Kemps, otherwise known as Squares, is a card game that must be played in pairs. The more pairs, the more fun you will have. The goal is obtain four-of-a kind and then to use a secret signal to get your partner to call out “Kemps!”
What You’ll Need:
- A standard deck of 52 playing cards
- Recommended number of players 3-5 pairs (6-10 people)
How To Play:
First, double check that you have an even number of total players. This is required since this game involves pairs playing together. Randomly assign partners, (or choose if you wish). Then, have each pair meet to determine a secret, subtle signal. This signal needs to be non-verbal and nothing too obvious, because you don’t want opponents reading your signal. The signal cannot be a tap on the foot under the table or a text message. Signals must be public for all players to be able to witness, but should still be subtle enough for only your partner to realize you have the winning four of a kind. Some examples might include: puckering lips, winking one eye, scratching one’s ear, etc.
Once all pairs have decided on a good signal, have everyone sit in a circle facing each other. Partners should be seated across each other.
Shuffle the cards and deal four cards to each player. Each player holds a maximum of four cards in his or her hand at a time. Deal four cards to the middle of the table, face up.
Say, “Ready, set, go!” and begin the round. Each player can discard a card from their hand and then grab any card from the center of the table. There are no taken turns in Kemps, rather each player can grab any card at any time from the center of the table, but must discard a card at the same time. Only one card may be taken and discarded at a time. This is an ongoing process without structured turns; players simply exchange single cards from their hand with cards that show up on the table. Again, a player cannot have more then four cards in their hand at the same time.
The goal is for you (or your partner) to get four of the same rank (e.g., four 8’s, or four Queens, etc.). If no players want any of the four cards that are in the center, the dealer can remove the four cards and deal out four new cards and the process continues. Once you successfully have four-of-a-kind, use your secret signal to try to get your teammate to yell “Kemps!” If “Kemps!” is called on a person, that person must reveal their hand to show whether or not they have four-of-a-kind.
If your partner yells “Kemps!” and you have four-of-a-kind (or vice versa), then your team gets a point and wins the round. If your teammate yells “Kemps!” but you don’t have four of a kind (or vice versa), then your team loses a point. You can also yell “Kemps!” and point to an opponent if you think they have four-of-a-kind. If successful, you also win a point, but if you are wrong, you lose a point. Kemps can only be called by your team once per round. Call Kemps and get it wrong and you’re out fro the round, or you can start the round over and take the loss, whichever way everyone would like to play.
Winning the Game
Victory is achieved when your team earns four points (or whatever point value you wish).
A variation of Kemps to is to have partners create their nonverbal signal while playing the game, rather than being allowed to discuss it beforehand. This is a much more challenging version of the game, but it can be more fun.