Kille cards manufactured in 1897 in Stockholm by A Boman. From the collection of the Hallwyl Museum
|Players||3 – 13|
|Playing time||5 min/deal|
|Chase the Ace, Coucou, Cuccú, Gnav, Hexenspiel, Ranter-Go-Round|
Kille (pronounced /ɕɪlːɛ/ or /kɪlːɛ/ ), also called Cambio, Campio, Kambio or Kamfio, is a game played with special playing cards, dating from a mediaeval French gambling game. In Sweden, the game had its heyday during the 1750s, but it is one of the oldest card games still played.
The French gambling game of Coucou was invented in France around 1500 and spread across Central Europe. In the late 17th century, an Italian manufacturer produced a deck of cards adapted for the game. The game was named Cuccú after its highest card. Cuccú had 38 cards and two cards of each denomination (thus 19 unique denominations). Eleven of the cards in each suite were numeral cards, numbered 0-10. The other cards were picture cards, two of which – the Bucket and the Masque – ranked lower than the numerals. Five of the cards were ranked higher: the Inn, Cat, Horse, Guard, and Cuckoo (highest). The nineteenth card, the Harlequin, was outside the rankings and its value was determined by the game played and could vary in the same game.
Cuccú spread north across Europe and became known in southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland by the names of Hexenspiel and Vogelkarten, which roughly means "Witch game" and "Bird cards".
The card game changed somewhat on its journey through Europe and was mentioned in Sweden as Campio for the first time in 1741 in a court record. Campio was a distortion of cambio or camfio, which was the name that began to be used in Sweden. The name Kille is first documented in 1833 (found in private correspondence from 1826) and was widely used from the 1850s. Kille is probably a corruption of Harlequin which was now the highest ranked card, but still had a special position in some games
The card game's numeral and picture cards changed so that the pack consisted of 42 cards (again in pairs, so there were only 21 denominations). The number of numerals had increased to twelve and were numbered 1-12. There were three cards with lower values than the number cards; the Noll (Zero) numeral card became the Wreath, the Bucket became the Flowerpot and the Mask became the Fool, often depicted with a mask. The cards with higher values than the numerals were, in ascending order: the Inn, Cavalier, Pig, Hussar, Cuckoo and Harlequin.
The game of Kille has left its mark on the Swedish language. For example, the phrases "Svinhugg går igen" ("the pig bites back"), referring to a rudeness that rebounds on the performer, and "gå värdshus förbi" ("go past the inn"), a lost opportunity, both come from the game of One-Card Kille.
Kille has also found its way into Swedish literature. Carl Michael Bellman's Fredman's Testament number 181, The Game of Cambio, is about a player's despair during a game:
Hej, gutår, och kambio!
Granne, marsch ur potten!
Blaren, den hundsvotten —
Kambio . . . och kuku står.
Jag ser skorsten ryka:
Värdshus måste stryka...
Falstaff, fakir rhymed in an ABC for the letter P:
Proletären gärna ville
dricka punsch och spela kille
A Kille pack consists of 42 cards. There are no suits in Kille, just two cards of each denomination. The denominations, from highest to lowest, are:
Kille packs are still available. Two Swedish manufacturers, Öberg (Carta Mundi) and Offason, make them today. The images are in a sepia colour. A coloured pack was produced in 1975 but is no longer available.
One-Card Kille (Enkortskille), also Swap Kille (Byteskille), is the traditional game of chance played with Kille cards and may be played by 3 to 13 participants.
Dealer gives one card to each player. The objective is not to have the lowest ranking card after all players have had the opportunity to exchange cards. The one with the lowest card is knocked out, but there are other ways to be knocked out before the cards are finally exposed.
The turn to act is clockwise starting with the player to the left of the dealer. Players may exchange their card with the person sitting to their left, and in that case say "switch" (byte) and push the card forward. If a player does not want no exchange cards, the player declares that he is "satisfied" (nöjd) and slaps the table. With a few exceptions, the exchange is made with the cards face down. The exchange is not always carried out. If the player to the left has one of the cards below, he exposes the card and quotes a phrase:
When there is a showdown, either because all players had the opportunity to make an exchange or because a player has encountered a Cuckoo, the player with the lowest card is out along with those who were knocked out for other reasons during the deal. It is possible to re-enter the game for another stake, but only three times: the first time for a single stake, the second time for half the pot, and the last time for a full pot.
When two players remain, the cards are re-dealt if one of them has received the Harlequin, and there is an immediate showdown if one of them has received the Cuckoo. A player who tries to exchange with the Pig or Hussar has immediately lost.
In card games, to cut the cards is to split the deck into two packets by lifting one packet from the top and placing it face down beside the remainder; before placing the lower packet on top of it. This is typically done after the cards have already been shuffled, and the procedure is used just prior to the cards being dealt to the players. The aim of this is to reduce the possibility of cheating, for example, by knowing the bottom card. Cutting the cards is also a common way of determining the seating order at a card table, the partnerships or the first dealer.
