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King (card game)

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Sorting a bridge hand

King is a card game similar to Bridge but played by four individual players rather than partners. Like Bridge, it is a game of tricks where each player gets 13 cards in each hand and must play them all.


The Dealer is decided by handing out cards clockwise. The player who gets the king of hearts will be the first dealer. There is a rule in Brazil whereby the player who gets the king of hearts can nominate the dealer, including himself. This indirectly gives him the advantage of choosing his turn at the auction. The player to the left of the dealer shuffles the cards. The game is always played clockwise, starting with the dealer. The winner of the trick is the highest card of the suit played at the start of the trick or the highest trump, if any, was declared for that hand. Players must always follow suit whenever possible. There are 13 possible tricks in each hand. The cards are handed out in their entirety (one pack of 52 cards) one by one clockwise. The cards' value is the highest Ace, then King, Queen, Jack, 10… lowest 2. The individual game comprises six negative hands and four positive hands. Scoring may be done in two ways:

  • In a block of two columns for each player, a positive and a negative, where the difference between them indicates the position of that player concerning the others;
  • Simply adding the points with no distinct columns.

The player with the highest final positive balance wins.


The total points for all the players in the six negative hands are -1300. The total points for all the players in the four positive hands (auctions) are +1300. At the end of the game, the sum of all the players' total points should be zero.

Negative hands[edit]

  • 1st hand - No Tricks – The aim is not to win tricks. The dealer plays any card, and all the other players must follow that suit unless they do not hold any card of that suit. The winner of the trick is the highest card of the suit played at the start of the trick, or the highest trump, if any, was declared for that hand. The winner restarts play with any card and so on until all the cards have been played. Then, each player must count and announce their score for marking. Each trick is worth 20 negative points, and the total for the hand is 260 negative points.
  • 2nd hand - No Hearts – The aim is not to win tricks with Hearts. A player must not start a trick with Hearts unless he holds no other suit. If a player cannot follow suit, he can then play any card, including Hearts. Each Hearts card is worth 20 points, and the total for the hand is 260 negative points.
  • 3rd hand - No Queens – The aim is not to win tricks with Queens. Each Queen is worth 50 points, and the total for the hand is 200 negative points.
  • 4th hand - No Men - The aim is not to win tricks with Kings or Jacks. Each King and Jack is worth 30 points, and the total for the hand is 240 negative points.
  • 5th hand - No King of Hearts – The aim is not to get the King of Hearts. A player must not start a trick with Hearts unless he holds no other suit. Important: The King of Hearts must be played at the first legal opportunity, meaning when the holder cannot follow suit or for the first time, Hearts is used to open a trick. The King of Hearts is worth 160 negative points.
  • 6th hand - No Last - The aim is not to win the last 2 tricks. Each of those tricks is worth 90 negative points, and the total for the hand is 180 negative points.

The total negative points for the four players must total -1300. For a quicker game, players may combine the 1st with 6th hand, 2nd with 5th, and 3rd with 4th, maintaining the point system.

Positive hands[edit]

Following the six negative hands, there are four positive hands. In each hand, the dealer (also known as the “Beneficiary” or “Auctioneer”), after dealing and analyzing the cards, has the possibility of deciding if the hand will be:

  • Positive (Playing up): Each trick benefits the winner with 25 positive points. It is permitted to elect a trump suit or play without one;
  • Negative (Playing Down): Each player starts with 325 positive points, and for each trick, won loses 75 points, i.e., if a player wins no tricks, he retains the 325 points. If he wins one trick, he ends with 250, and so on.

The total for each hand between all the players is 325 positive points.

Each player will have his turn to be the Beneficiary and decide upon the game, depending on what he believes benefits him most. The Beneficiary may even auction off his benefit to the highest bidder of positive hands, thus allowing that player to select a trump suit if he chooses to. Payment is made at the end of the hand.

  • Trump suit

The Beneficiary (original or auction winner) may choose a trump suit for a positive hand. Trump cards win against any other suit but can only be played if the suit cannot be followed or if the trick started with the trump suit. Between two or more trump cards, the highest one wins.

  • Auction

In the four positive hands, after dealing the cards, each player will have a turn at choosing the trump suit or accept bids from the other players for that privilege. If the Beneficiary decides to negotiate his benefit, the auction is opened. During the auction, each player can bid in turn, clockwise, starting with the player to the left of the Beneficiary. It should be agreed beforehand if a player loses the right to bid again after previously passing. Each bid must be higher in total points than the previous one. It is considered that 3 positive (up) tricks (75 positive points) equal a negative (down) trick (75 negative points), which means, to beat 4 up, a player must offer at least 5 up or 2 down. The order between up and down is 1 up, 2 up, 3up/ 1 down, 4 up, 5 up, 6 up/ 2 down, 7 up, 8 up. The bidding is limited to 8 up. The Beneficiary may make an ultimatum for the limit- 8 up or go down. If a bid of 8 up is made, the Beneficiary must accept, and the winner may choose a trump suit if any. Otherwise, he must play down.

During the auction, players must mention only the number of tricks bid and whether it is up or down. The trump suit must only be named if and after the Beneficiary has accepted a bid for positive.

Preference- The first bidders may preempt the subsequent bidders. Preference (or Preemption) means that a previous bidder (Preferred) can match a subsequent bid (Preempted) and win the auction. However, the match must be in the same terms and conditions, i.e., if the Preempted bid 3 up the Preferred cannot bid 1 down, he must bid the same 3 up. The first player to the left of the Beneficiary has preference over the second and third players, and the second player has preference over the third. That way, if the second or third players bid higher than the previous one, he can match and win by preference.

Once the bidding is finished, the Beneficiary must accept or decline, although he may negotiate an increase in the final bid. The final decision is at the Beneficiary’s exclusive discretion (except in case of an ultimatum), after which the auction is closed.

Payment- When the hand is finished, the auction winner must pay the bid. If he hasn’t done enough tricks (Playing Up), he must give up the ones he has, and the difference deducted from his score and added to the Beneficiary. Playing Down, the auction winner will receive from the Beneficiary the number of tricks bid so that his score is deducted and not the Beneficiary’s, provided he hasn’t won any more than that.

Foiled Auction – If only 3 or fewer bids are made, the Beneficiary may decide, without consultation, to forfeit the hand, and the score of 4 up for him and 3 up for the others is marked. It should be agreed beforehand if the Beneficiary may even forfeit the whole auction and mark 4-3-3-3. This could be useful to those who may be leading in the last hand.

Scoring table[edit]

No Each Player 1 Player 2 Player 3 Player 4 Hand totals
Tricks -20 -260
Hearts -20 -260
Queens -50 -200
Kings & Jacks -30 -240
King of Hearts -160 -160
Last 2 Tricks -90 -180
Totals -1300
Each up trick 25pts;
Each down trick -75pts out of 325
Totals 1300
Final scores 0

External links[edit]

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