Cards portal Matching Fishing Rummy Shedding Accumulating Trick-taking Other card games

Twenty-eight - card game

Origin India
Type Trick-taking
Players 3-8
Skills required Memory, Tactics
Cards 32
Deck Anglo-American
Play Counter-clockwise
Card rank (highest to lowest) J 9 A 10 K Q 8 7
Playing time 5 min.
Random chance Medium
Related games
Belote, Jass

This is one of a group of Indian trick-taking card games in which the Jack and the Nine are the highest cards in every suit.

Players and cards

28 is usually played by four players in fixed partnerships, partners facing each other. 32 cards from a standard 52-card pack are used for play. There are eight cards in each of the usual "French" suits: hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades. The cards in every suit rank from high to low: J-9-A-10-K-Q-8-7. The aim of the game is to win tricks containing valuable cards.
The total number of points in the deck is 28, hence the name of the game. The values of the cards are:

Deal and bidding

Deal and play are counter-clockwise; the cards are shuffled by the dealer and cut by the player to dealer's left. Four cards are then dealt to each player.

Based on these four cards, players bid for the right to choose trumps. Each bid is a number, and the highest bidder undertakes that his or her side will win in tricks at least the number of points bid. The player to dealer's right speaks first, and must bid at least 14 or it can be more. Subsequent players, in counter-clockwise order, may either bid higher or pass. The auction continues once until the player passes and the bid moves on to the next player.

The final bidder chooses a trump suit on the basis of his or her four cards, and places a card of this suit face down. The card is not shown to the other players, who therefore will not know at first what suit is trump: it remains face down in front of the bidder until at some point during the play someone calls for the trump suit to be exposed.

The dealer then completes the deal, giving four more cards to each player, so that everyone has eight.

The Play

The play can be divided into two phases: before and after the bidder's face down trump card (also known as 'turup') is exposed.

First phase

Deal and play are anti-clockwise; the cards are shuffled by the dealer and cut by the player to dealer's left. Four cards are then dealt to each player.

Based on these four cards, players bid for the right to choose trumps. Each bid is a number, and the highest bidder undertakes that his or her side will win in tricks at least the number of points bid. The player to dealer's left speaks first, and subsequent players, in clockwise order, may either bid higher or pass. The minimum bid allowed is 14 and the maximum is 28 (assuming that the point for the last trick is not counted,for 29 bidding starts with 17). If any player bids, the auction continues for as many rounds as necessary until three players pass in succession. The player to dealer's right must bid at least the minimum.

The final bidder chooses a trump suit and to indicate the chosen suit, places a card of the chosen suit face down on the table, and does not show this card to the other players.

Some allow a player who wishes to bid but is unwilling to choose a suit on the basis of his or her first four cards, perhaps having one card of each suit, to call for the 'seventh card' to be trumps. In this case, in the second phase of the deal, the bidder's penultimate card is placed under the trump indicator cards and determines the trump suit. The bidder may look at this 'seventh card' but as usual the other players will not know what suit it is until trumps are exposed.

If the bidder calls for the 'seventh card', then for the purposes of following suit this card is not considered to belong to the bidder's hand until the trump suit is declared. If the suit of this card is led by another player before trumps have been declared, the bidder must follow with a card of this suit from his hand if possible. If the bidder is unable to follow suit from his hand, he may either discard from another suit or declare trumps by showing his seventh card, and follow suit with it.

The dealer then completes the deal, giving four more cards to each player, so that everyone has eight.

The player to the dealer's right leads to the first trick; players must follow suit if possible, the highest card of the suit led wins the trick, and the winner of each trick leads to the next. During this first phase it is illegal for the bidder to lead a card of the trump suit, unless he or she has no cards of other suits. If you have no card of the suit led you have two options:

You may discard any card. This card cannot win the trick. Before playing a card, you may call for the bidder's face down trump to be exposed. In this case, the bidder must turn this trump card face up for all to see, and it is then added to the bidder's hand. Having called for the trump to be exposed, you must play a trump to this trick if you have one; if you have no trump you may discard any card. The play now enters the second phase. During the first phase, the face down trump is not considered as belonging to the bidder's hand. If the bidder holds no card of the suit that was led, the bidder has essentially the same options as the other players: to discard any card without declaring trumps, or to expose the face down trump card and play a trump to the trick (not necessarily the one that was face down).

During the first phase, cards of the (concealed) trump suit have no special effect: each trick is won by the highest card of the suit led, even if it also contains cards of the suit that is subsequently revealed as trumps.

Second phase

Beginning with the trick in which the trump card is exposed, each trick is won by the highest trump in it. Tricks that contain no trumps are won by the highest card of the suit led. Players must follow suit if possible: if unable to follow, they may play a trump or discard a card of another suit, as they like. Note in Indian villages they follow an additional rule that a jack cannot be discarded until the suit to which it belongs has been played once. As before, the winner of each trick leads to the next. The bidder is now free to lead any suit, including trumps.

Notes that if a situation is reached during the first phase in which the bidder has no trumps in hand, and another player leads the trump suit, the bidder can play any card, since the face down trump is not yet part of the bidder's hand. Of course the bidder has the option to expose the face down trump and play it, but if it is a low trump that cannot win the trick, it will probably be better to save it for later. If no one calls for the trump to be exposed during the first seven tricks, the bidder will be forced to expose the trump in the last trick and play it, this being the bidder's only remaining card.

Scoring for a round

When all eight tricks have been played, each side counts the card points in the tricks it has won. The bidding team needs at least as many card points as the bid to win; otherwise they lose, adjusted for a declaration of a Pair if appropriate, they win one game point; otherwise they lose one game point. The score of the team playing against the bidder does not change.

