Card games in Tunisia

Chkobba is the most popular game in Tunisia. It is now played with a 40-card French-suited pack (lacking all 8s, 9s and 10s). The rules are very similar to those of Scopa. Thierry Depaulis reports that "Skouba" was already mentioned in an article of 1933.

I have the following information from Dudley Ollis, a friend of whose visited Tunisia in 2000.

He organised his own trip and was based in Tunis. He hired guides each day to take him to other towns for sight-seeing and everywhere he asked about cards. In cafes generally the main preocupation was dominoes (played very quickly), and to a minor extent Rummy.

However, on a visit to a small village some 100km south of Tunis, he found Quarante de Roi, also being played very quickly. He got his guide to explain the rules of the game that they were playing and it matched Parlett's description (in the Penguin Encyclopedia of Card Games). The guide said that it was only played by the older generation. He got the guide to write the name of the game in Arabic and in "English" i.e. a phonetic version of the Arabic which was: arbaeene malek.

Note: Quarante de Roi was often described in French German and Czech card game books in the nineteenth century, but is presumed to have died out in Europe. It is played by four players in fixed partmnerships using a 32 card pack ranking K-Q-J-A-10-9-8-7 in each suit. There are scores for having a set of three or four kings, queens or jacks in your hand, and for each king, queen or jack taken in a trick.

This page is maintained by John McLeod (   © John McLeod, 2001. Last updated: 2nd April 2010