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Young Hunter

Contributed by Áron Csathó (admirala@yahoo.com)

This simple but enjoyable card game is for four players, each playing individually (no partnerships). It is a trick taking game using French cards, cards having the usual rank (ace is the highest, followed by king, queen, jack and the number cards down to two). However, the only cards of importance in the game are youngs (jacks), only these are worth points.

A game consists of 8 deals so everybody starts twice. In each hand, there is a trump as follows:

Deal 1 - spades
Deal 2 - hearts
Deal 3 - diamonds
Deal 4 - clubs
Deal 5 - clubs
Deal 6 - diamonds
Deal 7 - hearts
Deal 8 - spades

Every player gets 13 cards, i.e. all cards are given out during the deal. The aim of the game is to get as many jacks as possible, which can be done in two ways. First: making a trick with a jack, second: taking a trick that contains a jack. The first one is called hit; the second one is the catch. The value for these is depending on whether it was made in a trump suit or any other suit ('normal').

Normal catch - 1 point
Normal hit - 2 points
Trump hit - 2 points
Trump catch - 3 points

Players must always follow suits and play trumps if they do not have a card of the suit led. Since it is harder to catch a trump jack then to hit it, but on the other hand it is easier to catch a normal jack, this is reflected in the scoring.

After the deal but before the first lead, there is a short bidding phase. Every player may speak only once, starting with the player who will lead to the first trick. Players can announce (declare) hits and/or catches if they feel they can make them. A player can declare more than one of the above, even four if he/she is much too powerful. Upon announcing, the scores for the hits and catches are double the above scores. The announcement follows this structure: 'name of suit' 'form of taking', e.g. 'spade hit'. If the suit is the trump in that hand, one must use the word 'trump' instead of naming the suit, e.g. 'trump catch'.

When a player declares a trick, he risks failing it, in which case the value is subtracted from his score. No contra is allowed in the basic game.

Optional Rule 1: Direct deal of jacks

If the players agree in playing with this rule, the four jacks are shuffled separately from the rest of the deck. Every player gets a jack (randomly) and then 12 other cards. This ensures that all players have the chance for making a hit (for 2 points). Also, it allows a little bit of strategy: if someone puts a jack on the table, he/she can have no more.

Optional Rule 2: Contra

Players may contra any announced taking (i.e. hit or catch). The person who says contra must repeat the announcement to which the contra applies, e.g. 'contra trump catch'.

If the taking, which has been questioned with contra, fails, the declarer looses no additional points but the player announcing the contra gets the score of the taking. On the other hand, if the taking is successful, the announcer of the contra gets minus the appropriate score. For example: player A says' spade hit', B says' contra spade hit'. If A completes his taking, A gets 4 points while B gets -4. If he/she fails, A gets -4 points, while B gets 4 points. Other players get no benefit from that.

In order to allow contras, the bidding continues as long as anybody has anything to say.

Only one player can contra any particular taking. There can be as many contras as takings announced. There is no such thing as recontra.

Optional Rule 3: Extra game

Players may wish to have a 9-hand game instead of 8. This includes an additional deal, where there is no trump suit. Regardless of who starts the bidding, always the player having the 2 of spades leads to the first trick (not necessarily with that card). This additional hand is usually at the end of the game but players may put it to the middle of the game. In this case, the dealer of the fourth hand also deals for the extra game.

Terminology list:

young - jack (J), any of the four suits
taking - making a trick having a J
hit - a form of taking, when the J takes the trick (beating all other cards)
catch - a form of taking, when a J of another player is beaten
silent taking - a taking without announcing it at the bidding
announced (declared) taking - a taking declared during the bidding
contra - questioning a taking announced by an opponent
game - a set of hands (8 or 9)
hand - 1 round of play (1 deal)
hunter - the player who gets the most takings
extra game - a hand (not a game!) in which there is no trump
optional rule - a rule that can make the game more interesting, but usable only if all the players agree to it
luck - something vital for the play
strategy - something useful for the play
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Last updated: 1st January 2002