Kop / Baśka
This page is based on information from Szymon Pyżalski.
Kop is a minimalist game of the Schafkopf group that is popular in Wielkopolska (the region around the City of Poznań). From 1815 to 1920 this was the Prussian province Posen, with 1/3 German and 2/3 Polish population, which explains the strong German influence on the game. The word "kop" means "kick" in Polish, but the name is most likely a polonisation of the German word "Kopf". Kop is a very fast game: a single deal can take less than twenty seconds. It is mostly played for money, but there are also tournaments held in some towns and villages around the region. People can often be found playing it in trains (sometimes without a table, standing, holding the tricks in their hands). Cab drivers have been seen playing it on a roof of a cab.
A similar game called "Baśka" is played in the region of Cashubia (part of Pomerania, around Gdansk). Together with Skat, which is played in Silesia, these are examples of Schafkopf-derived games introduced to western Poland under German influence, as can be seen from some of the technical terms used. The card points are oko (eyes), equivalent to German Augen, and the black Queens are stare (old ones), equivalent to die Alten in German, zolo du equivalent to Solo Tout and so on.
Both Kop and Baśka can be played online on the Polish Kurnik server, though neither game is currently available on the English version of this server at PlayOK.com.
Players and Cards
The Kop deck contains only 16 cards. Aces, Tens, Queens and Jacks of each suit are used. It is usually played with French-suited cards, which are easy to obtain in Poland.
There are four players, who most of the time play in partnerships, the holders of the two black Queens playing together against the other two. The game is dealt and played clockwise.
As in most games of this type, the point values of the cards are: A=11, 10=10, Q=3, J=2. The total value of the cards in the pack is only 104 (not 120 as in Skat or Schafkopf, because the 4-point Kings are not used). Aces and Tens are called całe (wholes) because of their high value. The card points are called oka (singular oko) (eyes).
As in many Schafkopf games, all the Queens and Jacks are trumps, but above them, the highest trumps are the Ace and Ten of hearts, and below them are the Ace and Ten of diamonds. The makes 12 trumps in all, leaving only four cards that are not trumps, in two suits, clubs and spades. The trumps are called trumfy, and the non-trump suits are obce (meaning foreign or strange). Among the Queens and Jacks, the usual order ranking clubs, spades, hearts, diamonds is used. So in summary, there are three very unequal suits, ranking from high to low as follows:
- Trumps: A-10-Q-Q-Q-Q-J-J-J-J-A-10
- Clubs: A-10
- Spades: A-10
The black Queens, which determine the partnerships, are called stare (old ones). The lowest two całe trumps - the A and 10 - are called ryzyka (risks).
Deal and Bidding
The dealer shuffles and the player to dealer's right cuts. The dealer then deals out all 16 cards, one at a time, so that each player has four. There are advantages and disadvantages to being the dealer. To even these out, the turn to deal passes to the left after each hand.
Before the play begins, the players have an opportunity to make announcements, such as to increase the stake for the game, or to volunteer to play without a partner. Officially, they should speak in clockwise order, starting with the player to dealer's left. That procedure may be followed in formal tournaments, but in practice players simply make their announcements without waiting for the other players. The player to dealer's left looks at the other players and asks 'May I?', and if no one responds simply starts the play by leading the first card.
The possible announcements are as follows:
- This doubles the value of the game. After a player has said "kontra", another player can reply with "re" or "rej", then "bok" can be announced and then "słup". Each of these bids doubles the previous value the game, provided that the players are on different sides. Since at this point in the game the partnerships are usually unknown, it is possible that consecutive doubles may be announced by players who turn out to be partners. A series of two or more consecutive doubles by members of the same team count as only one double. Example: East deals, South says "kontra", West says "re", North says "bok" and West says "słup". If North and South are partners against East and West the game value is multiplied by 16; if West and South are partners against East and North the kontra and re count as just one double and the game value is multiplied by 8; if South and East are partners against North and West the last three doubles count as one and the game value is multiplied by 4 only. In tournaments słup is the highest double allowed, but in private games further doubles may be permitted. These higher doubles often have colourful names such as: "dupa Lenina" (Lenin's arse), "dupa Bieruta" (Bierut's arse - Bierut was the president of Poland from 1947 to 1952) or "wąsy Stalina" (Stalin's moustache).
