Card games in Tajikistan

This page is based on information from Azamdzhon Farkatov and Khasan Kanaatov, passed on to me by Alexey Lobashev.

The standard Anglo-American 52-card pack or subsets of it are used. As in Russia, the 36-card pack with 6 as the lowest rank is common. The suits are called dil (hearts), risht (literally "brick": diamonds), khol (lit. "cross": clubs), archa (lit. "fir tree": spades).

Card games played in Tajikistan include:

  • Khol (Clubs). A fishing game with the standard 52-card pack, played to a target of 52 points. To start the game four cards are dealt face up and four cards to each player; there are subsequent deals of 4 cards each until the pack is exhausted.. Points are scored for majority of cards (2), majority of clubs (1), diamond10 (1) and club2 (1). There is no building; pictures capture equal ranked pictures; a numeral card can capture an equal ranked numeral card or one combination adding up to the value of the played card.
  • Peshkadan (victor), played with 36 cards, is similar to Podkidnoy Durak. There are five players to begin with, but after each deal the loser is eliminated, until only a single winner remains.
  • Durak, also using a 36-card pack, is played with "shoulder straps". There are two players who play as in Podkidnoy Durak, but the object of the first hand is to win by attacking with one or more sixes, including at least one non-trump, as your last cards. A player who has won with sixes goes on to try to win a hand with sevens, then eights and so on. The first player to reach aces and win with them is the overall winner. It is also possible to win by playing all four of the required rank as your last cards, in which case you go up two levels. The name comes from the fact that the winning cards are slapped onto the loser's shoulders, like a military decoration. If there are three cards, the third goes on the loser's forehead; if there are four, two on each shoulder.
  • Pocho is also played with 36 cards. The play is similar to Durak, but the players are arranged into a social hierarchy: Pocho (boss), Disti Rosti Pocho (boss's right-hand man), Yordam Chi Disti Rost (right-hand man's assistant), Vazir (bodyguard), Yordam Chi Vazir (bodyguard's assistant), Gekh (shit). Players take turn to attack the next highger ranking player, and if the lower ranked player wins they swap places. During the game, the boss (Pocho) can issue commands to his right-hand man, who relays them to the bodyguard (Vazir). The Pocho does not speak directly to any player except his right-hand man. Any command involving menial work (e.g. fetching the drinks) is carried out by the Gekh under instruction from the Vazir, but only following commands originating from the Pocho. The Vazir wields a knotted towel with which he may be instructed to punish the Gekh by hitting him a certain number of times if the Gekh's work is unsatifactory.
  • Trynka is a gambling game played with 21 cards: A-K-Q-J-10 of all suits plus the club6. Players are dealt three cards and there is poker-style betting. The aim is to have as high a score as possible counting only cards in your best suit (ace=11, pictures=10, ten=10, six=12), or three of a kind (which ranks above 30), or a pair of aces (counting 22).
  • Damadzhalab (female prostitute) - a game similar to Old Maid, played with a 36-card pack from which one Queen is removed. As a penalty, the loser has to call out three times "Man dzhalab!" ("I'm a prostitute!").
This page is maintained by John McLeod (   © John McLeod, 2003. Last updated: 19th November 2003