Générala is a very popular family game in Cameroon. This page was originally published in August 2011, based on a report by Alexey Lobashev, who learned the game from Takam Ludovic Thierry who played with his late grandfather, who in 2002 was 86 years old. It turned out that in this first version some of the rules were misunderstood, and therefore this corrected version was published in August 2012.
Players and Cards
There can be from 2 to 10 players. A standard international pack with two jokers is used - 54 cards in all. The rank of the cards from high to low is:
Deal and play are counter-clockwise.
Any player can deal the cards for the first game. For subsequent games of a series (if three or more persons play it), the player who was the last to run out of cards deals the next game.
All the cards are dealt one by one counter clockwise. Some players may have one more card than the others.
The play consists of tricks. One player plays a card face up, and the others, in anti-clockwise order, each play one card face up on top of it, forming a pile.
The player on the dealer's right begins the first trick by playing the last card that was dealt to him. This is his lead. The other players, in counter-clockwise order, must each play a card of the same suit if possible. There is no obligation to beat the previous card - each player may play a higher or a lower card of the suit, as he wishes. A player who has no card of the suit that was led may, if he wishes, play a Joker.
If a Joker is played to a trick, other than as the first card of the trick, the following players must play the suit of the first card of the trick. Example: after 8-5-K-Joker-... the next player must play a heart.
If everyone plays a card - either matching the suit of the previous card or playing a Joker - the cards of the trick are turned face down, and whoever played the highest ranking card begins a new trick by leading any card he chooses from his hand. If more than one Joker was played, the first Joker played counts as highest.
If some player fails to play a card, because he has no card of the suit that was led and chooses not to play a Joker (or has no Joker), the trick ends there. The players after him do not play to it. The person who failed to play must pick up one of the cards from the trick and add it to his hand, but cannot pick up a Joker. Normally he will choose to take the highest ranking card of the suit that was led. The remaining cards of the trick are turned face down, and the person who played the highest card to the trick leads any card he chooses to the next trick.
If a Joker is led, the other players can play any cards they wish. When everyone has played a card, the trick is turned face down, and (since the Joker is highest ranking card) the player who led it leads again.
As the play continues, players' hands become unequal in size, and some players run out of cards before others. A player who runs out of cards drops out of the play, but the other players continue until only one player has cards.
If the highest card in a trick was the last card held by that player, then the leader to the next trick is whoever played the highest card to that trick, among the players who still have at least one card. If a player leads a Joker as his last card, the player of the highest card, irrespective of suit, leads next. It is possible that two or more players who still have cards will have played equally high cards of different suits: in this case the leader to the next trick is the nearest player to the right of the previous leader who still has at least one card. If none of the players to an incomplete trick has any cards left, all having played their last card, then the lead passes to the right, that is to the player who picked up a card from the trick.
Winning and Losing
The last player remaining with cards when all other players have run out of cards, loses and does not take part in the next game. Thus, the number of players decreases by one in each game. If two or more players all play their last card to the same trick, there is no loser and everyone remains in the game.
The last player remaining when all the others have been eliminated is declared the 'Champion' and he receives praise from the other players.
After that, a new series of games may be played. For the first game in the new series, any player may deal the cards.
(If there are only two players, then there is no series of games, but each individual game has a winner and a loser. The loser deals the next game.)