Court Piece / Rang

This page is based mostly on information from Ankit Bhageria, Dr Kamran Dodhy and Bob Da Costa.

Introduction

This game, which is very popular in India and Pakistan, has several names. The name Court Piece is sometimes written as Coat Piece or Coat Pees, Pees being a Hindi word meaning to deal. In Pakistan this game is often known as Rang, which means trump. In some places, for example in Goa, it is called Seven Hands: in India the English word "hand" is sometimes used to mean a trick - i.e. a set of cards, one played by each player in turn.

The word Court, Coat, Kot or Kout occurs in many South Asian games and is also found as far away as Somalia and Malaysia. It usually means something like a slam - a situation in which one team wins all the tricks or at least a succession of tricks while the other team wins none. The origin of the word Kot is unclear, but Thierry Depaulis suggests that it may perhaps come from Tamil or some other Dravidian language.

Players and Cards

There are four players in fixed partnerships, partners sitting opposite. Deal and play are anticlockwise.

A standard international pack is used, the cards in each suit ranking from high to low A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2.

Deal and Making Trumps

The first dealer is chosen at random. Subsequently the dealer is always a member of the team that lost the previous deal - see winning for details.

The dealer shuffles and the player to dealer's right, known as the "trump-caller", cuts. The dealer deals a batch of five cards to each player. The trump-caller player looks at his or her five cards and (without communication with any other player) chooses and announces the trump suit. Then the dealer deals out all the remaining cards in batches of four, so that everyone has 13 cards.

Play

The player to dealer's right leads any card to the first trick. Players must follow suit if possible: if unable they may play any card. When all four players have contributed a card the player of the highest card of the suit that was led wins the trick unless one or more cards of the trump suit were played, in which case the highest trump wins. The player who won the trick leads any card to the next trick.

Completed tricks (which are confusingly sometimes known in India as "hands") are stacked neatly face down in front of one of the players of the team who won them, so that everyone can see how many tricks each team has won.

A player who revokes by failing to follow suit when able to may apologise and correct the error without penalty, provided that this is done before the trick (hand) has been completed and turned face down. After the revoke is corrected, any players who played after the incorrect play have the option, in turn, to take back the card they played and play a different one. If a revoke is detected after the trick is complete (for example a player plays a different suit on a heart lead and later plays a heart), then the play ends and the opposing team immediately scores a court.

Winning

The object of the game is to score courts (coats, kots) by winning the majority of the tricks (hands).

  • The team that wins at least seven of the thirteen tricks (hands) wins the deal, and a team that wins seven deals in succession scores a court.
  • It is also possible to score a court in a single deal by winning the first seven tricks, while the opposing team scores none.
  • If a player revokes (fails to follow suit when able to) and the revoke is not corrected before the next trick, the opponents score a court.

Whenever a court is scored, the number of consecutive deals won is reset to zero.

The dealer is always a player from the team that lost the previous deal, so that the winners of the previous deal call trumps. The next dealer is determined as follows:

  • If the dealer's team wins the deal, the player to the dealer's right deals next.
  • If the trump-caller's team wins the deal, but does not score a court, the same dealer deals again.
  • If the trump-caller's team scores a court, the deal passes to the partner of the previous dealer.

If the dealer's team wins the first seven tricks, this is sometimes known as a goon court. This is a humiliating loss for the trump-caller's team. "Goon", with a silent n, means horse manure.

A team that scores a court by winning the first seven tricks can carry on and try to win all 13 tricks. This extremely rare achievement is known as a 52-court or a bavney. There is no penalty for carrying on after seven tricks and failing to win all thirteen, but to save time, normally the play is ended when one team has won seven tricks.

The overall winners of the session are the team that has scored most courts after an agreed length of time. If both teams have scored equally many courts (or no courts at all were scored) there is no winner. Winning a 52-court or bavney counts as 52 courts.

Variations

Some play that the trump caller, instead of announcing the trump suit, chooses it by selecting a card from the first five dealt and placing it on the table spearately from his or her other cards. The trump-caller may decide not to choose a trump suit from the first five cards dealt. In this case, trumps are determined by turning over one card at random from the second batch of cards dealt to the trump caller.

Some play that the card indicating the trump suit is kept face down, so that the players other than the trump caller do not know what the trump suit will be. In this version of the game, there are no trumps until the trump indicator card is revealed. A player who is unable to follow suit may ask for the trump to be shown: in this case the trump indicator card is turned face up and the player who asked must play a trump if possible. The trump indicator card is now taken into the owner's hand and from this trick onwards the indicated suit is trump.

Some play that the trump indicator card is selected at random from the first player's first five cards without looking, so that even this player does not know what the trump suit will be until the card is revealed.

Double Sir

Double Sir or Double Sar is a variant of Court Piece: the word sir (sar) means trick (hand).

The deal, choice of trumps and rules of play are the same as in Court Piece, but in this variant, a player who wins a  trick does not gather in the cards, but turns the cards of the trick face down in the centre of the table. Cards are only gathered in when the same player wins two consecutive tricks. Until then the tricks pile up in centre.

When a player does win two consecutive tricks, that player takes all the cards from the centre (the trick just won and the pile of previous tricks), adds them to his team's face down trick pile, and leads to the next trick.

After a player has won two consecutive tricks and gathered in the cards, the following trick is left in the centre to begin a new pile. So if a player who has just won two consecutive tricks and taken the pile wins the next trick as well, he does not automatically take in this third trick. He would be able to do so if he also won the following trick.

The player who wins the 13th and last trick takes in this and any tricks that have accumulated in the centre, even if he did not win the 12th trick.

Note that it is not possible to  pick up the cards in the centre if two consecutive tricks are won by two different players of a partnership. For example if AC and BD  are two partnerships, 4 tricks are lying in the centre, "Player A" wins a trick and the next trick is won by "Player C", then they can't pick up the 6 tricks. But if the next trick is also won by Player C, then he'll  pick up all 7 tricks for AC.

The team that wins seven or more tricks wins the deal, and a team that wins seven or more consecutive deals score a court.

To score a court in one deal, a team needs to win all thirteen tricks, and the number of deals won is reset to zero. If the dealer's team wins all thirteen tricks, this is a goon court which counts as three courts.

The next dealer is a member of the losing team, determined in the same way as in Court Piece.

Variants of Double Sir

Some play that a player who wins the first two tricks cannot pick them up (but a player who wins the second and third tricks can pick up the three tricks as usual). This makes it slightly more difficult for a team to escape having a court scored against them.

Some play that a goon court, where the dealer's team wins every trick, counts as 10 courts rather than just three.

Some play that the trump caller, if unwilling to choose a suit on the basis of five cards, can specify some later card such as the 7th or the 10th. The dealer then completes the deal, turning the specified card face up, and its suit is trumps.

Some play that a player who wins two consecutive tricks with aces is not entitled to pick them up.

Be-ranga Double Sar. In this variant the dealer deals all thirteen cards and the play begins without trumps until some player is unable to follow suit. As soon as a player cannot follow suit, the suit of the card they play instead becomes trump for the rest of the deal. No tricks can be collected until the trick after the one in which trumps are determined (but if the same player wins the trump determining trick and the following one, that player's team collects all the tricks played up to this point).