OBJECT OF IRISH DON: The object of Irish Don is to be the first team to score over 80 points.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 4 players
MATERIALS: A standard 52-card deck, a way to keep score if needed, and a flat surface.
TYPE OF GAME: Trick-Taking Card Game
OVERVIEW OF IRISH DON
Iris Don is a trick-taking card game for 4 players. These players are separated into two partnerships, where teammates sit opposite of each other for the game.
The game is usually played over two rounds unless a team concedes after the first. The goal of the game is to be the first team to score over 80 points. Teams do this by gathering points during each round by playing to and winning tricks with score cards.
The first dealer is chosen at random. The next dealer will be the player who pitches for the first round. The first pitcher is the player who receives the 2 of diamonds. The second round’s pitcher will be the player left of the dealer of the second round.
The dealer will shuffle the cards and have the player to their right cut the deck. Then each player will receive a 13-card hand, one card at a time. The player who receives the 2 of diamonds in the first round is the pitcher. The pitcher is the player who leads the first trick of the round. They will also determine trumps, so their partner is not permitted to look at their hand until trumps have been determined, as to not give any information away.
Cards Ranking and Values
Irish don has a standard ranking of Ace (high), King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2 (low). Each suit is ranked the same and the trump is determined by the first card played by the pitcher to the first trick. After this has been determined the partner of the pitcher may take up their hand and view it.
Cards also have values attached to them. The ace of trumps is worth 4 points, the king of trumps is worth 3 points, the queen of trumps is worth 2 points, the jack of trumps is worth 1 point, the 9 of trumps is worth 18 points, the 5 of trumps is worth 10 points. Each 9 of a non-trump suit is worth 9 points and all non-trump 5s are worth 5 points. This means there are 80 points in total for each round of play.
Once all cards are dealt the pitcher can lead the first trick. They may lead any card they wish. Players who follow must follow suit if able, but if not able, they may play any card to the trick.
The highest-ranked trump, if applicable, wins the trick. If not trumps, the highest-ranked card of the suit led wins the trick. The winner of a trick leads the next trick.
In Irish Don, partners are not permitted to discuss cards in hand or to give signals in any way.
If needed scores can be kept over the two rounds, but most players take to remembering their teams score from the first. After all, tricks are won each team will tally their score for the round. The two teams’ scores should add up to equal 80 points. if a team wins all 80 points, there is no special reward, but it is sometimes called a bonk for the other team. A team can be so far behind that they decide to concede instead of playing the second round.
END OF GAME
The first team to score more than 80 points wins the game. The game may be stopped in the second round if a team believes they have enough points to win. If the round is played all the way through and both teams have exactly 80 points then the team to win a trick with a score card has lost, since they were the last team to reach 80 points.