The Rules





View other: Will's Archived Rules's Rules Official Site's Rules
1. Objective

The objective of Kemps is to hold four of a kind in your hand. By communicating with signals to your partner, you want to have he or she call "Kemps" before a player on another team gets a point for themselves.

2. Setting Up the Game

Each team will have two partners, sitting across from each other. (It is traditional to play with two teams, but you may have up to four teams playing.) Before the game starts, each team will secretly decide on a signal to use during the game. (For more information on signals, see "Signals".) To set up the game, shuffle a deck of cards and deal four to each player, and then four face-down in the middle.

3. Game Play

When the cards in the middle are flipped over, players discard a card in their hand and pick up one of the cards in the center. A player must drop a card BEFORE picking up, and they may not have more than four cards in their hand at any time. There are no turns, so players may discard and pick up whenever they like. When nobody wants any of the cards in the center, the dealer may count, "One, two, three, dead." When the word "dead" is completed, nobody may make any more moves using those four cards. The unwanted cards are then swept aside and turned face-down. The dealer then deals four more cards to the center, and the cycle starts over again. Keep repeating this method until someone makes a call (The calls are listed in the section below).

4. "Kemps" and "Counter-Kemps"

When you suspect your partner has four of a kind, you may call "Kemps!" If your partner has four of a kind your team gains one point, wins the round, and everybody's cards will be dealt again to start the next round. However, if your partner does not have four of a kind, one point will be awarded to the opposing team. Similarly, if you suspect a player on an opposing team has four of a kind, you may call "Counter-kemps". You must specify who you wish to call it on. If you are correct, your team will be awarded one point. However, if you are incorrect, one point is awarded to the team that was called upon.

5. "Double Kemps" and "Double Counter-Kemps"

If you believe you and your partner both have four of a kind, one player of your team may shout "Double Kemps." If you are correct, your team will gain two points, and cards will be dealt again, but if you are incorrect, the opposing team(s) will each gain TWO points for themselves. If you believe that an opposing team's players BOTH have four of a kind, you may call "Double counter-kemps!" If you are correct, your team will receive two points, and the cards will be dealt as usual. If you are wrong, however, the opposing team you called it upon will receive two points. These are extremely rare calls, but they may be very important if you have the opportunity. (Read the news article dated 10/31/03.)

6. Signals

Exactly how do you tell your partner that you have four of a kind? Use SIGNALS. You will talk to your partner before the game and agree on a signal to use. Unlike many variations of the game, you are allowed to have signals with meanings other than "I have four of a kind," and you may use verbal signals if you wish. You want to make signals that are hard to notice by the other team, yet are obvious when shown (or told) to your partner. You may use any signal you wish, but even if you say "Kemps" by mistake, the decision is final. I will not tell you about any signals in this section, but check out the Signals section for some jump-starting ideas.

7. Other Important Rules

You may not take a card from another player's hand.
In a case of a very close call, the call of the player who starts their word first, intends to finish it, and does so will be taken first. In cases where calls are too close to distinguish the leader, the round should be replayed.
You can only use one method of getting points at a time. For example, you may not call "Kemps, Counter-Kemps" and get two points for being correct.
After calling "dead" and drawing four new cards in the center, if three or four of those cards are the same, the matching cards will immediately be set aside, and no moves made be made on them.

8. Scoring

When playing longer matches, it may be helpful to score the games. The eight basic symbols are listed below. To see an example of how these are used, click here.

KempsDouble KempsIncorrect KempsIncorrect Double Kemps
Counter-KempsDouble Counter-KempsIncorrect Counter-KempsIncorrect Double Counter-Kemps

9. Variations

You may choose to allow players to pick up a card before dropping one in their hand.
You may prohibit verbal signals.
You may prohibit any signals with a meaning other than "I have four of a kind".

Hosted by