Thunee is a popular card game that originated in Durban, South Africa. It was invented by Indian indentured-labourers who arrived in South Africa to work in the sugarcane fields. It is believed that there are variations of the game found in India and Mauritius.
The game can be played by two (one-on-one), three (one-on-two), four (two-on-two) or six (three-on-three) players. Although the most popular, and most interesting, is the game consisting of four players.
The score is kept using the Six cards; these are referred to as the “ball cards”.
A nominated person from the team named called out first will shuffle the cards and offer the opposition on his left the opportunity to cut the cards. He will then deal the cards face up, one card to each player at a time starting from his right. The first person receiving a Black Jack (i.e. either the Jack of Clubs or the Jack of Spades) will start dealing and the opposite side will trump.
The Dealer must always offer the opposition to his left the opportunity to cut the deck. One cannot center cut or count the number of cards prior to cutting. The opposition may decline to cut with no recourse.
Bidding (or calling as it is commonly known) is done when the players have four cards each and is started by the opposing team in multiples of 10. Should both players from the team call out a bid at the same time, the bid is escalated to the next multiple of 10 and the dealer will allocate who from the opposing team will call trump which must be placed on the table by the player concern. The maximum bid is a 100 and the player with the highest bid will keep trump. The opposing team may call 104. Should the team counting win the game, then they will be allowed to open 2 points on their scorecard. The bidding process can be halted if a player calls Thunee. The trumpman has the first right to call thunee.
The player who calls thunee must win all hands with the first card played in that game becoming the trump. The player calling thunee must win all hands and must not be caught by the opposition or their partner. Should the player who called thunee be caught by the opposing team, then the winning team is allowed to open 4 points. Should the player who called thunee be caught by his partner, then the winning team is allowed to open 8 points.
If a team during the game is caught committing an offence (e.g. using sign language, etc), then the team is automatically disqualified and loses the round, incurring a 4 point penalty(Four-ball) .
A Jodhi can also be called by a player after his team has won their first or third hand prior to the first card of the next hand being played. The opposition team , if counting, will thus have to meet 105 points added to whatever Jodhi was called. If the team which is counting calls a Jodhi, then the points which they have to achieve are 105 less whatever Jodhi was called. The team which claims last hand is given 10 points. The Jodhis a player can call are as follows : Jack, King and Queen of one suite which adds 30 points, or 50 points if it is of the trump suite. King and Queen of one suite which adds 20 points, or 40 points if it is of the trump suite.
A double can be called by a player on the last hand if his team has taken all hands and he is sure he will take the last hand. The call is made by the player playing the first card on the last hand. If it is a correct call then the team’s ball score increases by 2. If it is an incorrect call then the opposition team’s ball score increases by 4.
A khanuck is also called on the last hand if a team is going to win the last hand and the Jodhis called by that team are higher than the final point tally less 10 of the opposition team. A correct khanuck call adds 3 ball points onto the winning team and an inccorrect one gives four ball points onto the opposition team
A thunee game is won by the player or team who has won 12 rounds, or ball points. 13 rounds or ball points must be reached to win if a khanuck was called during the game. A common variant requires 13 rounds to win a game regardless if khanuck was called or not.