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Dmitri Jegels’ Notes on Klawerjas

Dmitri Jegels’ Notes on

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I Introduction

II Glossary

III Summary of points/card values

IV Game Setup

V Procedure for Going On

VI The Roeming Ritual

VII List of Punishable Offences

VIII Sample Game

IX General Tips

X Feedback

XI S.A.K.B.O.C. Rules of Klawerjas

NB: Please note in this text the pronoun “he” is used in the isiXhosa sense of reference to the third person: “yena” – he/she.

I Introduction

Klawerjas is a South African card game played by four players playing as two sets of partners (teams), with team members sitting opposite (i.e. facing) each other.

While we know that playing cards came to us from the East (both China and India lay claim to its origins), the origins of the game of klawerjas are not entirely clear. I suspect it comes to us from either India (the game of thani) or the Netherlands (the game of klaverjas), as many Capetonians can trace part of their ancestry to either India or the Netherlands, or both, and klawerjas bears similarities to both games.

Most probably the Dutch either learnt it directly from the Indians (or they learnt it from some other European nation who got it from the Indians), and brought the game to the Cape, but that is pure conjecture on my part. Klawerjas certainly forms part of the jass group of games: there is Swiss Jass, Hungarian Clobiosh or Kalabriasz, Jewish Bela/Clob, American Clabber, German Klabberjaß, French Belote, Greek Pilotta, and of course Dutch Klaverjas and specifically Boonakken and Pandoeren, where the card and roem values are nearly the same. Be that as it may, our version of the game is unique and it is played extensively on the Cape Flats and in the Eastern Cape.

Klawerjas is so widely popular, there is even a South African Klawerjas Board of Control (SAKBOC, established in 1988, but the first union – South Peninsula Klawerjas Union (SPKU) – was formed way back in 1946), and many prominent members of society (including Government and Captains of Industry) will fondly hark back to their student days when they bunked classes in order to play just one more boem! For more information on SAKBOC, visit or

Like all jass games, Klawerjas belongs to the Bridge family, from what I can gather. It is similar to Whist in that the last card dealt determines trumps, but after that it gets far more complicated than Whist. Unlike Bridge or the European jass games, there is no bidding for trumps. However, as in the jass games, it is not played with the full deck, but with a Piquet or more specifically a jass pack instead i.e. a pack from which the 2,3,4,5 and 6 of all suits have been removed (a piquet pack contains sixes through aces): a set then of 32 cards. Some of the 2s, 4s and 5s are however used for roemtes. Still, in my opinion, Klawerjas is to Bridge as Speed Chess is to Chess.

To return to the method of play: The two teams race against each other by attempting to be the first to win at least 100 of the minimum 146 points available, in order to win a game. When a game is won, the winning team goes on one or two strokes towards the rubber, which is known as the boem. When a team reaches 100 points before the opposing team has scored 50 points or more, they gain two stokes towards the boem. The first team to go on 5 strokes wins the boem.

There are various conventions that must be strictly adhered to in order to avoid being summarily dismissed: i.e. in order to avoid forfeiting the entire boem. When a team contravenes such a convention or rule and it is dismissed, it is said to have been punished or “straffed” (“straf” is Afrikaans for “punish”). This can happen at any stage of the game from when the cards in the first hand are dealt to when the last card of the last hand has been played, so players need to have their wits about them at all times!

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Here follows a glossary of English and Afrikaans terms used in Klawerjas. They are used interchangeably. English terms, where they are not common to other card playing games, appear to be directly translated/imported from the Afrikaans. This appears to mirror a linguistic phenomenon found in Cape Afrikaans, where many terms are either translated or imported from English, but that’s a story for another day/blog 🙂

The terms are listed in related groups, rather than alphabetically.

Af / Off

The only permissible terms to use when punishing an


Rubber consisting of 5 games/strokes. First
partnership to win 5 games/strokes wins the boem. The term is probably derived from the Afrikaans ‘boom’ – tree, a reference to the
template/diagram used to record winning a game(s): a vertical line with five horizontal lines drawn across it, resembling a tree with five
branches. One team records winning a stroke(s) by drawing a diagonal line across the tip(s) of the horizontal lines on one side of the vertical line of the boem, the other team records its winning stroke(s) on the other side of the vertical line.

Strepie / Stroke

A stroke is awarded to the winners of a game. When a game is won, the winning telman goes on by the number of strokes won in that game, up to a maximum of 2 strokes.

Slaggie / Trick

Four cards played in a round – one by each player following suit on the first card played, unless trumping. The cards are picked up together by the telman whose partnership played the highest card in that round.

Vyf laas trek

The last slaggie won in a hand. (Carries a bonus of 5 points).

Go On

A game is won when a team partnership reaches 100 points, and the counter goes on one stroke or two, depending on whether the opposite team has managed to score a minimum of fifty points or not.

Suit One of the four suits: ♣ (clubs/klawers/takkies), ♦
(diamonds/ruitens), ♥ (hearts /hartens), and ♠ (spades/skoppens).ö
Follow Suit

To follow suit means to play a card from the same suit as that asked for by the first player in a round of play. The general rule is that one must follow suit. Trumps are exempt from this rule, unless trumps are called for. However, the Boer is always exempt from this rule – even when trumps are asked for. Many people are confused by this rule: They are under the impression that the Boer is only protected by this rule for the first three rounds of play. (This is the problem with “house rules” – some people even say you must play the Boer after one round of play!) According to S.A.K.BO.K. rules, a player cannot be forced to play the Boer. Of course, you are free to tempt the Boer by offering a high value slaggie, but be warned: Attempting to straf someone for versakking with the Boer will result in you yourself being straffed.


