Klaverjas is a card game played by four people in two pairs. The two people sitting opposite each other form a team, so it’s two against two. In France and North America, similar games are known by the names Belote and Tarbish respectively. The Dutch name is derived from the old term ‘jas’, which stands for the jack as the highest asset.
One standard deck of cards is sufficient, as Klaverjas is played with 32 cards. The cards 2 through 6 are taken out of the deck.
The playing cards are ranked (from highest to lowest): A – 10 – K – Q – J – 9 – 8 – 7.
The objective of Klaverjas is to have as many points as possible at the end of 16 rounds. The team with the most points wins.
The cards are dealt to the players in batches of 3-2-3 or 4-4, until there are no more cards left to deal.
Starting with the player who received the first cards (the elder hand), the first played prepared for it chooses a trump suit and is thus obliged to win the deal.
Like with most trick-taking card games, players have to follow suit when possible. The highest trump takes the trick. In the absence of trumps, the highest card in the suit of the first card takes the trick.
There are additional restrictions on which cards are allowed to be played. Two variants are possible, but they both agree that after a trump lead, all players must head the trick if possible.
Amsterdam rules: Undertrumping is just allowed when it can’t be avoided. Players that can’t follow suit and whose game partner does not head the trick must head the trick if they can.
Rotterdam rules: Players that can’t follow suit must trump if they can. Players that play a trump must head the trick if they can, even if their partner is heading the trick.
Tens and aces are high. However, the jack (Jas) and nine (Nel) in the trump suit are the highest trump cards. The trumps are thus ranked J – 9 – A – 10 – K – Q – 8 – 7.
The point values of cards are as in ‘Jass’ and ‘Belote’. Additionally, the last trick (‘Slag’) is worth 10 points. Accordingly, the card values and the last trick make a total of 162 points.
Players who have certain combinations in a single trick score extra points: four cards of the same rank (very rare) – 100 (or 200 for four jacks), 3 or 4 consecutive cards in the same suit – 20/50, king and queen of trumps (‘Stuk’) – 20. These extra point combinations are called ‘roem’ and must be explicitly stated or they will not count. Any 3 consecutive cards in the deck, 20 points (when K, Q are included in the trump cards, +20 points). Any 4 consecutive cards in the pile, 50 points.
There is a 100 point reward if the opposing team doesn’t get any tricks. This is called a march (‘pit’).
At the end of each round, all points are added up (card values and last trick plus roem). It is up to the team of players who made the deal to win more points than the other team. If they get half the points or less, all the points go to the other team (162 plus all the fame). This is called ‘nat’.