Rıfkı (Turkish King)
This description was written by Wei-Hwa Huang, who learned the game from the Turkish team at the World Puzzle Championships.
- Trump Contracts
- The Six Negative Contracts
- Advice on skillful play
Rıfkı (no dots on the ı's) is a skillful card game for four players. It uses a Turkish 52-card pack as for bridge or poker, but for this document we will use a standard American deck, ranking as usual from highest to lowest A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 in each of the four suits. In the course of a session, each player will get the chance to declare five contracts, so that there are 20 hands played in all.
As is Turkish custom, the turn sequence goes counter-clockwise, as opposed to the standard clockwise order seen in the West. Not only does the deal rotate counter-clockwise, but the play of the tricks also proceeds counter-clockwise.
The dealer shuffles, the player opposite the dealer cuts, and the dealer deals out all the cards, counter-clockwise to the four players. For the first hand anyone may deal and the first declarer is the holder of the Two of diamonds. For the next hand, positions rotate counter-clockwise; the player on declarer's right becomes the new declarer, the old declarer becomes the new dealer, and the old dealer becomes the new cutter. This continues for 20 hands until each player has had the chance to become declarer five times.
Over the course of 20 hands, each player must declare a trump contract two times and a negative contract three times. Each of the six negative contracts can only be declared twice per game, so if a negative contract has been played twice, the declarer cannot choose that contract.
In each of these contracts, each player is playing for herself. Declarer chooses the contract, but there is no reason for the other players to cooperate against her.
There are six "negative" contracts but just one type of "positive" (trump) contract.
Trump Contracts [Kozlar]
Declarer chooses a trump suit (notrump is not an option). [For reference, the Turkish names of the suits are Maça (Spades), Sinek (Clubs), Karo (Diamonds), and Kupa (Hearts).] The declarer leads to the first trick. A trick is won by the highest trump in it, or if it contains no trump, by the highest card of the suit led. Players must follow suit if possible -- if they cannot, they must play a trump if they have any (even if this forces them to underruff). The winner of a trick leads to the next. Each trick scores +50 points to the player winning it. The total score for the contract is therefore +650.
The Six Negative Contracts [Cezalar]
In negative contracts, there are no trumps. The declarer leads to the first trick. There are two types of negative contracts; trick-based, where certain tricks give a penalty to the player who won them, and card-based, where certain cards, called penalty cards, give a penalty to the player who won them in a trick. After a penalty card is played, it is kept face up in front of the player who won the trick, so that everyone can see which penalty cards have been taken by whom. When all penalty cards have been played, the play ends at the end of that trick, as there are no more points at stake on that hand.
Players must follow suit if possible. A player who holds a penalty card in the suit must play it if a higher card in the suit has been played that trick (in other words, one cannot deliberately withhold a penalty card). A player who cannot follow suit must discard a penalty card if they have any, but may discard any other card if they do not. The winner of a trick leads to the next. In certain contracts there are restrictions on what card may be led to a trick. The negative contracts are:
- Card-based Negative Contracts
- Rıfkı. The King of Hearts is the only penalty card, scoring -320 to the player winning it in a trick. Hearts may not be led unless they have already been discarded on a previous trick, or the player on lead has nothing but hearts in her hand.
- Kız [Girls]. The four queens are penalty cards, each one scoring -100 points to the player winning it in a trick. The total score for the contract is therefore -400.
- Erkek [Boys]. The four kings and four jacks are penalty cards, each one scoring -60 points to the player winning it in a trick. The total score for the contract is therefore -480.
- Kupa [Hearts]. The thirteen hearts are penalty cards, each one scoring -30 points to the player winning it in a trick. The total score for the contract is therefore -390. Hearts may not be led unless they have already been discarded on a previous trick, or the player on lead has nothing but hearts in her hand.
- Trick-based Negative Contracts
- Son İki [Last Two]. The last two tricks each score -180 to the player(s) that wins them. The total score for the contract is therefore -360.
- El Almaz [No Tricks]. Each trick scores -50 points to the player winning it. The total score for the contract is therefore -650.
The scores are cunningly chosen so that the total over twenty hands is 0.
Each hand is scored after it is played. A normal score sheet uses circles to represent negative contracts and triangles to represent trump contracts, which can be filled in as they are played.
Advice on Skillful Play