Failing to follow suit (i.e. not playing a card from the suit called for, when you do not have a void in that suit). This is a punishable offence, but refer to the exceptions to this rule mentioned above.


To claim the boem by punishing the opponents for committing a punishable offence.


Having only one card in a suit. This can be most unfortunate should the singleton have a high point value – e.g. kale manel, as it will often be lost should the suit be called for before one has had the chance to play last and ‘run’ with it. Therefore the card is said to be ‘kaal’ – bare/naked: it has no protection.

Doubleton Having only two cards in a suit.

To have a void means to have no cards in a suit. In this case one would be exempt from having to follow suit. Unlike bridge, there is no need to develop a void in a suit before playing a trump on a card from that suit.


The suit of the last card dealt. The act of trumping (playing a trump card). Trumps can be played at any time, even if it is not called for, and will always beat any other card played, except of course a higher trump card.

Under trump/Ondertroef

To play a trump card on a trick when trumps are not called for, and a previous player has already trumped that trick with a higher trump card. This is a punishable offence, unless the player only has trumps left in his hand.


To call the bonus (roemte) points you have in your hand.

Roemte/s The cards used to record or cancel any points roemed. The points roemed.

Member of team whose duty it is to manage (open and/or cancel) roemtes, keep track of scoring, and to go on. Telman alone can punish opposing team for counting and going on errors.


Counter’s partner. Can punish for all infringements other than those reserved for telman. Byspeler will be punished if he attempts to punish opponents for counting or going on errors.


Jack of trumps. Highest card: beats any card of any and all suits, including trumps. Worth 20 points.

Manel 9 of trumps. Second highest card: Beats any card of any and all suits, except the Boer. Worth 14 points.
Sturk (as in Stöck)

Having both king and queen of trumps in one’s hand. (What is referred to in jass games as the Royal marriage). Sturk is roemed by calling “Sturk”, and must be roemed only when playing either the king or queen of trumps, whichever is played first. Roeming Sturk at any other time is punishable. Telman opens the 2 of his roemte cards to signify Sturk. Sturk once roemed cannot be cancelled. Cancelling Sturk is punishable. The Sturk roemte is worth 20 points.

Heer Lord – a reference to the King.

Lady – a reference to the Queen. Players will sometimes lament “I had the Lord but not the Lady”, implying that they fell short of Sturk or Ace high twenty, etc.


Having three consecutive cards of the same suit. (i.e. three cards in sequence, e.g. ♣ 7, 8 & 9.) It is not punishable should a player either forget to roem a twenty, or deliberately not roem it. However, there appears to be no rule preventing a player’s partner from klapping or verbally abusing him! The telman records his side’s twenty by opening the 2 of his roemte cards. He can open two 2’s or one 4 to signify two twenties. A twenty Roemte is worth 20 points.


Having four consecutive cards in the same suit. Same rule as that for a twenty applies (except of course that the telman opens the 5 of his roemte cards). A fifty Roemte is worth 50 points.

Combination roeming

If a player has two or more roemtes, he can roem them in any combination, e.g. Sturk-Twenty or Twenty-Sturk, Two Twenties, Twenty and another, Vyftig-Twintig, etc. (Again: Beware of “house rules” – S.A.K.B.O.K. rules do not require a specific combination: You will be straffed for demanding a player roem these combinations one way instead of another, e.g. demanding the player roem Twintig-Sturk instead of Sturk-Twintig, etc.) S.A.K.B.O.K. rationale seems to be that a player should not be forced to give any more information than necessary, so that if a player roems Twenty-Sturk or Sturk-Twenty, you still have to figure out from your hand and the play as to whether the player who roemed has his Twenty out of trumps or not – no spoonfeeding, this is a game of skill after all!

Five Tens/Vyf enerse/Vyf Tieners

Having five consecutive cards in the same suit. Allows counter to go on 2 even in ou jol. No roemte is opened, counter simply goes on.

Four Jacks/aces/kings/queens

Having 4 Jacks/aces etc. is roemed by calling “Four Jacks”etc. Having all four Jacks etc allows counter to go on 2. No roemte is opened, counter simply goes on.

As dit goed is/Good enough?

Question posed by telman to opposing player/s yet to play, in order to determine if his side’s roemte is ‘good enough’ to go on. It is punishable to ask a player who has already played if it is good enough. In “Old Play” it is punishable to ask if Sturk is good enough before having closed at least one slaggie. It is punishable to ask if a roemte is good enough, when the roemte does not afford telman sufficient tally to go on. E.g. telman is on 79, roems twenty, and asks if it is good enough. Of course it is not, as his tally is now 99 – 1 short of the 100 points required in order to go on. The response to such a question is an emphatic “Off!”


III Summary of points/card

Boer (Jack of trumps) 20
Manel (9 of trumps) 14
Sturk (Stöck: King and Queen of trumps) 20
Ace 11
King 3
Queen 2
Jack (Not out of trumps) 1
10 10
7, 8 of any suit and any 9 not out of trumps 0
Twenty (Any 3 cards of a suit in sequence) 20
Fifty (any 4 cards of a suit in sequence 50
Vyf enerse/Five Tens (Any 5 cards of a suit in
Automatic win by 2 strokes, whether New or Old play (except if opponents have a higher Vyf enerse), but can only be roemed in the first round of play when it is your turn to play.
4 Jacks/Aces/Kings/Queens Automatic win by 2 strokes, but can only be roemed in the first round of play when it is your turn to play. (Only Four Jacks & Five tens can play/go on 2 strokes in “Ou speel/ Ou jol” <Old play>, the rest i.e. Four Aces and lower only allow 1 stroke in Old play.)

