Four players are organized into two teams of two players each, sitting opposite each other. Players must keep their hands secret from all other players, including their teammates. The object of the game is to be the first team to reach 300 points by capturing cards with a point value in tricks. If both teams have over 300 points at the end of a round, the team with the higher point total wins.
Only certain cards have a point value. These are known as counters. Each 5 is worth 5 points, each 10 and 14 is worth 10 points, and the Rook Bird card is worth 20 points.
The 1s, the 2s, the 3s, and the 4s should be removed from the deck, and the Rook Bird card should be added, for a total of 41 cards. The dealer shuffles and cuts the deck, then deals all of the cards, one at a time. After every player has received his or her first card, the dealer places one card in the center of the table. This is repeated until there are five cards (the nest) in the middle of the table. The remaining cards are dealt normally.
After the deal, players bid in increments of 5 points for the privilege of naming the trump suit. Bidding starts with the player to the left of the dealer and passes clockwise. The minimum bid is 70 points, and the maximum is 120 points (the number of points a team would make if they captured all the counters in the game). If a player chooses not to increase the bid, he may pass to the next player. A player that has passed may not make another bid for the round. The high bidder adds the five cards of the nest to his or her hand, then lays any five cards to the side. The high bidder then names the trump suit.
After the trump suit has been named, the player to the left of the dealer places any card of any suit face-up on the center of the table. Play proceeds clockwise, with each player playing one card face-up in turn. After each player has played, the player that played the highest card of the suit of the leading card takes all of the cards played, or “takes the trick”.
A player must either follow suit (play a card of the leading suit) or play the Rook Bird card. If a player has no cards of the leading suit, he or she may play any other card, including the Rook Bird card or a card of the trump suit. The highest card of the leading suit takes the trick, unless a trump card is played, in which case the highest trump card takes the trick.
If a player reneges, or fails to follow suit when he or she could have, the error may be corrected before the next trick is taken. If it is not discovered until later, the round ends, and the team that made the error loses a number of points equal to the bid, regardless of which team made the bid. The opponents score all the counters they captured before the error was discovered.
The person who takes the trick leads in the next trick. When a trick is taken, it is placed face-down in front of the player who took it. Tricks taken may not be reviewed by any player until the end of the round. The player that takes the last trick in a round captures the nest and scores any counters in it.
The Rook Bird card
The Rook Bird card is the highest trump card in the game. It takes any trick in which it is played.
You may play the Rook Bird card at any time, even if you are able to follow suit. It is the only card that may be played this way. If the Rook Bird card is led, all other players must play a trump card, if they have one. If the trump suit is led, and you have no other trump card, you must play the Rook Bird card.
When all possible tricks have been taken, each team adds the counters it captured. If the bidding team failed to make the number of points bid, the team loses a number of points equal to the amount of the bid, and does not make any points for counters captured in the round. The opposing team receives points for any counters they captured.
The first team to reach 300 points is the winner.
Kentucky West(ish) Rules
This game is for four players in partnerships, partners sitting opposite and kitty corner.
Order of cards
- Ones are high in each color, so the card ranking is 1-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2.
- The Rook card is the lowest card of whatever color is called as trump, ranking as a zero in that suit.
(The Rook will beat any card that is not trump, but will lose to any other trump card.)
The card scoring values are:
- Each 1. . . . . . . . .15 points
- Each 14. . . . . . . 10 points
- Each 10. . . . . . . 10 points
- Each 5. . . . . . . . .5 points
- The Rook. . . . . . 20 points
There are a total of 180 points available in each deal.
- Cards are dealt to each person, one at a time, with five cards dealt face down in the middle of the table as a kitty.
- Misdeal: If a player is dealt a hand with no point cards, he can call a misdeal and get a new hand dealt.
- Person to the left of the dealer starts the bidding, and bidding goes clockwise around the table.
At your turn, you can either bid or pass. If you pass, you cannot bid again in that hand.
Bidding continues until three players have passed.
- The lowest possible starting bid is 70 and bidding goes up in increments of at least 5.
- There are 180 points total available. A bid of 110 – 120 is very achievable. A bid of 135-145 is do-able, but difficult.
- If a team takes ALL the points in a hand, they are awarded 20 extra points, for a total of 200 points.
The Kitty and Choosing Trump
- The winning bidder picks up the kitty cards, without showing them to the other players, and discards five cards of their choice face-down.
- The bidder cannot put point cards into the kitty.
- Exception: if the choice is between putting point cards and trump in the kitty, the bidder can put points in the kitty, but must inform the other players that points are in the kitty.
- The winner of the last hand gets the points from the kitty.
Picking up the kitty can make the your hand better or worse:
- You may be able to swap out cards to eliminate a color suit in your hand
- You may acquire weak point cards which you have to keep
After discarding 5 cards, the bidder chooses trumps by naming a color.
- The player to the left of the high bidder leads any card to the first trick.
- Trump cannot be led until someone has played a trump card on a trick where they cannot match color.
- The other players in turn must play a card of the same color if they can.
- If they have no card of the led color, they may play any card.
- The Rook card counts as a card of the trump color. (But this card will be beat by any other trump card.)
- When everyone has played a card, the trick is won by the player of the highest trump, or, if no trump was played, by the highest card of the color that was led.
- The winner of a trick leads next.
End of Round and Scoring
- At the end of play, each team counts the total value of the cards they have won in tricks.
- If the tricks won by bidder’s team contain at least as many points as the bid, that team score the amount of card points they took. If the bidder’s team takes fewer card points than the bid, they score nothing for the cards they won; instead they subtract the amount of the bid from their previous score.
- The non-bidding team always scores the total number of points taken by their team.
Winning the Game
- The game ends when a team reaches 500 points or more. The team with the highest score wins.
Credit to rookscores.com for creating the original version of this printable sheet.
Buying Rook Cards
Rook cards are inexpensive. Amazon has a number of decent decks available for around $10. Here are some good places to buy.
- 57 Cards: Best rook card option with high quality fully plastic deck. Not exactly rook cards, but work perfectly to play the game. Now with a bird!
- Recent Hasbro Deck: The latest rook deck available.
- Older Hasbro Deck: For actual rook cards, I like this version the best. It last the longest even though it is slightly more expensive than the more recent print.
- 57 Cards at Amazon: These cards really do last a long time!