Twenty-Eight

Continuing our series of posts about games named after numbers (in the tradition of 13, 21, 31, and 99), now we have Twenty-Eight. Twenty-Eight, named after the number of points available in the game, is a partnership game played with a stripped deck of only 32 cards.

Object of Twenty-Eight

The object of Twenty-Eight is to be the first partnership to score ten victory points by collecting jacks, nines, aces, and tens.

Setup

Twenty-Eight is played with a special 32-card deck. Starting from a standard 52-card deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, remove all of the 6s through 2s from the deck, leaving the 7s through 10s, the face cards, and the aces in each deck.

Twenty-Eight is a game for four players. The players divide into two partnerships, with partners sitting across from one another, so that the turn of play alters between partnerships when going clockwise.

Additionally, score is kept in Twenty-Eight, so you’ll need some way of keeping track of that. Most people will use pencil and paper, but there’s no reason you can’t do something like use the faces of a ten-sided die to keep score if you have one handy.

Shuffle and deal four cards to each player. The remainder of the deck is set aside for the time being.

Card ranking

Not only does Twenty-Eight use a 32-card deck, but the cards in that deck rank differently than in most other games. Jacks and 9s are placed higher than their conventional place in the ranking, giving us a ranking of J, 9, A, K, Q, 10, 8, 7. Suits are all equally important at this stage in the game.

Game play

After the cards have been dealt, bidding for the right to fix the trump suit begins. The player to the dealer’s right bids first, bidding any amount from 14 to 28, signifying the trick score that their partnership will collect on that hand. This player does not have the right to pass, although all subsequent players do. The next bid is then placed by next player to the right, and so on until three players have passed in succession. If the currently-active bid is your partners, you must bid at least 20 to overcall their bid. The final bid forms the contract for that partnership, which become the declarers, while the other partnership becomes the defenders.

Once the right to choose trump has been decided, the player with that privilege takes one card of the desired trump suit and places it face down on the table in front of them (although it is still considered part of their hand), keeping the suit secret from the other three players. At least initially, the trump suit will not be known by the other three players, and therefore will have no effect in the game. Once this is done, the dealer will deal four more cards to each player, giving each player a total of eight cards.

The player to the dealer’s right leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit, if able; the highest card of the suit led wins the trick. The player who selected trump may not lead a trick with the trump suit unless they have no other option, and they may not use the face-down trump card in a trick. Collected tricks are not added to the hand, but rather kept in a discard pile face down in front of one of the partners. The individual player that won the trick leads to the next one.

If a player is unable to follow suit, they call for the trump suit to be revealed, after which the face-down card is added to the bidder’s hand and can be played at any time. After this has occurred, any player who is unable to follow suit must play a trump if able; otherwise, they may play any card. A trump may only be played when a player cannot follow suit. When a trump has been played to a trick, the highest trump wins the trick, rather than the highest card of the suit led. If the trump suit was never revealed, the player who chose trump reveals the face-down card and plays it to the eighth trick.

After all eight tricks have been played, the declarers’ trick score is calculated from the cards captured in tricks:

  • Jacks: three points
  • 9s: two points
  • Aces and 10s: one point

The declarers then score victory points as follows, depending on their bid:

Bid Contract
fulfilled
Contract
broken
≤19 +1 –2
20–24 +2 –3
≥25 +3 –4

Game play continues until one partnership has reached a score of ten victory points. The partnership with the highest score at that point is the winner.

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