Typical score sheet from a game of Kaiser.
|Skills required||Memory, Tactics, Communication|
|Card rank (highest to lowest)||A K Q J 10 9 8 7 5 3|
Kaiser, or three-spot, is a trick-taking card game popular in the prairie provinces in Canada, especially Saskatchewan and parts of its neighbouring provinces. It is played with four players in two partnerships with a 32-card deck.
The origins of this game are a mystery and there seems to be no historical record (spoken or written) that justifies it being a solely Saskatchewan-area game. It is especially popular among Ukrainian communities, and was possibly brought to Canada by Ukrainian immigrants, although it is not now played in Ukraine.
Kaiser means "emperor", the ruler of Germany from 1871 to 1918. During the Second World War a game referred to as troika (Russian troĭka, from troe "three"; akin to Old English thrīe "three") and the English version, three-spot, was played by war veterans in particular. These games were known for their bidding and trumping and the three in particular. The highest bid in these games was called a kaiser bid (12 notrump). It is because of this that it was referred to as that “kaiser bidding game” and eventually just that kaiser game.
Kaiser is played by four people: two teams of two players each. Unlike many card games, only 32 cards are used out of a normal 52-card deck. The deck contains the cards from eight to ace inclusively (8, 9, 10, jack, queen, king, ace) for each suit. The other four cards are the seven of clubs, seven of diamonds, five of hearts and three of spades. All 32 cards are dealt out: eight to each player. The cards may be dealt in any order to any player at so long as each player ends up with eight cards.
Even though kaiser is a rare game, rules do vary between groups and between regions. Some variations on the popular rules include: