OBJECTIVE OF CALYPSO: Win tricks and construct calypsos from them.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 4 players (fixed partnerships)

NUMBER OF CARDS: standard 52 card deck

RANK OF CARDS: A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2

TYPE OF GAME: Trick-taking



Calypso is considered a “forgotten game” from the mid-1900s. The game was invented in Trinidad by R W Willis and was later developed more by an English International Bridge named Kenneth Konstam.

In a book Konstam published in 1954, he recollected that in October of 1953 he sat with Willis and played his first game of Calypso, which he believed to be the first playing of the game ever. Konstam, after playing, offered to help Willis further develop the game so that it would appeal to mainstream card players. Konstam was truly grateful that Willis trusted him to do so and they were both “satisfied with the evolution of [Willis’] brainchild.”


The players that cut the two highest ranking cards are partners and the two players who cut the lowest cards are partners, players sit opposite each other at the playing table. The player who cut the highest ranking card picks their seat first and their personal trump suit. Their partner will sit across from them and their personal trump will be the partner suit of the highest bidder’s. The diagram to the below outlines the personal trump partnerships.  


The game has a total of four deals, each player deals once. Whoever cut the highest card is the first dealer and the responsibility passes to the left thereafter. They deal 13 cards to each player, face-down, one at a time. The cards that remain are placed in a pile to the side. These cards will be used in the remaining deals.


The goal of Calypso is to win tricks and make calypso from the tricks taken. A calypso is a full run or set of 13 cards. These cards are all from the same suit and run in sequence from Ace to Two. To specifically outline the objective, players are:

  • building a calypso in their personal trump suit
  • attempting to help your partner build their calypso
  • keep your opponents from building their own calypsos

The cards used to build calypsos can only come from winning tricks, not just the cards in your hand will suffice. Calypsos can be completed one at a time only. So, you can not try to build a second if you have not finished the first one.


As usual, the player sitting directly to the dealer’s left leads in the first trick. From then on, the winner of a trick leads in the next one. If you can, you are required to follow suit (play a card from the same suit led with). If you cannot, you may play any card in hand. Below are more specific rules which make this trick-taking game unique.

  • If you lead with a card from your personal trump suit, and every player follows, you take the trick regardless of the rank of the other cards. But, if no one can follow suit and play a card from their personal trump suit, the trick is taken by the highest-ranking card from someone’s personal trump suit.
  • If you lead with a card from another suit (which is not your personal trump suit), then the trick is won by the player who plays the highest ranking card from the suit led with or the highest ranking card from a personal trump (if one is played).
  • If two cards of equal rank win the trick, the first one played takes it.


When you take a trick, remove from it any cards which can be added to your calypso and cards which may be added to your partner’s calypsos. Cards which are not immediately needed can be placed in a face-down pile between you and you partner- this pile is under both of y’all’s ownership.

The diagram below illustrates each player’s calypso under-construction.


Once you finish a calypso (13 cards), collect the cards into a face-up pile to your right. Now you can begin building another calypso in the same manner as before.


After all 13 tricks have been played, the next dealer deals out the next 13 cards. This continues until all four players have dealt a hand. After, players score themselves using the outline below:

  • First Calypso: 500 points
  • Second Calypso: 750 points
  • Each Calypso After: 1000 points
  • Each Card in an Unfinished Calypso: 20 points
  • Each card left unleaded: 10 points

The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner!

Nakoa Davis

2 thoughts on “Calypso”

  1. Really neat trick taking card game. Once you know the rules all you need a four 52 card decks. The other stuff is nice but not need to play.

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