- The Cards
- Players, Cards and Preparation
- The Deal
- The Bidding
- Calling a king and using the talon
- The Play
- Declarations and Announcements
- Called King in the Talon
- Taper: Tarok for three players
Tarok is played in several Romanian cities, and especially in the region around Suceava, which is now in the province of Moldavia. In the nineteenth century this territory was under Austrian rule: it formed the southern part of Bukovina, the most easterly province of the Habsburg empire. Tarok was certainly introduced to Romania from Austria in the 19th century, and the Romanian game preserves some older features of Austrian Tarok which have been abandoned elsewhere, especially the system of drawing the talon cards in stages.
The main description on this page is based on version of the game learned by John McLeod and Sally Prime game at Suceava between 14th and 17th September 2001 from Silviu Mara, Brenduşa Mara, Dr Eugen Popescu and Dr Lucia Popescu. Similar forms of Tarok are played in other parts of Romania, and in Chernovtsy (formerly Czernowitz), which is now in Ukraine but was in Romania in the first part of the 20th century and was the capital of the Austrian province of Bukovina. I am grateful to Teodor Totolici and Oleg Panchuk for information on these versions of the game.
A standard 54-card Austrian tarok pack is used. This consists of 22 trumps, which in Romanian are called taroace (plural of tarok), and 8 cards in each of the four suits: hearts (inimă), diamonds (caro), clubs (treflă or cruce) and spades (pică). The highest trump is the skiz, which is unnumbered and looks a little like a joker. The remaining trumps are identified by large Roman numbers: the second highest is the XXI, which is called luna (moon), and the remaining trumps rank in numerical order, the lowest being the pagat (I). Each suit has four court cards: the king (rege or popa), queen (dama), horse (kabal) and jack (valet) below which are four pip cards: 10 - 7 in the black suits and ace - 4 in the red suits. The rank of the suit cards from high to low is:
- black suits: king, queen, horse, jack, 10, 9, 8, 7.
- red suits: king, queen, horse, jack, ace, 2, 3, 4.
The cards used in Romania are essentially the same as Austrian Tarock cards, and players in North America can obtain these from TaroBear's Lair.
As in nearly all tarot games, one of the main aims is to win tricks containing valuable cards. The cards have their normal point values as follows:
|skiz, luna, pagat||. . . . .||5 points each|
|kings||. . . . .||5 points each|
|queens||. . . . .||4 points each|
|horses||. . . . .||3 points each|
|jacks||. . . . .||2 points each|
|all other cards||. . . . .||1 point each|
Players and preparation
The principal form of the game is for four players. This will be described first, followed by the three-player form, which is played when a fourth person is not available. The main description is of the game played at Suceava; the few variations we know of are mentioned at the end.
The first dealer can be determined by taking from the pack four cards including one tarok, and dealing them to the players. The one who receives the tarok deals first, and the turn to deal passes to the right after each hand. Deal and play are anticlockwise.
The players settle up in cash after each hand. The scores on which the payments are based will be called game points, to distinguish them from the card points that determine which team has won the game. In 2001, typical stakes varied from 500 lei to 5,000 lei per game point (at that time, one US dollar was equivalent to about 30,000 lei). There is a pool, to which all the players contribute, which is won by a successful announced pagat ultimo (see below). The traditional name for this pool is jidan, which is an insulting word for a Jew, but the players were embarrassed about this and did not like to use the term. At the start of the game, and whenever the pool is empty, everyone contributes 1 game point to it. In addition, at the start of each hand the dealer puts in 1 game point before dealing (so the pool for the first hand contains 5 game points - 2 contributed by the dealer and 1 by each other player).
The dealer shuffles and offers the cards to the player opposite to cut. When the cards are cut at least 5 cards must remain in each portion of the pack. When the cards have been cut the dealer puts the first 6 cards face down in the centre of the table to form the talon (in a single batch, without disturbing their order) and deals out the remaining cards in batches of 6 so that each player has 12 cards.
The player opposite the dealer can knock on the cards instead of cutting them, in which case the player to dealer's right has four options: to ask for the cards to be dealt 6 at a time as usual; or 12 at a time; or by a method called abeles; or 1-2-3-3-2-1. In all cases, the top six cards are dealt to the talon.
- If the cards are to be dealt in batches of 12, the player to dealer's right chooses whether to receive the first, second, third or fourth batch, and the next two players in turn choose one of the remaining batches, and the dealer takes the unclaimed batch.
