There is a version of Clobyosh played in southwestern Indiana, but it is scarcely documented. I was thus delighted to discover this about.com thread about it, and I reproduce here what the two contributors had to say who were willing to share substantial information about the game.
For better-documented (i.e., European) four-player Klaberjass varieties in which the entire deck is dealt out before bidding, compare Klaverjas and Belote Contrée or "La Coinche" (and if you read French: [here] [here: supplement to Belote] [here: supplement to Belote]).
4 player game (normal)
In four-handed clabber, 9-A of each suit is used. The dealer gives each player 6 cards. The last card, which is the dealer's, is flipped up to indicate possible trump suit.
The idea in clabber is to get more points than your opponents. Each card is worth a certain number of points, as follows:
A= 11 J= 20
10=10 9= 14
K= 4 A=11
Q= 3 10=10
J= 2 K= 4
9= 0 Q= 3
As you can see, the difference in rank between trumps and non-trumps is that the J and 9 are either high or low (respectively). As far as points go, the J and 9 are the only cards that change point value depending on whether or not they are trumps. When first learning the game, deal a few hands face-up to familiarize yourself with the game and possible strategy.
Choosing trumps is identical to euchre, except the dealer picks up the face-up card without exchanging any cards (there are no dead cards). If you haven't played Euchre, please read the rest of this paragraph. After the cards are dealt, the player to the left of the dealer decides if he/she wants the face-up card to be trumps, keeping in mind that their opponent will be picking up the face-up card. This player says "we'll try it" or "pass." If he/she tries it, the dealer picks up the card and the person to the left of the dealer leads. If he/she passes, the person on the left can pass or try it, keeping in mind that their partner will be picking up the face-up card. If both pass, the next player to the left can play or pass, keeping in mind that their opponent will be picking up the face-up card. If all three pass, the dealer can play or pass, keeping in mind that THEY will be picking up the face-up card. If all 4 players pass, the dealer picks up the card and the player to his/her left has a chance to call a suit for trumps, keeping in mind that they will be leading the first trick. The suit that has been passed cannot be tried at this point! If they pass, the next player on the left can choose trumps or pass. If all players pass this time around, there are 3 variations on what to do next:
1) the cards are thrown in and re-dealt by the same dealer
2) the cards are thrown in and dealt by the player to the dealer's left
3) the dealer is forced to choose trumps
It isn't very common for this to happen, so generally we play with the 1st option. Regardless of who calls trumps, the person to the left of the dealer leads the first trick.
After you have played a few face-up hands and have the hang of it, it is time to learn what meld is.
Meld is basically bonus points. They are not automatic, however. Here are possibilities for meld:
DAD- 3 in a row (20 pts.)- 9,10,J or 10,J,Q or J,Q,K or Q,K,A
A 50- 4 in a row (50 pts.)- 9,10,J,Q or 10,J,Q,K or J,Q,K,A
A hundred- 5 or 6 in a row (100 pts.)- 9-K or 10-A or 9-A
A hundred- all four 9s, 10s, Qs, Ks, or Aces (100 pts.)
A 200- all four Jacks
There is one more meld, which I will get to shortly. For all of the above-mentioned meld, before you play your first card, CALL your meld. You will say "I've got a dad" or "I've got a 50" or "I've got a 100" or "I've got a 200." Before you play your second card, you must SHOW your meld (put the cards on the table and let everyone see them). By calling and then showing your meld as mentioned, you will get "bonus points" (see scoring) unless someone else has a higher meld (worth more points) or higher cards in the same point value or the same cards and point value in trumps.
Examples where my meld doesn’t count:
I have a dad, but an opponent has a 50, 100, or 200.
I have a 50, but an opponent has a 100 or 200.
I have a 100, but an opponent has a 200.
I have a 9-J dad, but an opponent has a 10-Q, J-K, or Q-A dad (same idea for 50 or 100).
I have a 9-J dad (non-trumps), but an opponent has a 9-J dad in trumps (or 10-Q,J-K,Q-A)
The key word here is OPPONENT (your partner can never cancel your meld). In the above cases, your meld will not count unless your PARTNER has meld that beats your opponent's. In this case, both your meld and your partner's meld count and your opponent's meld doesn't count.
The last possible meld is "bell." If you have the Q and K of trumps, you have bell. This is called differently. You DO NOT say anything about having bell until you play the 2nd of these two cards. For example, say you play the K of trumps on the 2nd trick and the Q of trumps on the 4th trick. You would say bell AS YOU PLAY THE Q on the 4th trick. Another example- Say you play the Q of trumps on the 1st trick and the K of trumps on the last trick. You would say "bell" AS YOU PLAY THE K on the last trick. Bell cannot be cancelled (even if one of your opponents has a 200). This meld is harder to remember to call, since it's possible you won't mention it until the last trick.
