|Alternative names||Le Barbu|
|Skills required||Card counting, Tactics|
|Card rank (highest first)||A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2|
|Playing time||1½ hours face-to-face,|
1 hour online
|Random chance||Low — Moderate|
|Herzeln, Kein Stich, Lorum, Quodlibet, Rosbiratschka|
|7 deals x 4 rounds = 28 games|
Barbu or Le Barbu, also known as Tafferan, is a trick-taking, compendium, card game similar to hearts where four players take turns leading seven different sub-games (known as contracts) over the course of 28 deals. Barbu originated in France in the early 20th century where it was especially popular with university students, and became a prominent game among French Bridge-players in the 1960s. The French version of the game was originally played with a stripped deck of 32 cards ranked seven to ace in each suit. Modern forms are played with a full 52-card pack.
"Le barbu" literally means "the bearded" (man), and phonetically "the barb" – a reference to the king of hearts' common depiction as a bearded monarch nonchalantly stabbing himself in the head. This card is of special significance in one of the seven contracts featured in the game.
Four players (no partnerships) use a deck of 52 French suited cards (♠ ♥ ♣ ♦) ranking A (high) K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 (low). Players draw for high card to determine who will be the first declarer. For the next seven deals cards are shuffled and dealt by the player on the declarer's right, and cut by the player on the dealer's right. 13 cards are dealt to each player, and the declarer names which contract all will play for that deal. The declarer names each one of the contracts once. After this declarer has played all seven contracts, the roles of declarer and dealer pass to the left for the next seven hands, and so on, until all have done their seven contracts.
There are five negative and two positive contracts in Barbu and all are trick-taking games with the exception of Domino. For trick-taking contracts, declarer leads a card to the opening trick and play passes clockwise with each player following suit if able, or otherwise playing a card in a different suit. All contracts are played at no trump, with the exception of Trumps. The total scores for all seven contracts taken together add up to zero, although variations exist where this is not the case (see variations below). The seven contracts are:
After declarer picks a game but before the first trick is led, each of the other players may wager double against one or more of the other players. This operates like a side bet on the relative game score between the two players, who are said to have "business" with each other. The rules for doubling are:
If there are no doubles in a negative game, the game is not played out, but the negative points are simply divided equally between the non-dealers, with the dealer scoring 0 or +1 as necessary. After the hand is played out and scores are tallied, modifications are made for doubles as follows:
Once all 28 hands have been played, scores are tallied and the player with the greatest number of points wins. The scores of all players should add up to zero, though variations exist where this is not the case (see below).
Ravage City is an eighth contract (making for an even longer game of 32 deals) where whichever player takes the most cards in any one suit scores −24. If there is a tie between two players, each scores −12. If three tie each scores −8, and all get −6 for a four-way tie. Because Ravage City brings 24 negative points into the game, the point values of the other contracts are modified as follows:
All other rules are the same as in seven-contract Barbu.
There are some players who play Ravage City as −36 instead of −24. These players usually do not maintain the zero sum quality of the game.
Chinese Poker (ChiPoker) is a ninth contract (making for an even longer game of 36 deals) played and scored exactly as a hand of Chinese Poker. The scores are then multiplied by four, for 76 plus points. Played with Ravage City and all other deals, ChiPoker adds 52 positive points into the game. All the negative games may be slightly adjusted to balance out the games and make the total scores add up to 0.
Some play with a new declarer and dealer each round instead of every seven rounds. This makes for more varied play, but requires precise recording of who has declared what and who has doubled whom. This is often more exciting, as you have a chance to get back into the running late in the game, even if you are the first to deal.
King (also called Rıfkı or Turkish King) is a shorter variation of Barbu with 20 rounds instead of 28. This version is popular in Turkey, as well as France, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Colombia and Brazil. King is made up of six negative contracts and one positive:
Each negative contract is played only twice (as opposed to the four times as in regular Barbu) during the game, and the Trump contract is played a total of eight times. Deal passes between each hand (as in Quick Rotation Barbu) and each player chooses just three negative and two trump contracts during the course of the game. In the end, scores add up to zero. All the players with positive score declared as winners and others as losers.
The Salade round is an additional round played in a variant based on the negative rounds. In this game the five negative rounds are varied slightly as follows, and the Salade is a sixth round.
Games are multiples of six rounds, with strategy for the Salade round being critical. This variant is strictly for fun – for example, players will gang up on the leader going into the Salade, forgetting their own position. It allows other numbers of participants to play by adjusting the pack (e.g. 5 players can be accommodated by removing the black 2s from the pack, leaving 50 cards).
Many game manufacturers have published boxed games based on Barbu. These include Parker Brothers' 6-contract game Coup d'Etat (1966) using a 32-card deck and scoreboard with tiny plastic swords, and Milton Bradley's fantasy-themed Dragonmaster (1981) that keeps score with colored plastic jewels,