This is the Flemish (Belgian) version of the compendium trick-taking game King. It normally consists of a series of 10 deals played according to different rules. In the first six deals players try to avoid taking tricks or taking certain cards in tricks, since the winners of these tricks or cards score penalty points (strafpunten). In the last four deals (one dealt by each player) players try to get rid of their penalty points by scoring positive points for winning tricks.
The rules vary a little from place to place. A typical version of the basic game will be described first followed by some common variants. Finally we describe Dubbelkingen ('double king') a 20-deal version for more serious players, in which instead of playing the deals in a fixed sequence players can choose what rules to play next based on the cards in their hands.
This page is partly based on information from Gilbert Vanheule, Andreas Duerloo, Sebastiaan Marynissen, Günther Senst, Christian de Ryck and the International World Whist Association.
Players and Cards
A standard 52-card pack is used, with the usual suits hearts (harten), diamonds (ruiten or koeken), clubs (klaveren) and spades (schuppen). In Belgium the cards usually have the French indices 1 for Ace, R for King (Flemish: Heer, French: Roi), D for Queen (Dame in French and Flemish, though the Dutch word Vrouw is sometimes used) and V for Jack (Flemish: Boer or Zot, French: Valet). The cards in each suit rank as ususal from Ace (high) down to 2 (low): 1-R-D-V-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2.
Kingen is a game for four players, each playing for themselves. The deal and play are clockwise and the turn to deal passes to the left after each hand.
In the first six deals there are no trumps and the objective is to avoid taking certain tricks or cards. The scores are as follows.
|1||Slagen (tricks)||1 penalty point per trick won: total 13.|
|2||Harten (hearts)||1 penalty point per heart taken in a trick: total 13|
|3||Heer & Zot (Kings & Jacks)||1 penalty point per King or Jack taken: total 8|
|4||Vrouwen (Queens)||2 penalty points per Queen taken: total 8|
|5||Hartenheer (King of hearts)||5 penalty points for whoever takes the King of hearts: total 5|
|6||7 & Laatste (7th and last)||2 penalty points for the winner of the 7th trick and 3 for the winner of the last trick: total 5|
At the end of the sixth deal the total of the four players' scores will be 52 penalty points.
In the last four deals there is a trump suit (determined by the last card dealt to the dealer) the object is to win tricks. Players score 1 positive point for each trick taken, so there are 13 points in each of these deals and 52 positive points altogether.
The first dealer is chosen by any convenient random method. Before the first deal the cards are thoroughly shuffled by the dealer and cut by the player to dealer's right. At the end of the play, when the deal has been scored, the cards are gathered up and the turn to deal passes to the left. It is customary not to shuffle the deck between deals. The dealer simply offers the deck to the player to their right (the previous dealer) to cut or tap without cutting.
The entire deck is dealt out clockwise, first a batch of four cards to each player, then four each again and finally five each, so that each player has 13 cards. In the last four deals, the dealer shows the very last card they deal to themselves (the bottom card of the pack), and the suit of this card becomes trumps for that deal.
The player to dealer's left leads to the first trick and the winner of each trick leads to the next. The Flemish word for leading is uitkomen (literally 'to come out').
Any card may be led to a trick. Each of the other players in turn must follow suit (volgen) if possible. A player who has no card of the suit led may play any card. When there are no trumps, whoever plays the highest card of the suit that was led wins the trick. In contracts with trumps, if any trumps are played to a trick the highest trump wins it.
In Flemish, playing a trump on a lead of a non-trump suit in Flemish is called kopen (buying). When a trick has been trumped it can be overtrumped by a subsequent player playing a high trump (overkopen). Neither trumping nor overtrumping is compulsory in this basic version of Kingen.
As in most trick-taking games, players are allowed to look at the cards in the last trick that was played even after it has been collected by the winner, but players are not allowed to change their mind about playing a card once it has touched the table: 'tafel plakt' ('table sticks').
