Manni

Introduction

Manni is a popular Icelandic card game, and has large numbers of local versions. Manni means little man or chap, and is the name given to the spare hand of cards dealt to the table, which may be used to improve a player's hand. This page is based on translations by Anthony Smith of parts of "Spilabók AB" by Þ. Guðmundsson, 1989, Reykjavik and on information contributed by Eldsmiðurinn (Palli). The rules of the basic game will be given first, followed by several variations.

Basic Manni

Players and cards
Three players use a 48 card pack, made from a standard 52 card pack by taking out the twos. The cards in each suit rank in the normal order from ace (high) to three (low). The four twos are used as trump indicators; the trump suit rotates from deal to deal in the sequence hearts, spades, diamonds, clubs, hearts, etc.
Deal
12 cards are dealt to each player, in packets of four. The remaining 12 cards form the Manni, which is placed face-down in the centre of the table.
Exchanging cards
The player to dealer's left has the opportunity to change all 12 cards with the 12 cards of the Manni (whose cards are unknown). If the player to dealer's left chooses not to exchange, the opportunity to do so passes clockwise around the table. Once a player has exchanged the other players must play with the cards they were dealt. If no one exchanges all play with their original cards and the Manni is not looked at.
The Play
The player to the dealer's left leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit if possible; if unable to follow they may play any card. The trick is won by the highest trump in it, or, if it contains no trump, by the highest card of the suit led. The winner of each trick leads to the next.
Scoring
A cumulative score is kept, everyone starting at zero. Players who win more than four tricks score one point for each trick in excess of four; players with less than four tricks lose a point for each trick short of four. Players with exactly four tricks neither win nor lose. The game continues until one or more players have a cumulative score of 10 points or more. The player who then has most points is the winner.

Trjámann

The name of this game seems to mean "tree-man". In this version 16 cards are dealt to each of the three players, in packets of four, and there are just four left for the Manni. Instead of the trump suit rotating, the player to dealer's left is the declarer, and must choose one of the four possible contracts. Each player must choose each contract once in the course of the whole game, which consists of twelve deals. The contracts are:

  • Nullo (to avoid taking tricks; there are no trumps)
  • Grand (to take tricks with no trump suit)
  • Spades (to take tricks with spades as trumps)
  • Other (to take tricks with a trump suit chosen by the contractor)
The players must agree in advance whether the declarer is allowed to choose spades as trumps in the "other" contract.

Before leading to the first trick, the declarer is allowed to discard up to 4 cards and replace them by drawing an equal number of cards from the Manni. The other players are not allowed to exchange any cards.

If the contract is Grand, Spades or Other, the declarer's target is 8 tricks and the other players have a target of 4 tricks each. Each player wins 1 point for each trick above their target, or loses 1 point for each trick below their target.

If the contract is Nullo, the declarer's target is 4 tricks and the other players have a target of 6 tricks each. The aim is to avoid winning tricks, so you win 1 point for each trick below your target, or lose a point for each trick you win in excess of your target.

Hornafjarðarmanni

On the web page http://www.eldhorn.is/Hornafjardarmanni/chap.html, Eldsmiðurinn formerly described a version of Manni played in Hornafjörður, on the South-East coast of Iceland. They play the World Championship there during the summer lobster festival. In 1997 there were about 300 participants.

For this game the twos are kept in the pack, and the deal is 4 cards to the Manni, then 3 to each player, repeated until the Manni has 16 cards and each player has 12. The player to dealer's right cuts the cards, and the cut card determines the contract as follows:

  • ten or higher - no trumps
  • six to nine - the suit of the cut card is trumps
  • five or lower - nolo (avoid taking tricks, with no trumps)
The cut card ends up at the bottom of the pack and so goes to the dealer.

The player to dealer's left can discard up to seven cards and replace them from the top of the Manni. The discards are put face down in apile separate from the Manni and are out of the game. then the player to dealer's right can discard up to five and replace them. Finally the dealer can discard up to as many cards as are left in the Manni - there will be four if the first two players exchanged the maximum number of cards.

The player to dealer's left leads to the first trick and the play is as usual. Each player has a target of 4 tricks, the aim being to take as many tricks as possible if the contract is no trumps or a suit, but as few as possible if it is nolo. As usual 1 point is scored for each trick above the target or lost for each trick below when the aim is to win tricks, and these scores are reversed in nolo, when the aim is to lose. Further hands are played until someone achieves a cumulative score of +10 or more points.

There is a tradition that the above version of Hornafjarðarmanni was invented by a minister of the local church. This version has been the most popular in Hornafjörður as well as in other parts of the country for the past few decades.

A different (perhaps older?) version of Hornafjarðarmanni is described in Þ. Guðmundsson's Spilabók AB. It is similar to Trjámann, except that there are six possible contracts: Nullo, Grand, Spades, Hearts, Clubs and Diamonds, the last four having the named suit as trumps. The game takes 18 deals. The first time you are declarer you have the choice of any of the six contracts, the next time you can choose from the remaining five, and so on until in the last three deals the declarer has no choice at all.

Laugavatnsmanni

This version, presumably played at Laugavatn, is described in Þ. Guðmundsson's Spilabók AB.

It is similar to Trjámann, but with six possible contracts: Nullo, Grand, Spades, Hearts, Clubs and Diamonds, the last four having the named suit as trumps. The game takes 18 deals.

The player to the left of dealer chooses any contract he or she has not yet played, but either of the other players can try to take over the role of declarer by announcing a great contract in either Grand or one of the four suits, provided that the player has not already played a contract in this denomination. In a great contract the declarer has a target of 14 tricks, and the other players a target of 1 each.

If either of the other players offers to play a great contract, the player left of dealer can retain the right to be declarer by also undertaking to play a great contract, which can be in any suit or grand this player has not yet used.

If the player to dealer's right announces a great contract and the player to dealer's left does not wish to compete by also announcing one, the dealer can become declarer by undertaking a great contract in a higher denomination, the ordering being Grand (high), hearts, spades, diamonds, clubs (low). Again this higher bid must be in a suit or Grand that the dealer has not already played.

There is no "great nullo" contract.

As in Trjámann the declarer can discard up to 4 cards and replace them from the Manni. The declarer leads to the first trick.

In the ordinary Grand and suit contracts the targets are 8 for the declarer and 4 for each of the other players as usual. In Nullo the target is 4 for declarer and 6 for each of the others. Scoring is as in Trjámann.

If declarer takes 15 tricks in a great contract, the declarer wins 4 points and each opponent loses 2. For taking all 16 tricks the declarer wins 8 points and each other player loses 4. If the declarer takes 14 or fewer tricks, the scoring is normal - each player wins or loses a point for each trick above or below their target.