Rule of Meisen Trump (by S.Kurogi)

(from Meisen Kaiho No.755, pp.28-29, Meisen Kai, 1999)
  1. Introduction
    ``Meisen-Trump'', or ``Meitora'' for short, is the card game developed by the students and professors of the Meiji College of Technology (or ``Meisen''), founded in 1907, and the Kyushu Institute of Technology (KIT or ``Kyukodai'', which replaced Meisen in 1949). The origin of the game is the card game ``Five Hundred'' which was brought by Professor Eizaburo Ohashi in 1904 when he went to the United Kingdom to study the education system for Meisen. The game can be called ``the KIT game''. It is very popular and is played actively at the dormitory (``Meisen-Ryo''), the labs, and by the members of the sport clubs and culture clubs, etc. of KIT.

  2. Players and Cards
    Four players, with partners sitting opposite, play with a pack of 41 cards consisting of A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5 in the four suits (``Heru'' , ``Daiya'' , ``Kurabu'' , and ``Zuppe'' ) and a joker (``Tantsuen''). Note that the recent terms and rules for Meitora are described here, although they have been changed over time and the alumni may say them differently.

  3. The Game
    The game is made up of hands. Each hand consists of the deal, bidding and then playing. One of the teams wins certain points for each hand, and the first team to reach a score of 17 points or more wins the game.
    (1) Deal
    The first dealer is chosen at random. The next deal goes to the team who lost the previous hand. The cards are shuffled and cut. The dealer then deals 10 cards to each player and puts a card called the ``Agari'' face down on the middle of the table.

    (2) Bidding
    The last bidder (``Fukiage'') for the first hand is chosen by ``Janken'', and the turn rotates counter-clockwise by increasing hands. The bidding for a hand begins with the player on the right-hand side of ``Fukiage'' and continues counter-clockwise to ``Fukiage''. The bidding rules are as follows;
    • A bid consists of a number of tricks (6, 7, 8, 9 or slam (``surami'') for 10) and a trump suit or No Trump (``tora'') --- for example a bid of eight diamonds (``daiya hachi'') means that the bidder's team will try to win at least eight tricks (eight sets of four cards) with diamonds as trumps.
    • Once someone has bid, each subsequent bid must be higher than the previous one. Higher means either more tricks, or the same number of tricks in a higher suit. The highest is No Trump followed by Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades.
    • A player who does not wish to bid can pass. If all four players pass, the hand is canceled and a new hand is dealt.
    • The player who has no A, K, Q, and J, or only a Q can say ``broken'' to cancel the hand.
    • Any player who happens to have four J's must declare ``four Jacks'' or ``broken'' to cancel the hand.
    • Among the bids of all players, the highest (and last) bid becomes the contract which the bidder (contractor) has to make, with no trump or the named suit as trumps.

    (3) Play
    The contractor begins by picking up the ``Agari'', and discarding a card face down. The contractor then leads the first trick. The players must follow the suit if they can, or a player can play the joker. The joker can be played at any time except it should be played when the card led is a trump card and the player with the joker has no other trump. The joker also should be played before the last trick. When the leader plays the joker, he or she can call a suit or trump. A trick is won by the highest card; the joker is always the highest followed by the trump cards J (``Sei Jack''), the J of the same color as trump (``Fuku Jack''), A, K, Q, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, and the cards with the suit led of A, K, Q, J (if any), 10, 9, and so on. It is important to note that ``Fuku Jack'' does not belong to its original suit. The winner of a trick leads the next trick. The player with the joker should play it before the last trick. A player can declare an ``open'' hand and finish the hand at once when he or she can win the rest of the tricks.

    (4) Scoring
    Let X and Y be the numbers of tricks bid and won by the contractor's team, respectively. The contractor's or opponent team wins points for a hand; the former wins 0.5(Y-X)+X-5 if Y is greater than or equal to X and the latter wins X-Y otherwise. The first team to reach a score of 17 points or more wins the game. The score of a team is displayed by 2, 3 and 4 of red cards (, ) or black ones (, ). The cards facing up indicate the points by means of the numbers on their faces, and a down facing card indicates 0.5 points. After the score reaches 10 points, the score subtracted by 10 is displayed, and the 10 should be memorized by the players.

  4. Penalties
    Players must obey the following rules, otherwise the hand is canceled and the opposing team gets five points as a penalty; 1) The contractor should not forget to discard a card face down after he or she takes the ``Agari''. 2) The players should follow the suit led for the trick if he or she has the cards of the suit. 3) The player with four J's should declare ``four Jacks'' or ``broken'' and cancel the hand. 4) The player with the joker should play it before the last trick is played. 5) The player should not declare ``broken'' or ``open'' if the hand is not ``broken'' or ``open''. 6) Players should not cheat. The dealer should not misdeal, the players should not show their hands to others, the players should not talk during bidding and playing, and so on.

  5. Strategies
    There are many strategies developed for playing but there is not enough time to summarizing them here in English (Cf. Japanese version).

  6. Have Fun
    It is my pleasure to have a chance to publish this English version of Meitora. I hope many students and people in and out of KIT have fun playing ``Meitora'' internationally.

Last modified: Fri Feb 27 18:27:17 JST 2004