The Czech game Sedma (meaning 'seven') belongs to an unusual group of trick-taking games, found only in Eastern Europe, in which a card can be beaten only by an equal card or a seven. According to Tomáš Svoboda, whose book Oficiální Pravidla Karetních Her is the source of many of the variants on this page, it was introduced from Hungary or Slovakia in the 1960's, first to Moravia and then to Bohemia, where it quickly became popular because of its simple rules and interesting play. In Bohemia the game continued to evolve and several variations of the game are now played.
Players and cards
Sedma is most interesting for two players or four players in fixed partnerships, partners sitting opposite. It can also be played by three, each playing for themselves.
Normally a 32-card German-suited pack is used, with ace, king, over, under, ten, nine, eight and seven in each of the suits acorns, leaves, hearts and balls. If necessary a French-suited 32-card pack could be substituted. When three play, two unimportant cards - normally two eights or one eight and one nine - are removed from the pack, leaving 30 cards.
In the game, aces and tens are worth 10 points each. Other cards are worthless, but the last trick is worth 10 points, for a total of 90 points in each hand.
Deal and play are clockwise.
The dealer deals four cards to each player, usually two at a time. The remaining cards are stacked face down.
In the second and subsequent hands the cards are shuffled and dealt by the loser (one of the losers) of the previous hand, and the winner (a member of the winning team) leads to the first trick. In a four-player game this means that if the dealing team wins the turn to deal passes to the left, while if the dealing team loses the turn to deal passes to the dealer's partner.
The player to dealer's left leads to the first trick, and the other players in turn each play a card. Any card may be played to a trick. When everyone has played a card, the player who played first to the trick has two options:
- end the trick, in which case it is won by the last player who played a card that is equal to the first card played to the trick or a seven;
- continue the trick by playing another card that is equal to the first card or a seven.
If the first player continues the trick, the other players must each in turn play another card to it, after which the first player has the same options. The first player may choose to continue the trick for a third round, and again for a fourth round by continuing to play sevens or cards that match the very first card of the trick. The trick ends when the first player chooses to stop or everyone has played all four of their cards. The winner is the last person who either matched the card that began the trick or played a seven. The winner gathers all the cards played to the trick and stores them face down - in a partnership game partners keep their tricks together in a single pile. Then beginning with the winner of the trick, the players take turns to draw the top card from the face down pack, continuing until they all have four cards again. The winner of the trick then begins a new trick by leading any card.
When the pack runs out, the play continues as before using the cards that remain in the players' hands, until all the cards have been played.
Examples of play. The players are N(orth), E(ast), S(outh) and W(est) and the cards are abbreviated to A, K, O, U, 10, 9, 8, 7. North begins the first trick.
- N: 9, E: 10, S: U, W: 9, N: 9, E: 7, S: 8, W: 10. North decides to continue for a second round because West is winning, but East has a 7 and takes the trick, and West is able to give her partner another 10. North has no more 9's or 7's so has to stop. Everyone draws two cards. East won the trick so starts the next one.
- E: A, S: 7, W: A, N: K. East is satisfied with this and stops. Everyone draws a card. West won so begins the next trick.
Note that in Sedma (unlike some other related games) you are allowed to continue a trick even if you or your partner are currently winning. It is sometimes advantageous to do so if your opponents seem to be under pressure, and may have to give you an ace or ten if you do not give them a chance to draw new cards.
When all the cards have been played, each player or team counts 10 points for each ace or ten they have in their tricks, and the player or team that won the last trick counts 10 points extra, for a total of 90 points in the game.
- If no player or team has all 90 points, the player or team with most points wins 1 stake.
- A player or team that wins all 90 points, but not all the tricks, wins 2 stakes.
- If one player or team wins all the cards, they win 3 stakes.
In a 3-player game the winner is paid by both opponents. If two players tie for most points, the third player pays them 1 stake each. If all tie (30 each) there is no payment.
There are several different ways of scoring.
- The stakes won may just be recorded as points for the winning side, and the first to an agreed target, for example 10 points, wins the game. (In the 3-player game you would give the winner 1, 2 or 3 points, or both winners 1 point in the event of a 2-way tie).
- In a two- or four-player game, some play that the winning player or team scores the difference in card points between the two teams and a running total of each team's points are kept.
- Some play that each player or team scores the points that they took. Some play that there are 100 points available in each hand: 80 for the aces and tens, 10 for the last trick, and 10 extra points that go into a pool. When a player or team wins all the points in a hand and the last trick, they score 100 points plus all points that have accumulated in the pool, which is thereby reduced to zero.
Spálená kaše (burned mash). Some play that in a two- or four-player game, if a trick consists of four cards of the same rank played consecutively - for example 9, 9, 9, 9 - the fourth player (or the fourth player's team) immediately wins the hand for 1 stake. Some play that in case of a burned seven (spálená sedma: a trick consisting of four sevens), the fourth player immediately wins the hand for 3 stakes. Some play a spálená kaše is worth 4 stakes. Some play that an ordinary spálená kaše is worth 5 stakes, burned tens are worth 10 stakes and burned sevens are worth 15 stakes.
According to the Czech Wikipedia page on Sedma, some play with a different form of burning. If a player at any point collects a hand consisting of four equal cards, the play ends and that player's team immediately wins a burned game (spálená hra) for 4 stakes.
Three players can play as teams. The player who has the king of leaves (or in some variants the king of hearts) plays alone against the other two in partnership, and the king of leaves (or hearts) functions in the same way as a seven. With three players there is no winning by burning - four consecutively played equal cards do not win the hand.
Svoboda's Oficiální Pravidla mentions a three-player version with 32 cards, in which one of the tricks contains only two cards. If the first seven tricks are played normally, after the seventh trick only two players will be able to draw cards and one player will have no card for the last trick. Zbyněk Hartmann suggests that perhaps on one occasion during the game, before the deck is exhausted, a player is allowed to pass instead of playing to a trick. In this case the remaining tricks will be full 3-card tricks.
There is a version of Sedma in which aces and tens have no special value. Instead the objective is simply to win tricks, each of the eight tricks being worth 1 point.
In this relatively recent Bohemian variant, described in Svoboda's Oficiální Pravidla, whose name means something like 'seven with eights', the mechanics of play and scoring are the same as in Sedma, except that the eights as well as the sevens are wild cards. The rules on winning tricks are as follows:
- a card that is equal to the first card in the trick can beat an equal card, or a seven, or an eight;
- an eight can beat a card that is equal to the first card in the trick, or a seven or another eight;
- a seven can beat a card that is equal to the first card in the trick, or another seven, but not an eight.
For example in a trick consisting of A-8-9-7 the 8 wins, but in A-8-A-7 the 7 wins because the A beats the 8 and then the 7 beats the A.
Svoboda also describes a version of Sedma osmová which combines traditional Sedma scoring with scoring for tricks. Aces and tens are worth 10 points, each trick is worth 10 points and the last trick is worth an extra 10 points for a total of 170 points in the game.
In Slovakia, there are no extra points for the last trick. The turn to deal passes to the next player at the end of a hand only if the dealer's opponents took at least 60 points in cards; otherwise the same player deals again.
Laco Kováč describes a popular variant in which a player or team wins 1 stake if they take exactly 60 points (the opponent(s) having 20) or 2 stakes if they win all the cards. In all other cases there is no score, and the same player deals again. Even a score of 80-0 is not a win if the side with 0 points has taken at least one empty trick. To win, a player or team must either win every trick or arrange to give the opponent(s) exactly 20 points.
In this variant, if the very last card in the last trick is a 7 and the team of the last player has not yet won any tricks, that final 7 cannot win the last trick. So for example if A and C play against B and D who have not yet won a trick, and the last trick is A:10, B:9, C:9, D:7, D's 7, is worthless and A/C win the last trick and 2 stakes. However, if the last trick is A:10, B:7, C:9, D:9, B's 7 wins the last trick (since it is not the last card), so the result is 90-10 and there is no winner.
Sometimes this game is played in a 2-player format known as 'soccer'. A game of soccer consists of 8 games of sedma, as described above (half time is after 4 games). Each stake represents a goal. The player considered to be the 'home team' leads to the first trick in each game, or if the game is in a neutral stadium, the players take turns to lead to the first trick.