There are three ordinary suits with a total value of 27 points each, adding up to 81 (27 x 3 = 81). The breakdown is as follows: Ace+King+Queen+Jack+Ten = 11+3+2+1+10 = 27 x 3 = 81. Remember the 7, 8 and 9 not out of trumps have no point value.

The trump suit has a total value of 60 points. The breakdown (according to ranking) is as follows: Boer+Manel+Ace+King+Queen+Ten+Eight+Seven = 20+14+11+3+2+10+0+0 = 60. (Note that although the ten of trumps has the third highest point value, it ranks higher than the seven and eight of trumps only – i.e., the Queen of trumps, which only has a two point value, outranks the ten of trumps.)

The last slaggie won in a hand carries a bonus of 5 points, and is referred to as ‘vyf laas trek’ (lit. 5 last draw/pull). This makes the final trick very important, so that even if it consisted only of “plattes” (lit. “flat ones,” i.e. the cards having no value), e.g. two 7s, an 8, and a 9 not out of trumps (total: 0 x 4 = 0), the trick would still carry a value of 5. This means that if telman is standing on a total of 95, that last 5 pushes the total to a winning 100. The other bonus is that, even if the total is not enough to push the total to 100, and both sides have less than 100, meaning the game is forced into Old play, the side which picked up the last slaggie gets to keep the deck and deal, meaning they are assured of drawing at least 1 trump card (the final card dealt), and that could very well be the Boer!

Total points in a hand equal 146: 81+60+5 = 146. It is possible to score more than 146 when roemtes are added, e.g. roeming two fifties and having most of trumps, but there will always be at least 146 points in any hand dealt.

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IV Game Setup

The players cut for deck. The team cutting the highest card gets the deck. Dealer can be either telman or byspeler, interchangeable throughout the game. However, once the game has started, telman must remain telman throughout the game, whether he deals or not. Dealer cuts to the left and deals to the right. It is punishable to cut only one card from the top. Cutting thirty one cards from the top is fine: i.e. at least two and as many as thirty one cards may be cut from the top of the deck. The hand is dealt according to a strict format:

Dealing shall be even – i.e. same number of cards to each player: If first player gets two cards then so must players two, three and four.

No less than two, but no more than three cards per player per round.

The hand must be dealt within three rounds.

Therefore no other format but: 3-3-2, or 3-2-3, or 2-3-3.

A hand consists of 32 cards. Each player is dealt eight cards face down, except for the last card, which is dealt face up. This card determines the trump suit. The top eight cards (ie from 7 up to the Ace) of each of the four suits are used to make up the deck. Of the cards not used in playing a hand, each team’s counter/telman uses one 2, two 4s and two 5s to make up his roemtes. Roemtes form an important aspect of the game, as they are used to record nearly all roemable points. (Sturk, twenty, fifty, twenty-Sturk, two twenties, two fifties, etc.) The roemtes are kept face down on the table by telman until roemed, upon which the appropriate roemte card(s) is/are displayed face up (see Glossary). There is also a specific ritual which needs to be followed by the telman when roeming, opening and closing roemtes, which will be discussed presently.

Player to the right of dealer plays first, thereafter whoever won the trick (played the highest card) plays first.

A game is won when a team has reached 100 points, and the counter goes on one stroke or two, depending on whether the opposing team has managed to score a minimum of fifty points or not.

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V Procedure for Going On

When winning a game by one stroke or two, this is recorded on what is called the boem: a vertical line with five horizontal lines drawn across it:

:Boem for going onTeam A Team B

One team records winning a stroke(s) by drawing a diagonal line across the tip(s) of the horizontal lines on one side of the vertical line of the boem, the other team records its winning stroke(s) on the other side of the vertical line. See example below where a player goes on two strokes at the start of the boem. The line indicating the stroke(s) won must always be drawn away
from, i.e. in the opposite direction, of strokes that have yet to be won, since drawing across unwon strokes is punishable.

Correct:Boem for going on          Incorrect:

Correct:          Incorrect:

A completed game where team DB have beaten team CD 5 games to 3 would typically look like this, where DB use the left side of the boem and go on starting from the top rung, and CD use the right side and go on starting from the bottom rung:Going on the Boem

DB go on one stroke DB CD CD go on two strokes

DB go on two strokes CD go on one stroke (they now have 3)

(they now have 3)

DB win boem by going on two

(5 games make up the boem)

It is customary to write the names, initials or team numbers of the appropriate players on the side of the boem where they are going on. Drawing a stroke on the wrong side of the boem is not punishable, but the points are forfeit to the other side: a very silly manner indeed in which to lose a game(s)!

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VI The Roeming Ritual

All roeming other than Sturk shall be done in the first round of play of both new and old play. I.e., if a player neglects to roem in the first round of play, he forfeits the chance to roem, even if it’s the highest roemte (four Boere). It is not punishable to neglect to roem a roemte, but the roemte points are then obviously forfeited. Sturk shall only be roemed when first playing either the King or Queen of trumps. So, whenever either of these two cards is played first, regardless of which one is played first, Sturk shall be roemed. It is punishable to roem any roemte falsely.

When roeming, a player shall first play his card, then roem, and then only must telman open the appropriate roemte. If telman neglects to open roemte before the next player has played, the roem is forfeit. However, player to the right of player who roemed must give telman reasonable time to open roemte. Thus, if partner roems, and player to his right plays e.g. even before he has finished roeming or even just as he has finished roeming, counter will be allowed to open his roemte.

When another player has already roemed, and current player has a roemte of equal point value, (e.g. 20) he must size the player who roemed’s roemte, by asking ‘Size?’/ ‘How high?’. In response to this question, player who roemed first then names the highest ranking card of his roemte, e.g. ‘Queen’, indicating that his roemte is Queen high. It is not necessary to name the other cards in the roemte, nor the suit of the roemte. If current player’s roemte outranks previous player’s roemte, he can then overroem. If current player’s roemte is of equal rank, he may not overroem, as this is punishable. However, if his roemte is of equal value and rank, e.g. Queen high, but his roemte is out of troef, he may overroem, because trumps ranks high.