- In abeles, the first batch of 6 cards is dealt to the talon, the next 6 to the player to dealer's right, then a batch of 12 cards to each of the other three players in rotation, and the final 6 cards to the player to dealer's right.
- In 1-2-3-3-2-1, after the talon, the dealer deals a single card to each player, then two to each, then three to each, then three, two, one.
A player whose 12 cards include no tarok and no king may (but is not obliged to) demand that the hand be abandoned. In this case there is no bidding or play. The cards are thrown in and the next dealer deals, after contributing one point to the pool as usual.
There are three possible contracts: doi, unu and solo, in which the declarer takes respectively two, one or no cards from the talon. The contracts of doi and unu can be played at various levels, depending on the order in which the talon cards are inspected, on how much of the talon the declarer sees before taking cards and on which cards are taken. Playing at a higher level increases the amount to be paid if the game is lost but usually does not affect the amount won if it is successful. Bidding always starts at the first level of the contract in question: the higher levels are used only when another player wants to overcall the first bidder. In practice, by far the commonest contract is doi; a player with a strong hand will usually play solo, and unu is rarely bid.
The player to dealer's right speaks first; the possible bids are unul de doi (first two), unul de unu (first one) or solo. A player who does not wish to bid can pass, in which case the next player in turn has the same options. If all four players pass, a game of michi-michi is played. If someone bids, the bidding continues in rotation for as many circuits as necessary until three players have passed. A player who has passed cannot bid again.
A later player can overcall a bid of unul de doi by bidding al doilea de doi (second two), which in turn can be overcalled by al treilea de doi (third two). Any of these can be overcalled by unul de unu or solo. In the same way, unul de unu can in theory be overcalled by successively higher levels of one (al doilea de unu, al treilea de unu) or by solo. A bid of solo cannot be overcalled by a later player. If a player whose first turn to bid was earlier has been overcalled by a later player, and wishes to stay in the bidding, the earlier player says 'la mine' (to me), meaning that he or she is prepared to play the same contract that the overcaller named. The earlier bidder takes priority and plays the contract unless the later bidder makes an overcall which the earlier bidder is unwilling to equal.
Calling a king and using the talon
The remaining bidder when all the other players have passed is the declarer. The declarer must call a king, and whoever holds the called king is the declarer's partner for the hand. The partner must not reveal his or her identity, but will become known during the play (for example when the king is played), or in certain cases during the round of announcements. It is legal to call a king that you hold yourself, and in that case you will play alone against the other three players in partnership; you also play alone if the called king happens to be in the talon. These are the only methods of playing alone - if all the kings are in the hands of the other three players then you have to play with a partner.
After calling a king, if the contract is doi, the declarer takes two cards from the talon and discards two; if it is unu the declarer takes one talon card and discards one, and if it is solo, the talon remains unseen until the end of the play. The kings, skiz, luna and pagat cannot be discarded. Other trumps can be discarded only if the declarer has no other choice, and is thereby left with nothing but kings and trumps. If any trumps are discarded they must be placed face up; other cards are discarded face down.
By far the commonest contract is unul de doi, for which the procedure is as follows. After calling a king, you look at the top two cards of the talon, keeping them separate from your hand. If you like these cards you can add them to your hand and discard two; the remaining four talon cards are placed face down to dealer's right; they will not be seen until the end of the play. In this case you are playing at the first level. Alternatively you can place the first two talon cards face up on the table for all to see, and look at the next two talon cards, again keeping them separate from your hand. If you decide to add these two cards to your hand and discard two you are playing at the second level; the two cards you rejected and the two unseen cards are placed to dealer's right, the rejected cards remaining face up. If you reject the second two talon cards, placing them face up on the table, you then draw the last two, and if you add them to your hand and discard two you are playing at the third level; the four rejected cards are placed face up to dealer's right. Having looked at the last two talon cards you may choose to place these face up on the table as well; you can then go back and take either the first two cards, playing at the fourth level, or the second two, playing at the fifth level. In either case the other four cards are placed face up to the dealer's right and you discard two cards as usual.
If the contract is al doilea de doi (second two), the procedure is similar, except that the talon is arranged in three pairs of cards and you look first at the second pair (playing at the second level if you take them), then at the last pair and finally at the pair that was originally on top of the talon. Having exposed all these you can go back to the second or third pair. The level increases by one at each stage, so that for example, by the time you look at the top pair you are at the fourth level, and if having done that you go back to the bottom pair you are at the sixth level. In al treilea de doi (third two) you look first at the bottom two cards of the talon (level three), then the top two (level four), then the second two (level five), and having exposed them all you can go back to the bottom two (level six) or top two (level seven).