Thirty-one or Trente et un is a gambling card game played by two to seven people, where players attempt to assemble a hand which totals 31. Such a goal has formed the whole or part of various games like Commerce, Cribbage, Trentuno, and Wit and Reason since the 15th century.
The game was allegedly invented in an underground poker club at Hammarbykajen, Stockholm in Sweden owned by the Russian mafia. The game is a variation of the Swedish card game, Fem-kort. The poker-related card game called Chicago is one of the most popular card games in Finland today. Relying on the keeping of score instead of the placing of bets, it is suitable even for environments such as schools, where gambling is often prohibited. The game exists in countless versions, so here a basic game will be followed by a number of possible variations.
Golf is a card game where players try to earn the lowest number of points over the course of nine deals.
Gnav is a traditional game that is played with either cards or wooden pieces. Related games are Gnaio, Cuccù, Hexenspiel or Vogelspiel, Kille, Coucou and Ranter Go Round. The game can be played by 20 or more players, and a minimum of two.
Ranter-Go-Round is a primitive gambling game and children's game using playing cards. It is known in most European countries as Cuckoo; the French variant being called Coucou. Other English-language names include Chase the Ace, Cuckoo and, in America, as Screw Your Neighbor.
Troccas is a member of the Tarot family of card games. It is played in the Romansh speaking part of the canton Grisons of Switzerland. It is not known exactly how this game entered Switzerland but it is generally thought to have arrived from Italy during the 17th century.
Commerce is an 18th-century gambling French card game akin to Thirty-one and perhaps ancestral to Whisky Poker and Bastard Brag. It aggregates a variety of games with the same game mechanics. Trade and Barter, the English equivalent, has the same combinations, but a different way of acquiring them. Trentuno, Trent-et-Uno, applies basically to the same method of play, but also has slightly different combinations. Its rules are recorded as early as 1769.
Trappola is an early 16th-century Venetian trick-taking card game which spread to most parts of Central Europe and survived, in various forms and under various names like Trapulka, Bulka and Hundertspiel until perhaps the middle of the 20th century. It was played with a special pack of Italian-suited cards and last reported to have been manufactured in Prague in 1944. Piatnik has reprinted their old Trappola deck for collectors.
The following is a glossary of terms used in card games. Besides the terms listed here, there are thousands of common and uncommon slang terms. Terms in this glossary should not be game-specific, but apply to a wide range of card games. For glossaries that relate primarily to one game or family of similar games, see Game-specific glossaries.
Bräus is an old Swedish card game from the island of Gotland that differs from all others in that not all cards are actually playable. The game is descended from the oldest known card game in Europe, Karnöffel, a fact testified by its unusual card ranking and lack of a uniform trump suit.
Schwimmen or Einunddreißig is a social card game for two to nine players, played with a 32-card Piquet pack, that is popular in Austria and Germany. Although it is also called Einunddreißig, this should not be confused with a predecessor of Siebzehn und Vier (Twenty-One), also called Einunddreißig. Schwimmen is German for "swimming" which refers to the last chance that a player gets before they drop out.
Husarln ("Hussar") is a mid-20th century, three-hand card game of the Austrian branch of the Tarot family. It is a 42-card variant of Illustrated Tarock and appears to be a close Austrian relative of the 42-card Hungarian tarock card games. The game is dominated by the distribution of Tarocks, giving it a "brisk and energetic feel" that is reflected in its name. It is also known as Block Tarock, although that name was given to a quite different and older game.
Norseman's Knock or Norrlandsknack is a classic Swedish card game for 3 to 5 players, known since the mid-1800s. It is traditionally played for money. The game is about winning as many tricks as possible and above all not being completely left without a trick.
Köpknack is an old Swedish card game which is a development of Knack and, like the latter, is mainly played for stakes. The game is also known as Trekort, a name used for several other similar card games.
Mulle is a Swedish card game that has been developed from Byggkasino which, in turn, is a derived from the English fishing game of Casino. Mulle is a common game in Swedish prisons.
Coucou, also called As Qui Court or Hère, is an historical French card game that uses a pack of 32 or 52 cards and is played by five to twenty players. It had the originality of being played with only one card in hand. As a shedding game, there was only one winner who may claim the stakes if there are any.
Krypkille is a Swedish card game that is played with a Kille pack. The game is similar to the game of Cucumber played with regular French-suited cards.
Cucumber is a north European card game of Swedish origin for two or more players. The goal of the game is to avoid taking the last trick. David Parlett describes it as a "delightful Baltic gambling game".
Femkortskille, also called Knackkille or Bultkille, is a Swedish card game that is played with a Kille pack. The game originated in the middle of the 19th century by transferring the principles of the game of Femkort to a game played with Kille playing cards. Like Kille, Femkortskille is traditionally played for money.