When playing after another player who has already roemed, and having a roemte of equal value e.g. 20, it is punishable to size previous player when current player has Ace high roemte out of troef. In such a situation, player must simply overroem: This of course indicates to all players that he has Ace high roemte out of troef. When another player has already roemed, and current player has a roemte of higher point value, (e.g. previous player roemed 20, and current player has a fifty roemte, or five tens, etc.) he must not size the player who roemed’s roemte, but instead, simply overroem.

Telman must pay particular attention in “Old Play”: Where byspeler roems e.g. “20”, and it is enough to go on the boem, he must open the 20 roemte, and inquire from the opponent/s who has/have yet to play, whether it is “good enough”. If it is his (the telman’s) turn to play, he must call his roemte before playing. He must first roem, then open the relevant roemte, and only then ask if it is “good enough”. If he first plays and then roems, he cannot go on until he has picked up a trick (by which time the opponents might have amassed enough points to go on themselves). If he roems before playing but does not follow the abovementioned format, he will be straffed and forfeit the entire boem!

A further complication for telman in “Old Play” is that when Sturk is roemed and twenty points or less are required to go on, the Sturk roemte points can only be added to the tally after telman has closed at least one slaggie in “Old Play”. This means that telman can never ask if it’s good enough when Sturk is roemed (to do so is punishable), because opponents can theoretically still reach 100 points and go on even though the side which has roemed sturk also technically has 100 points because of the the Sturk roemte. For going on purposes, it is best to consider Sturk as bonus points that only accrue once telman has closed a slaggie, and to ignore the points till then. However, it is important to note that the bonus points do accrue before closing a slaggie for the purposes of defending against opponents going on two on the boem (whether in “Old” or in “New” Play)! This means that where opponents have roemed Sturk and telman reaches 100, telman needs to check that opponents have less than 50 including their Sturk roemte, before deciding to go on one or two on the boem.

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VII List of Punishable Offences

Here follows a list of offences for which the offending side will forfeit the entire boem:

Talking in the game or showing signs, e.g. signalling that partner must play. No information may be imparted other than by roeming or the normal playing of the cards.

Dealing incorrectly – (see Game Set up).

Cutting incorrectly – (see Game Set up).

Changing the designated telman after start of new boem.

Revoking/Versakking: Failure to follow suit except where allowed to do so.

Playing out of turn.

Failure to play when it is your turn to play. A player has 6 seconds in which to play. In this instance, opponent can “tap out” the offending player, by waiting 2 seconds, tapping once and waiting 2 seconds, tapping for a second time and waiting for another 2 seconds, and then tapping for a 3rd time and calling “Af/Off”.

Playing more than 1 card at a time.

Slacking of cards towards table – i.e. throwing cards in before end of play. Opponents are generally relaxed about this rule, and accept it as surrendering of the stroke/s. However, they might get sticky in a crunch match and claim the entire boem, which might not have been your intention, so be careful!

Roeming incorrectly or falsely – (see The Roeming Ritual).

Opening incorrect roemte card/s – (see The Roeming Ritual).

Failure to follow proper roeming procedure – e.g. sizing an opponent’s roemte when you have the highest roemte out of trumps (see The Roeming Ritual).

Failure to cancel roemte/s in new play – (see The Roeming Ritual).

Asking “as dit goed is/good enough” incorrectly. E.g. asking a player who has already played if it is “good enough”.

Giving incorrect score when challenged.

Going on when you cannot go on yet, or going on by more than is allowed in a given instance. However, going on by less than allowed or going on on the wrong side of the boem is not punished, but the stroke/s is/are forfeit.

Byspeler punishing for counting or going on offences – this is strictly reserved for telman, byspeler can punish for all other offences.

Picking up opponent’s trick.

Punishing incorrectly – the offending punisher will instead be punished.

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VIII Sample Game

The following is a game that was played at one of our Tuesday night Klawerjas gatherings. Anzio and Colin sat North/South, and Pat and Michael (a stickler for the rules) sat East/West. North/South led by 4 games to 3 on the boem.

North (Anzio)Telman, Dealer
♠: Ace, Jack, 8
♥: King
♣: Ace, Queen, Jack, 10
♦: void
West (Michael) Telman East (Pat) Byspeler
♠: Queen, 7 ♠: 10
♥: Manel, Queen ♥: Boer, 10, 8
♦: King, 9, 8 ♦: 7
♣: 10 ♣: Queen, Jack, 9
South (Colin) Byspeler
♠: King, 9
♥: Ace, 7
♦: void
♣: Ace, King, 8, 7

Last card opened: ♥ King

As Michael is sitting to the right of dealer, he must play first (klawerjas is played in an anti-clockwise direction). He plays the 8 of Diamonds, roems 20, and opens his 20 roemte card. He must be desperate, as we, having the benefit of viewing all the cards, can see that this is a false 20. If either opposing telman or byspeler conscientiously keeps track of Michael’s cards as they fall, Michael is in danger of being caught out and punished!

Colin plays the Ace of Clubs: he has a void in diamonds, and is employing a form of play called “pak dik” (Lit. “pack thick” – to fatten the trick) – his partner must play last and therefore has a good chance of taking the slaggie, so he is making sure that the slaggie has a good point value. (At this stage, the slaggie is already worth eleven points). Pat plays the 8 of hearts: troef. This has a two-pronged effect:

he is ‘voeling’ (feeling) the opposing telman, to see if he is forced to play the King of trumps, which is rather high, and if Anzio overtrumps, he will have to play first, and Pat will then have a good chance to run with his 10 of trumps, which is low ranking but has a high point value.

