Satat

This page is based on information from Ketan Appa, author of the Satat.tk website.

Introduction

Satat is the most popular card game in Mauritius. Its name comes from the from the Hindi "saat hant" meaning "seven hands" and it is related to the Indian game of Seven Hands (also known as Court Piece). The objective is to win at least seven of the 13 tricks, or even better to win the first 7 tricks, or better still all 13 tricks.

Players and Cards

There are four players in fixed partnerships, partners sitting opposite. A standard international 52-card pack is used. The cards of each suit rank from high to low A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2 with the exception of the two of hearts, which in this game is the highest card in the pack. Deal and play are clockwise.

The Deal and Making Trumps

The first dealer is decided by drawing cards from the shuffled pack. Whoever draws the highest card will be the leader and trump maker for the first deal, and the player to the right will deal. For the purpose only of deciding the first deal, aces are low, the two of hearts counts as an ordinary two, and kings are highest. Subsequently the dealer is always a member of the team that lost previous deal, as described under "the result".

The dealer shuffles, the player to dealer's right cuts, and the dealer deals a batch of five cards to each player. The trump maker, to dealer's left, looks at these five cards and announces the trump suit. Alternatively, if unwilling to decide trumps on the basis of these first five cards, the trump maker may elect to use the last four cards to determine the trump suit. If the trump maker's first five cards contain no pictures (kings queens and jacks) there is a third option: the trump maker may require the cards to be reshuffled and dealt again. However, only two reshuffles are allowed: on the third deal, the trump maker must choose a suit (or a card from the last four) even if the first five cards have no pictures.

The dealer now deals the remaining cards in batches of four, so that everyone has 13 cards. If the trump maker opted to make trumps from the last four cards, the dealer places the trump maker's last four cards face down in a row and the trump maker selects one card, without first looking at it, and turns it face up. The suit of this card is trumps. All players pick up their 13 cards and look at them.

If the trump maker's partner has no trumps at all, he or she can announce this and suggest a new deal. If the trump maker agrees, the cards are thrown in, shuffled and dealt again by the same dealer.

The Play

The trump maker (the player to dealer's left) leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit if possible, except that the heart2 may be played to any trick, even if the owner could have followed suit. The holder of the heart2 is not forced to play it on a heart lead (or on a trump lead), even if no other hearts (or trumps) are held. A player who has no card of the suit led can play any card. If the heart2 is led, the other players must play trumps if they have them; if not they may play any card.

The heart2 always wins the trick in which it is played. Otherwise, the trick is won by the highest trump in it, or, if it contains no trumps, by the highest card of the suit led. The winner of each trick leads to the next.

Normally the play ends when one team wins by taking seven tricks. However, if a team wins the first seven tricks (a 7-0 win) they may continue the play and try to win all the tricks (13-0 win).

The Result

The team that took seven tricks wins. If the trump-maker's team wins (but not a 7-0 or 13-0 win) the same dealer deals again and the same player has another chance to make trumps. If the dealer's team wins the turn to deal passes to the left, so that the previous dealer's partner becomes the trump maker.

If the dealer's team loses by 7-0 or 13-0, the deal passes to the partner of the previous dealer.

There is a further consequence of a 7-0 win. On the next deal, each member of the losing team must pass one trump face down to the player on the right. In return each member of the winning team passes one unwanted card face down to the left. The cards are passed simultaneously - each player must decide what to pass before knowing what card will be received. Normally losers will pass their lowest trump and winners will pass a low card of a weak suit.

  • If a member of the losing team has no trump, the player's highest ranking card must be passed (a player who has no trump and equally high cards of more than one suit can choose which of these highest cards to pass). The heart2 need never be passed.
  • A member of the winning team is not allowed to pass the only card held in a non-trump suit. The player must keep at least one card in each suit that was present in the hand as originally dealt.

After a 13-0 win, the losers each pass two trumps to one of the winners and the winners return two unwanted cards. As with a 7-0 win, a player who has insufficient trumps must subsitute highest ranking non-trumps, winners cannot dispose of a suit entirely and the heart2 is never passed.

There is no formal system of scoring and no fixed length to the game, but the players may like to keep track of how many games each team has won or lost.

Signals

There are certain signals that a player can make to give information to partner.

Pile
Knocking the table when playing a card is a "strong card" sign, which indicates that the player holds the highest outsanding card of that suit.
Note: the heart2 cannot be signalled this way. Knocking while playing a trump or a heart indicates the ace of that suit, if not already played.
Grate
Scratching the table with the edge of a card when you play it is the "card over" sign, which indicates that it is the only card you have in that suit.
heart2 announcement
The holder of the heart2 is allowed to announce it at the start of the play, before the very first card is led.
Vire
This "roll sign" can only be given when playing to a trick to which partner has led. It asks partner to lead a card of the other suit of the same colour - for example hearts if the lead was diamonds. The sign is made by placing the hand palm-down on the table, then turning it plam up and then palm down again.
Lese
This "let it come" sign can only be made when one's left hand opponent has just led to a trick. It is a sign to partner that one intends to win the trick, so partner should play a low card. The sign is performed by stroking the backs of the cards one is holding with the fingers of the other hand.

The first three signals are allowed in most private games, though not in tournaments. The last two signals (vire and lese) are rarely allowed but may be permitted if the players agree in advance.

None of these signals and announcements are compulsory. For example a player will only signal a strong card or the last card of a suit or announce the heart2 if it seems to be in the interests of the partnership to do so.

False signals are allowed, if the player wishes to deceive the opponents. Of course there is the danger that partner will also be deceived.

Variations

Trup kasiet

In this "hidden trump" variation, instead of announcing the trump suit, the trump maker places one card of the trump suit face down. If the trump card is selected unseen from the last four, the trump maker looks at it before placing it face down.

Play then continues as usual, but since the other three players do not know initially what the trump suit is, the trump maker must tell the players who has won each trick, until such time as the trump suit becomes known. This can happen in various ways. The simplest way is if the trump maker plays the face down trump card. This card can be led or played to any trick for which it is a legal play, according to the normal rules of following suit. Also a trick in which more than one suit is played provides evidence about the trump suit. For example if a trick consists of heartA - spade5 - heart7 - club4 and the spade5 wins then spades are trumps, and if the club5 wins clubs are trumps. If the heartA wins, then the trump suit must be either hearts or diamonds.

In this variation there is no opportunity to reshuffle if the trump maker's partner has no trumps, since the partner will not know this.

If the heart2 is led before the trump suit is known, the other players are allowed to play any card.

In this variation 7-0 and 13-0 wins are more frequent, but no cards are exchanged after a 7-0 or 13-0 win.

Software

On Ketan Appa's website satat.tk you can play Satat online against computer or human opponents.