Idea of the Game

DOUBLE SOMERSET is a card game having seven suits, no one suit having the same number of cards as another. The purpose of the players is to gain an advantage in the play by bidding and to play so that they take as many of the count cards and tricks as possible. The game may be played by 2, 3, 4 or 6 players. Players may play alone In all these games but the usual four handed game Is played with two sets of partners. In the six handed game there may be three sets of two partners each, or two sets of three partners each.

The Cards

The pack consists of fifty cards divided into seven suits of unequal length and the S/S CARD. The suits are not distinguished by color or character but by the lower numerals on the cards which are 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12. The upper numerals represent the play value of the cards In the suits.

The /0 suits consist of only one card 0/0, The /2 suit consists of the cards 0/2, 1/2, 2/2.
The /4 suit consists of live cards 0/4, 1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4.
The /6 suit consists of seven cards 0/6, 1/6, 2/6, 3/6, 4/6, 5/6, 6/6.
The /8 suit consists of nine cards 0/8, 1/8, 2/8, 3/8, 4/8, 5/8, 6/8, 7/8, 8/8.
The /10 suit consists of cloven cards 0/10, 1/10, 2/10, 3/10, 4/10, 5/10, 6/10, 7/10, 8/10, 9/10, 10/10,
The /12 suit consists of thirteen cards 0/12, 1/12, 2/12, 3/12, 4/12, 5/12, 6/12, 7/12, 8/12, 9/12, 10/12, 11/12, 12/12.

Remember carefully that a Suit is each set of cards carrying the same lower Denomination number — thus all cards with /12 as the lower denomination number are in the 12 suit. Also, to help you remember the card values in the suits no card in any suit has a value in excess of the suit number. Examples — The 2/2, the 6/6 and the 12/12 are the highest cards in their respective suits.

Object of the Game

In the play of the game the object is to take TRICKS and COUNT CARDS. A total of 24 points may be scored in each deal of the four handed game. The seven red cards are count cards and should be carefully played for, to be saved or captured whenever possible. The total count value of these Red cards is twelve points, their individual values being shown in the circle to the right of the numerals on these cards. in addition each trick counts one point for the side capturing it. In the four handed game a trick consists of one card played to the table, by each of the players, in rotation, a total of four cards. In the two, three and six handed games the number of cards to a trick and the number of tricks will vary.

The Four Handed Partnership Game

THE DEAL — Any one player Is first chosen as dealer, by cutting for high card or by agreement . After the first hand is played the deal passes in rotation to the left around the table. The Dealer shuffles the cards thoroughly and deals one card at a time to each player starting with the player at his left until each of the four players has twelve cards. (Each set of twelve cards is called a hand.) The two remaining cards are then placed face up on the table and are taken by the player who captures the first trick.

Bidding

There is a total of twenty-four points in each deal of the four handed game, twelve points In tricks (one point for each trick) plus the twelve point total of the red scoring cards. After examining his hand each player determines in his mind how many of the twenty-four possible points he can make with the assistance of his partner. The player at the dealer's left bids first and bidding passes to the left around the table until the high bid has been made by one player, and all others have passed.

Example—The player to the left of the dealer may open with a bid of eight points. The next player bids ten, the third player passes. The dealer raises his partner's bid of ten to twelve. The player to the left dealer now passes. The next player passes. The third player, who has previously passed, bids fifteen. The dealer now passes and so do the other two. The third player is, therefore, the high bidder.

Note. If a player does not care to bid he says, “I pass,” but has the right to bid later when the turn comes around to him again. If no player cares to bid the first rime around, the hand is not played and the deal passes to the left.

Naming the Trump

The high bidder has the right to name the trump (he does not name it while bidding) and usually will find it best to name his longest and strongest suit, saying, for example, “Number ten suit is trump,” or, “Tens are trumps.”

A trump suit is any one of the seven suits that may be named by the highest bidder and the highest trump card played on any trick takes that trick. For example, if the /2 suit is trump and the cards played on one trick are 8/8, 6/8, 4/10 (discarded) and the 0/2 (the lowest trump) the 0/2 card takes the trick. Note carefully, however, that if a player has in his hand a card of the suit led he must play it (“follow suit”). If he has no cards of the suit led he may play a trump or discard from any other suit.