Anzio, having a legitimate Queen high 20 in Diamonds, sizes Michael, asking “How high?”. Michael responds “Queen”. This is unfortunate for Anzio, as his 20 is also Queen high, but it’s not out of troef, and so he may not overroem. He plays the King of Hearts, taking the trick. His total so far is 14 (Ace of Clubs + King of Hearts).

Anzio plays the Jack of Spades, which is followed by the 7 and King of Spades, and Pat runs with his 10 of Hearts for two reasons: He avoids losing his singleton 10 of Spades to the opposition, and he avoids losing the weak but valuable 10 of trumps to a higher trump.

Michael’s tally is now 14 as well.

Pat plays the Jack of Clubs, Anzio “paks dik” with the 10 of Diamonds, Michael trumps with the Queen of hearts, Colin overtrumps with the Ace of Hearts. Anzio picks up 24 points, bringing his total to 38.

Colin plays the King of Clubs – baaskaart (high card because the Ace is out already) – opposition will have to trump to win the slaggie. Pat follows suit with the 9 of Clubs, Anzio plays the Queen of Diamonds, and Michael runs with his Manel: 19 points plus 14 brings his tally to 33.

Michael leads with the 10 of Clubs! Colin plays havoc with the Boer by playing the 7 of troef, Pat sacrifices his partner’s 10 by not overtrumping, but following suit with the Queen of Clubs. Anzio “paks dik” with the Ace of Diamonds. Anzio picks up 23 points (plus previous total of 38=61).

At this stage, the card holding is as follows:

North (Anzio) Telman
♠: Ace, 8
♥: void
♣: void
♦: Jack
West (Michael) Telman East (Pat) Byspeler
♠: Queen ♠: 10
♥: void ♥: Boer
♣: void ♣: void
♦: King, 9 ♦: 7
South (Colin) Byspeler
♠: 9
♥: void
♣: 8, 7
♦: void

Remember: North/South Partnership has 61 points so far, and East/West Partnership has 33 points so far plus 20 roemte points

Colin now plays the 8 of Clubs (a winner – the other players are now void of Clubs). Pat plays the 10 of Spades, Anzio the 8 of Spades, and Michael, being out of trumps, discards the 9 of Diamonds. Anzio adds 10 to his tally, new total: 71.

Colin plays another winner – the 7 of Clubs, Pat discards the 7 of Diamonds, and Anzio pitches the Ace of Spades! The best Michael can do is lose the Queen of Spades. Trick value=13+71=84.

You will note from the card play that Pat was being played for the Boer. Having successfully finessed 23 points past the Boer, Colin plays his last card – 9 of Spades, and Pat’s Boer only nets 4 points: Anzio’s Jack of Diamonds and Michael’s King of Diamonds: Boer plus 4 = 24 points plus 5 laas trek = 29+33(Michael’s previous tally) = 62.

When a game is forced to go into ou jol, the two telmanne check each other’s scores to see if their respective totals add up to 146: the total points in a hand (see section II)

Since Michael has picked up the last slaggie, it is incumbent on him to call his score, as he does not have enough to go on the boem. Once he has called his score, Anzio either accepts it and the game goes into old play/ou jol (a second hand is dealt and they play till either side reaches the required 100 points), or he rejects it and Michael must count his tricks for all to see.

If he called correctly and Anzio challenges, Anzio is punished, but if he called incorrectly, he (Michael) is punished. Michael calls 62, and Anzio accepts, since he has 84 (62+84=146).

By now we can see that Anzio’s forfeited 20 roemte was crucial: had he been able to roem his (legal) 20, his side would have had enough to go on at least one on the boem. It is clear that Anzio and Colin had neglected to check for the 20 roemed by Michael. This is one of the examples of when it is perfectly fine for byspeler to straf: had Colin focussed on keeping track of Michael’s cards as they fell, It would have been boem af instead of ou jol!

A closer inspection of Anzio’s hand makes it obvious that it was even easier for him to check for the alleged 20 – he already has a Queen high 20 out of Diamonds in his hand, plus the Jack of Spades, immediately eliminating two suits. When he sees Pat’s Queen of Clubs fall in the fifth round of play, it leaves only one possible suit in which Michael’s claimed 20 can possibly be: troef! But Pat had already played the 10 of troef in round 2, so by the fifth round, Anzio was in a position to give Michael his marching orders. A most unfortunate oversight by North/South, and Michael gets away with roeming false, a punishable offense in the extreme!

As East/West won the last slaggie, they get to deal and are therefore guaranteed at least one troef, and it could be Boer! Remember, they are on 62, but the 20 roemte now puts them on 82! So the Boer or another 20 roemte will be enough to see them through.

Pat gathers the cards, shuffles, cuts to his left, and deals to his right, and opens the 8 of Spades as trumps. Bad luck, East/West, even though they dealt, were unable to deal themselves either the Boer or a 20 roemte.

Anzio to the right of dealer plays the Boer, which picks up the Queen of Spades, the Ace of Clubs and the 8 of Spades – nobody roems – for a total of 33 points to be added to his first round tally of 84. Anzio now counts more than 100, but shows off by playing the Manel, which picks up the 8 of Hearts, the Ace of Hearts and the 7 of Spades, before going on one, and game over.

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IX General Tips

When playing to a trick in which partner plays last, it is generally the done thing to discard high value cards, especially cards like the weak 10, unless of course you know that partner has no hope of winning the trick.

When holding a long suit, try and establish winners in that suit. Those winners then become nearly as valuable as trumps, and can be used to drive out opponents’ trumps.

