Twenty-nine is a 4 player "trick taking" game. There are two teams of two, with partners sitting across from each other.
The Jack card has the highest rank. Next highest is the 9 card, followed by Ace, 10, King, Queen, 8, and 7 (lowest). Once the trump suit has been declared, cards in the trump suit outrank all other cards.
The objective is to be the first team to reach 6 points.
A random player is chosen to be the dealer.
Each player is dealt a hand of 4 cards from a deck of cards containing only A K Q J 10 9 8 7 of each suit. Everyone gets 4 more cards after the bidding phase.
Starting with the player to the dealer's left, and proceeding clockwise around the table, each player places a bid. The bid is a guess at how many points they think that their team can take. Players may choose to pass instead of bidding. If not passing, they must bid at least 15, up to a maximum of 28.
If one player makes a bid, the next player must bid higher than that, or pass.
Bidding continues either until a player bids 28, or until 3 consecutive players pass. In the latter case, the dealer is forced to bid 15.
The player who bid highest now chooses the "trump suit." Cards with the trump suit outrank cards of all other suits.
When the trump suit is chosen, it remains hidden from everyone. It is known only to the player who chose it. It is only revealed later in the game.
After the trump suit is chosen, 4 more cards are dealt to each player, for a total of 8 cards in hand.
The player to the dealer's left starts the trick by playing any card from their hand. Play continues in clockwise order until 4 cards are in the middle pile. Each card played must be of the same suit as the lead card.
The trick is taken by whomever played the highest card with the same suit as the lead card. This is known as "winning a trick".
The trick-taker is awarded points according to these rules: the Jack is worth 3 points, 9 is worth 2 points, Ace and 10 are worth 1 point each. Other cards are not counted. For example, if there is 1 Jack in the pile, and 2 Aces, and a 7, then the trick-taker is awarded 5 points.
The trick winner starts the next trick.
As soon as a player cannot play a card with the same suit as the lead card, then the trump suit must be declared immediately. After that, the player who could not follow the lead card can play any other card in their hand. Even after trump is declared, players must always play a card from the lead suit, unless they cannot because they do not have one.
Each trick is normally won by the person who played the highest card of the lead suit. However, if one or more cards in the trump suit are played in the trick, then the highest trump suit wins the trick instead.
After each hand, scores are calculated for each team by adding up the teammate's points. The team which took the last trick gets an extra point, so that the total of both team's points always sums to 29 - hence the name of the game.
The player that chose the trump suit is part of the "Declaring" team.
The other team is the "Defending" team.
If the "Declaring" team makes at least the number of points that they bid, they will receive 1 game point. Otherwise, they will lose 1 game point
The "Defending" team does not score any points.
The King and Queen of the trump suit are called the "Royal Pair."
After trump has been declared, the player who holds the Royal Pair in their hand can announce it immediately after they or their partner wins a trick. (Note that it is possible - and even likely - that no one holds the Royal Pair, in which case this rule is never active.)
Announcing the Royal Pair affects the requirements for the bid. If a member of the "Declaring" team does it, their bid is reduced by 4 points, to a minimum of 15. If the "Defending" team announces the Pair, 4 points are added to the bid, to a maximum of 28.
In games where the "Seventh Card" option was allowed, the high bidder may choose the trump suit to be determined by the suit of the seventh card that is dealt to them.
This 7th card is kept out of their hand, and may not be played, until they cannot follow suit during a trick. It cannot be used to lead a trick, unless it is the last card played.
If you chose the "Seventh Card" option, be aware that trump suit cards in your hand do not
have the power to trump until the trump suit is declared. Do not play a trump suit card and expect it to take a trick unless trump has been declared! When you play your Seventh Card, the trump will be declared automatically. The trump suit is also declared if another player cannot follow suit, as usual.
When trump is declared, the 7th card is moved into the declarer's hand. Then, it may be played according to the usual rules.
The first team to reach 6 points wins! If a team hits -6 points, they lose.
Selecting Trump Suit:
- You must bid with only partial knowledge of your full hand.
- In general, it is risky to bid unless you have at least two Jacks, or a Jack and 9 of the same suit.
- If you are forced to choose a trump suit, pick a suit in which you have the most cards.
- If possible, lead with a Jack.
- If you chose the trump suit, it is generally good to lead with your highest trump. This will force your opponents to play their trump cards.
- If your partner played a high card that is likely to win, you may want to slough your point cards so that they take as many points as possible, assuming that they win the trick.
- Try to keep track of which cards are played, especially the high cards (Jack, 9, Ace). Remember that there are only 8 cards of each suit at the table. If a single trick contains 4 cards of a suit, then there are only 4 cards left at the table. The next time that suit leads, it is more likely that someone will be able to trump.
Twenty-nine (29) is among the "Jass" family of card games, in which the Jack and 9 rank the highest. It should not be confused with Twenty-eight (28), a similar card game with slightly different rules. It is especially popular in South Asia.
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