Kemps (card game)

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The objective in Kemps is to achieve a hand of four cards of the same rank Queen playing cards.jpg
The objective in Kemps is to achieve a hand of four cards of the same rank

Kemps, also known by many other names, is a matching card game for two to six teams of two players each, where each player must secretly communicate to their partner when they have four matching cards in their hand. The game is played with a standard 52-card deck. The game is said to have originated in Brazil.[ citation needed ]



Objective and game play

The objective of Kemps is for a player to get four of a kind (i.e., four cards of the same rank), and then to signal this to their partner. The partner must call the name of the game to score.

Prior to the game, partners confer to pick the secret non-verbal signal that will indicate to each other that they have four of a kind. [1] There are many kinds of signals, such as tapping, gesturing, or holding cards a certain way. However, signals that are below the table are illegal, and players may not make signals which have a meaning other than "I have four of a kind". [1]

Partners sit diagonal each other, with the playing surface in the middle, so that opponents have a chance to see the signals.

A player may call "Kemps!" if they believe that their partner has four of a kind. If correct, the team gains a point. If not, they lose a point.

If a player believes that an opponent has four of a kind, and if "Kemps!" has not been called by their partner, they may cut by calling "Stop Kemps!" (also "Cut!", "Counter-Kemps!", "Block!" or another word depending on the variant being played). When a player cuts, any opponent with four of a kind must show their cards. [1] If they have a four-of-a-kind, then the cutting team gains a point. If not, then the cutting team loses a point. Also, if a player calls "Stop Kemps" and the opposing team has four of a kind but has not yet done their signal, the "Stop Kemps" does not count and the team that called it loses a point.


Peanut Butter

Players call "Peanut Butter" when they believe their partner has four of a kind, and "Jelly" when they suspect their opponents. In this variant, players may use verbal signals, and agree to play a specific (odd) number of rounds at the start of the game. [1]

Guess the Sign Kemps

In this variation of Kemps, after a correct call of "Kemps", the opposing team has an opportunity to guess the signal of the calling team. If they guess it correctly, then the point earned for the call is canceled, and neither team scores. This is used to prevent obvious signal from being used just because they work the first round.

Super series Kemps

In the Super series Kemps variation of the game four players for each side are required. The game still uses the basic principles of Kemps with two pairs competing, but at the very start both teams flip a coin and the winning side decides who will go first. There are six rounds per game, and each of the four players will play in three of the six rounds. The team who, according to the coin flip, is "going first" will have to decide their pairs for the first three rounds first. It will then swap for the second half of the game, and the other team will decide their pairs first. The supersub is a designated extra player, one for each team, that cannot call Kemps or use cards; they can only call contra-Kemps.

Three-player Kemps

Ideally played with two teams of three players each. Played the same way as normal Kemps but two of the three players must have four of a kind and the third player on the team must call Kemps. Because there is a delay for 2 of the 3 players to get four of a kind, five cards per hand are used for the fifth card to serve as decoy for the player to avoid being called "contra-Kemps" on.

Five-player Kemps ("Chemist")

In five-player Kemps, or "Chemist", each player forms two independent teams with the players sitting across from them. For this reason, each player has a unique team composition. Players directly adjacent are the only players able to counter-claim Kemps. Scoring is as in the traditional game, with a correct "Kemps" claim yielding one point for the pair of players involved in that interaction. Often this variant is played with the word "Chemist" spoken as the signal for Kemps.

You've Got Crabs

The 2018 commercial card game You've Got Crabs by Matthew Inman and Elan Lee plays as the same as the original Kemps, with some changes to team rules and a different card distribution. [2]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 "Rules of Card Games: Kemps".
  2. "FAQs". You've Got Crabs.