When opponents have a stronger hand, attempt to score at least 47 points to prevent them from going on. If your side scores 47, the maximum they can score is 99, and the game is forced into ou jol. If your bad luck persists in old play, you must still try and get your score to at least 50 in ou jol, in order to force them to go on only 1 on the boem.

When opponents have a stronger hand and they have a 20 roemte open, you must try and score at least 67 points to force the game into ou jol. (The maximum they can score is 79+20 roemte = 99).

When opponents have a 40 roemte open, you must try and score at least 87 points to force the game into ou jol, and if they have a 50 roemte, you need to get to 97.

Tracking 20 and 50 roemtes made easy:

When opponents have roemed a 20 or a 50, narrow your search to verify their roemte by watching out for the Queens and the 9’s: all 20 and 50 roemtes must contain at least one of those cards. Consider the low 20: it is either 7, 8 9; 8, 9, 10; or 9, 10, Jack. The high 20 is either 10, Jack, Queen; Jack, Queen, King; or Queen, King, Ace.

The same rule applies to the 50 roemte: The low 50 is either 7, 8, 9, 10 or 8, 9, 10, Jack; and the high 50 is either 9, 10, Jack, Queen or 10, Jack, Queen, King or Jack, Queen, King, Ace. Note the Queen high 50 contains both the 9 and the Queen. Often one can determine out of which suit the roemte must have been called just by looking at one’s own hand and maybe the open roemte card, and eliminating suits. eg: opponent’s 50 roemte is sized as Queen high, and you hold the ♦ Queen, the ♣ 9 and the ♠ 9 – opponent’s 50 can only be out of ♥. Now it’s much easier to track opponent to see if he’s roemed falsely.

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X Feedback

I have been receiving a few requests from South African expats looking for information about people interested in playing Klawerjas in countries other than South Africa. Unfortunately, I do not have such a database, but I’ll consider building one if the interest appears to warrant it.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to use the form below.

1: Personal Info
Name Email

2: Comments
Place question or comments here.

3: Submit Info

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XI S.A.K.B.O.C. Rules of Klawerjas

The rules herein are the complete rules of The South African Klawerjas Board of Control, as sourced from the WP Klawerjas website (i.e. they replace the rules forwarded to me by Lennie Kleintjies):

