Contrary to its name, solo is played by three or four (usually four) players, with a euchre pack of thirty-two cards. Five players may play, but then you'll need to increase the number of the cards to forty, by adding the Fives and Sixes of each suit. The game as described here is for four players.
Before dealing the cards, the dealer puts a stake into the pool. The amount of the stake is agreed upon before the game, and is usually two or four chips. The pool is increased by the forfeits (or béte) that occur in the game. A béte can never exceed sixteen chips, and when the pool contains sixteen, it is called a stamm.
Shuffle the cards. After the player to the dealer's right has cut, deal eight cards to each player, in groups of three, two, and three at a time. After the first round, the deal passes to the left in rotation.
Solo has a lot of rules and vocabulary to learn. However, don't be discouraged. While it may seem complicated as you read through the instructions, the best way to learn is by getting hands-on experience. Just play!
Object of the Game
The object of the game is for a player to get the privilege of naming the trump, while either playing alone against the other three, or with the assistance of a friend against the remaining two players. This privilege is accorded to the bidder or announcer of the highest play. A successful bidder must take five tricks in order to win the value of his bid from the opponents; if he fails to take five tricks, he must pay the same price to each of the opponents.
Rank of the Cards
The Queen of Clubs is called Spadilla, and is always the best trump. The Seven of the trump suit (whatever it may be) is called Manilla, and ranks second, or below Spadilla. The Queen of Spades is called Basta, and is always the third trump. These three cards are natural Matadores. When Clubs or Spades are trumps, they are termed short suits, because they contain nine trumps; when Hearts or Diamonds are trumps, they are long suits, because they contain ten trumps.
Rank of Bids
One of the suits is selected—this is termed couleur—and bids in that suit are worth twice as much as in either of the other three suits. Couleur is generally Clubs or, after the first game, that suit in which the first game was won. The rank and value of the bids is as follows:
|Simple game, in suit||2 chips|
|Simple game, in couleur||4 chips|
|Forcée partout, in suit||4 chips|
|Forcée partout, in couleur||8 chips|
|Solo, in suit||4 chips|
|Solo, in couleur||8 chips|
|Tout, in suit||16 chips|
|Tout, in couleur||32 chips|
Forcée partout outranks a simple game; solo outbids forcée partout, and tout outranks any solo.
Higher Matadores. Spadilla, Manilla, and Basta are called higher Matadores. When all three are in a player's hand (or in his and his friends’ hands), they count as one chip for the three in the payment of the game.
Lower Matadores. When all three of the higher Matadores are held by either side, all trump cards that are also held in uninterrupted succession from Ace downward are also counted as Matadores. Each lower Matadore counts as one chip.
Reservation or reneging is allowed when a trump or lower Matadore is
led; in that case a higher Matadore unguarded may be reserved without penalty for a revoke.
You do not need to play a Matadore to a lead of trumps, even if a higher Matadore has been played, unless the higher Matadore has been led. A higher Matadore, when led, forces a lower Matadore unguarded; a lower Matadore or any trump card led does not force a higher Matadore. Sometimes solo is played without the element of reservation being introduced.
A simple game occurs when the player is unwilling to play a solo. He names the trump suit, and calls for an Ace. The holder of the called Ace then acts as his partner or friend. Until the called Ace falls in play, it is not necessarily known who the friend really is; but, acting on his own knowledge, the friend is bound to assist the player to the best of his ability.
The payment for a simple game in suit is two chips, or, if in couleur, four chips. If the player and friend win five tricks, each receives the value of the game (including the price of the Matadores, if any), from his left-hand neighbor.
If the player holds all four Aces and is not willing to play a solo, he can call for a King instead of an Ace.
The holder of Spadilla and Basta must always announce it, unless a higher bid has already been made by that player or a previous bidder. It may be played as a solo or with a called Ace. The holder of the called Ace then names the trump, but not in the suit of the called Ace.
When all players have passed, the holder of Spadilla is forced to call for an Ace and play with his friend against the other two players. The holder of the called Ace then names the trump, but not the suit of the called Ace.Forcée simple is not a bid; but, in the absence of any bid, it is a compulsory play of at least a simple game, with corresponding payments.
A solo occurs when the player attempts to take five tricks unaided. He names the trump, and plays alone against the other three. The payment of a solo in suit is four chips; in couleur, eight chips. The player alone receives payment for the game (and Matadores, if any) from the other three. If he loses, he pays each of them the same amount. If the solo is in couleur, and he wins it, he also draws a stamm from the pool. If he loses the game, he puts a béte into the pool, in addition to the regular payments.
A tout occurs when the bidder proposes to take all the tricks, either playing solo or with a called Ace. The payment for a tout is sixteen chips if in suit, or thirty-two chips if in couleur.
