first trick. While there are cards in the talon, there is no obligation to follow suit or win the trick - the second player to the trick can play any card. After each trick the winner draws the top card of the talon (without showing it) and the loser draws the next card, so that both have eight cards again. The winner of the trick then leads to the next.
When all the cards from the talon have been taken, play continues with the cards remaining in the players' hands. It is now complusory for the second player to a trick follow suit and to beat the led card whenever possible.
A player who has the king and over-knave of a suit in hand at any stage declares 20 or 40 as appropriate when playing the over to a trick. No matter who wins the trick, the over is left face up in front of the player until the end of the play as a reminder of the score.
The payments for the game, 7 and 100 are the same as in the three-player game.
I have been shown an even simpler version of two-player mariáš. Six cards each are dealt, the thirteenth card is turned up to determine the eventual trump suit, and the remaining stock is placed crosswise on top of it. There is no choice of trump suit, no announcements and no doubling. Non-dealer leads and the mechanics of play are as in the two-player game described above, but the trump suit does not take effect until the talon is exhausted. Each trick is won by the highest card of the suit led. If a mariáš is declared in this first phase it is only worth 20, even if it is in the turned up suit. While there are cards in the talon, either player who holds the 7 of the turned up suit can exchange it for the turned up card. The face-up card will be drawn by the loser of the 10th trick. After this, the turned up suit becomes trumps, and it is compulsory to follow suit and win the trick when possible. Whoever has the majority of card points at the end of the play wins a stake.
Licitovaný mariáš (auction mariáš) is a more complex version of the three-player game. The basic rules of mariáš apply with the following differences.
The dealer offers the pack to the player to the right, who may either cut or just tap the cards if not wishing to cut. The dealer deals a batch of five cards to each player, then two cards face down to the centre of the table to form the talon, and finally another batch of five cards to each player.
There is now an auction. Whoever is prepared to undertake the highest contract will play alone against the other two players. The possible contracts and their scores, in ascending order, are as follows:
- Seven (2)
- Seven in hearts (4)
- Hundred (4)
- Hundred and seven (4+2)
- Hundred in hearts (8)
- Hundred and seven in hearts (8+4)
- Betl (15)
- Durch (30)
- Two sevens (40)
- Two sevens and hundred (40+4)
- Two sevens, hearts trump (60)
- Two sevens and hundred, hearts trump (60+8)
"Two sevens" is an undertaking to win the last trick with the trump seven and the trick before that with another seven. Note that any suit contract can be overcalled by a similar contract with hearts as trumps.
The player to dealer's right speaks first, bidding against forehand. When one of them has passed, the dealer bids against the survivor. If two players want to play the same game, forehand has priority over the player to dealer's right, who has priority over the dealer. If the other two players both pass, forehand can pick up the talon and play any contract or can also pass. If all pass, the cards are thrown in without play and the next dealer deals.
The winner of the bidding picks up the talon, discards two cards and announces any contract that is equal to or higher than the final bid, and the trump suit if any. Before the bidder leads to the first trick, players may say "flek" or announce "100 against", etc. as in the normal three-player game. There is of course no announcement of "good" or "bad" since the lone player has already been chosen by the bidding process.
A player who has bid no higher than the lowest bid ("seven") may give up after looking at the talon, paying a penalty of 6 to each opponent without play.
Since the winner of the auction is allowed to play any contract that is at least as high as the final bid, it is usual for players to bid through all the contracts in order, in order to win the auction as cheaply as possible without giving away their intentions. For example if forehand (A) wants to play 7, the second player (B) wants to play 100 in hearts, and the dealer wants to play Betl, the auction will go like this:
- B: "seven", A: "seven"
- B: "seven in hearts", A: "pass"
- C: "hundred", B:"hundred"
- C: "hundred and seven", B: "hundred and seven"
- C: "hundred in hearts", B: "hundred in hearts",
- C: "hundred and seven in hearts", B: "pass"
One Mariáš site in Czech: http://www.zetlog.com/marias/
Mariáš online -
You can play Mariáš on line at the talon.cz web site which has interfaces in Czech and English. In the box to the right you can check how many players are currently on line.
Mirek Petricek has written a Mariáš game for iPhone.