(SAKBOC – established 1988)
Amended 2004

1. Match Rules
1.1 All Union matches will be played on nights as decided upon by respective units.
1.2 Duration of play will be 2 hours and 30 minutes, excluding the 10-minute interval.
1.3 Captains must toss 5 minutes before play. They must inform each other before tossing time if they are unable to field a full team. Captains who win the toss get the cards; the opponents must seat their teams 2 minutes before start of play.
1.4 Should a captain have to leave before the toss, s/he must inform the opposing captain. Any member may toss; the captain, however, retains her/his status.
1.5 A full team shall consist of 8 registered players.
1.6 Captains and referees to check playing cards before play commences.
1.7 Cards are to be shuffled at least 3 times to the satisfaction of the opponents and to be dealt evenly in 3 rounds.
1.8 Cards to be issued in roemte: 1 two, 2 fours and 2 fives.
1.9 No cards may be played before starting time of a game is announced.
1.10 The referee’s decision will be final. Queries can, however, be noted on the score-sheet.
1.11 Should a referee not be present at a final, the marker will take her/his place.
1.12 Should the final score of any quarter-final, semi-final or knock-out match result in a draw, the captains will toss for the cards and an extra 60 minutes will be allowed at Board level. Units can decide otherwise.
1.13 In the event of a team fielding only 3 tables, the opponents will be awarded 20 points.
1.14 No player may leave the table without the referee’s permission.
1.15 No players shall be allowed to leave the table in the last 15 minutes of the game.
1.16 All games will be played strictly without signs; any player showing signs to her/his partner will be punished.
2. Cutting the Deck
2.1 It is offence to cut 1 card from the top of the deck.
2.2 When the referee announces interval, players must complete their hands if the deck has been cut. When time is announced, all play must stop.
3. The Trump-Card
3.1 The trump-card may not be picked up and placed with the others in the hand until the second trick is closed, unless it is played. It may remain open throughout the game.
3.2 Jack of trumps need not be played when trumps are called.
3.3 Every player must play one of the same suit which is called, if s/he has one, unless s/he uses trumps.
3.4 No player shall be allowed to under-trump unless s/he only has trumps.
3.5 All roemte must be closed before the trump-card of a new hand is opened.
4. Playing Cards
4.1 It is an offence to play on a card played closed.
4.2 Playing more than 1 card at a time incurs a penalty.
4.3 A card must be played first – lying face-up on the table – before a player roems.
4.4 Playing out of turn incurs a penalty but a player cannot be punished for this offence after that trick is closed.
4.5 It is punishable should a player play a card in such a way that one of her/his
roemte-cards or cards already picked up flips open. It is not punishable should a player’s card flip open the opponents’ roemte or trick.
4.6 The slacking of cards in old or new play is punishable. Only un-played cards will
be considered slacked when placed towards the centre of the table.
5. Tapping
5.1 When any delay is caused during play, the opposition can – during a short pause of 2 seconds – give delayed taps at 2-second intervals on the table. If no card is played or points called, the opponents can claim points after punishing. The opponents may not tap while the counter is busy counting unless the delay is for more than 3 seconds.
5.2 Simultaneous tapping by 2 opponents will be disregarded; tapping by either one must then resume at the count of one again.
6. Points/Scoring
6.1 The word points denotes 2 points; five strokes clear denotes 4 points.
6.2 In punishing, a counter can claim 4 points if s/he has 3 or 4 strokes clear on the boom but only 2 points if the opponents have already gone on.
6.3 Either the name of the club/union or points can be mentioned first when points are called. Any counter calling points for the opponents forfeits the points and cards to the opponents.
6.4 Any counter calling points for non-playing teams loses the points; no points either side, s/he, however, retains the cards.
6.5 A counter may claim only 2 or 4 points. Should s/he claim any other number, e.g. one, s/he can be punished and that point disallowed.
6.6 Once a counter has claimed points and is then punished wrongly, s/he is entitled to another 2 points after over-punishing.
6.7 When penalizing in any instance, the word af must be used before points can be claimed; if the by-speler punished and used this word, the counter does not have to repeat it. A player can be punished for any unnecessary knocking on the table.
6.8 Under no circumstances shall a by-speler punish in connection with counting or with points scored on the boom as it is entirely the responsibility of the counter.
S/he may, however, punish for any other infringements of the rules.
7. The Boom/Score-Board
7.1 If a counter goes on the wrong side of the boom, the opponents can claim the strokes and the cards but it is not punishable. Any counter can claim the clean side of the boom by scoring there first.
7.2 For cleaning her/his side of the boom before points have been called, a counter can be punished and 4 points claimed by the opponents. If, however, s/he only cleans part of it, 2 points will be awarded. A counter can also be punished for cleaning her/his side of the boom before the game is completed.
7.3 Any counter pulling on 3 strokes can be punished.
7.4 If all the strokes on a completed boom have not been erased after the first
slaggie of the next game is closed, and a counter adds further strokes, the opposition may not punish at such a late stage.
7.5 A stroke starting between lines on the boom is immediately punishable.
7.6 When querying a stroke won by roemte, a counter may write 100/80/60/50/40/30/20 or 10, whichever is applicable, on the score-board.
7.7 It is not punishable if a counter goes on the same stroke twice.
8. Roemte
8.1 Asking a by-speler if roemte is good is permissible.
8.2 A player must ask how big an opponent’s roemte is (if s/he can potentially overroem) and in response only the highest card must be specified.
8.3 All overcalled roemte must be closed before the trick/slaggie is closed. No
roemte must be closed before the opponents’ cards have been surrendered.
8.4 It is not punishable should a player not over-call a partner’s or opponents’ roemte even after sizing them.
8.5 Sizing roemte is not permissible after the highest roemte has been given.
8.6 In old or new play there is no need to ask a by-speler twice the size of roemte nor is it necessary to ask a counter twice if s/he plays her/his card the first time s/he
8.7 If a counter roems vyf-eenderse or 4-aces/-kings/-queens/-jacks and plays a card, s/he can be punished. If, however, the abovementioned roemte (besides 4 jacks) is not good, s/he must play a card and roem again. The potential overcaller must first size again (in the case of vyf-eenderse) before over-roeming.
8.8 A suit of 5 consecutive cards is vyf-eenderse, five-tens or vyf-tieners; any other term is punishable.
8.9 If in a new hand a player roems 20 and the partner 50, the counter must first close the 20 and then open the 50.
8.10 If a player has roemte trump-ace high, e.g. 20, 50 or vyf-eenderse, s/he cannot size the other players.
8.11 The opening of wrong roemte-cards while a hand is being played is punishable.
8.12 In old-play a counter cannot go on with sturk unless s/he picks up a trick.
However, in old-play if there is roemte by a partnership, the sturk being roemed first, a counter may go on.
8.13 A player may roem 20-sturk or 20-and-sturk, 50-sturk or 50-and-sturk, etc. irrespective of the size of the roemte.
8.14 Time must be allowed for the opposing counter to cancel overcalled roemte.
Cancelling overcalled roemte after the first trick is closed is punishable.
8.15 In old-play, if a player roems 20 and they have an old 20, the counter must first open the 40 roemte-card and then close the 20. The same applies to sturk in old or new play.
8.16 Roemte must be opened in the proper sequence, e.g. fifty-twenty and all opened roemte-cards must be clearly visible.
8.17 Four-aces/-kings/-queens/-jacks and vyf-eenderse allows a counter two strokes.
However, in old play, should the opponents count 50, the above roemte (except 4- jacks and vyf-eenderse) allows for one stroke only.
8.18 It is not necessary to play one of the cards in the roemte 4-aces/ -kings/ – queens/ -jacks or vyf-eenderse except with due regard to the rules of versak and under-trump.
8.19 If a counter counts 100 with or without roemte and does not pull on a stroke or two, then in old-play a trick must be picked up first before pulling on a stroke – unless s/he roems vyf-eenderse, 4-aces/-kings/-queens or -jacks (with the understanding that the above roemte, except 4-jacks) is good.
8.20 Should a counter count 79, roem 20, and ask if it is good, s/he can be punished immediately.
8.21 In new play, if 2 fifties are roemed, a trick must be picked up before going on.
8.22 A counter must close overcalled roemte-cards before asking whether it is good
or go on a stroke or two.
8.23 A counter can be punished for directly asking those who have already played if
roemte is good.
8.24 In old-play a counter must first roem, open the roemte-card and then ask whether it is good before going on.
8.25 If a counter is the last player and the third person has already played, it is an offence to ask if roemte is good.
8.26 No information shall be sought while the game is in progress; inaudible roemte can however be queried.
9. Slaggies/Tricks
9.1 All tricks are to remain in the exact order as picked up until the opposing counter has surrendered her/his cards.
9.2 If a counter picks up and closes the opponents’ trick, s/he cannot be punished after either counter has closed another trick.
9.3 A counter is allowed to look at her/his first trick at any stage of the game provided that s/he has not closed any other cards, and also, that s/he has played her/his card for that round. S/he must close her/his first trick before a round is closed.
9.4 If a counter has pulled on a stroke, s/he is allowed to glance through her/his tricks while the opposing counter is checking the discards.
9.5 No counter is allowed to see any of the opponents’ tricks after it has been closed.
S/he may, however, after punishing in connection with that particular trick.
9.6 No counter shall pick up the opponents’ trick or part of a trick and close it. If s/he does, a penalty is incurred.
9.7 It is not necessary to pick up or close the first trick when 4-aces/ -kings/ -queens/
-jacks or vyf-eenderse is roemed.
9.8 Any player who plays before the counter has closed an entire trick on the table can be punished.
10. Discards
10.1 Once the counter has gone on the boom, the opponents’ discards can be demanded if necessary.
10.2 Once a counter has pulled on a stroke or two, s/he must surrender the discards face-up or face-down.
11. Substitution
11.1 During half-time a player/s can be substituted; a substitute’s status, i.e. counter or by-speler will be left to the captain’s discretion.
11.2 Should a player be called away and no substitute is available, 20 points will be awarded to the opponents in the 1st half and another 20 in the 2nd half.
11.3 No partnership may change seating-arrangements (counter-to-by-speler and vice versa) during play or after half-time.
11.4 A maximum of 3 substitutes may be made at half-time.
12. Stopping the Table
12.1 In the event of a table being stopped by the referee during play, the opponents of the defaulters will be awarded an additional 20 points whilst the defaulting table forfeits all points.
12.2 Should 3 tables be playing and the referee stops one, the remaining 2 must complete the match.
12.3 When starting time of a game is announced after half-time, the referee must immediately be informed if there are players not seated. Three minutes grace will be allowed after which the table will be stopped. Ten points will be awarded to the nondefaulting table.
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Copyright © 2015 Dmitri Jegels, all rights reserved.

