The Card Game called Twenty-Eight (28)

This card game is typically played in Kerala, India. The game is somewhat similar to Fifty-Six (56), one of the most commonly played card game in Kerala. If you see any descrepancy in the following description of the game, please bring it to my attention by emailing to Rajagopal Nair.

Players and Cards

The game is usually played with 4 players in two fixed partnerships, which means each team has 2 players. Alternate players belong to the same team. The game is played clockwise. Only one score is kept for each side.

One deck of cards are used, with the following point values and order:
Total Points
9 (Nine)
10 (Ten)
Eight (8)
Seven (7)

Hence the name 28.

The game may be played with 3 or 6 people also. If 3 people are playing, 8 (Eights) and 7 (Sevens) are not used. The final bidder belongs to one team and the other two, the opposite team. If 6 people are playing, 6 (Six) is also included which also have 0 point values.


The cards are shuffled by the dealer and (optionally) cut by the player left to the dealer. The dealer first deals 4 cards, if there are 3 or 4 players. If there are 6 players, all cards are dealt 3 at a time. So each player can get 8 or 6 cards. Bidding is based on 4 cards with 3 or 4 players and all 6 cards with 6 players.


The next step is an auction (bidding) to determine which team will be the final bidder. A bid specifies the number of points. NO trump suit will be declared, the major difference between the two games, Twenty-Eight and Fifty-Six. Another difference is that once a team bids, the other member of that team cannot increase the bid unless the opposite team changes the bid. But, the same team member can raise the bidding to either honors or higher (explained later). The side (team) which bids the highest will try to win at least that many points.

The mandatory bidding, by the opposite team of the dealer, starts at 14 points (12 if there are 3 or 6 players). If you are strong in some other suit than your partner, you may open with honors or higher point value. You should always allow the other team to bid at their turn. Once the bidding is completed, the trump is placed upside-down on the table, without showing the trump suit to any one. Only the bidder knows what the trump suit is. The rest of the cards are dealt, after this stage of bidding is over. The bidding can be increased to 24 or higher point value after all the cards are dealt.

The last bid becomes the point value for that game. The team who made the final bid will now try to get at least that many points of the bid. The first player is the one, on the right of the dealer.

The Play

The player immediately to the right of the dealer leads the first trick. The bidder CANNOT lead a trump unless he only has trumps or the trump suit is exposed. It is customary to lead Jacks, if you have any. The opposite team (or the partner) can ask the bidder to expose the trump, if he/she does not have the suit played. Then if the one who asked for the trump, MUST play a trump card if he/she has one. If he/she does not have a trump card, any other suit can be played.

Play proceeds clockwise. A trick is won by the highest trump in it, or if no trumps were played by the highest card of the suit led. The winner of a trick leads to the next.


The minimum bidding is 14 (4 players) or 12 (3 or 6 players) and the maximum is 28. The scores depend on the point value of the final bid (or level of bidding).

19 and below: Scores 1 if won and 2 if lost

20-24 (Honors): Scores 2 if won and 3 if lost

25-28: Scores 3 if won and 4 if lost

Special Cases of Bidding

Cot (I am not sure about the spelling): Before the completion of the game, the opposite team can ask the bidding team, if they can take all the tricks. If the answer is yes and they did not get all the tricks, the score is doubled. This variation is not allowed in all places.

Partnership Agreement and Convensions

As in most card games, partners are forbidden to convey information to each other by talking, gesture, facial expressions, etc,. However there is considerable scope for partners to exchange information within the rules of the game by their choice of bids or cards played.

The bidding mechanism is such that if a player makes a bid, it is always possible for the player's partner at their next turn to override that bid with a higher bid. This makes it possible for partners to assign arbitrary meanings to bids. Bids can be classified as "natural" (which can be taken at face value - that is they convey a genuine wish to play a final bid to take the relevant number of tricks or more with the trump suit stated) or "conventional" or "artificial" (which carry an agreed meaning other than "natural").

Always remember that these games are played for fun and should be taken as such. You may often be playing with an unfamiliar or inexperienced partner or in an informal setting. Be courteous to your partners as well as your opponents. There is no need to get all uptight, if your partner made a mistake (wrong play). That is how they learn the game. Discuss it with your partner after that game is over, in a courteous manner. He or she will definitely appreciate it and will want to be your partner next time you play the game.

Have fun!!