'Tjuv', also formerly known as 'Tattare', is a fishing game for two or more players. In contrast to most other fishing games, cards are captured by suit and not by rank. Cards may be captured from the table and also stolen from other players' stores of captured cards. The winner is the player who has most captured cards at the end of the game.
The rules in a book from 1922, where the game is called 'Tattare', will first be described. 'Tattare' is a disparaging term formerly used for Romani people and other groups of Swedish travellers, and as a name for this game it alludes to their unjustified reputation for stealing. The difference in the rules in a 1988 text by Ulf Schenkmanis is then described in the Variation section. Schenkmanis calls the game 'Tjuv', which simply means thief.
This page is a translation and minor revision of an article by Sten Helmfrid that was published in Kartofilen, the journal of the Swedish Playing Card Society, in 2020.
Players and Cards
The game is played with an ordinary French suited pack from which all ranks from two to five have been removed, leaving 36 cards. The order is the usual, the cards in each suit ranking from high to low Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6.
There can be 2 or more players, but with more than about 5 the game would become unwieldy. The deal and play are clockwise.
The dealer deals three cards to each each player. Each player looks at their cards and puts the card with the lowest rank face up on the table - with more than one equal lowest card the player chooses any one. If only two players are participating, the dealer places an additional card from the top of the remaining deck face up on the table next to the other two cards. If more than three players are participating, the dealer removes as many cards from the table as necessary so that only three remain and places the removed cards at the bottom of the deck. (It doesn’t say so in the text, but presumably the cards of highest ranks should be removed, and the removed cards should be shuffled before adding them to the bottom of the deck.) The dealer then deals one additional card to each player. The remaining cards of the deck form the talon and are stacked face down on the table. Each player now has three cards, and three cards are lying face up on the table.
The objective of the game is to capture cards. The player to dealer's left is first to act, and the turn continues clockwise. A player who acts must complete the following steps in order:
- Play any one card from hand face up on the table. If the played card is of the same suit and of higher rank than any cards on the table, the player captures those cards. The captured card(s) is/are placed in a face up pile in front of the player, with the card from the player's own hand on top of the pile. A player who cannot or does not want to capture any cards from the table must lay out a card face up on the table next to the other cards, and if there is no lower card of the same suit on the table it captures nothing. However if the card laid down is the same suit and of higher rank than any card on the table, the player is forced to make the capture.
- If there are cards left in the talon, the player then restores their hand to three cards by drawing the top card from the talon.
- If there are fewer than three face-up cards left on the table and if there are still cards in the talon, the player lays down any card from hand face up next to the other cards on the table. At this step it is not possible to make a capture. The player may lay down a card that is of the same suit and of higher rank than a face-up card on the table and nothing is captured. The player then draws another card from the top of the talon so as to have three cards in hand. This step is repeated until there are three cards on the table, or the talon runs out of cards
When a player has captured cards and placed them in a pile in front of him, that pile may also be captured by other players. A player who captures one or several cards on the table in step one above also captures all piles belonging to opponents that have a top card of the same suit and of lower rank than the played card. To capture other players’ piles is called 'tattra' or 'tjuva'. All cards that have been captured in this way - both the cards on the table and the cards in the opponents’ piles - are placed in a single pile in front of the player. The card from the player’s hand should be on top of the pile.
Note that if a player already has one or more piles, all the recently captured cards should be placed in a separate pile, even if the new pile is the same suit as an existing pile. A player is not allowed to capture their own piles. Also note an opponent's pile can only be captured if the player at the same time also captures at least one card from the table.
If a player captures all cards on the table at a point when there are no cards left in the talon, there are no available cards for the next player to capture. The next player then has no other choice than to lay out a card on the table.
The game continues until no player has any cards left. The player who played the last card receives all cards that are left on the table: these cards are also regarded as captured.
When the game is over, all players count their captured cards. The player with the most cards is the winner. If several games are played, the player who has the least cards in a game is dealer in the next game.
Suggestion: If there is a draw for the last place in a game, the nearest of these players to the right of the dealer should deal the next game.
Schenkmanis gives a slightly different rule for replenishing the face up cards on the table. When there are fewer than three cards left on the table in step three above, the player draws cards from the talon and directly lays them face up on the table. The player continues to draw until there are three cards on the table, or the talon is out of cards.
- Kortspelsregler till tidsfördriv och nöje (Wahlström & Widstrand, Stockholm, 1922), pp. 75–77.
- Ulf Schenkmanis, Kortspel & patienser (ICA bokförlag, Västerås, 1988), pp. 34–36.
- Sten Helmfrid, ”Kortspelet tattare”, Kartofilen, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 23–25 (2020).