The method of taking a card from the talon in unu is similar: in unul de unu (first one) you can play at the first level if you just take the top card, or get as high as the eleventh level by going through the whole talon one card at a time and then returning to the fifth card. If you play al treilea de unu (third one) you could in theory get as high as the thirteenth level, where you look at the whole talon, starting with the third card, and finally return to the top card. However, it is inconceivable that the bidding would reach this level in a real game. Whatever type of unu is played, the declarer discards one card and the remaining five cards of the talon are placed to dealer's right, any that declarer exposed remaining face up.
If the bid is solo, the talon is simply placed face down to dealer's right.
If the declarer finds the called king in the talon, the declarer has the option of giving up without play, and paying the other three players for a lost game.
After the declarer has called a king and (if the contract requires it) drawn cards from the talon and discarded, there is a round of announcements, which will be explained later, and then the play begins.
No matter who is declarer, the player to dealer's right leads to the first trick. If a suit is led, players must follow with a card of the same suit if they can. A player who has no card of the suit led must play a tarok if possible. A player who has no cards of the suit led and no tarok may play any card. When a tarok is led the other players must play a tarok if they can, if not they may play anything.
A trick is won by the highest tarok played to it, or if it contains no tarok, by the highest card of the suit led. The winner of a trick leads to the next. The players keep the tricks they have won face down in front of themselves.
One convention is in general use during the play, especially by the declarer's team. To lead a small tarok - lower than X - indicates to your partner that you hold one of the highest trumps - skiz or luna. To lead a larger tarok - X or above - normally indicates that you hold neither of the top two and are playing your highest tarok. This convention is not an invariable rule, and can sometimes be used deceptively by an opponent pretending to be declarer's partner.
When all twelve tricks have been played, it will be clear who were the partners. The declarer and the holder of the called king combine the cards they have won with those discarded by the declarer. The two or three players of the opposing team combine their tricks with the unused talon cards to the right of the dealer. Each team counts the value of the cards in the tricks they have won - there are 70 points altogether as explained above. The declarer's team needs at least 36 points to win the 'game'. (The minimum needed to win is sometimes described as '35 points plus two cards', since two low cards left over after counting in threes are worth one point). The opponents win if they have 35 or more points.
Irrespective of who wins the game, it is possible to achieve various bonuses which may be worth more than the game itself, and the value of these bonuses can be increased by announcing them before the play starts. The possible bonuses are:
- Trula: a team has all three of the skiz, luna and pagat in their tricks.
- Toţi regii: a team has all four kings in their tricks.
- Regele prins: the king called by the declarer is taken by the opponents in their tricks, or is in a part of the talon exposed and rejected by the declarer. The declarer's team has to pay a penalty.
- Luna prinsă: the luna (XXI) is captured by the other team's skiz.
- Pagat ultimo (or pagat la fine): the pagat (the smallest trump) wins the last trick. If the pagat is played to the last trick but does not win, the team that played the pagat has to pay a penalty for lost pagat ultimo, even if the trick is won by a partner of the player of the pagat.
- Rege ultimo (or popa la fine): the declarer's team wins the last trick, with the called king in it. Note that in this case the king does not itself have to win the trick - the bonus is also won if the declarer wins the last trick with the called king in it. If the called king is played to the last trick but the trick is won by the opponents, the declarer's team has to pay for lost rege ultimo as well as for the capture of the king.
- Valat: the team wins all the tricks.
Declarations and Announcements
Immediately before the play begins, there is a round of announcements, which is begun by the declarer and continues anticlockwise around the table. Players have the opportunity to declare that they hold a number of trumps, to announce that their team will attempt one or more bonuses, and to double the score for any undertaking by the other team that they think they can defeat.
The possible declarations of trumps are:
- 8 taroace: the player holds exactly 8 trumps
- 9 taroace: the player holds exactly 9 trumps
- 10 taroace: the player holds 10 or more trumps
Each team only scores for the largest number of trumps declared by any member of that team, and it is illegal to declare a number of trumps when someone you know to be a member of your team has already declared an equal or larger number. Therefore, if the declarer declares '9 taroace' and another player declares '8 taroace', it is certain that the other player does not hold the called king. But if the declarer declares '9 taroace' and another player declares '10 taroace', the second player could be an opponent, or could be the declarer's partner increasing the declaration.
