Hungarian TarotCard Players by Vilmos Aba-Novak, Hungarian 1932

This program will let you play a version of Hungarian Tarot, the popular Hungarian game played with a 42-card tarot pack.

It's a hard game to play well. This program does not play it well. Click here for the rules. Hungarian Tarot

Here, the rules are as for Illustrated Tarot, no cue bid without XXI or Fool.

Everybody gets 12 cards. The six cards left over are "the talon". Make your bid. Here if you pass, one of the other players will usually bid.

Remember that the score for the cards discarded by the partner go to the opponents.

I used a scoring system for those not familiar with the traditional tarot counting.

There are a total of 96 points, and a positive contract is made if the bidder takes 48 or more card points. A total of 72 is a double-game.

One must hold the Magician, the World, and/or the Fool. Here the rule is that one can only cue-bid holding the World or the Fool. The successful bidder calls as partner the holder of a cue-bid card, or otherwise the highest trump that the bidder does not hold. Here there is no option to play alone or call a different trump.

If the magician wins the last trick, it is a sparrow and gains five points, or ten if announced. If the magician is played to the last trick and does not win the trick, it is considered a failed sparrow and loses five. Failure to make an announced sparrow loses ten.

The option to upgrade from a sparrow or king ultimo to a uhu or king uhu is being worked out. Apart from a bid sparrow, the program does not forbid playing cards that have been promised to other tricks.

In the play for tricks, forehand plays first. The "Major Arcana" are always trumps. The Fool is the highest trump. Play goes counter-clockwise. You must follow the suit led if you can, and if you cannot, you must play a trump if possible. The trick is taken by the player of the highest-numbered trump, or if no trumps are played, by the highest card of the suit led.

If the Fool captures an opponent's World, it wins 21 points and the loser of the World wears the Mayor's Hat.

The bonuses for bidding and countering "take 3/4 of the points" and "take all the tricks" are usually not bid by the machine players. Here, doubling the game simply doubles the final multiplier. This makes it simpler. Like many players, this program does not double scores after a discarded hand (for example, four kings or no trumps).

As per custom, if an opponent of the bidder calls a sparrow or eight or nine trumps or some other bonus, the caller will indicate by doubling the bid that they are a defender.

Recently, this program has locked sometimes on Firefox. Error messages show a problem with the popup alerts. If someone can help me with this, I'd be most grateful.

Easier                         Harder.
The other players will not look at other hands.

Check this box to see the card names on mouseover.
"Chicks rule" -- queens beat kings. Queens, not kings, are tarot trumps; queens are worth +4, kings +3. The KQNP sequence stays the same.
Deal type:


Choose your bid....

Yield Pass -- showing XX plus XXI/Fool
Three -- opening bid
Two -- opening bid
Two -- simple raise
Two -- holding
Two -- showing XIX
One -- opening bid
One -- simple raise
One -- holding
One -- showing XIX
One -- showing XVIII
One -- showing XVII
Zero -- opening bid
Zero -- simple raise
Zero -- holding
Zero -- showing XIX
Zero -- showing XVIII
Zero -- showing XVII

Announcements before play begins...

Sparrow [win last trick with Magician; +10; +5 if not bid]
Trull [win Magician, World, and Fool; +2; +1 if not bid]
Four Kings [win all four kings; +2; +1 if not bid]
Mondfang [take the World with the Fool; +42; +21 if not bid]
Take 3/4 of the points (71) (doubles base score)
Take all the tricks (triples base score)

Double ("kontra") Opposing Bid / Take 71 / All Tricks
Double ("kontra") Opposing Sparrow
Double ("kontra") Opposing Trull
Double ("kontra") Opposing Four Kings
Double ("kontra") Opposing Mondfang

Redouble ("rekontra") Bid / Take 71 / All Tricks
Redouble ("rekontra") Sparrow
Redouble ("rekontra") Trull
Redouble ("rekontra") Four Kings
Redouble ("rekontra") Mondfang

Optional Bids / Conventions: "Illustrated Tarot" (machine will not bid any Page Uhu)

    Centrum [win first five tricks, fifth with the Angel] (+10)
    Kismadar [win first six tricks, sixth with the World] (+10)
    Nagymadar [win first seven tricks, seventh with the Fool] (+10)
    Three Birds [win the last three tricks with three of I-II-III-IV] (+60)
    Bethlehem [win the last three tricks with three Kings] (+60)
    Three Staves [win the last three tricks with Staves] (+60)
    Three Cups [win the last three tricks with Cups] (+60)
    Three Swords [win the last three tricks with Swords] (+60)
    Three Coins [win the last three tricks with Coins] (+60)
    Uhu [win the eighth trick with the Magician] (+20)
    King of Staves Uhu [win the eighth trick with the King of Staves] (+20)
    King of Cups Uhu [win the eighth trick with the King of Cups] (+20)
    King of Swords Uhu [win the eighth trick with the King of Swords] (+20)
    King of Coins Uhu [win the eighth trick with the King of Coins] (+20)
    Page of Staves Uhu [win the eighth trick with the Page of Staves] (+25)
    Page of Cups Uhu [win the eighth trick with the Page of Cups] (+25)
    Page of Swords Uhu [win the eighth trick with the Page of Swords] (+25)
    Page of Coins Uhu [win the eighth trick with the Page of Coins] (+25)
    King of Staves Ultimo [win the ninth trick with the King of Staves] (+15)
    King of Cups Ultimo [win the ninth trick with the King of Cups] (+15)
    King of Swords Ultimo [win the ninth trick with the King of Swords] (+15)
    King of Coins Ultimo [win the ninth trick with the King of Coins] (+15)

    No doubling / redoubling of "Illustrated Tarot" bonuses for now.