A cumulative score is kept for each player. The first 6 deals are all played for penalty points, which are negative, so after the sixth deal everyone's score will be negative or at best zero. The scores of the four players at that point should total -52.
The last four deals are played for positive points, 13 in each deal for a total of +52. Therefore at the end of the game the scores of the four players should add up to zero.
If playing for stakes, theses scores represent the amount of money each player should pay (if negative) or receive (if positive).
The cards are always dealt in batches, but the custom on the size of the batches vary. For example some deal a batch of 3 each and then five batches of 2 each. Some do this for the negative games and then deal the positive games in batches of 4, then 5, then 4.
In the King of hearts deal, some people score 4 penalty points for the King rather than 5. In this case in the sixth deal the 7th trick and the last trick are worth 3 points each.
A few players replace the King of hearts deal with a deal in which some other card, for example the 10 of diamonds, is the sole penalty card.
Some play that in the 'no hearts' and 'no king of hearts' deals a player is not allowed to lead a heart unless they have nothing but hearts left. In 'no hearts' this restriction continues to apply even after hearts have been led or discarded - there is no concept of hearts then being 'broken', as for example in the American version of Hearts.
Play of Penalty Cards
In the deals with penalty cards (deals 2-5) some versions of the rules require a player who cannot follow suit to discard a penalty card if possible. This is to prevent players from collaborating by discarding harmless cards on each others' tricks and saving their penalty cards to give to the other players.
For the same reason some rules also require that when following suit, any player holding a penalty card in that suit must play it a higher card of the suit has already been played to the trick. For example in the 'no Kings or Jacks' deal, when a club is led and the second player plays the Q, if the third or fourth player to the trick holds the J they must play it to that trick.
Trumping and Overtrumping
In trump games, some rules say that when trumps are led, each player must beat the highest trump so far played to the trick by playing a higher trump if they have one. Also, when a non-trump suit is led a player who has no cards of that suit that must play a trump if they have one. When a non-trump suit has been trumped, if a subsequent player is also unable to follow suit they must overtrump with a higher trump if possible.
There are different opinions about what happens when a non-trump is led, a player trumps, and a subsequent player is unable to follow suit but has no trumps high enough to beat the previous trump. Some say that this player is still obliged to play a trump even though this trump cannot win; others allow the player to discard from another non-trump suit. Yet others say that that a player is not allowed to undertrump (unless they have nothing but trumps in their hand) and must discard from a different suit.
For example diamonds are trumps, a spade is led, and the second player, having no spades, trumps with the 10. If the third player also has no spades but their only trumps are the 8 and 5, the three versions of the rules are:
- the third player must play the 8 or the 5, or
- the third player may play any card, or
- the third player is not allowed to play a diamond, but discard a club or heart in this trick.
Sequence of Deals
Some reverse the order of deals 3 and 4, playing Queens before Kings and Jacks.
Choice of trumps
In the last four deals, instead of using the last card dealt to determine the trump suit, many groups allow the dealer to choose and announce what suit will be trumps on the basis of the cards they are dealt.
In these last four deals some give players other than the dealer an opportunity to offer to take over from the dealer the right to choose trumps in exchange for some tricks.
When everyone has looked at their cards, each of the dealer's opponents in turn, starting with the player to dealer's left, may state the number of tricks they are prepared to give to the dealer if allowed to choose trumps. Each offer must be a whole number (1 or more) and must be higher than any previous offers. A player who does not wish to make an offer says 'pass'. Each player has only one opportunity to make an offer. After all three of the other players have spoken, the dealer decides whether to accept the highest offer (if any) or reject it.
- If the dealer rejects the offer, or if no offer was made, the dealer simply chooses and announces the trump suit.