Any player may announce trula or toţi regii, but if you are an opponent of the declarer and wish to make such an announcement, you must identify yourself as an opponent if it is not already clear, for example by saying contra to the game (see below).
Although any player may achieve the pagat ultimo bonus without prior announcement, only the declarer is allowed to announce pagat ultimo. This is an undertaking to win the last trick with the pagat, and fails if the pagat is forced out before the end, or if it is beaten in the last trick, or if, through some oversight, the declarer turns out not to hold the pagat. If you announce pagat ultimo or say contra to a pagat ultimo, you are obliged to declare your trumps if you hold eight or more - if you say merge instead, you cannot have more than seven trumps in your hand. If pagat ultimo is announced, it should be the declarer's last announcement: the declarer would say something like: 'zece taroace, trula, pagat ultimo'.
Only the holder of the called king is allowed to announce rege ultimo (or popa la fine). This is an undertaking that the declarer's team will win the called king in the last trick, and it fails if the called king is forced out before the end, or is captured by the opponents in the last trick.
Any player may, in theory, announce that their team will capture the luna from the other team, but in practice it is extremely rare to be in a position to make this announcement.
Any player may announce valat, undertaking that their team will win every trick.
Any opponent of the declarer may say contra to the game, which doubles the score for the game, won or lost. After this, a member of the declarer's team may say recontra, the opponents may then say supra, the declarer's team may say hirş and the opponents may say mord, each applying a further double to the score. In the same way, if a bonus is announced, a member of the other team may say contra to the announcement, a member of the announcing team may recontra, and so on. The game and all bonuses and announcements are scored independently of each other and can be contra'd independently, so if for example the declarer has announced pagat ultimo and you want to contra, you must make clear whether you are saying contra to the game, to the pagat ultimo or to both.
Any declarations or announcements of bonuses must be made at a player's first turn to speak. After this, the players continue to speak in rotation to say whether they wish to contra, recontra and so on, but there can be no new declarations or announcements, and after three consecutive passes the play begins.
Partners share equally in all payments, including those for trumps declared by one of them. In the normal case in which two players play against two, one member of the losing team pays the specified amount to one member of the winning team and the other loser pays the same amount to the other winner. When the declarer is alone against three opponents, the declarer pays the specified amount to each opponent or receives it from each opponent, so winning or losing three times as much as in a normal game.
The payments for the game, declarations and announcements are given in the following table. The scores for declarations of trumps are always paid to the team that made the declaration, and the score for the game is paid to the team that won the game. For each announced bonus, the announcing team is paid the relevant amount if it succeeds, but has to pay an equal amount if it fails.
|Game won by declarer's team a,c||2||3||8|
|Game lost by declarer's team a,c||2×level||3×level||8|
|Declarations: d||8 taroace||1||1||1|
|Bonuses:||Announced bonus b||Silent bonus|
|pagat ultimo||7 f||7 f||9 f||1||1||2|
Notes on the scoring
- Playing at a higher level in doi or unu normally multiplies your loss if unsuccessful but not your gain if you win. For example, if you play in doi at the fourth level you win 2 or lose 8.
- Contra, recontra, supra, hirş and mord of an announced bonus multiply the relevant score by 2, 4, 8, 16 or 32 respectively.
- If an opponent says contra to the game, the score is doubled and the level multiplier now applies irrespective of whether the declarer wins or loses. So in a fourth level doi with contra you would win or lose 16 for the game. If you said recontra you would win or lose 32.
- It is possible for both teams to score for declarations of taroace, but each scores only for the highest number of taroace declared by a member of that team. If both teams make equal declarations, it is possible for these scores to cancel.
- When a team wins all the tricks, or announces valat, the score for valat replaces the normal score for the game.
- When pagat ultimo is announced, in addition to the payments in the above table there are payments to or from the pool. If the announcement is successful the declarer's team take the all money in the pool, dividing it equally between them. If the pagat ultimo fails they must double the money in the pool, contributing half each. If the amount in the pool is uneven, the declarer pays or receives the odd point. If contra was said to the pagat ultimo and the pagat ultimo fails then the declarer's opponents take the pool and the declarer's team must replenish it with twice as much money as it previously contained, contributing equally. If the pagat ultimo succeeds despite the contra, the declarer's team takes the pool and the opponents replenish it with twice its previous contents. In case of recontra, the successful team divides the pool between them and the other team pays in four times the amount that it contained before; supra would require the losing side to create a pool eight times as big as before, and so on. If playing alone, the declarer wins the whole pool or pays the appropriate amount alone, while the opponents, in case of a contra, recontra, etc. either win one third of the pool each, or each pay one third of the new pool. If the amount involved is not divisible by three, the player who said contra pays or receives an extra game point or two.
