Card games in Afghanistan

Gyula Zsigri reports that the standard 52 card pack is used in Afghanistan for the following games:

  • Teka - a plain-trick game with bidding for four players in fixed partnerships.
  • Fis Kut - a plain-trick game for four players in fixed partnerships, in which the non-dealer's team chooses trumps.
  • Betrinu - a three card vying game related to Brag.
  • Chor Voli - a partition game for 4 players in which four 3-card combinations are formed from a 13-card hand. There is also a variant Ramchi for three players, making five 3-card combinations from a 17-card hand.

Gyula Zsigri has provided a Eastern Farsi Card-Playing Glossary, showing how these card game names are written and pronounced.

The page Card Games in Afghanistan briefly describes three games:

  • Panjpar - a game related to the Russian game Prostoy Durak.
  • Dozdakaan - a game related to the Sri Lankan game Juse and the 19th century English game Muggins.
  • Nowrang - a rummy game with 10-card hands.

Panjpar is also featured in the novel "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini. It is not described in full detail, but there is enough incidental information to be fairly sure that it is similar to Prostoy Durak and to the Panjpar game described in the above 'Afghan Card Games' page. The longest passage about the game occurs on pp50-51 of the Bloomsbury edition. The description of a game played By Amir (the narrator) and Hassan the night before the kite tournament contains the following details:

  • "I killed Hassan's ten of diamonds, played him two jacks and a six."
  • "Hassan killed the six and picked up the jacks."
  • "I drew the last card, played him a pair of queens and a ten. Hassan picked up the queens."
  • "I killed his king and played him my final card, the ace of spades. He had to pick it up. I'd won, but as I shuffled for a new game ..."

From these extracts it is evident that the aim is to get rid of all your cards, that it's possible to play either a single card or a card plus a pair, that the opponent must either beat ("kill") the played cards or pick them up, and that after playing you "draw" (presumably replenishing your hand from the undealt part of the deck until it is exhausted). All this is consistent with the game being Prostoy Durak. There are further details on page 267:

  • "I dealt him his five cards."
  • "He played me a card and picked one up from the pile."

The last statement confirms that you replenish your hand by drawing from the pile after playing. The first indicates that players begin with five-card hands as in Prostoy Durak.

However, it seems that the Kite Runner version of Panjpar cannot be exactly the same as the one described on the 'Afghan Card Games' page. The latter includes the rule: "You then keep playing until the deck is finished and one player has finished all their cards, and it has to be at the same time." But in the first Kite Runner example it seems as though, as in Prostoy Durak, the play continues for several turns after the drawing deck has run out.

I would be very grateful for any further information about the Afghan game Panjpar, and for confirmation of (or disagreement with) the above analysis.