15 Responses to “Klawerjas”

  1. Hi Dmitri,

    I’m busy developing a Klawerjas website which I hope to have up and running early next year (2010).

    Ultimately this website will allow you to play Klawerjas via the internet with your friends.

    I would like your permission to place a link to your website ( on my site. You may look at site ‘’ to give you an idea of what it will look like. Please let me know if this will be okay.



    • dmitrijegels said

      Hi Reggie,

      Go ahead and place the link – I’ll reciprocate if you don’t mind. Looking forward to your site – it’s going to be fun to play a game on the internet, since my Klawerjas partner is in Nigeria and my Bridge partner is in new Zealand…

  2. Quinton Anthony said

    Hi Dmitri,
    Is there perhaps a klwerjas league running in Cape Town?I played the game during my student times and had great fun.I’m here on the west coast in Saldanha,and would want to start a club.I heared about a league there in Capetown a few years aga and would want to join,if it still exist.
    Could you help me with any details.

    • dmitrijegels said

      Hi Quinton,

      Sorry for the late reply. You can contact the SAKBOK secretary (V. Barkley) at
      084 776 4151, and I’m sure you’ll get the details of a club nearest to you. I don’t know of any clubs out Saldanha way, but I’m sure the secretary will have all the details. Good luck with your club!

      P.S. Check out the SA Klawerjas Board of Control website:

  3. Clayton said

    Hi D
    Is there a site where one can play klawerjas online? I tried reggie’s site but cannot enter.

    If not… do you have a list of Klawerjas clubs in the Western Cape?



    • dmitrijegels said

      Hi Clayton,

      Unfortunately Reggie’s is the only one I know of, and it seems he’s still working on it. Seems like you’ll have to stick to the old fashioned one. If you don’t have any partners, how about teaching 3 friends?


  4. Anthon said

    Hello Dmitri

    A friend of mine would like to get into the competitive set-up of the game. They wanna start a team and play in a league if it exists. Could u please advise me on what they have to do to achieve this. RE: who to contact, where to go, and so forth…

    Thanks dude
    Anthon Ehlers

  5. Strini Govender said

    hi Dmitri We at Rygersdal will be hosting our 1st Kalwerjas tournament on the 1st September 2012 SPREAD THE WORD AND JOIN US FOR A FUNFILLED EVENING.

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  9. said

    “Klawerjas Dmitri Jegels’ Blog” Faux Wood Blinds ended up being a superb blog, can not help but wait to read through much more of your blog posts. Time to waste numerous time on-line hehe. Regards -Marie

  10. Colin. said

    Dmitri, what are the tie-break rules if two opposing players both have fifties, same height, neither in trumps? And if one player has a twenty also, and the opponents partner has a twenty?

    • dmitrijegels said

      Hi Colin,
      In such cases it’s basically first come first served, unfortunately – that’s the luck or chance aspect of the game. So the first person to roem gets to keep the 20 or fifty roemed – opponent must size, and if opponent has the same strength 20/50, that’s too bad – the one who roemed first gets to keep the 20/50 so roemed. In other words, the one who roems last MUST have a stronger 20/50. Remember same size 20 or 50 out of trumps will always beat same size 20 or 50 not out of trumps, irrespective of when it is roemed – first or last. And don’t forget that nasty rule that holder of Ace high 20 or 50 out of trumps is not allowed to size opponent if roeming second – holder must roem WITHOUT sizing. This indicates that it’s highest 20 or 50, and table also knows then that holder also has sturk, even if holder has decided not to play the king or queen and roem 20 or 50 sturk. To size and then roem highest 20/50 is to forfeit the match – a beautiful reprieve for opponents who have been suffering from being dealt a bad hand.
      Enjoy the game!

  11. Sergio said

    Hi Dmitri, i’m still an amateur in the game but i’m definitely addicted! Is there still no site for online klawerjas? i checked but didn’t find anything as yet.

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