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Clag - card game

Alternative names Clagg
Type trick-taking
Players 3-7
Skills required tactics, probability
Cards 52
Deck French
Play Clockwise
Card rank (highest to lowest) A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Related games
Whist, Hearts

Clag or Clagg is a trick-taking card game using a standard deck of 52 playing cards. It is similar to Whist or Oh Hell, and can be played with up to seven players.

Game play

The cards are shuffled before each deal and dealt to each player in turn until the desired number of cards are dealt. The top card from the pack is then turned over to reveal the trump suit if required. The aim of the game is to finish with the most points. The points are recorded after the end of each round and then totaled at the end of the game to reveal the overall winner. Points are obtained by successfully bidding on the number of tricks each player will win, this bidding takes place after finding out the trump suit. A correct bid is worth 10 points and each trick is worth 2. An incorrect bid is always worth zero. For example, a bid of two tricks is worth 14 points.

The complete game consists of twenty rounds each with slightly different rules. Only one card is dealt for the first round and the second round two are dealt. Successive rounds then increase up to seven cards. Once a seven card round has been played six seven card rounds are played. The first is played with the same rules except no trump suit is played. The next is played with trumps but bidding must happen before the trump suit is revealed. Next two rounds are played with normal trumps with blind variations. The first round players must bid before looking at their cards and the second round the players must bid before looking at the cards and they have to play each card in the order they were dealt from the top of their pile. The next two rounds are misere ones, the first is played with trumps and the second is played without trumps. For these rounds each player is forced to bid zero tricks and for each trick won two points are deducted, a bonus of ten is awarded if no tricks are obtained. Once the six rule variation rounds are finished a normal round with seven cards is played then a round of six cards is played. Rounds are then played successively until the final round with one card is played.

Sample score card

A score card like the following can be used to help record scores. Each round is recorded in a row and each player gets a column with a running total of points. The left-hand number is the score after that rows round and the right hand number is a record of the bid recorded before the round starts play.

Round Ian Heather Amber Mike
1 10 0 12 1 10 0 10 0
2 22 1 22 0 20 0 22 1
3 22 0 34 1 20 1 34 1
4 22 1 46 1 20 1 34 2
5 36 2 46 1 20 2 50 3
6 50 2 46 1 34 2 64 2
7 60 0 60 2 48 2 64 2
nt (no trumps) 70 1 60 4 48 1 64 4
bt (blind trumps) 84 2 72 1 48 3 64 4
hb (half blind) 84 1 84 1 48 2 64 2
b (blind) 84 2 96 1 48 2 64 1
m (misere) 76 - 92 - 46 - 74 -
mnt (misere no trumps) 86 - 102 - 44 - 62 -
7 86 3 112 0 44 3 62 2
6 86 0 128 3 56 1 62 2
5 98 1 142 2 68 1 62 3
4 98 1 154 1 68 2 62 1
3 108 0 164 0 68 2 62 1
2 118 0 174 0 68 2 62 1
1 128 0 184 0 80 1 72 0

Game variations

As stated in the history below Clag was primarily played throughout the Royal Air Force, until the early 90s the rules of Clag varied from station to station and squadron to squadron around the globe. At this time serving personnel attempted to unify the rules throughout the service. This section covers the rules in use at that time.

The game is primarily played as above except the number of rounds would vary depending on the time available to play. The number of cards dealt for each round (between 3 and 7) is chosen by the dealer and there is no set structure to the rules for each round. Instead, the player who won the previous round, (referred to as the Caller) chooses the rules for the round after viewing their hand.

The Caller as well as having the option of choosing trumps or no-trumps has the option of various Precedence orders of trumps. With Precedence, the order is (hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades) with hearts being the top trump suit, trumping all other suits. Clubs will trump diamonds and spades. Diamonds just trumping spades and spades being no trump. Reverse Precedence order is (spades, diamonds, clubs, hearts). Any variation of Precedence may be called, e.g. Reverse Precedence red over black (d,h,s,c) Precedence black over red (c,s,h,d) etc.

Regardless of trumps called, players must follow suit of the first card played if possible. For example, if the first card played in a hand is a club and you have a losing club in your hand you must play that card and lose the hand rather than playing a trump to win the hand.

Another option for the caller is Nuloss (pronounced New Loss). With Nuloss the value of the cards in the pack are reversed. 2’s being the highest cards in the pack down to Ace’s being the lowest cards in the pack.

If a blind hand is called all players must shuffle their hand and place the cards face down on the table then play the round from the top of their hand.

Other options available to the caller are to alter the scoring system. As stated in the main rules above one option is misère where each winning hand will give a minus score. Another option though is Ascending or Descending Madness. With Ascending Madness the first trick is worth 2 points, the second 4 points, the third 6 points etc. With Descending Madness this is reversed the first trick having a value of twice the number of cards in the hand descending down to the last trick being worth only 2 points. When playing a round of Asc/Dsc Madness players still predict the number of tricks they will win for a bonus of 10 points as stated above, unless Asc/dsc Madness is combined with Misere when all players as stated above must predict winning no tricks.

An important rule when players predict the number of tricks they expect to win, is that the sum of predictions can not equal the number of cards in the hand. This ensures that it is impossible for all player to receive the bonus points for the round.

Any combination of these calls can be combined to create some very complex rounds. Making the right call becomes an important part of winning at clag and also increases the importance of winning rounds so as to be in the position of tailoring the round specifically to your hand. For example, a hand of 2,3,4 of hearts, 2,4 diamonds and the 3 of clubs may seem a bad hand, but the option of calling Nuloss Precedence Red over Black Ascending Madness could put you in a very strong position indeed.

One of the most important informal rules of clag is, “cheating is allowed as long as you don’t get caught.”


Clag originated in the Royal Air Force and started as an acronym for Clouds Low Aircraft Grounded.