Clobyosh is an oddity in the world of card games. No one is really sure how it started or even what to call it. The game as it is played in Scotland is called “Bela”, though it is essentially the same rules (with a few “house rules” tossed in). In America, the game is known as Clobyosh. Call it what you will — same game, different name.
The Clobyosh Deck
Like in Piquet, Clobyosh uses a short pack. A deck of thirty-two cards is required — you can make one of your own by removing all cards lower than Sevens from a deck of standard playing cards.
Taking Tricks & Scoring Points in Clobyosh
Clobyosh is essentially a trick taking game, though the “winner” of a hand of Clobyosh is not always the player who wins the most tricks.
Each card is assigned a point value, and points are counted for certain combinations held in the hand before play.
Most combinations are declared before play, but one combination in particular is traditionally declared AS it is played. This is the King and Queen of the trump suit (also called the Bela)
You can also score points by taking the last trick.
Each player in a game of Clobyosh is trying to score more points during a hand of play through combinations and tricks than their opponents. A complete game of Clobyosh takes several hands. The winner is the first player to score 501 points or more.
In Clobyosh, Aces are worth eleven points, Tens are worth 10, and Kings, Queens, and Jacks are worth four, three, and two points respectively.
The other cards have no intrinsic value, although they are quite useful for gameplay.
Trumps in Clobyosh
A special note on trumps in Clobyosh — within the trump suit, the values of cards change. In the trump suit (remember that this is also called the Bela), the Jack (called Yuss) is the highest value card, worth a total of twenty points. The next highest card is the normally worthless Nine – now called Manel when it is trump – worth fourteen points. Besides those two cards, the Bela suit follows the values applied to non-trump cards – Aces are worth eleven, Tens are worth ten, etc.
To score combinations, you have to know how much they’re worth. Score your combinations when they are in your hand at the start of play.
A group of four cards in the same suit in order — fifty points
A group of three cards in the same suit in any order — twenty points
The “Bela” (King and Queen of the trump suit ) is worth twenty points, but is played differently than other combinations. In Clobyosh, Bela is declared as it is played. Once a player lays down the first card of the K-Q in trump a player says ‘Bela’.
You do not have to declare combinations, and once you get into the strategy of the game, you’ll realize that there are some circumstances where you don’t want to make a declaration.
A suit that is led must be followed if possible, as with many trick taking games.
If the suit cannot be followed, then you have to trump rather than toss off a “garbage card”.
When a trump is led, you have to try and beat the trump played, not toss out garbage and cut your losses.
Now the rules get a bit varied — in the Scottish version of the game (known as Bela) you can withold the Yuss (trump Jack) if the only trump you hold is the Yuss. This kind of hand is called a “bare Yuss” hand.
Clobyosh Dealing and Playing
To start a game of Clobyosh, players must cut the deck for the deal. The highest card deals for the first hand on down to the lowest card dealinfg for the later hands.
Once the deal is done, and a turned-up card’s suit has been declared as trump, either player holding the Seven of that trump suit may exchange it for the original turn-up card.
The first trick starts with declarations — make declarations by calling out their point totals, as in “I have a twenty”, etc.
The dealer plays his first card and has three options — saying ‘Good’ if he cannot better that first combination, saying ‘I have a twenty’ if he holds a combination of the same value; or ‘Not good – I have a fifty’ if the declaration made is smaller than what the dealer himself holds.
Only the player who holds the best combination (and declares it) will earn points.
If two players have combinations of equal value, the competition moves on to rank. The player with the highest card in their combination or the highest trump will take the declaration.
There’s another tricky rule in the Scottish version of the game — this rule says that any trump lead must be a scoring card, and not an Eight or a Seven.
The player taking the last trick with whatever card counts an additional ten points.
This rather complicated little game of oneupsmanship has so many variations that you’d be hard pressed to find the same game played in two different locations