Durak

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Durak (Russian дурак, meaning "fool") is one of the most popular card games in Russia and Eastern Europe, although it is occasionally seen in the West as well. It can be played with anywhere from 2 to 6 players, although 3 and 4 player games work best.

Rules[edit]

Durak is somewhat unusual among card games in that there is (in most variants) a loser, but no winners. The goal of the game is to avoid being the last player with cards left in his hand. Some variations have the reverse: the first player to get rid of his cards wins.

Most often, a deck consisting of only 36 cards is used (6 to Ace in each suit, with Ace high).

Setup[edit]

First, select a player to be the dealer. That person shuffles the cards and deals six cards to each player, one at a time. Then turn one card face-up for everyone to see. The suit of that card becomes the trump suit. Put the remaining deck face-down in the middle of the table, so that it partially obscures the face-up card. All players pick up their cards. Trumps always beat non-trump cards regardless of rank (e.g., a trump 6 beats a non-trump ace).

Gameplay[edit]

The starting player is the first attacker. The player to the attacker's left is always the defender. After each turn play proceeds clockwise. If the attack succeeds (see below), the defender loses his or her turn and the attack passes to the player on the defender's left. If the attack fails, the defender becomes the next attacker.

Attack and defence[edit]

The attacker opens the turn by playing one card face up on the table as an attacking card. The player to the attacker's left is the defender. The defender has to immediately attempt defense in response to the initial attack.

The defender attempts to beat the attacking cards by playing defending cards from his hand. One card is played in defense of each attacking card. Non-trump attacking cards may be beaten by either a) a higher card of the same suit or b) a trump. Trump attacking cards may only be beaten by higher trumps. The defending cards are placed on top of the attacking cards so that players can keep track of which card is defending against which.

At any point during a defense, the attacker or any third party can pitch in extra attacking cards, provided that for each new attacking card, there is already a card of the same rank on the table (either defending or attacking), and the total number of attacking cards does not exceed six, five if there have been no successful defenses, or the number of cards in the defender's hand, whichever is less. The defender must also defend against these new cards.

If the defender is unwilling or unable to beat all attacking cards, he must pick up all the cards on the table—including all the cards the attackers pitched in—and incorporate them into his or her hand. At this point, the defense is abandoned. The defender may choose to abandon the defense at any point during the turn. This immediately ends the turn. The failed defender loses her or his turn to attack; hence the player to the defender's left attacks next.

If, however, the defender has beaten all attacking cards, and no other players are willing or able to add more, the defender has triumphed. The turn ends, all cards on the table are discarded from play to a discard pile, and play passes to the left: the successful defender opens the next turn as the new attacker.

End of turn[edit]

At the end of each turn, whether or not the defense was successful, the following action is performed: starting from the main attacker, followed by anyone else who contributed cards, and culminating with the defender, each player with fewer than six cards in their hand must draw cards from the deck until they have six cards in their hand. When the deck runs out of cards, play simply carries on without any more cards being drawn. At this point, when someone runs out of cards, they are done with the game, and everyone else continues. Each player draws as many cards as they need (e.g. if there are six cards left in the deck and the attacker has just spent their entire hand, they draw the entire deck and no one else draws any cards). The order in which this is done is strategically important since the last card in the deck is by definition a trump.

No players may examine the discard pile at any point.

Winning and losing[edit]

There are different types of the game, in one type there are no winners, only one loser, in another winner - the first man, who leaves the game, without cards in his hands. The last person with cards left in their hand is the loser (the fool or "durak"). That person is the dealer for the next game, and the person to the left of the fool is the first attacker of the next game.

Team play[edit]

With four (2 vs. 2) or six players (2 vs. 2 vs. 2 or 3 vs. 3), it is possible to play in teams. The members of each team sit opposite one another (with two players on each team), or alternating (with three). The members of each team do not put down cards for their teammate to defend, but focus on piling up on the other team(s) instead.

The material in the above section has been taken partially from Wikipedia's article on this card game.

Strategy[edit]