The slightly strange looking scores of 7 and 9 for an announced pagat ultimo might perhaps have arisen if at some time in the past an extra 5 was added to the scores of 2 and 4 prevailing for most other bonuses.
Called king in the talon
If as declarer you find the king you called in the talon and choose to surrender, then you must pay each of your three opponents for the loss of the game at the level you had reached. In addition, you must pay an extra point for a lost silent trula, unless you hold at least one of the three cards. For example if your contract is al doilea de doi and you find the called king in the bottom two cards of the talon, the payment for a surrender is 6 game points to each opponent, provided that you can show the skiz, luna or pagat. Holding none of these, you would pay 7 points to each opponent.
If the declarer chooses to play on, but does not take the part of the talon that contains the called king, the king counts as captured, and the declarer incurs a double penalty of 2 game points for abandoning the king in this way. (If the declarer took the king from the talon and lost it in the play, the penalty for losing the king would only be 1 game point).
If after the play the called king is found in a part of the talon that the declarer did not looked at, there is no penalty for captured called king. In this case, if the contract was doi or unu, the declarer takes the called king from the previously unseen part of the talon and gives a low card from his or her tricks in exchange for it. If the contract was solo, the declarer is not entitled to take the king.
If all four players pass, a game of michi-michi is played. The talon is set aside and twelve tricks are played under the usual rules, the objective being to avoid winning tricks. There are no card points, declarations, bonuses or announcements. Each player must pay one game point to the pool for each trick that they win.
After a michi-michi, the next four hands are played for double stakes - all payments are doubled except those to and from the pool. This set of four hands is known as a radler. If another michi-michi occurs during a radler, then the players pay two game points to the pool for each trick taken, and a further radler of four hands for double stakes must be played at the end of the already scheduled double stake hands.
Note that in michi-michi (unlike negative tarok games in some other countries) there is no obligation to overtake the highest card so far played to the trick.
The penalty for an accidental revoke is rather mild. Play continues, and the offending team cannot win, but must pay any losses if they lose, the offender paying for partner. A common example of a revoke is to forget to call a king before you start looking at the talon.
Taper: Tarok for three players
The three-player form of Romanian Tarok is known as 'Taper'. This name is derived from the German word Tapper, which was the original name of the lowest bid in the earliest Austrian form of this game.
Most of the rules for Taper are the same as for four-player Romanian Tarok. Only the differences will be explained.
A 42 card pack is used, formed by removing the lowest three cards of each suit. So in the red suits only the court cards and the ace remain and in the black suits the court cards and the ten. The cards are counted in the usual way, but the 12 one-point cards that have been removed reduce the total number of points in the pack to 66. 34 points are required for declarer to win the game, and the opponents win with 33 or more. No king is called: the declarer always plays alone against two opponents in partnership.
The pool is constituted as with four players, each player putting in a game point when it is empty and the dealer putting in an extra game point, so that it contains with 4 points for the first hand.
The cards are cut by the player to dealer's left. Six cards are dealt to the talon and 12 cards to each player, six at a time unless the cutter knocks the cards. After a knock, the player to dealer's right can choose among the same options as in the four-player game.
The lowest bid is unul de trei (first three), which can be overcalled by al doilea de trei (second three) or by unul de doi, unul de unu or solo. The doi, unu and solo contracts are exactly the same as in the four-player game (except that no king is called).
If the contract is unul de trei, the declarer looks at the top three cards of the talon and either takes them (first level) or exposes them and looks at the bottom three cards. The declarer can then either take the bottom cards without showing them (second level) or expose these too and return to the top cards (third level). In al doilea de trei, the declarer looks at the bottom three talon cards first, then the top three, and may return to the bottom three, so playing at the second, third or fourth level. Al doilea de trei can be overcalled by al treilea de trei (third three), in which the declarer looks at the top three cards first (level three), then the bottom three (level four) and can return to the top three (level five). The score for the game is 1 game point if won, or a number of game points equal to the level if lost. If contra is said to the game, then the score is 2 times the level, won or lost, 4 times the level if the declarer says recontra and so on.
