OBJECTIVE OF KLABERJASS:  Be the first player to score 500 points


NUMBER OF CARDS: 32 card deck

RANK OF CARDS: (low) 7,8,9,J,Q,K,10,Ace (high), Trump suit (low) 7,8,Q,K,10,A,9,J (high) 

TYPE OF GAME: Trick taking



Klaberjass is an early 19th century Dutch trick taking game for two players.  It is played with a 32 card French deck.  Rather than just reward players for collecting tricks, Klaberjass spices it up by challenging players to collect specific cards, and it rewards them for having certain combinations of cards, and capturing the final trick.


To prepare the deck for Klaberjass, remove the 2’s – 6’s from all of the suits.  As with many of the older trick taking games, card order is quite different.  

Cards rank: (low) 7, 8, 9, Jack, Queen, King, 10, Ace (high)

Trump suited cards rank: (low) 7, 8, Queen, King, 10, Ace, 9, Jack (high)

Sequence rank: 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace

To decide who will be the dealer and scorekeeper, each player should take a card from the deck.  The player with the lowest card must deal first and keep score for the game. The dealer collects the cards and shuffles the deck thoroughly.  From this point on, the winner of the round becomes the dealer.

Deal six cards to each player three at a time.  The rest of the deck is placed on the table as a draw pile.  Take the top card and flip it face up.  This is the trump card.  It should be placed under the draw pile in such a way that half of the trump card is exposed.


The non-dealer has the option to accept the trump suit.  If they do not like it, they can pass.  The dealer then gets to accept or pass.  If the trump suit is accepted, play can begin with that suit as trump.  If the dealer also passes, both players get a chance to declare which suit they want as trump with the non-dealer deciding first.  If the non-dealer passes, the dealer may declare trump.  If both players pass on calling a trump suit, the cards are collected and redealt.  The player who determines trump must collect the most points for the round.

Once the trump suit is established, three more cards are dealt to each player by the dealer.  The bottom card from the deck is also flipped face up for both players to see.  This card is not part of the game, but it allows players to have a little more knowledge about what cards might be in play.  At this point, there are two cards showing: the trump determination card and the bottom card.

Before the first trick is played, players should announce any sequences in their hand.  A sequence is three or more cards of the same suit in sequential order.  If both players have a sequence in their hand, the best sequence earns the points.  A higher ranked three card sequence beats a lower sequence of three cards, a four card sequence beats three, and so on.

The player who has the trump suited 7 may now exchange it for the original turned up trump suit determination card if they wish.  For example, if the trump suit card was a Jack, the player will want to exchange the lower ranked 7 for that card.

If a player has the trump suited King and Queen in their hand, this combination is called the Bella.  Ownership of the Bella should be announced as the second card in the Bella is played.  Points are earned for having the Bella.  Declare it only when you play the second card.

The non-dealer leads the first trick.  They may play any card from their hand.  The player who goes second must follow suit if they can.  If they cannot follow suit, they must play a trump card.  If a trump card was led, the second player must play a higher ranking trump card if they can.  If a player can’t follow suit or play a trump card, they can play any card from their hand.  Essentially, the player going second must win the trick if they can.  

Whoever lays the highest trump card or the highest card in the suit that was led takes the trick.  The player who takes the trick leads.  Play like this continues until all nine tricks have been captured.  Once the round is over, it is time to tally up the score.


Players earn points for capturing specific cards.  They also earn points for having the Bella and the highest sequence at the start of the round.  Points are awarded as follows:

Trump Jack = 20 points

Trump 9 = 14 points

Aces = 11 points each

10’s = 10 points each

Kings = 4 points each

Queens = 3 points each

Non-trump Jacks = 2 points each

The Bella = 20 points

If the highest sequence is 3 cards = 20 points

If the highest sequence is 4 or more cards = 50 points

Capturing the last trick = 10 points

If the player who determined trump fails to earn more points than their opponent, they forfeit the points they collect and give them to their opponent.  


The first player to earn 500 points or more wins the game.  If both players pass 500 points at the same time, the player with the highest score wins.

Mark Ball
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