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The Ultimate Guide to Durak - Rules, Strategies, and Tips

Durak: The Most Popular Card Game in Russia

If you are looking for a fun and challenging card game to play with your friends or family, you might want to try Durak, the most popular card game in Russia. Durak is a game of skill, strategy, and luck that can be enjoyed by two to six players. It is easy to learn, but hard to master. In this article, we will explain what Durak is, how to play it, its history and popularity, its variations and strategy, and some frequently asked questions.

What is Durak and How to Play It

Durak is a Russian word for "fool" and also the name of the game. The objective of the game is to get rid of all your cards before your opponents do. The last player with cards in their hand is the loser, or the "durak".


The Objective and the Setup of Durak

Durak is played with 36 cards from a standard 52-card deck, with the numerical cards 2-5 removed. The ranking goes high-to-low: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6. After the 36 remaining cards are shuffled, each player is dealt six cards, one at a time. Then one card is turned face-up for everyone to see. The suit of that card becomes the trump suit for the current deal. For example, if it is the 7 of diamonds, then diamonds rank higher than all plain-suit cards. The rest of the deck is then placed face-down in the middle of the table, so that it partially covers the face-up card. These cards form the stock or the talon. All players pick up their cards.

The Gameplay of Durak

The starting player is the first attacker. The player who has the lowest trump card will be the first attacker (note that there is no obligation to play that lowest trump card as the first card). The player to the attacker's left is always the defender. After each turn play proceeds clockwise. If the attack succeeds (see below), the defender loses their turn and the attack passes to the player on the defender's left. If the attack fails, the defender becomes the next attacker.

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The Attack and the Defense

The attacker opens their turn by playing one card face up on the table as an attacking card. The player to the attacker's left is the defender. The defender has to immediately attempt defense in response to the initial attack. The defender attempts to beat the attacking cards by playing defending cards from their hand. One card is played in defense of each attacking card. Non-trump attacking cards may be beaten by either a) a higher card of the same suit or b) a trump. Trump attacking cards may only be beaten by higher trumps. The defending cards are placed on top of or next to (depending on preference)the attacking cards so that players can keep track of which card is defending against which.

At any point during a defense, any other player can pitch in extra attacking cards (except for team play), provided that for each new attacking card, there is already a card of the same rank on the table (either defending or attacking), and that there are no more than six total attacking cards (or five if there have been no successful defenses), or as many as there are cards in defender's hand (whichever number is smaller). For example, if there are two sixes on table (one attacking and one defending), any player can add another six as an additional attack. The defender must also defend against these new cards.

If at any point during a defense, the defender is unwilling or unable to beat one or more of the attacking cards, they must pick up all the cards played during that turn - both attacking and defending - and add them to their hand. The attack is then considered successful, and the attacker may start a new attack.

If the defender beats all the attacking cards, they may throw these cards face down on a discard pile. The attack is then considered unsuccessful, and the defender becomes the next attacker.

The End of the Turn and the Game

At the end of each turn, whether successful or not, players who have fewer than six cards in their hand must draw cards from the stock until they have six cards, or until the stock runs out. The attacker draws first, followed by any other players who added cards to the attack, in clockwise order, and finally the defender. If there are not enough cards in the stock for everyone to draw, priority goes to the defender, then to other players in clockwise order.

The game ends when one player has no cards left in their hand and there are no more cards left in the stock. This player is the winner. The last player with cards in their hand is the loser, or the "durak". If there are two or more players with no cards left in their hand at the same time, the game ends in a draw.

The History and the Popularity of Durak

Durak is a card game that has a long and rich history in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe. It is also widely played in other countries around the world, especially among Russian-speaking communities.

The Origins of Durak in the 18th Century

The exact origin of Durak is unknown, but it is believed that it was derived from an older game called Fool's Bridge (or Fool's Whist), which was popular in Europe in the 18th century. Fool's Bridge was a trick-taking game with a similar objective to Durak: to avoid being the last player with cards in their hand. However, Fool's Bridge used a full 52-card deck and had different rules for scoring and bidding. Durak simplified and adapted these rules to create a more dynamic and exciting game that suited the Russian temperament.

The Spread of Durak in the Soviet Union and Beyond

Durak became widely popular in Russia and other parts of the Soviet Union during the 19th and 20th centuries. It was especially favored by soldiers, workers, students, and intellectuals, who enjoyed its combination of skill, strategy, luck, and social interaction. Durak was also seen as a symbol of resistance against oppression and censorship, as it allowed people to express their opinions and emotions freely through jokes, insults, taunts, and praises. Durak was also a way of bonding and forming friendships among people from different backgrounds and classes.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Durak spread to other countries around the world, especially where there were large Russian-speaking communities. Today, Durak is played by millions of people of all ages and cultures, both online and offline. It is considered one of the most popular card games in Russia and one of the best card games ever invented.

The Variations and the Strategy of Durak

Durak is a game that has many variations and nuances that can make it more interesting and challenging. It also requires a lot of strategy and tactics to win consistently. Here are some of the common variations and tips for playing Durak.

The Common Variations of Durak

There are many ways to modify or customize Durak to suit different preferences and situations. Some of the common variations are:

  • Team play: Instead of playing individually, players can form teams of two or three (depending on the number of players). Teammates sit opposite each other and cooperate to get rid of their cards. The game ends when one team has no cards left in their hands. Teammates cannot attack each other, but they can help each other in defense by playing cards from their hand. They can also communicate with each other, but only verbally and openly, without showing their cards.

  • Transfer: This is a variation that allows the defender to pass the attack to another player, if they have a card of the same rank as the attacking card. For example, if the attacker plays a 9 of spades, and the defender has a 9 of hearts, they can transfer the attack to the next player by playing their 9 of hearts on top of the 9 of spades. The next player then becomes the new defender and has to beat both cards. The transfer can be repeated until there is no player left who can transfer the attack, or until the maximum number of attacking cards is reached. The original attacker cannot be the final defender.

Throw-in: This is a variation that allows any player, except the defender, to add extra attacking cards after the first card is played b


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