- If the dealer does accept an offer (of X tricks), the player whose offer was accepted must choose and announce the trump suit, but the first X tricks this player takes are given to the dealer instead. Note that this does not affect the play mechanics, only the scoring. The player to dealer's left still leads to the first trick, and when the trump maker wins a trick that is transferred to the dealer, it is still the trump maker (as winner of the trick) who leads to the next trick. If the player whose offer was accepted wins fewer than X tricks, then all those tricks are transferred to the dealer and the player who made the offer scores zero - there is no extra penalty or negative score. Example. Player A deals, player B passes, player C offers two tricks and player D offers three tricks. The dealer accepts player D’s offer: Player D gets to choose the trump suit, but the first three tricks player D wins, will go to the dealer. If the numbers of tricks actually won are A:2, B:1, C:4, D:6 then the scores will be A:5(=2+3), B:1, C:4, D:3(=6-3).
The International World Whist Association has established a standard set of rules for Kingen which incorporates some of the variants above. The differences from the basic game are:
- In 'no hearts' and 'no king of hearts', hearts cannot be led unless the player leading has nothing but hearts.
- In the penalty card contracts, subject always to the requirement to follow suit, a player must always play a penalty card whenever possible if the penalty card cannot win the trick.
- When trumps are led, players must beat the highest trump in the trick if possible.
- When a non-trump suit is led, a player who cannot follow suit must trump or overtrump if the trick has already been trumped. If the trick has already been trumped a player who cannot overtrump may play any card.
- In the last four deals (trump contracts), the dealer chooses the trump suit. There is no possibility for the other players to offer tricks in order to be allowed to choose trumps.
It is possible for 5 people to play Kingen using pack from which the two black Sevens have been removed. There are 11 deals: 6 with penalty points as above followed by 5 trump deals. In each deal the players receive 10 cards each.
Since there are only 10 tricks, there are only 10 penalty points in the first deal (tricks). In the sixth deal the 7th and last tricks cost 3 penalty points each for a total of 50 points for the first six deals. This is balanced by the 50 positive points awarded in the 5 trump deals, 10 per deal.
Three player rules
Three players can play Kingen by removing the 2 of spades from the deck leaving 51 cards. The players are dealt 17 cards each and there are 9 deals: six negative as usual followed by three with trumps. The penalty points in the first six deals are:
- One point per trick (total 17)
- One point per heart (total 13)
- One point per King or Jack (total 8)
- One point per Queen (total 4)
- 4 points for the King of hearts (4 points)
- 3 points for the tenth trick and 2 points for the last trick (total 5)
That gives a total of 51 penalty points, balanced by the three trump deals in which each of the 17 tricks is worth 1 positive point.
This version is called Double King (Dubbelkingen) because instead of 10 deals there are 20. Each of the negative contracts is played twice and there are eight trump deals. However the main difference from single Kingen is that the contracts can be played in any order. In each deal the dealer chooses (after looking at his or her cards) which contract will be played on that deal, naming either a negative contract or a trump suit.
In the course of the game each player will have five turns to deal. For two of these deals the player must choose a trump suit and play a trump contract, and for the other three the player must choose a negative contract.
Although the contracts can be played in any order, each negative contract can only be played twice, after which it is no longer available to be chosen by subsequent dealers. However, it is possible for one player to choose the same negative contract on two occasions if it remains available. For the trump contracts there are no restrictions on which suits can be chosen as trumps.
The scoring is exactly as in ordinary Kingen, but as there are twice as many deals in Dubbelkingen there are 104 negative points balanced by 104 positive points.
As usual the player to dealer's left leads to the frst trick, and this game is usually played with similar restrictions to the IWWA rules above. Hearts cannot be led in 'no hearts' or 'no king of hearts' until there is no alternative. Penalty cards must be played as soon as it is safe for the player to do so. In trump contracts, players must when possible beat the highest card in the trick when trumps are led, and when a non-trump suit is led they must trump and overtrump if unable to follow suit.
Online Games and Other Websites
Kingen and Dubbelkingen can be played online at Whisthub, which also has rules in English, Flemish and French.
Rules in French for a version of King are available on Jean-François Bustarret's site under the name Le Jeu du Roi.