More about the cards:

While yet a boy I sought for ghosts, and sped
  Through many a listening chamber, cave and ruin,
  And starlight wood, with fearful steps pursuing
Hopes of high talk with the departed dead.
I called on poisonous names with which our youth is fed;
  I was not heard. I saw them not.

        -- Shelley

It seems most reasonable to me to think that the Tarot began as playing cards, for entertainment and games, when sufficiently sturdy paper / pasteboard was invented. The suit cards are like our own playing cards.

The trumps present common interfaith symbols that people from many traditions have found helpful in reflection and meditation.

My own experience has been that this can perhaps improve your life if (and only if) your intention is to stop focusing on life's "small stuff" and prepare you to be kind to those around you.

If there are really any intricate cosmic secrets here, I have been unable to understand them. Call me dumb or unspiritual if you like. When I have actually seen the cards used for divination by practitioners, they were obviously being used as mere props for lay-counselling.

The "Latin" suits may represent the military and government (swords), the clergy (cups), the business folks (coins), and the laborers (staves).

Kings would rank highest, then queens. Chivalric knights were sworn to serve queens, and pages were squires to knights.

In the trump suit, notice how often a card seems naturally to take precedence over the one just below it. No reasonable person would deny that the cards are beautiful and meaningful, or claim that this is just a more complex version of "scissors, paper, stone".

The Magician ("juggler", "mountebank" or "sleight of hand artist") may have been introduced first, as a wild card like our joker for some card games.
The High Priestess was a female pope ("la Papesse"). When it was decided to introduce a second wild card, a female trickster might have been chosen as the magician's counterpart. The legend of "Pope Joan" may have attached itself to the card.

The next three cards may have been introduced together. The Empress would have precedence over the previous two cards, and the four Kings.
The Emperor, of course, is lord over the Empress. The Holy Roman Empire was in existence when the cards were developed.

The Hierophant is probably the Pope, to whom the Emperor owed obedience, at least in theory.
Romantic love has power over every human being. Waite called the first five cards "the captives of Cupid."

War interrupts the lives of Lovers and can take love even out of the human heart. I've been told that the bonds between comrades-in-arms are stronger than between Lovers.
Strength ("fortitude") gives victory over the enemy Chariots. Socrates's four temporal virtues (fortitude, justice, temperance, and perhaps wisdom / judgement) may all be represented in the images.

The Hermit may originally have been Father Time, who wears down all Strength.
The Wheel of Fortune, or the cycle of Luck, operates through all Time and over the years.

Justice, rather than Luck, should determine what happens to a person.
The Hanged Man is a mystery. Perhaps this is an extrajudicial lynching. Perhaps this is a cryptic representation of the One Who fulfilled the demands of the law's Justice by His death.

Everything represented up to now is subject to human mortality.
Temperance, living a wholesome life, gives the best chance of staying healthy and avoiding premature Death.

The devil tempts us to live in ways that are not temperate or otherwise wholesome.
At the destruction of the Tower of Babel, the devil's agents were dramatically defeated. * *

The Star shines high above all Towers.
The Moon outshines the Stars.

The Sun outshines the Moon.
At the Last Judgement, the Sun and all rest of creation will disappear.

A card representing a Fool (simpleton) was probably introduced to be playable at any time.
The World contains all the things that can possibly be, and so it is the highest of all cards. Perhaps this is the new World that will follow the Last Judgement.

* If, as in the old decks, the tower is the "House of God", then the Church defeats the devil, and nothing below the heavens can take precedence over the Church.

a kid, I spent quite a bit of time with Waite's book and the tarot pack. I wondered about his hints that he possessed great secret knowledge. (Re-read his description of the "Hanged Man", look closely at the Ace of Cups, recall that in his own life he professed the Christian faith, and then draw your own conclusions.) Today I appreciate him most as the first person to write systematically about the western occult tradition. At least some of his Golden Dawn fellow-seekers of "secret knowledge" eventually found the Ignatian "Spiritual Exercises" more helpful.

There are more elaborate games than the one I've shared here. In most, a greater skill element comes from bidding various contracts prior to play for tricks.

Tarot Game Rules -- links to more complicated games with bidding
and no declaring or scoring of melds, as the basic one.
Tarot History
Various Tarot Decks
Tarocchino -- downloadable book of tarot games. No-nonsense account of the history of the gaming cards and the bunko artists who made it an "occult mystery." Thanks!
The Castle of Crossed Destinies -- "semiotic fantasy novel"

Francis of Assisi
Christian Tarot Decks
Tarot and Evangelism -- prof at U. of Aberdeen divinity school. Like any evangelist, meeting "New Agers" where they already are.
Tarot of the Saints -- Biblical and historical images, some gnosticizing
Tarot of the Saints -- Amazon
Tarot of the Saints -- Margaret of Rome resists the devil, etc.

VI. The Lovers

Waite's Tarocky
Danish Tarot
French Tarot for Three
French Tarot for Four
German Cego
Konigrufen -- Austrian tarot game
Swiss Troccas
Scarto -- primitive tarot game
Bid Tarot -- primitive tarot game with bidding

Meet Ed