Each side keeps score using a red Six (known as nali or red chaka) and a black Six (known as kala or black chaka), from the cards not used in the game. These are arranged to display either a number of red pips, representing a positive score, or a number of black pips, for a negative score. At the start of the game no pips are showing. If the bidding side wins, they expose one extra red pip or (if they had black pips showing) cover one black pip; if they lose they expose a black pip or cover a red pip.

In the eastern part of India, especially in Orissa,Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand, many play that if the bidder scores less than half of the call this doubles the number of game points they lose. The player has no rights to shuffle the card on the first round of the bid. Shuffling card means losing the game, he may only cut once without touching the pack.

Keeping team score

Some play that after the bidder has chosen trumps or asked for the 'seventh card', but before the dealer continues the deal, either opponent of the bidder may say 'double' if he or she believes that the bidder's team will fail. The bidder's team will then win two game points rather than one if they succeed and lose two game points if they fail.

Some play that after a double, the bidder or the bidder's partner can reply with a 'redouble', which doubles the score again to four game points, won or lost.

Some give the whole pile of unused cards (2s to 5s of all suits) to the trump maker, who arranges them with a card on the bottom to indicate the trump suit - or the seventh card is placed under them if 'seventh card' was called. A double or redouble is indicated by flipping face up one or two cards respectively from the top of this pile. The identity of the flipped card has no effect on the game - it is just there to remind the players that the game has been doubled.

Nikhil tiwari, from the Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh, reports a variation in which the score for the game is increased to two game points whenever the bid is 21 or more. The bidding side exposes or covers two red or black pips rather than just one.

In this version, bids of 20 or less can be doubled by the opponents and redoubled by the bidding team as described above. Bids of 21 or more, which are already worth two game points, can be doubled by the bidder's opponents, raising their value to four points (this is treated as a redouble), but four game points are the limit: the value cannot be further increased by the bidding team. However this rule is implemented to speed up the game and to make it more enjoyable, but this rule is not a compulsion.

Also in some parts of India, especially in Odisha,Bihar and Jharkhand they also play in which you can bid six points in a single game. It's called a 'C', but this can only be implemented by the bidder if there is not a single pip displayed either black or red and the opponent has given a double. If you are playing an auto-double game version then also a 'C' cannot be implemented.

The game is won by the first team to reach a cumulative score of plus 6 game points, shown by six red pips for all the numbers 2-6. Each win or loss of six pips opens up a set. A red set if won and black if lost. Its in best practice to drop a set if both team has same set open. It also ends if a team reaches minus 6 game points (six black pips) for all the numbers 2-6, thereby losing the game.

In Kerala this game is popularly known as Lelam.

Miscellaneous Rules

The game is cancelled if any of the following things happen.

  1. If any player possesses four jacks.
  2. If all 8 cards are pointless.
  3. If the opposite pair playing against the bidding pair do not have any of the 8 trump cards (but this can be known only at the end of a game). As the players are not allowed to disclose any of their cards in hand.
  4. If the person next to the shuffler has point-less cards. Here's a catch if he chooses not to bid and the person next to him has again pointless cards then the game has to be cancelled but this leverage is provided to the shuffler only when all the 4 players have point-less cards.

Single Hand

Some play that after all the cards have been dealt, but before the lead to the first trick, a player with very strong cards may declare a 'single hand', undertaking to win all eight tricks, playing alone. In this case there are no trumps, the player who announced 'single hand' leads to the first trick, and the partner of the lone player places his or her hand face down and takes no part in the play. The lone player's team wins 3 game points if all eight tricks are won, and loses 3 points otherwise. Some play that 'single hand' cannot be declared with a hand that is certain to win eight tricks - the player must have at least one card that could conceivably lose a trick.

In the eastern part of India, especially in Orissa,Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand, play if the bidder is with Single Hand Show will drop all cards undertaking to win all eight tricks. Moreover, there is catch where all the cards are from same suits: hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades, Its a "Single Hand Show" game wins 3 game points.

Twenty Nine

29 is the most popular variation of these set of games. In this game the winner of the last round gets an extra point hence the number. If declarer get this point they win and if defender get they win the game. Its one of the most popular card game in the South Asia (Specially in Bangladesh). The bidding starts from 16 in 28. You can show the pair of king and queen of the same colour of the trump, by doing this bidding is increased or decreased by 4 points depending on which team has shown the pair that is defender or bidding team. A variation popular among Indian South Africans is called Thunee (various spellings).


40 is another variation of these set of games, usually played in India. The game requires 6 players. In this game, cards '3' of each suite is added. These '3's carry the value of jacks, i.e, 3 points. Both 3 and Jack has the same value. The first player to play any of these will win the round, if every other rules are followed.Twenty is the minimum call, the bidder has to make. The point system is as follows.

If any player wants to bid for a second time, he/she will have to bid for 30 or more. Another rule forbids the player next to the shuffler (the first bidder) to bid, if he/she has the cards of one suite only. If, however, a wrong game is played and the opponents find it out, the opponents will receive double the point which were due to them, if otherwise.

Pair Rule

The pair rule increases or decreases the bid by 4 point. Let's say the bidder called 20 point. Now if bidder/his team mate

Now by the power of the pair the bid value decreased to (20-4)=16. If the opponent gets the pair. Then the bid value increases by 4, i.e. 20+4=24. In West Bengal, India the variant of 28 is played where the lowest score is 16 and max is 28. Here for 16-18 the bidding team cannot show the pair. From 19 they can show it. But if the bidding point is 19 the bid value will decrease by 3 points only and above it (20-28) the bid value will decrease by 4 points. But for the opponent the pair is valid with 4 points always.