Arba'a Turub is a four-player card game from Somalia, whose name means "Four [packs of] Cards". No doubt it is so called because it is played with a 144-card pack made up four identical 36-card packs. It was described to me by Alexey Lobashev, who obtained the information from Mohamed Hassan of Mogadishu (Muqdisho). Alexey Lobashev reported the name of this game as Arpaa Turup but M. Abasheikh assures me that there is no letter 'p' in Somali and that the spelling must be Arba'a Turub.
Players and Cards
The game is played by four players in fixed partnerships, two against two. I am told that it is played by adults only, not children. The pack of 144 cards is made by throwing out all the cards below 6 from four standard international 52-card packs. The ranking of cards from highest to lowest is as follows: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6.
Before the game, any player deals one card to each player, face up. The player who gets a highest card becomes the dealer for the first deal.
The dealer shuffles the cards and the player sitting on his left cuts. Each player is then dealt 36 cards in batches of three.
After the player sitting on the dealer's left gets the first three cards, the dealing is stopped and this player, having looked at his cards, calls the trump suit. Then dealing is resumed.
To check that the deal is correct, because there are very many cards, the dealer shows everyone the number of cards in the last batch he dealt himself. If the number is more or less than three, the deal must be repeated.
For convenience the players sort the cards in their hands by suit and arrange them with red and black suits alternating.
[It seems from this description that the deal and play are clockwise, even though the parent single-deck game Turup was played counter-clockwise. It is a little surprising that the cards are cut by the player to dealer's left, who also receives the first cards in the deal.]
This is a plain trick taking game. The first to lead is the player sitting on the dealer's left. The players should follow suit. If they have no cards of the required suit, they can play a trump or any other card. As usual the highest trump, or if none are played the highest card of the suit led wins the trick. If two or more cards are played of the same suit and the same rank, the first of these is considered higher than the others. The winner of each trick leads to the next.
Partners can give signs to each other. For instance, having led a card one could knock once on the table, which means 'This is my strong suit'. If the player instead clicks his fingers, this would mean 'This is my weak suit'. Signs can be given only by the player who has played the first card in the trick, not by any other player.
Winning the game and the match
At the end of the game each partnership counts the tricks they have taken. The game is won by the party which takes more tricks. To win the match, a partnership must win two games, without losing any games in between them, the number of tricks taken in the second game they win being more than in the first game they win. Consecutive games in which the tricks are equal, or in which the same party wins as in the previous game, but with insufficient tricks to win the match, are considered a draw, and the match continues.
Before the match, the players place a stake. The winners of the match take the money.
For example, the first game is won by the party A with 21 tricks. The next game is again won by party A but with only 19 tricks, so is a draw. If in the third game, the party A wins with 22 or more tricks, they win the match. However, if the party B wins in the third game, then in the fourth game only party B will have an opportunity to win the match. If in the fourth game party A wins, it will be again considered their first winning game.
If the dealer's partnership wins, a player from the other partnership deals the next game; if dealer's partnership loses or comes to a draw, the same party deals. In case of loss, the players in the same partnership deal in turns. In case of a draw the same dealer deals again.