Troefcall

This page is mainly based on information from Fernando Noordam.

Introduction

Troefcall is a trick-taking game for four players which is played in the former Dutch colony Suriname and in the Surinamese community in the Netherlands. It has some similarity to the Indian game Court Piece or Seven Hands, and this may be explained by the presence of a significant minority of ethnic Indians in Suriname. The name of the game (troefcall = 'trump call') is a mixture of Dutch and English, and the terminology of the game uses both English and Dutch words.

Players and Cards

There are four players in fixed partnerships, partners sitting opposite each toher.

A standard international 52-card pack is used.

Deal and play are clockwise.

The Deal and Making Trumps

The first trump caller is chosen by dealing the cards around until a Jack appears. The player to the right of the trump caller is the dealer.

The dealer shuffles the cards and the trump caller (the player to dealer's left) has the opportunity to cut. (So unlike most European games, in Troefcall the player who will be dealt the first cards also cuts the pack.)

The dealer then deals the top five cards to the trump caller who looks at them and names the trump suit. The deal is then completed by dealing a batch of five cards to each of the other three players, then a batch of four cards to each player, and finally another batch of four cards to each player.

In subsequent hands, the same player continues to deal as long as the trump caller's team wins points. If the trump caller's team loses, the turn to deal passes to the left: the unsuccessful trump caller becomes the new dealer, and the old dealer's partner becomes the new trump caller.

If after all the cards are dealt the trump caller has no picture cards (King, Queen or Jack), the trump caller may show his 13 cards and ask for the cards to be redealt. In this case all the cards are shuffled and there is a new deal by the same dealer. Holding one or more Aces does not prevent the trump caller from demanding a redeal, provided that no pictures are held.

The Play

The trump caller leads to the first trick. Any card may be led, and other players in clockwise order must each play a card of the suit that was led if possible. A player who has no cards of the suit that was led may play any card. If there are any trumps in the trick, the highest trump wins it. A trick containing no trumps is won by the highest card of the suit that was led. The winner of each trick leads to the next.

The first objective is to win the majority of tricks - that is at least 7 of the 13 tricks.

A team that wins the first 7 tricks must decide whether to stop there, or to play on and try to win all 13 tricks. The player who wins the seventh trick can stop the play by tapping the table or announcing 'kap partij'. It is also possible for the partner of the winner of the seventh trick to stop the play by announcing 'kap partij'. If a team wins seven tricks and the winner of the seventh continues and leads to the eighth trick, the team is committed to an attempt to win 13 tricks (baunie) and incurs a penalty if they subsequently lose a trick.

Scoring

A cumulative score is kept for each team, starting at zero.

  • A team that wins at least seven tricks, but not the first seven tricks, scores 2 points.
  • If a team wins the first seven tricks and the winner of the seventh trick stops the play at that point, they score 5 points for kap partij.
  • If a team wins the first seven tricks and the partner of the winner of the seventh trick stops the play at that point, they score just 2 points.
  • If a team wins all 13 tricks, they score 15 points for baunie (possible from the English 'bounty').
  • If a team wins the first seven tricks, leads to the eighth trick, but then fails to win all the remaining tricks, their opponents score 2 points.

If the trump maker's team scores, the same dealer deals again. If the dealer's team scores, the turn to deal passes to the left.

The first team to reach an agreed target score, for example 15 points, 20 points or 50 points, wins the game.

Alternatively players may agree to play a fixed number of deals, or up to an agreed time limit.

Other Web Sites

Here is the website of the Troefcall Sport Bond Nederland and an archive copy of an earlier version of the site, which had a more complete set of rules.