Kemps (card game)

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The objective in Kemps is to achieve a hand of four cards of the same rank

Kemps is a matching card game for two to six teams of two players each, where each player must secretly communicate to their partner when they have four matching cards in their hand. The game is a "cross between Commerce and Authors" with the unusual feature of partnership play.[1] It is also known as Canes[2] Cash[3] and Kent.[4] It appears to be a 21st century game played in America and France, but its origin is unclear.[5]

Objective and game play[edit]

The game is played with a standard 52-card deck. The objective of Kemps is for a player to get four of a kind (i.e., four cards of the same rank), and then to signal this to their partner. The partner must call the name of the game to score.

Prior to the game, partners confer to pick a single, secret visual[6] signal that will indicate "I have four of a kind" to their partner.[5] Examples of signals would be tapping, gesturing, or holding cards a certain way, or the player winking or grimacing at their partner.[6] Signals may not be verbal, and players are not permitted to agree any other signals beyond "I have four of a kind". It is permissible to perform meaningless signals during the game to attempt to confuse opponents.[5]

Partners sit diagonal each other, with the playing surface in the middle, so that opponents have a chance to see the signals.

  • Each player is dealt four cards to begin the game.
  • Four cards are turned face up on the central playing surface.
  • All players may swap one of their cards for one of the central cards at any time.
  • If it appears that no further swaps are desired, a player will verify this (often by saying an agreed on word by all, like "flush" as in flushing the unwanted cards down the drain, or just "trash" or "discard"), clear the central four cards, and then turn up four new central cards.
  • Cards that have been cleared may not be retrieved, so their ranks cannot be collected in full to complete the game objective.

A player may call "Kemps!" if they believe that their partner has four of a kind. If correct, the team gains a point. If not, they lose a point.

If a player believes that an opponent has four of a kind, and if "Kemps!" has not been called by their partner, they may cut by calling "Stop Kemps!" (also "Cut!", "Counter-Kemps!", "Block!" or another word depending on the variant being played). When a player cuts, any opponent with four of a kind must show their cards.[5] If they have a four-of-a-kind, then the cutting team gains a point. If not, then the cutting team loses a point. Also, if a player calls "Stop Kemps" and the opposing team has four of a kind but has not yet done their signal, the "Stop Kemps" does not count and the team that called it loses a point.

After any round, a team may agree a new signal if they suspect their opponents have guessed it.[5]


Peanut Butter[edit]

Players call "Peanut Butter" when they believe their partner has four of a kind, and "Jelly" when they suspect their opponents have. In this variant, players may use verbal signals, and agree to play a specific (odd) number of rounds at the start of the game.[5]


  1. ^ Parlett (2004), p. 198.
  2. ^ Kemps at Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  3. ^ Cash (a.k.a. Kemps, Kent) at Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  4. ^ Cash (a.k.a. Kemps, Kent) at Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Rules of Card Games: Kemps".
  6. ^ a b Parlett 2008, p. 350.


External links[edit]