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Rook is a trick-taking game, usually played with a specialized deck of cards. Sometimes referred to as "Christian cards" or "missionary poker", Rook playing cards were introduced by Parker Brothers in 1906 to provide an alternative to standard playing cards for those in the Puritan tradition who considered the face cards in a regular deck inappropriate because of their association with gambling and cartomancy.

A blaze of lighting. A wind turned cold. Beware the power of the Rook. The eerie black bird can make all the difference.

History Edit

Parker Brothers created Rook in the early 1900s and released the game in 1906.

Rook playing cards Edit

The Rook deck consists of 57 cards: a blue Rook Bird card, similar to a joker, and 56 cards divided into four suits, or colors. Each suit—black, red, yellow, and green—is made up of cards numbered 1 through 14. This 14-card, 4-suit system is derived from the French tarot deck; removing the 21 atouts, or trumps, from that deck while keeping the Fool card yields the 57-card French-suited deck that was re-faced to create the Rook deck. Though the culture-neutral deck was developed for the game Rook, many other games have evolved or existed previously that use the 56-card deck with or without the Rook, or — by removing the 14s and the Rook — one can use the deck like a deck of standard playing cards.

Official rules for Tournament Rook (Kentucky Discard) Edit

Kentucky Discard is the version of Rook played at most Rook tournaments and clubs, and is a partnership game for four players. The players are organized into two teams of two players each, sitting opposite each other. Players must keep their hands secret from all other players, including their teammate. The object of the game is to be the first team to reach 300 points by capturing tricks that contain cards with point values. If both teams have over 300 points at the end of a round, the team with the higher point total wins.

Only certain cards, known as counters, have point value. Each 5 is worth 5 points, each 10 and 14 is worth 10 points, and the Rook Bird card is worth 20 points.

The deal Edit

The Rook Bird card is included, while the 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s are removed from the deck, for a total of 41 cards[1].

The dealer shuffles and cuts the deck, then deals all of the cards, one at a time. After every player has received his or her first card, the dealer places one card in the center of the table. This is repeated until there are five cards—the nest of rook—in the middle of the table. The remaining cards are dealt normally to the four players, giving each a hand of 9 cards.

Bidding Edit

After the deal, players bid in increments of 5 points for the privilege of using the cards in the nest and naming the trump suit. Bidding starts with the player to the left of the dealer and passes clockwise. The minimum bid is 70 points, and the maximum is 120 points (the sum of the point values of all of the counters). If a player chooses not to increase the bid, he or she may pass to the next player. A player that has passed may not bid for the remainder of the round. Once all players but one have passed, the high bidder adds the five cards in the nest to his or her hand, and then puts any five cards back into the nest. He or she then names the trump suit.

Play Edit

After the trump suit has been named, the player to the left of the dealer leads with any card, placing it face-up on the center of the table. Play proceeds clockwise, with each player playing one card face-up in turn. A player must either follow suit (play a card of the same suit as the card that was led) or play the Rook Bird card. If a player has no cards of the leading suit, he or she may play any other card, including the Rook Bird card or a card of the trump suit.

After each player has played, the player who played the highest trump card, or, if no trump card was played, the highest card of the leading suit takes all four cards, or takes the trick, and places it face-down in front of him or her. Tricks taken may not be reviewed by any player until the end of the round. The person who takes the trick leads in the next trick.

If a player reneges, or fails to follow suit when he or she could have, the error may be corrected before the next trick is taken. If it is not discovered until later, the round ends, and the team that made the error loses a number of points equal to the bid, regardless of which team made the bid. The opposing team scores all the counters they captured before the error was discovered.

The player that takes the last trick in a round captures the nest and scores any counters in it.

The Rook Bird card Edit

The Rook Bird card is the highest trump card in the game. As such, it takes any trick in which it is played; leading it is treated the same as leading a card of the trump suit; and if trump suit is led and the player holding it has no other trump, he or she must follow suit by playing the Rook Bird card. However, the Rook Bird card may be played at any time, even if the player holding it is able to follow suit. It is the only card that may be played this way.

In an alternate method of play the Rook Bird card is the lowest trump card in the game. As such it beats all non-trump cards but is taken by any other trump. It cannot be played out of turn. This adds a different strategy to play with the bid winner actively seeking out the rook and the rook holder trying to play it at a time when it can be kept.

Scoring Edit

When all possible tricks have been taken, each team adds the values of the counters it captured. If the bidding team failed to make the number of points bid, that team loses a number of points equal to the amount of the bid, and does not make any points for counters captured in the round. The opposing team receives points equal to the value of any counters they captured.

The first team to reach 300 points (or a predetermined amount established by the players at the game's start) is the winner.

Variants Edit

Adaptation for standard playing cards Edit

Rook may be played with standard playing cards by removing the 2s, 3s, and 4s from the deck, playing Aces high, and adding the joker to be used as the Rook Bird card. When playing with such a deck scoring changes as follows: each 5 is worth 5 points, each ace and 10 is worth 10 points, and the joker is worth 20 points. Aces play high in tricks.

A common alternate form of the game (as described in Hoyle's Rules of Games) uses a complete deck of standard playing cards but assigns the point cards differently (aces = 15, kings = 10, tens = 10, fives = 5), and is essentially similar to the 1-High Partnership described below.

Four player partnership variants Edit

Since the game of Rook has been played for over a century, many local variants are in existence for the four-player partnership form of the game. Perhaps foremost is that the game can be played exactly according to the above Kentucky Discard Tournament rules, except using the entire deck, giving all players 13 cards with a 5-card nest. Other variants, including the original form of Kentucky Discard, do not include the Rook, while still others make the Rook the lowest trump or change its relative value, are played without a nest, add the 1 as a 15 point counter that is the highest card in each suit, or give a 20-point bonus for winning the majority of tricks or the last trick. Most of these variants are described in a book titled Rook in a Book published by Winning Moves, and in the official rules that come with Parker Bros editions of Rook.

The two official variants of four-player partnership Rook described by the game publishers are Kentucky Discard Rook (Tournament Rules), and Regular Partnership Rook:

  • Kentucky Discard Rook (Tournament Rules) is the most popular form of the game, and the rules have been described above. Officially recognized variants of Kentucky Discard Rook (Tournament Rules) include Kentucky Discard Original Rules (eliminates the Rook card), The Red 1 (adds the red 1 card as a higher 30 point trump), and Buckeye (adds 1s as 15 point counters that are the highest cards in each suit).
  • Regular Partnership Rook is played with all cards 1-14, but without the Rook or a nest, and 20 points is given to the partnership that wins the majority of tricks. Officially recognized variants of Regular Partnership Rook include Dixie (which uses a nest and uses the 13 as a 10 point counter instead of the 14), Display, and Boston (both of which involve the declarer playing the partner's hand as a dummy, similar to Bridge).

Rook in a Book describes other common variants, including 1-High Partnership. This game is very similar to the version of the game for regular playing cards as it appears in Hoyle’s Rules of Games and many internet sources. It is played with all cards 1-14, adding the 1s as 15 point counters that are the highest cards in each suit. The Rook functions as the lowest trump and is worth 20 points, and an additional 20 points is given to the partnership that wins the majority of tricks.

Other variants Edit

Many other forms of the game can be played with 2 to 8 players, both with and without partnerships.

References Edit

  1. McLeod, John. "Kentucky Rook", 2007-6-27. Retrieved on 2009-4-09.

Orbanes, Philip E. (1999). Rook in a Book. Winning Moves, Inc. ISBN 1-891056-25-5.

External links Edit