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Pieter de Hooch - Soldiers Playing Cards - WGA11685.jpg
Soldiers Playing Cards by Pieter de Hooch
Card rank (highest first)A 10 K Q J 9 8 7
J 9 A 10 K Q 8 7 (trump suit)
Related games
Klaberjass, Belote, Jass

Klaverjas (Dutch: [klaːvər'jɑs] (audio speaker iconlisten)) or Klaverjassen (Dutch: [klaːvər'jɑsən] (audio speaker iconlisten)) is the Dutch name for a four player trick-taking card game using the piquet deck of playing cards. It is closely related to the card game klaberjass, which is popular internationally and also known as Bela, and various other names. It is one of the most popular card games in the Netherlands, traditionally played in cafes and social clubs.[1] The game offers a considerable level of complexity and depth. It has numerous variants, but universal fundamental rules exists.


The name dates to 1890–95 from the Dutch word klaverjas, combining klaver (the suit of clubs, literally "clover") plus jas, the original name for the highest trump card.[2] According to Scarne,[3] its origin has been variously claimed by the Dutch, Swiss, French, and Hungarians. However, Parlett unequivocally states that the family of games to which Klaverjas belongs originated in the Netherlands and is now most highly developed in Switzerland.[4]


The game is played clockwise by four players in two teams, partners sitting opposite as in whist. It uses a piquet deck, i.e. a set of 32 cards in the four French suits: Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 7–10. All cards are dealt to the players, in batches of 3–2–3 or 4–4.


Starting with the elder hand, the first player prepared to do so chooses a trump suit and thereby becomes obliged to win the deal. Various versions handle the special case when all players pass differently.


As in most trick-taking games, players must follow suit if they can, and the highest trump in the trick, or in the absence of trumps the highest card in the suit of the first card, takes the trick. But there are additional restrictions on the cards that may be played. There are two variants; both agree that following a trump lead all players must head the trick if they can.

Rotterdam rules: A player who cannot follow suit must trump if possible. A player who plays a trump must head the trick if possible, even if the player's partner currently heads the trick.

Amsterdam rules: Undertrumping is only allowed when it cannot be avoided. A player who cannot follow suit and whose partner is not heading the trick must head the trick if possible.

Aces and tens are high, i.e. cards in ordinary suits rank Ace, 10, King, Queen, Jack, 9, 8, 7. The Jack ("Jas") and nine ("Nel") in the trump suit, however, are the highest trumps. Thus trumps rank Jack, 9, Ace, 10, King, Queen, 8, 7.


Card values
Plain Suit Rank A 10 K Q J 9 8 7
Value 20 14 11 10 4 3 2 0 0 0
Trump Suit Rank J 9 A 10 K Q 8 7
"Roem" Suit Rank A K Q J 10 9 8 7

The point values of cards are as in Jass and Belote. In addition, the last trick ("Slag") scores 10 points. Accordingly, the card values and the last trick add up to a total of 162 points.

Additional points are scored by players who have certain combinations in a single trick: Four cards of the same rank (very rare) – 100 (or 200 for four jacks), 3 or 4 consecutive cards in the same suit – 20/50, King and Queen of trumps ("Stuk") – 20. These additional points combinations are called "roem", and must be declared explicitly, otherwise they don't count. Any 3 consecutive cards on the deck, 20pts (when K,Q are included with trump cards, +20pts) Any 4 consecutive cards on the deck, 50pts (idem, eg. A,K,Q of trump makes 40pts.)

There is a reward of 100 points if the other team doesn't get any tricks. This is called a march ("pit").

At the end of each round, all points are tallied (card values and the last trick plus roem). It is up to the team of players who made the deal to win more points than the opposing team. If they obtain half of the points or less, then all points go to the opposing team (162 plus all the roem). This is called "nat".

Normally the game is played over 16 rounds. At the end of the game, all points are summed up and the team who has the most points overall wins the game.


There are a wide number of variants of the game, with different names and spellings. The South African version of the game is known as Klawerjas.

Popular culture[edit]

It is the famous two-hand game played by the Broadway characters in Damon Runyon’s stories.[3]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Rules of Card Games: Klaverjas at Pagat.com
  2. ^ Random House Unabridged Dictionary 2006 [1] at Dictionary.com
  3. ^ a b John Scarne Scarne on Card Games: How to Play and Win at Poker, Pinochle, Blackjack, Gin and Other Popular Card Games pg. 414 Dover Publications (2004) ISBN 0-486-43603-9
  4. ^ Parlett 2008, p. 305.


External links[edit]