- Wesele (wedding) may be announced by a player who holds both black Queens, in order to obtain a partner, as described below.
- The player who announces Zolo plays alone against the other three players in partnership. Alternatively, it is possible to announce Zolo Du, which is an undertaking to win all four tricks, playing alone. (The names of these announcements are phonetic transcriptions into Polish of the "Solo" and "Solo Tout" bids from Schafkopf).
Zolo du is the highest bid, followed by zolo and then wesele. Only the highest bid is played: for example if one player announces wesele and another player zolo, only the zolo is played and the wesele is cancelled.
An announcement of "wesele", "zolo" or "zolo du" cancels any previously announced doubles - "kontra", "rej", etc. However, the announcements continue until three players in succession have passed, so the other players have an opportunity to say kontra to the new bid of wesele, zolo or zolo du.
A player who announces "wesele", "zolo" or "zolo du" is not allowed to double the value of their own bid by saying say "kontra", but if another player doubles it with "kontra", they are allowed to redouble with "rej", etc.
A player who announces zolo or zolo du plays alone, and the other three players form a team against the zolo player. In other cases the partnerships depend on the distribution of the cards.
If "old queens" are held by different players, the players who hold the Q and Q play together as partners. They are called "starzy" (the old ones) the other two players form a partnership called "młodzi" (the young ones). If both black queens happen to be held by one player, that player has three options:
- Call "wesele". In this case she will be paired with the holder of the highest Jack that she doesn't hold (so for example if she holds J but not J, the holder of the J will be her partner).
- Say nothing. In this case she plays alone, though the other players will not initially be aware of this. This is called "cicha" (the silent).
- Announce "zolo" or "zolo du". The announced "zolo" is worth more points than "cicha", but the opponents know from the start that they are all on the same side.
The partnerships become known after the cards mentioned above are played. They can of course often be deduced earlier. For example, player who is unable to beat a Jack cannot be "old". If someone plays a 'ryzyko' on a trick that will be taken by another player, she probably is that player's partner and is "smearing" (but it is also possible that she had no other card to play).
The player to the left of the dealer always leads to the first trick. The trick is won by the highest trump in it, or if no trumps are played by the highest card of the suit led. The winner of each trick leads to the next. Any card can be led. Players must follow suit (all trumps count as belonging to the trump suit and not to the suits printed on the cards), and subject to this, must beat the highest card in the trick if they can. In practice this means:
- If a non-trump ("obca") is led and another player holds the other card of this suit (in the "as-dycha" variation), she must play it at her turn.
- In all other cases, the player must play a trump, and if possible beat the highest trump so far played to the trick. If unable to beat the highest trump in the trick, the player must play some other trump.
- The only case in which a player is allowed to play an "obca" (non-trump) from a suit other than the suit led is when the player has no trumps and no card of the suit that was led.
- There is only one possibility to take a trick with an "obca". If all 12 trumps are played in the first three tricks, then the last trick will contain all four "obce" were played. In this case the Ace of the suit that was led takes the trick. In all other cases the highest trump wins the trick.
At the end of the play, each team counts the value of the cards in the tricks it has won. In fact, an experienced player can see the result immediately just by looking at the tricks of one of the partnerships, without counting the points aloud. The objective of the game is to take the majority of points, that is at least 53. If there is 52-52 tie it is called "boki" (sides). In this case the team that announced the last double loses. If no one doubled, the "old" players lose if playing two against two, or the lone player loses if playing one against three.
If the losing party took 26 points or more, it is called "wyjście" (going out). If they have 25 points or fewer, the situation is called "bez wyjścia" which is equivalent of Schneider in German games.
If playing for money, the players should decide in advance the basic value of a point. In an ordinary game or wesele each losing player will pay this basic amount and each winning player will receive the same amount. If the game was lost "bez wyjścia" this payment is doubled, but if the losing players took no tricks (bez bitki - like Schwarz in German games) it is tripled instead.