The Play

The high bidder always starts the play of the hand and he must lead a trump card for the first trick. After the first trick the winner of that trick and the winner of any succeeding trick may lead any card from his hand. High card of a suit led takes the trick unless one or more trumps are played. In this case high trump takes the trick. The red S/S card is always the low card in any suit named as trump and must be played when a trump is led if the player holds no other trump card. If for example the /8 suit is trump the S/S card ranks below the 0/8 card but if any /8 card is led the S/S card must he played if the player holds no other /8 card.

"Double" Cards and the "Rover"

Any card having the same denomination number as its suit is called a “Double” that is 0/0, 2/2. 4/4, 6/6, 8/8, 10/10 and 12/12.

The 0/0 card is called the “ROVER.” At any time. when no regularly named trump is played, the 0/0 card, (“Rover”) played on a trick with any Double makes that Double trumps for that trick only. For example, if cards 9/12, 11/12, 0/0, and 2/2 were played the 0/0 card would make the 2/2 a trump and the 2/2 card would take the trick. Or, if 11/12, 0/0, 2/2 and 4/4 were played, 4/4 being a higher double card than 2/2 would take the trick. The 0/0 card is a double in itself and when played on a trick where no regular trumps or “doubles” are played it becomes a trump and takes the trick itself. Note carefully, however, that the 0/0 card is not a regular trump. It does not have to be played when a trump is led and it will not take a trick over any regular trump, nor will it cause a double to take a trick over a regular trump card. Any named trump card including the S/S card has greater capturing power than the 0/0 card or any double.

In bidding, if desired the 0/0 card may be named the Trump In which case the S/S card becomes a regular trump, as in the case of any regular suit but lower in value than the 0/0 card. If the 0/0 card is named as Trump it loses its power to make other doubles trumps but becomes, itself, the highest card in the pack.

No Trumps

A player may hold a hand of high cards on which he wishes to make a No Trump bid. If he makes this bid the S/S card has no capturing power but can be discarded at any time on any suit led. This is the only play in the game in which the player does not have to follow suit if he can. However, a player should attempt to discard the S/S card on a trick his partner can take because of Its scoring value of three points. If a player should lead the S/S card in No Trumps the card played by the next player establishes the suit for that trick. The 0/0 card in No Trump has no power to make "doubles” trumps. However, since It is the only card in the /0 suit it will always take the trick when led.

Scoring

When the entire hand is played out, the score is counted. if a bidder has made good his bid, or bettered it, he and his partner are credited with the number of points made and the opponents do not score. For example, If the high bid was fourteen and the high bidder and his partner scored sixteen points against the opponent's eight they would be credited with sixteen points and the opponents with nothing.

However, if the high bidder does not make the points bid he is said to be “set” and double the difference between the points he bid and the points he made is deducted from his total score. In addition to that his opponents are credited with double the amount of the points they have scored.

For example. If the bid was fifteen and each side scored twelve the bidder has made three points less than his hid. Double this is six which is deducted from his total score. In addition the opponents have made twelve points and they get two times this, or twenty four points, added to their score. Deductions against a player are applied even if it causes a minus score.

The Winners of the Game

Sixty-six (66) points constitute a game. The first set of partners to make this score Win the Game.

Note. Four players may play single handed instead of as partners. In this case the same general rules apply and the winning score is still sixty-six points. The differences are: (1) The bidding should be less. (2) In no trump there is no way for the player holding the S/S card to capture it. (3) The player scores for himself so that should he be “set” the other three players add double the points they have made to their individual scores.

3 Player Rules

3 persons can easily play the game with the following variation. Deal out 16 cards for each player. The 2 extra are the kitty. There are 28 points possible (16 in tricks and 12 pointers).

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Full Survey of Double Somerset Rules

The following is a survey of Double Somerset rules compiled by Jerry Childs of Ludington, Michigan. It contains a comparison of rules from Arthur Hodges 1913, Parker Brothers 1934 and 1947, Minden Hardware, Somersetcards.com, BoardGameGeek.com, Minden Nebraska Senior Center, and Childs Family rules.
Download survey of Double Somerset rules (PDF).