Klobber Nuggie

Invented by Howard Fosdick © BestFreeNewGames.com

Overview: Here's one of the best trick-taking games for two. Versions of this game are played worldwide under such names as Belotte, Bela, Klaberjass, Klob, Clobber, Clobyosh, and Jo-Jotte.

Our formulation combines challenging play with streamlined rules.

For: 2 players use a French deck of 32 cards. (Make a French deck by removing all cards below the 7's from a standard 52-card deck, including any Jokers.)

Objective: Win the most card points. Win Game by attaining 250 total points across deals.

Card Rank: Cards ranks differ depending on the situation:

Card Rank For:
High ---> Low:
Trump suit in trick-taking J-9-A-10-K-Q-8-7
Non-trump suit in trick-taking A-10-K-Q-J-9-8-7
Melds A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7

The Jack and 9 are the two highest cards in the trump suit. Ace and 10 are the highest cards in non-trump suits.

The Deal: Deal alternates between players. Deal 6 cards to each player. Then turn one card face-up and place the remaining cards aside.

Bidding: After the deal, players bid to establish the trump suit by these steps:

  1. Non-dealer may accept the suit of the turned-up card as the trump suit, or he may pass.
  2. Dealer may accept the suit of the turned-up card as the trump suit, or he may pass.
  3. Non-dealer may declare any other suit as trump (including “no trump”), or he may pass.
  4. Dealer may declare any other suit as trump (including “no trump”), or he may pass.
  5. If no one made a bid, toss in the hand and re-deal.

If a player bids “no trump”, all cards will be played to tricks without any trump suit.

The Second Deal: Now deal three more cards to each player from the remaining deck. Each player now holds 9 cards.

Melding: Now players may optionally declare one or more melds. To score for a meld, simply display the relevant cards to your opponent and then return them to your hand.

There are two kinds of melds: set and sequence.

Set meld -- three or four of a kind with any of the face cards – Ace, King, Queen, and Jack.

Sequence meld -- a run of three or more cards in the same suit (with the card ranking of A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7). Sequences are not restricted to face cards as are sets. For example, a sequence such as 7-8-9 in Clubs scores 20 points.

Melds score as follows:

Set Meld:
Three-of-a-Kind 20
Four-of-a-Kind 50

Sequence Meld: Points:
Sequence of three 20
Sequence of four 50
Sequence of five 70
Sequence of six 100

A single card may participate in a maximum of one set meld and one sequence meld. For example, an Ace of Spades might be used for both three-of-a-kind in Aces, and also in the sequence meld A-K-Q of spades.

Play: After melding, the defender -- the person who lost the bid -- leads any card he chooses to the first trick. The second player must follow suit if he can. If the second player cannot follow suit, he must trump if able. A trump lead must be won if possible. (There is no requirement to win the trick when following suit to a non-trump lead.)

The trick is won by the highest trump, if any trump was played. Otherwise it is won by the highest card of the suit led.

The trick winner leads any card to the next trick.

Scoring for Points: After all nine cards in the players' hands have been played to tricks, players score these points for the cards they've won:

Jack of Trumps 20
9 of Trumps 15
Aces 10
10's 10
Kings   5
Queens   5
Winning the last trick 10

To compute his total score, each player adds the card points he won in tricks to his melding points (if any).

Example: Player A won two Aces, one King, and one Queen in tricks. He declared one meld of three-of-a-kind (Queen-Queen-Queen). His total score is 10+10+5+5 for tricks, plus 20 points for his meld, so his total score is 50 points. If he won the last trick, he scores an additional 10 points.

Final Score: If the trump declarer scored more total points than the defender, both players score their respective point totals. If the bid winner did not out-score the defender, the bid winner scores 0 and the defender scores his own points.

Winning Game: The first player to attain 250 total points -- across as many deals as necessary -- wins Game.

Tips for Play: Bid for trumps in a suit in which you hold the Jack and Nine. Winning the bid allows you to determine the trump suit but at the risk of a loss if you don't score more total points than your opponent for the hand.

Given that your opponent must trump if void in the suit you lead, lead to tricks in order force your opponent to waste valuable trump cards on no-point and low-point wins. If you can go void in a suit, you may be able to win card points with even the lowest trump cards.

Melds score uncontested points, but at the cost of exposing part of your hand to your opponent. Consider whether the exposure is worth the points. Also, remember the cards your opponent exposed and use this to your advantage during trick-play.

Don't overlook any melds. Remember, a single card can participate in both a set and sequence meld. While only face cards contribute to sets, any card can take part in a sequence. Melds represent a luck factor unknown at the time of bidding and on occasion they enable a defender to triumph with poor cards.

Advanced Game: The advanced game adds two additional optional rules.

1. One extra meld is allowed: Each King and Queen in the same suit scores 20 points. This meld is termed a marriage.

2. If he holds the 7 in the same suit as the turn-up, the Bid Winner may optionally exchange the 7 for the turn-up. This exchange occurs after the deal of the additional three cards to each player, but before declaring melds.

Differences from Other Versions:

Many cultures play this game in their own variants. Klobber-Nuggie presents cleaner, less complex rules to simplify play while enhancing strategic elements. It neatly balances skill in card-play and with the uncertainty of the three-draw and the luck of meld points.

Key differences from other versions:

  • Simplified bidding. (No odd "schmeiss" bid)
  • Simplified trick scoring. (No complexity for varied card values like some versions. No above-the-line and below-the-line scoring like Jo-Jotte.)
  • Meld and trick scores combine for a single total score. (This adds an interesting chance element via meld scores, though not enough that it overwhelms or detracts from the need for skill.)
  • This version is optimised for two players, rather than being an adaption of a version designed for larger groups or partnerships.
  • Game at 250 points requires two to five hands to win, the ideal playing duration.

License: Feel free to print, copy, and distribute these rules, so long as you retain this paragraph. Invented by Howard Fosdick © 2023, distributed under Creative Commons License BY-ND.      HOME