Chouine is a card game played mainly in and around the Loire Valley in France. It is primarily a two-player game though adaptations for 3 or 4 players also exist.

Its origins are said to date from the 16th century, but in recent years it has enjoyed a revival, and an annual Chouine World Championship is now held in Lavardin.

The information on this page is based on Jaques Proust's Règle du jeu de la Chouine. There are a few details that are not completely explained in that document: we hope to clarify these uncertainties when we have the opportunity to meet players from Lavardin at the IPCS convention in September 2023.

Players, Cards and Objective

Chouine is played with a French-suited 32-card pack, the cards of each suit ranking from high to low: Ace, Ten, King, Queen, Jack, 9,8,7.

It is a trick-taking game for two players, in which the object is to score card points by two methods:

  1. by winning tricks containing valuable cards, and
  2. by declaring combinations of cards held in the hand of a player.

Each deal is known as a partie, and the player who takes more points wins the partie. A manche consists of a series of parties, as agreed by the players in advance. For example they may agree that each manche will be the best of five parties ("cinq points [parties] de Chouine"), in which case the first player to win three parties wins the manche. A complete game may consist of the best of three manches: if the same player wins the first two manches they win the game; if the players win one manche each a third manche, called la belle, is played to decide the game.

The card values are

Each Ace: 11 points
Each Ten: 10 points
Each King: 4 points
Each Queen: 3 points
Each Jack: 2 points
Each 9, 8 or 7: 0 points

The winner of the last trick scores an extra 10 points (dix de der), so the total card points available in each deal (excluding points for combinations) are 130.

Card Combinations

The following combinations held in the hand of one player can be declared to score extra card points.

Name Description Value
Mariage King and Queen of the same suit 40 in trumps, 20 in any other suit
Tierce King, Queen and Jack of a suit 60 in trumps, 30 in any other suit
Quateron Ace, King, Queen, Jack of a suit 80 in trumps, 40 in any other suit
Quinte Any five Brisques (Aces or Tens) 100
Chouine Ace, Ten, King, Queen, Jack of a suit wins the partie


At the start of the game each player draws one card from the shuffled deck, which is spread face down. The player who draws the lower ranked card is the first dealer - if the cards are of equal rank the players draw again.

In the course of a manche, the turn to deal alternates between the players: the non-dealer in each partie becomes the dealer in the next. For the first partie of the second manche, the dealer is the opponent of the player who dealt first in the first manche. For the third manche (if needed) the players draw cards as at the start to decide who will deal first.

The dealer shuffles, the non-dealer cuts, and the dealer deals 5 cards face down to each player, one at a time. The next card (the 11th) is placed face up on the table and its suit is trumps for the partie. The remaining 21 undealt cards are stacked face down on top of the trump indicator card and at right angles to it, so the the rank and value of the trump indicator remain visible. These cards form a drawing stock or talon.

The players pick up their cards and look at them. Each player has a hand of five cards, held so that the opponent cannot see their faces.


The non-dealer leads to the first trick, and subsequently the winner of each trick leads to the next. Each trick consists of two cards. If they are the same suit the higher ranking card wins. If they are different suits and one is a trump, the trump wins irrespective of rank. If they are different suits and neither is a trump the first card (played by the leader to the trick) wins irrespective of rank.

So long as there are cards in the talon, there is no restriction on what cards may be played - the first player may lead any card and the other player may respond with any card of the same or a different suit from their hand as they wish. At the end of the trick, the winner stores the played cards in front of them in their trick pile and then draws the top card from the talon and adds it to their hand without showing it to their opponent. The loser of the trick then draws the next card from the talon in the same way, so that each player again has a hand of five cards.

The winner of the 11th trick draws the last face-down card of the talon and the loser of this trick draws the trump indicator card into their hand. Now that the talon is empty the rules of play change for the last five tricks. The leader to a trick may still lead any card, but when the talon is empty the second player must follow suit, must trump if possible when holding no card of the suit led, and must beat the first player's card if possible when a trump is led. In other words when the talon is empty the second player to each trick has the following obligations:

  1. to play a card of the same suit that was led if possible;
  2. if the card led was a trump, to win the trick if possible by playing a higher trump, otherwise to play a lower trump;
  3. if the card led was not a trump and the second player holds no card of the suit that was led, to play a trump if possible, thereby winning the trick;
  4. if the second player holds no card of the suit led and no trumps, to play any card (losing the trick).

