Sakaali

Contributed by Tuomas Korppi .

0. Summary

In this four player partnership game, each player is dealt 13 cards and discards 8 of them face up. Partners then combine their remaining 5-card hands, and the aim is to have sets of three or four of a kind within these ten cards. By agreeing a system of signals, partners can use their discards to suggest to each other what cards to keep.

1. Setup

The game uses one standard 52 card deck and it is for four players. The players are divided into two teams of two players. The players are seated so that everyone sits between two opponents.

The cards are shuffled and each player is dealt 13 cards.

2. The game

Each player in turn plays one card from his hand on the table. The cards are played in a row in front of each player so that everyone can easily see who has played which cards, and in what order. The game goes on like that until each player has played eight cards and has five cards remaining in his hand.

3. Scoring

When everyone is down to five cards in hand, each team combines their hand cards to make a single ten card hand. A team loses points for unmatched cards and to a lesser extent for pairs in their final ten-card hand. The point scores are as follows.

In the team's hand:

  1. Cards in a four of a kind or a three of the kind give no minus points.
  2. Each pair gives 25 minus points.
  3. Each single card gives the value of the card (ace=1, two=2, ..., king=13) plus 20 minus points.

The team with fewer minus points wins the difference of scores plus 20 points. If the winning team got all their cards in three of a kinds and four of a kinds, the team gets an additional 30 points.

The losing team pays the score in money to the winning team.

4. Team play

During the game, team mates are not allowed to talk about the game to each other. They are also not allowed to use gestures or "foot signals" under the table or other such means to communicate about the game.

Team mates are, however, allowed to agree meanings for played cards, so that they signal what kind of cards the player has in his hand. Before the game begins, however, they are must tell their opponents all the meanings of such signals. (Writing a crib sheet for the opponents is a good idea, if there are a lot of different signals).

The players are also allowed to "lie", i.e. play a signal even if the signal is false (and sometimes their cards are such that this is the only possibility.) However, in this case they must confuse the partner as much as the opponents. (Meaning that there must not be secret agreements about when to lie.)

5. Strategy

The basic signalling system is as follows:

The first three cards played by each player signal pairs or three of a kinds in the player's hand. The first and the third card signal that the player has a pair or a three of a kind that is one lower than the played card. The second card signals that the player has a pair or a three of a kind that is one higher than the played card.

(If the player can play only one of the cards #1 and #3 honestly, the player plays the #1 honestly and lies with card #3.)

The cards #4-#6 are replies to the partner's three first cards. The card #4 is a reply to the partner's card #1, the card #5 is a reply to card #2 and the card #6 is a reply to the partner's card #3. Low card indicates that the player has a card that matches the signalled pair or a three of a kind, and a high card indicates that the player does not have such card.

The cards #7-#8 have no meaning: at this stage the players just discard unwanted cards.

This system is not optimal, and the team-mates are allowed to agree on improvements on it. They are also allowed to develop a completely different signalling system.

6. The official way to form the teams

The players can agree on teams, but this requires that every player is satisfied with the agreed-on teams. Any player has the right to demand random teams. If such a demand is made, two red cards and two black cards are shuffled, and everyone draws one of them. The players who drew red cards play against those who drew black cards.

The same teams are used for an entire session.