A combination of melds is the "dad-a-bell." If you have this (J-K of trumps or Q-A of trumps), you call and show it like a dad, but you get 40 points total (20 for dad, 20 for bell) unless your opponents have a higher dad (only possibility is you have J-K and they have Q-A- if you have Q-A of trumps and they have Q-A of non-trumps, you get your points and they don't) or a 50, 100, or 200. In these cases, your bell still counts (it can never be cancelled), so you get 20 points for meld. *In order to get your 20 points, you must call bell as outlined above.
If your opponent calls a higher value meld (except for bell) than you, you can choose not to show your meld, as doing so would let the other team know some of your cards. Another reason to do this is that your opponent may forget to show their meld, where they might have remembered if you just showed yours.
If an opponent was to call a 50 before you and you have a dad, you can still call your dad so it has a chance to be good. If your opponent with the 50 plays their 2nd card before you play your 2nd card and they forget to show their 50, you can show your dad and it will be good. If you will be playing your second card before them, usually not calling your dad is wise. The reason for calling your dad the first time around is simple: you don't know who will be leading the 2nd trick (whoever takes the trick leads). In a tournament, you may not even want to call your dad in this situation, since it is unlikely that they will forget to call their 50 and they may somehow figure out what suit your dad was in (which will affect which suit they lead and probably net them more tricks).
Rare scenarios: If an opponent has a 100 (5 in a row) and you have a 100 (4 of a kind), the 4 of a kind counts higher. If opponents have different 4 of a kinds, highest to lowest follows trumps. Four jacks are 200. Of the 100s, higheset to lowest is 9s, As, 10s, Ks, and Qs.
If you can't follow suit, you must play a trump if you have one. Example: Spades are trumps. If hearts is lead and I don't have a heart, I must play a spade if I have one. If I don't have a spade, I can play either a club or a diamond. If an opponent lead hearts and my partner trumped it with a spade, then the other opponent plays a heart, and I don't have a heart or spade, I may want to throw a 10 of clubs or diamonds (if I have one). This is called "smearing points." I know my partner has the trick, so I want to make the trick worth more points. There are times when you would even smear an ace. A good example is when you have A and 10 of a suit and must "throw off" on a trick your partner will take. Generally, by throwing the A on the trick, you are telling your partner that you have the 10 also. Your partner may choose to lead that suit next (if they have one), which will allow you to take the trick with your 10. The best way to learn is to play. You come to learn what does and doesn't work, and your partner will usually let you know after the hand if they have a suggestion ;-)
Using the above example, say instead that I don't a heart, but DO have a spade. In this case, I MUST trump higher than my partner if possible, even though my partner already has the trick.
In a nutshell, the three rules are:
1) If you can follow suit, you must.
2) If you can't follow suit, you must play a trump (if you have one).
3) If you are playing a trump, you must trump higher than the other players (if possible).
*These rules are different than euchre, so be sure you are playing correctly!
As a final example, say one of our opponents dealt. The face-up card is J of diamonds. They end up trying diamonds as trumps. Let's say the non-dealer opponent takes the first trick. Since they know their partner has the J of trumps, they lead the K of diamonds to try to "pull" our trumps. Since diamonds are lead, I must play a trump if I have one. I have the Q and A of trumps. I MUST play my A to follow rule 3. The dealer has only the J of trumps and plays it. My partner has the 9 and 10 of trumps. They can play either card, since they can't beat the jack. They decide to play the 10, since they will be giving the other team 10 points (instead of 14 points with the 9).
Taking tricks works the same as in euchre. If there are no trumps, the highest-ranking card takes the trick (see point chart above). If trumps are lead, the highest-ranking trump takes the trick. If a non-trump is lead and trumps are played, the highest-ranking trump takes the trick.
In a hand where no one has meld, there are 162 points possible (152 points from the card values and 10 points for taking the last trick). The team that called trumps must have MORE points than their opponents in order to "make it." If they don't make it, they get "turkey tracks" (three X’s on the score sheet)- no points count for them that round. (If you don't call trumps, your points will always count, but in order to win, you MUST call trumps from time to time). Example: My partner and a call trumps. There is no meld, which means there are 162 points total. We must have at least 82 points to make it (opponents would have 80). If we make 81 points, we get turkey tracks because we don't have MORE points than our opponents. So 81 points or less and we don't make it. Let's say we take the last trick. When I'm counting our points, I start with 10 (for the last trick). I'm careful to note if we have either the J or 9 of trumps, since their point value is different. Once I have counted our total points, if we have 82 or more we made it and get that number of points for the round (our opponents get their points as well). If we made 81 or less points, we get turkey tracks on the score sheet, but our opponents get to count their points. Generally, to make things easier, the team with the lower number of tricks counts their cards and the other team can figure their score by subtracting from 162 (there is a chart on the score sheet to make this easier). Usually the team that didn't try trumps will have to count their cards.