Exchanging the seven of trumps

A player who is dealt or acquires the 7 of trumps may exchange it for the trump indicator card - taking the trump indicator into their hand and putting the seven in its place. This exchange may be carried out at any time before the lead to 11th trick (the trick at the end of which the last two cards are drawn from the talon). At the start of the the 11th trick, if the 7 of trumps is neither face up on the table nor in the hand of the player leading to the trick, it is customary for the leader to say "au sept" (to the seven) as a reminder to the opponent to take this last opportunity to exchange it if they have it. If the 7 of trumps is not exchanged it is likely to be the last face down card, lying directly on top of the trump indicator: in this case it cannot be exchanged since by the time it is drawn it is too late to do so.

Declaring combinations

A player who holds one of the scoring combinations in their hand can declare it (saying for example "j'ai un tierce de carreau" - "I have a tierce in diamonds") when playing one of its cards to a trick. At the end of the trick the player shows the other cards of the combination and is entitled to score the points for it.

If the combination is a chouine (A-10-K-Q-J of a suit) the play ends when the chouine is shown and the holder of the chouine wins the partie. If both players declare a chouine in the same trick and one of them is in trumps, the trump chouine wins. If neither of them is in trumps, the player who led to the trick, and was therefore first to declare their chouine, wins the partie.


At the end of the play, each player counts the total number of card points in their tricks, the winner of the last trick adds 10 points for dix de der, and each player adds the value of any combinations they declared during the play. The player with most points wins the partie. In case of a tie the partie is annulled: neither player wins it and the same dealer deals again.

In practice, in many deals it is only necessary to consider the scores for declarations, the number of brisques taken by each player and the dix de der, from which it will be clear who has won the partie. Only in the case of a fairly close result is it necessary to compute the exact card point scores including the kings, queens and jacks to determine the winner.

Further deals are played, the turn to deal alternating between the players, until one player has won the enough parties to win the manche (for example a manche of five parties will end as soon as one player has won three parties). After this, if a complete game is being played, there is a second manche, followed if necessary by a third manche (la belle) as a decider if the players have won one manche each.

Uncertainties in the Rules

None of the sources we have consulted gives completely clear rules on the declaration of combinations. There are several issues.

  1. After a combination has been declared, can some or all of the same cards be used later as part of another combination? For example is it possible in the course of a partie to declare a mariage and later a tierce in the same suit for a total of 50 points? If a player declares a quinte holding five brisques plays one of them, and then draws another brisque at the end of the trick, can they then declare another quinte on the next trick since they again hold five brisques? Provisionally, we think that the answer is probably that only one combination in each suit and one quinte can be declared during a partie.
  2. Is a player allowed to declare a combination when playing to any trick, or can a combination only be declared when leading to a trick? In the above description we assume that both the first and second player to a trick are allowed to declare a combination if they have one.
  3. When declaring a combination, is it necessary to play one of its cards to the trick, or can the player keep both cards of the declared combination in their hand while playing a different card to the trick? If our answers to the first two questions are correct, there would in fact be no reason to declare a combination and retain it in one's hand. This would unnecessarily give information away to the opponent, and there would always be an opportunity to declare the combination later.
  4. What is the latest point at which combinations can be declared? Since no restrictions are mentioned in the rules we assume that players can continue to declare combinations they have been concealing even after the talon is empty. In an extreme case a player could even delay declaring a mariage until the second to last trick, when the king and queen were the only cards remaining in their hand.


Three or Four Players

Although Chouine is primarily a two-player game it can be adapted to be played by three or four players. In the 3- and 4-player games only three cards are dealt to each player and only three kinds of combination can be declared.

  • Mariage (king-queen of a suit) scores 20 points in a plain suit or 40 in trumps.
  • Trente (a hand of three brisques) scores 30 points.
  • Chouine (king-queen-jack of a suit) immediately wins the partie.

The last trick is worth 10 points as usual, and the player who takes most points wins the partie.

In the three-player game the last two cards of the talon (the trump indicator and the face-down card on top of it) are never drawn and count for neither player. The rules of play change as soon as there are only these two cards in the talon.

Mondoubleau Variant

This is played mainly in the Perche Vendômois region.

The main difference is that no card is turned up as a trump indicator, and there is no trump suit at the start of the game.

A trump suit is created when the player leading to a trick declares a mariage, tierce or quateron, and the suit of this declaration becomes trumps from that point onwards.

This page is maintained by John McLeod,   © John McLeod, 2023. Last updated: 6th September 2023