Calypso is a trick-taking game for four players in fixed partnerships. Playing with four 52-card decks shuffled together, each player has their own personal trump suit, with the aim being to collect sequences of these ('calypsos') from cards won in tricks.
Each round lasts for four hands - in each hand one-quarter of the quadruple-deck is dealt out, so that all cards eventually show up after four deals. After each round is complete scores are tallied. On BGA games last for 1-4 rounds.
Each hand consists of 13 cards dealt to each of the four players. Subsequent hands are dealt from the remainder of the deck, until after four hands the round is complete. After each hand the deal passes to the left - except that the first hand of a new round is dealt by the dealer of the last hand of the previous round.
Each player is randomly assigned one of the four suits as their personal trump suit - hearts and spades (the 'major suits') form a partnership against clubs and diamonds (the 'minor suits'), with partners sitting opposite one another. Cards are played clockwise, with the leader to the first trick being left of the dealer, and the winner of each trick leading to the next. Players must follow suit if able to, but if unable to they may play any card ('renouncing'). If a player renounces, a suit indicator will display this fact for the remainder of the hand (these may be switched off in table options).
The rules to decide who wins a trick are a little unusual:
- If a player leads a card not of their personal suit, and everyone follows suit, the highest ranked card wins the trick
- If a player leads a personal trump, and no-one else plays a card of their own personal trump suit, then the leader wins the trick, regardless of any card ranks.
- If any player plays a card of their personal trump suit when it was *not* the suit led they are 'trumping in', and if they are the only player to do so, will win the trick
- If any player 'trumps in' after another player has done so, they will only win the trick by playing a higher-ranked card than the previous trump.
- If a player follows suit to a trick in which their personal trump was lead, they have not trumped in - they may only win the trick if they play the highest ranked card
- Cards rank in all suits from high-low A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
- If two cards of may win the trick and are of equal rank the winner is the first to play it.
This is perhaps best demonstrated via some examples - the headers display players' personal trumps, and the winner of the trick indicated by (*) - in each case North leads:
|North (♠)||East (♣︎)||South (♥)||West (♦)||Notes|
|6♠ (*)||5♠||10♠||K♠||lead personal trumps|
|6♠||5♠||3♥ (*)||K♠||trumped in|
|7♣︎||9♣︎||A♣︎ (*)||Q♣︎||highest card of suit led|
|7♣︎||9♣︎||A♣︎ (*)||A♣︎||highest card of suit led (priority to first card played)|
|7♣︎||J♣︎||6♥ (*)||9♣︎||trumped in|
|7♣︎||J♣︎||6♥ (*)||3♦||trumped in|
|6♥||J♣︎ (*)||K♥||10♥||trumped in|
|6♥||J♣︎ (*)||K♥||J♦||trumped in (priority to first card played)|
The primary aim is to collect 'calypsos' - sequences of each of the 13 cards A-2 in players' personal trump suits.
At the end of each trick, players take cards belonging to the personal trump suit of themselves and their partner, and lay them out in front of them in their 'calypso' area, if they do not have cards of that rank already represented. Any duplicate ranks, and cards of opponents' suits, go face down into the players trick-pile. If a player completes a calypso after a trick, all cards of the calypso are set aside, and they can once again take cards of any rank to begin compiling their next calypso. Any cards that end up in trickpiles are no longer available for calypsos. Calypsos can (and typically will) be built up over the course of several hands of the round.
After a round of four hands, scores are calculated - players score individually first, and then partners' scores are combined for the final round score. Scoring works as follows:
- For each players first calypso they recieve 500 points, their second is 750, and 1000 each for any further calyspos.
- For each card left in an incomplete calypso 20 points
- For each card in their trickpile 10 points