Klaberjass, also known as Kalabrias, Klob, Klab, Clob, Clabber, Clobber, and Clubby, is the famous two-hand game played by the Broadway characters in Damon Runyon's stories. It is essentially the same as the French game Belotte. "Klaberjass" means "clover jack" (that is, the jack of clubs).
The Pack, The standard pack is stripped to create a deck comprised of the A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, and 7 in each suit, a pack of 32 cards.
In trumps: J, 9, A, 10, K, Q, 8, 7. In other suits: A, 10, K, Q, J, 9, 8, 7.
The pack is shuffled and spread face down. Each player then draws a card. The lowest card deals first and has his choice of seats. If cards of equal rank are drawn, there must be a new draw. The turn to deal alternates.
The Shuffle and Cut
Both players may shuffle, and the dealer has the option of shuffling last. The non-dealer cuts the pack. The cut must leave at least three cards in each packet.
The dealer gives six cards to each player, face down, three at a time, beginning with the non-dealer. The next card is turned up, and the remainder of the pack is placed face down next to, and partly covering, the turned up card.
There may be one or two rounds of bidding. The non-dealer bids first and may "take it" (accept the turned-up suit as trump), may "pass" (reject that suit), or may "schmeiss" (offer either to play the turned-up suit or to throw the hand in, as his opponent may choose).
If the opponent says "Yes" to a schmeiss, there is a new deal. If the opponent says "No," the turned-up suit becomes trump.
If the non-dealer passes, the dealer may take it, pass, or schmeiss. If both players pass, there is a second round of bidding: The non-dealer may name one of the other three suits as trump, or may schmeiss (offering to name one of those suits, or to let the hand be thrown in, as the dealer chooses), or may pass again. If the non-dealer passes again, the dealer has the last turn, and he may name one of the other three suits as trump or start a new deal.
As soon as either player accepts or names a trump, the bidding ends. The player who accepted or named the trump suit becomes the Maker.
After the Maker is determined the dealer gives three additional cards to each player, one at a time, so that each has nine cards. He then turns up the bottom card of the pack and places it on top. This card is shown for the player's information only and has no part in the play. Any player holding the seven of trumps may exchange it for the card previously turned up, but scores no points for this. The seven of trumps is known as the "dix" (pronounced "deece").
Only sequences may be melded. In forming sequences, the cards rank: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7. The ace may be used only in the sequence A, K, Q. A four-card sequence counts 50 points, and a three-card sequence 20 points.
The non-dealer starts by announcing the point value of the best sequence he holds. Thus, with Q, J, 10, he would say, "Twenty." If the dealer has no sequence as good, he says, "Good." If the dealer has a higher-ranking sequence, he says, "No good." In either case, the melding is ended, and the non-dealer leads the first trick.
When the dealer has a sequence of the same length as the non-dealer, the response to the announcement is, "How high?" The non-dealer must then name the card heading his sequence. Again, the dealer replies that it is good, or no good, or that the dealer has a sequence headed by the same card. If the latter occurs, a trump sequence outranks a sequence in any other suit. If both sequences are in non-trump suits, neither is scored. (Variation: If the sequences are equal in every respect, the non-dealer scores.)
The non-dealer always leads first and may lead any card. The opponent must follow suit if possible. Otherwise he must trump, if he holds a trump card, and he must try to win a trump lead. The higher trump played wins any trick containing a trump, and the higher card of the suit led wins any other trick. The winner of each trick leads next
After both players have played the first trick, the player with the higher-ranking meld shows and scores all sequences in his hand, while the opponent may not count any sequence.
A player holding the king and queen of trumps may score 20 points for them by announcing, "Bella" as he plays the second card of this combination. Holding K, Q, J, of trumps, he may score both a sequence and a bella.
For cards taken in tricks, each player scores:
Trump jack (jasz) 20
Trump 9 (menel) 14
Each other jack 2
Each queen 3
Each king 4
Each ten 10
Each ace 11
Last trick 10
The Maker must score more in melds and cards than the opponent. If the Maker does so, each player scores whatever points he makes. If the Maker is tied, he scores nothing, and the opponent scores the value of his melds and cards. If the Maker has the lower score, he is "bete" and the opponent scores all the points made by both players in that deal.
The first player to reach 500 points wins the game. If both players go over 500 points in the same deal, the higher score wins. (Variation: the Maker's score is counted at the outset, and the first score that reaches 500 points wins.)
Before bidding, the non-dealer may require either a new deal or correction
if any of his cards are exposed in dealing,
if a card is exposed in the pack, or
if either player has the wrong number of cards. For correction, a hand with too many cards is offered face down to the opponent, who draws the excess. A short hand is supplied from the top of the pack. An incorrect hand, if discovered after the bidding has started, must be corrected.
A revoke is:
a failure to follow suit, to trump, or to play over on a trump lead, when required by the rules to do so;
announcing a meld not actually held (as, for example, by saying, "How high?" when not holding a sequence of equal value), or
having too few or too many cards after leading or playing to the first trick. The non-offender scores all points for both players melds and cards on that deal.