Summary: A fun, fast-paced card game involving teamwork in which a player tries to get four of a kind. Once he or she gets four of a kind, you must perform a secret nonverbal signal to try to get your partner to yell the word “Kemps!” without being caught by an opponent.
Ages: All. Recommended # of people: An even number of people between 6-10. Messiness factor: Not too messy. Materials required: A standard deck of 52 playing cards. Recommended Setting: Indoors.
Rules to Kemps Game
Kemps is a fun game involving strategy, teamwork, and quickness. The game works well for all ages. It must be played in pairs.
Setup: Form Pairs and Create a Secret Signal
Since Kemps is a partner-based game, you need to have an even number of players. Form pairs and sit as a circle, with partners seated across from each other. All players should be facing toward the center. The cards will be dealt in the center of the circle, ideally on a table. Before you begin play, have each pair meet briefly to come up with a secret signal. This signal must be a nonverbal gesture or movement that isn’t too obvious, but can clearly be seen. Good examples of signals include: tugging on an ear lobe, sticking out your tongue, winking your right eye, etc. Once secret signals have been prepared, return to your seats on opposite ends of the table.
Playing a Round of Kemps
Shuffle the deck of cards. Deal out the deck until each player has a total of four cards in his hand. Be sure no one can see the cards in your hand.
To start a round, deal out four more cards, face-up, in the center of the table. Ensure that all players are able to access the cards. Have the dealer say, “3, 2, 1, Go!”
When the round begins, players can quickly grab cards from the center of the table. When you take a card from the table you must replace it with a card from your hand. There are no “turns” or set order in Kemps; it’s a free-for-all so you can grab quickly. Any card exchanged from your hand is placed face-up on the table. This card will be up for grabs by the other players. You may not have more than 4 cards in your hand at a time.
Once no players want any of the four cards in the center, remove the four cards from the table and deal out four more cards in the same way. This process of grabbing and replacing cards in players’ hands will repeat several times. Once you successfully get four of a kind in your hand, the goal is to secretly get your partner yell the word “Kemps!” To do this, you silently perform the nonverbal signal that you and your partner agreed upon before the game.
Once someone calls “Kemps,” their partner must reveal their hand. If he or she is correct in calling “Kemps,” then the team wins that round and earns a point. If that person does not have four of a kind (Incorrect Call), then the team loses a point. If you believe a player from another team has four of a kind, you can yell “Stop Kemps!” and point to the player who you believe has four of a kind. If you are correct, you earn a point. If you are wrong, you lose a point.
To Win the Game
Your team wins the Kemps Game when you earn 5 points.
A more challenging version of Kemps (which can be more fun) is to have partners create their nonverbal signal during the game. In other words, they aren’t allowed to plan out their signal in advance before the game.