My partner and I try it. Our opponents have a 50 (and call and show it). My partner and I take the last trick. Again, I start counting with 10 (for last trick). Let's say our total is 100. This means our opponents have 62 points- plus their 50- for a total of 112 points. Since they have the same or more points than we do, we get turkey tracks and they get 112 points.
My partner and I try it. Our opponents have a 50. We have bell. When the points are counted, without meld we have 100 points and our opponents have meld. When we add bell, we have 120 points. When they add their 50, they have 112 points. We still made it (barely), so both teams get their points.
My partner and I try it. Our opponents have a 100. I have a 50 and my partner has a dad-a-bell.(It is unlikely there would be this much meld in the same hand). If everyone remembers to show their meld, our opponents meld nulls my 50 and my partner's dad. Bell still counts, so we have 20 meld and they have 100 meld. If we have 120 in count, our opponents have 42. With meld, we have 140 and they have 142. We get turkey tracks and they get 142.
When you first learn this game, I would suggest playing it a few times before you play euchre again, as switching back and forth between these games can be very confusing at first.
If you have any questions, please e-mail me at email@example.com
First of all, clabber has a few different versions, but the most common uses the standard Euchre deck of 9-A. Clabber is similar to Euchre in the way the game flows however, Clabber is based on a point system rather than a "trick" system, so much more strategy is involved. Another major difference is that there is no kittie. Each player gets 6 cards and the dealer flips up the last card (which is his regardless) for the first round of trump calling. After trump is declared the person to the left of the dealer begins play, as in most card games. Of course following suit is mandatory, but trumping is also mandatory, i.e. no "throwing off" If you don't have the suit, then you must trump (unless of course you have no trump). Also, if someone plays a trump, you must beat that trump if you can (unless you must follow suit of course). The order of the cards is as follows in trump:
J (20 points), 9 (14 pts), A (11pts), 10 (10 pts), K (4 pts) Q (3pts)
The other 3 suits are:
A (11 pts), 10 (10 pts), K(4 pts), Q (3 pts), J (2 pts), 9 (0 pts)
Each round is worth a total of 162 points (unless there is meld, which I will explain next). The game is played to 500 points.
And last, but certainly, not least is the meld associated with clabber. This is another very important difference. Meld is a grouping of cards that a player calls out during the first trick and shows during the second. If a player forgets to call during the first, he does not get to show during the second and if he forgets to show, he also doesn't get the points. Only the highest meld counts (with the exception of "bell" which counts regardless and in addition to any other meld). Here is the order and point value of meld:
4 jacks - 200 points
4 (aces, 10s, Ks, Qs, 9s) - 100 points (aces higher than 10s higher than Ks etc)
Hundred - 100 pts- run of 5 in a suit ( ace high beats king high)
Fifty - 50 pts - Run of 4 in a suit (ace high would beat K high would beat Q high)
Dad - 20 pts - Run of 3 in a suit (ace high beats king high...etc)
Bell - 20 pts - QK of trump. This does not need to be called or showed. The player simply needs to say "bell" upon playing the second card of the bell.
In all meld, trump takes precedence over all of the other suits. Example: Lets say hearts is trump. AKQ of hearts would beat AKQ of spades. Also, the player with AKQ of hearts gets 40 points since he has a "dad" and a "bell". Any other non-trump runs simply cancel each other out and no points are awarded for meld.
More on scoring: The "makers" of trump need to capture more points that round than their opponents (82 points if no meld). If they accomplish this, both teams get the points from their tricks. However, if the defending team gets more points, the makers are "clabbered" and get no points. A tie goes to the defenders.
I think I laid it all out there, but no one is perfect. If you need more info, let me know and I will respond.In response to a query, MRAULT elaborates (December 27, 2002):
You are right on, I am from Evansville and that is where I learned clabber as well. I have spent hours trying to find a clabber software program or something similar. I have asked many people and, as you said, no one outside the area has heard of clabber. There are a few other countries that have games very similar to clabber. I know one is called clabberjass and I even found a free download to play it. It is the same as the clabber I play, but uses the 7's and 8's as well. I think the program was Polish (not sure though). It was a one-on-one program and very generic. It gave me my Clabber fix for a day or two, but clabber is meant for 4. I wish more people knew the game. I learned to play about 7-8 years ago and a friend and myself talk about trying to play all of the time, but we have trouble getting a game together. I have to settle for Euchre, which is definitely not as good...