If a player wins when playing alone, each of the other three players will pay the winner:
- 4 × the basic amount for cicha;
- 5 × the basic amount for zolo;
- 10 × the basic amount for zolo du.
A player who loses alone will pay the same amount to every other player. There is no extra payment for "wyjście" or winning all the tricks in cicha or zolo. A zolo du is won only if the lone player wins all four tricks; otherwise it is lost.
Every "double" announcement (kontra, rej, etc.) doubles the payment for the game (so for example zolo with rej will cost 20 × the basic value). However if the consecutive doubles were announced by players that happened to be partners, they count as a single double.
- The card order in the version of the game described above is the classic one, known as "as - dycha" (ace - ten). More recently, some people have begun to use an order called "as - trzy dychy" (ace - three tens) in which the black tens are also promoted above the club Queen, so that there are 14 trumps and just one card in each non-trump suit. The order then becomes:
- Trumps: A-10-10-10-Q-Q-Q-Q-J-J-J-J-A-10
- Clubs: A
- Spades: A
- Some allow a player to say kontra to her own wesele, through not to her own zolo or zolo du.
- There is a simpler variation of wesele in which the holder of the black Queens specifies the Jack whose holder will be her partner, calling "dupek X na wesele" (Jack of suit X for a wedding). This variation is less interesting than the standard game above. When the card is not named, the holder of the J and even the J can't be sure at the outset whether she is playing with or against the caller of "wesele".
This Cashubian game is described in Polish at psbaski.pl. It is said to have been played in that region since the 19th century. "Baśka" is a diminutive of the name Barbara, and is also the name given to a hand of four Queens, the highest bid in this game.
The game is very similar to Kop, as described above, in the classic version with 12 trumps and two black suits of two cards each. However, Baśka has some extra bids, and the scoring is slightly different.
There are four possible levels of doubling: kontra, rekontra, bok and hirsh.
If there is no higher bid, the holders of the two black Queens are partners, and an ordinary game is played, or if the black Queens are in the same hand, the holder plays alone silently (a Cicha). Six higher bids are possible. In ascending order, these are:
- The same as in Kop. The player has both black Queens and chooses to have the player with the highest Jack among the other players as a partner.
- The bidder plays alone and tries to take a majority of card points, as in a Zolo, but the order of cards is different. The four Jacks are the only trumps, and there are four non-trump suits of three cards each, as follows:
- Clubs: A-10-Q
- Spades: A-10-Q
- Hearts: A-10-Q
- Diamonds: A-10-Q
- The same as in Kop. The bidder plays alone and tries to take the majority of points.
- Gran Du
- The cards rank the same way as in Gran, and in order to win the bidder has to take all four tricks, playing alone.
- Zolo Du
- The same as in Kop. The bidder has to win all four tricks alone, with the normal card ranking.
- The bidder has all four Queens. There is no play: the bidder automatically wins with this hand.
Players speak in clockwise rotation and may bid, each bid being higher than the last, or double the previous bid. The highest bid is played, with any subsequent doubles. Players cannot say kontra to their own bid, but can redouble if another player says kontra.
The basic scores are:
A simple game, Wesele, Cicha, Gran or Zolo is won by the player or team that has more card points. In case of a 52-52 tie, the side that announced the last double loses, or if no one said kontra, the "old" team (the team with the black Queens) loses when two play against two and the lone player loses when playing against three. In Gran Du and Zolo Du the lone player wins if she takes all four tricks and loses otherwise. In Baśka, the player with the four Queens automatically wins.
In a simple game or Wesele, the score is increased to 2 if the losing side took at least one trick but had 25 or fewer points, or 3 if they won no tricks at all.
Unlike Kop, if the "old" players (the black Queen holders) lose in a simple game or wesele, or if the lone player loses in a game played one against three, the score is doubled.
Also, the score is doubled for kontra, rekontra, etc., but two or more consecutive doubles by players who turn out to be on the same team count as only one double.