It is possible to declare 10, 11 or 12 taroace, for 1, 2 or 3 game points respectively, and the declaration is compulsory for a player announcing pagat ultimo or saying contra to the declarer's pagat ultimo announcement. There is of course no rege ultimo announcement and the penalties relating to capture of the called king are not relevant. All other bonuses, announcements and scores are the same as in the four-player game.
There is no michi-michi: if all three players pass, the cards are thrown in and beginning with the next dealer, a radler of three hands for double stakes is played.
Variations of four-player Tarok
Dr Eugen Popescu told us that originally, the trei bids were admitted in the four-player game, but were abandoned because they were too easy. Unul de doi is now the lowest bid admitted throughout Romania and in Chernovtsy.
Teodor Totolici tells me that in most parts of Romania, the Unu bids are not recognised - only the three levels of Doi and Solo can be bid. Also, the game is played without a Pagat Ultimo pot.
The game Michi-Michi, played in the Suceava version of four-handed Tarok when no one wishes to bid, seems to be characteristic of Southern Bukovina only. In Chernovtsy and in other parts of Romania, if all pass the cards are thrown in and four hands are played for double stakes. Some play that four double stake hands are also played after a hand in which the scores exactly cancel out: these zero scoring hands are known as hep-hep.
There are a number of minor variations between groups of players. For example, some allow the player cutting the cards to take one card unseen from the pack while cutting, in which case this player only receives five cards in the first round of the deal.
There are a few differences in bonuses and scoring.
- In some places toţi regii is worth 4 points if announced and 2 points if made silently, though the scores for the other bonuses are as given above.
- In many places in Romania the bonuses in Solo are worth the same as in Doi.
- In Czernowitz, the opponents of the declarer are permitted to announce regele prins (capture of the called king), doubling the score for it if it is achieved and of course paying the same if they fail to catch the king.
Teodor Totolici also passed on the following laws of ethical behaviour, which he learned from his Tarok teacher Miss Radu Aluna:
- Historically, since Tarok is a noble and very challenging game, Tarok players consider themselves above other card-players, but they should always maintain the noble image of Tarok by never insulting or offending a non-Tarok player and maintaining a chivalrous attitude at any game.
- The game of Tarok is a game of chivalry, and all players should act accordingly. Their comportment should not be offensive or insulting, regardless the reason or person.
- Fair play is vital for the game of Tarok. Playing fair is the point of Tarok.
- A player who abandons his hand at a certain point in the game and concedes that his side has lost cannot be forced to play by anybody, but can be advised to continue by his partner.
- A player can look at the last trick only if no other card has been played since then. Nobody can see the rest of the cards until the end of the game and doing so can be considered cheating by any of the other players.
- A player can ask to be reminded the called king, declarations, announcements and any of the players can answer. This should be done in a manner that assures that the partner / adversaries remain secret. This should not be used to irritate any of the players.
- The dealer is forced to remind other players of the called king, the declarations and announcements if asked. If the dealer is unable to do so and no other player is willing to, the dealer's team loses the game. The dealer can refuse his duty if already he has reminded twice. In this case the team of the player asking to be reminded loses the game. A player who reveals that he is declarer's partner using any other means except declarations, announcements and play of the cards can be considered cheating by any of the other players.
- Talking is allowed so long as it is not used to communicate to one's partner information concerning the game. In most cases players trust each other that the information contained in communications does not contain instructions on how to play or reveal cards in their possession.
- Taunting is however allowed as long as the words are not offensive. Since Tarok is a strategic game, many players use taunts to cause a mistake or to alter the psychological state of another player.
- At any point of the game a player can call for a silent game (mortul pe masa - "a corpse on the table") forbidding talking. The call is accepted if at least one other player agrees. The call is automatically accepted (no agreement needed) if the caller has no partner, if the declaration is solo or if an announcement of valat has been made. Such a call is made as an indication of distrust to the other players and they have the moral obligation to reconsider the manner of communication at the table.
- Silent games are usually tiresome so all players should consider carefully the accusations made by any other player.
- A player can withdraw from the game without conidering that he has lost if he has made four calls for silent games. If the game is being played for money, his points are multiplied by the stake and the remaining three players pay him accordingly. If his points are negative in value, his points will be zeroed.