Clumond is a card game for three players, developed by Charles Magri . It is an exact trick taking game based on another, "Ninety-Nine", invented by David Parlett in 1968. Further information can be found on Charles Magri's own Clumond page, which in addition to the rules contains sample hands and a FAQ section.


Three players each receive sixteen cards from a pack of 48 comprising an ordinary 52 card pack without the tens. The card ranking in each suit is A K Q J 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2. Card play and dealer rotation is always clockwise.


Scoring for this game is done with the aid of playing chips and a pot or pool which is known as the clumond.


The object of the game is to play thirteen tricks and to arrange for the remaining three cards left to correspond to the number of tricks taken in play by way of a code described below.

Code for Target Number of Tricks

The players' remaining three cards determine their target number of tricks taken in the play as follows:-

  • Only the suits of the cards is to be considered in the coding.
  • For each Diamond in the remaining three cards count 0,
  • for each Spade count 1,
  • for each Heart count 2
  • and for each Club count 3.

This gives possibilities for representations from 0 (3 x Diamonds) to 9 (3 x Clubs) with some targets having more than one representation.

(eg. 5 = Club + Heart + Diamond or
= Club + Spade + Spade or
= Heart + Heart + Spade).

For targets of 10 through 13, deduct 10, so that a representation of 0 is also that for 10, 1 is also that for 11, etc.

(Clumond is the elision of "club" and "diamond", the two suits which are the extremes)


At the beginning of each hand, players each contribute an agreed number of chips (eg. two) as an ante. At the end of play of thirteen tricks, players reveal their remaining cards to determine their targets. Unsuccessful players contribute a further chip per trick taken over or under par. Player(s) who manage to achieve their target withdraw one third the clumond after all contributing settlements for that hand (rounded down if necessary).

Going for Clumond

Ordinarily, after the cards are dealt, the play of the hand is in No Trumps and settlement at the end of the hand is as described above. The player to the dealer's left leads the first trick.

Before play commences, however, one player may "go for clumond" which carries with it greater risks, rewards and privileges.

The player who goes for clumond is known as the declarer. In any hand there may be at most one declarer, the option being first offered to the dealer's left, the dealer's right if the option is declined, and ultimately to the dealer if the option is declined by both players.

Declarer plays for the full withdrawal of the clumond if successful, but risks the clumond being distributed between his / her opponents on failure. This is the only settlement that takes place.

Declarer's privilege is that he / she may set the trump suit to other than no trumps if desired. The trump suit is stated at the beginning, before the lead to the first trick.

If there is a declarer, the player to declarer's left leads to the first trick (declarer plays last).

Normal trick taking rules apply. (Suit led must be followed if possible, else any card may be played. A trick is taken by the highest card of the suit led or, if a trump is played, by the highest trump. The winner of a trick leads to the next trick).

Pencil and Paper (alternate) Scoring

As an alternative to using chips, the following scoring scheme may be used instead:

  • Declared Hands: +10 to declarer if successful, (else) +5 to each defender if unsuccessful
  • Undeclared Hands: +2 to each successful player, -1 per trick taken over or under par to unsuccessful players

Tips and Strategies

In the play of an ordinary hand, where there is no declarer, players should aim to achieve their own goals. It is generally a good idea to dispose of short holdings in suits and "middling" cards (that are neither certain winners nor losers) as soon as possible either by discarding or leading at an early opportunity. There is a small bias toward playing the club suit as each club left over after play counts for 3 tricks and the usual number of tricks taken is 3 to 6.

If there is a declarer, however, the two defenders should form a temporary partnership to defeat the declarer. Using principles of card signalling similar to those used in Bridge, defenders can achieve quite quickly by the play of just a few tricks the distribution of each of the suits and thus can formulate an accurate sketch of declarer's target and means to the target. Some suggested signalling and playing conventions that may be employed are discussed below.

Considering whether to declare or not depends very much on a player's hand, the state of the clumond and the skill levels of both the player and of his opponents. Normally a non-distributional hand plays well enough at no trumps, as do some one-suited and two-suited hands (with 5 or more lengthed suits). Strength of a hand may not only be judged by the number and quality of horours, but also of little pipped cards (eg. 2's, 3's, 4's and 5's) which may be used for ducking unwanted tricks.

Playing Conventions that May be Used

In a hand where there is a declarer, the choice of card to lead and suit together with the response by the second defender may be as follows:-

  • Open in the longest non-trump suit. Play a high card to show an even lengthed holding in that suit (usually 6 or 8) and a low card lead to show an odd number (5 or 7). Of two equal-lengthed suits lead the lower ranking suit (according to the target setting code). Responder signals in the same way to show the parity (ie. odd or even number of cards) of the holding in that suit.
  • If no 5-card or longer suit, attack trumps showing parity by similar means.

These principles may also be employed when declarer takes control and leads a card. Unlike non-exact trick taking games like bridge, signalling is sometimes sacrificed because it may "cost a trick", but in clumond this has no real meaning as the target setting is dynamic, thus allowing the defence some time in the first few tricks to communicate effectively.

The Principle of the Immediate Play of the Second Round in a Suit

This convention is offerred as an advanced signalling technique that may be employed. The principle is that if a second card of a suit that has been led is played at the earliest opportunity, this guarentees that one of the players will be made to be void in that suit. Eg. Suppose one defender against a spade clumond attempt leads the heartA, (implying a holding of 6 or 8 hearts). Suppose the trick holds. The play of a second heart will clarify that the holding was from an 8-card suit instead of from a 6 card suit. Conversly if another suit is played, this would confirm that the heart holding was a 6-card holding. This is a very effective signalling convention that may be employed by the defence.

Another example. Suppose in the opening of a spade clumond attempt, defender plays club2 (indicating 5 or 7 clubs) which is won by the co-defender by the clubK (showing probably an even holding of 2, 4, or 6 cards). The immediate return of that suit would clarify the holding exactly. If declarer follows suit, then the co-defender had 2 cards, if declarer "shows out" by not following the suit, then the holding was a 6 card suit. If the co-defender did not return the suit immediately, then the holding would be 4.

Four Tens Variant

This is an advanced variation of Clumond that requires a little more skill, but is fun and exciting to play! The design corrects for the small bias in the club suit and brings together more closely more often the bidding decision of whether or not to declare in a hand. The Four Tens Variant is played using a full pack of (52) cards and is played as follows:-

Sixteen cards are dealt to each player as before. The remaining four are placed face down in the centre of the table. Players in turn immediately expose any ten that had been dealt to them, placing the cards face up in front of themselves and draw as many as required to restore the hand to sixteen cards. If a ten is drawn in the process this too is exposed and a further card drawn from the middle. After all three players have finished, any remaining cards at the centre of the table (perforce tens) are tabled and become the "Tens in common".

These tens contribute to each of the player's trick count as Supplementary Tricks. The number of supplementary tricks for a player is determined by the code-setting determination of the tens in front of that player plus that of any tens in common (at the centre of the table).

Example. A player is dealt club10 and diamond10 and in the centre of the table is the spade10 (another player having been dealt heart10). That player has 3+0+1 = 4 supplementary tricks, whilst the player dealt the heart10 has 2+1 = 3 supplementary tricks and the player not dealt any tens at all has 1 supplementary trick.

Bidding, play and scoring proceed as in the base game from this point.

Note: It is now possible to bid up to 19 tricks ( 13 from play plus up to 6 supplementary tricks), which is catered for by extending the scoring concept introduced in the base game. eg. club + club + club = 9 or 19.

Last updated: 24th August 2003