If in the course of playing a solo or a simple, the player succeeds in taking the first five tricks, and believes it possible to make all eight, he should lead his sixth card. This act signifies that he proposes incidentally to play for tout. By doing this, he forfeits his right to any payment to which the winning of the five tricks would have entitled him. If he succeeds, he wins double the value of the game if in suit, or four times the value if in couleur, from each of the others, and also the price of any Matadores. If he fails to take all the tricks, he must pay in the same proportion.
If no bid is made, the holder of Spadilla is obliged to assume the play.
Playing by Bidding
After the hands are dealt, the eldest hand has the first say. If his hand is not good, he can pass, and the next player can do the same, and so on. If the eldest hand considers his cards good enough (with the assistance of an Ace) to make five tricks, he says “I ask.” The next player can outbid him, or pass. The other two players have the opportunity in turn to bid higher or pass. The highest bidder then plays alone against the other three, or, with the assistance of a friend, against the other two. In either case, the bidder names the trump. If the called Ace is in the caller's own hand, the game then ranks in value as a solo. If the caller holds all four Aces, and will not play solo, he can call for a King in the same manner as for an Ace.
If all pass, then the player who holds Spadilla is compelled to play a forcée simple; that is, to call for an Ace, the holder of which becomes his partner or friend.
If, when a solo is played, any of the three opponents lead or play a card out of turn, or expose a card, they all equally lose the game. There is no penalty for the solo player if he commits any of these errors.
The bidding is done in this manner: Suppose A has a hand good for playing a solo in Hearts. He says “I ask.” B asks “Is it in couleur?” A answers “Yes.” B says “Is it solo?” A answers “Yes.” B again asks “Is it solo in couleur?” A replies “No,” and therefore passes. B then has the say, and unless either C or D can bid a tout, B must play solo in couleur. A player is compelled to play at least the game he bids.
Following the Bidding
After the bidding has been concluded, the eldest hand leads any card he chooses. The player to his left plays a card to it, and so on in rotation until each player has played a card to the lead. The four cards thus played constitute a trick. The highest card of the suit led wins the trick. Trumps win other suits. Suit must be followed, except with Matadores. If suit cannot be followed, trumping is optional. The winner of the trick leads to the next, and so on.
Rules of the Game
1. The deal is determined by one of the players delivering a card face up to each player in rotation, beginning to his left. The player to whom the first Club falls is dealer.
2. After the dealer has shuffled the cards, and the pack has been cut by the player to his right, he delivers to each player in rotation, beginning with the player to his left, eight cards: three and two and three at a time. After the first hand has been played, the deal passes in rotation to the left.
3. If the dealer deals without having the pack properly cut; or if he exposes any of the cards of the other players, or if he gives any player too few or too many cards; or if a card is faced in the pack, there must be a fresh deal.
4. A player who has once passed cannot afterward bid to play that deal.
5. If a player asks, he must play, unless he is superseded by a higher bid.
6. If all the players pass, the holder of Spadilla is forced to call for an Ace, and play with his friend against the other two players.
7. If a player passes, having Spadilla and Basta in his hand, unless solo or a higher bid has already been made, he must pay a forfeit or béte, and a new deal ensues.
8. If a solo player leads a card before naming the trump, it is assumed that he means to play in couleur, and he must so play.
9. If a player, having made the first five tricks, leads his sixth card, he is bound to play for tout, or all the tricks, with all the payments that tout involves. If he make all the tricks, he is paid for all. If he fails to make all the tricks, he loses all.
10. If, when a solo is played, any of the three opponents lead or play a card out of turn, or expose a card, they all equally lose the game. There is no penalty for the solo player if he commits any of these errors.
11. If the game is played with a called Ace, two against two, and any player commits either of the errors enumerated in Rule #10, he and his partner equally forfeit the game, the guilty player alone paying a béte into the pool.
12. If a player calls for the Ace of a suit of which he has none, he must announce that fact before he plays. If he fails to announce it, he loses the game at once.
13. If a player has announced that he has none of the suit of the called Ace, he is at liberty to trump or overtrump the trick to which the called Ace has been played.
14. The holder of a called Ace must play it at the first opportunity.
15. Each player must follow suit, if possible. If a suit is led, and any player having a card of that suit should play a card of another suit to it, and the trick has been turned and quitted, that constitutes a revoke. However, a player is entitled to renege or reserve a Matadore when a lower trump is led, and also to renege a higher Matadore when a lower one is led; but ahigher Matadore when led always forces the lower one, when the latter is unguarded.
16. If a player revokes when not entitled, or reneges when not entitled, his side forfeits the game.