Rook is a trick-taking game for four players similar in play to bridge, spades, or forty-two. It is wildly popular in Alabama, in a similar way to Euchre in Indiana or forty-two in Texas. The deck consists of fourteen numbered cards apiece for four colored suits (red, green, yellow, and black), plus the Rook card (with a picture of a crow-like bird on them--possibly the Corvus frugilegus mentioned by our friend Webster 1913?).


Remove all 2's, 3's, and 4's from the deck. Deal a hand of ten cards to each player, and four cards face down in the center. The final card should go face up on the top of this center pile.

Bidding begins to the left of the dealer. Each player bids from 100 to 180 (in increments of five), according to how many points he and his partner (the person on the opposite side of the table) can win. (More about scoring later.) If a player does not want to raise the previous bid, the player must pass and cannot bid any more on that hand. If the last bidder on a hand is your partner, you may hold your partner's bid, and be allowed to bid again if your partner passes on the next round. (You may only hold the bid one time per hand, after which you must bid or pass.) Bidding continues until there is only one.

The high bidder adds the five cards in the middle to his hand and discards five cards. The high bidder calls a color for trumps and plays the first card.

Play continues with the player to the left of the high bidder. All players must follow suit unless they are out of the lead suit. The 1 is the highest card in a suit, followed by the fourteen. The Rook card is the highest member of the trump suit. (Cards in the trump suit beat cards in other suits.) When a player takes a trick, he or she gets to lead the next card.

Scoring: At the end of the round, each team tallies the point values for the cards it has captured. The team who took the last trick gets the cards that the high bidder discarded at the beginning of the round.

  • the Rook is worth 20 points
  • each 1 is worth 15 points
  • 10's and 14's are worth 10 points
  • 5's are worth 5 points

The team that lost the bid gets the number of points that it made. The team that won the bid, if it made it, gets the number of points that it captured. If the bidding team did not make their bid, they lose as many points as they bid.

The player to the left of the previous dealer deals the next hand. Play continues until one team reaches 500 (in which case they win) or -500 (in which case the other team wins).

If a team is doing badly or a player has an excellent hand, he can "shoot the moon." If the team is out of the hole and gets all tricks in that hand, they win the game. If the team is in the hole, their score is reset to zero.

This is only one of many variations on the game. (such as black two or red eight.) For a complete list of rules (including the real rules) consult the manual that comes with the deck of cards, or consult your friendly neighborhood Seasoned Rook Pro, or reference librarian.


Corvus frugilegus

Sometimes known as the seed crow, the rook is a close relative of the crow, jay, and magpie. Rooks lives throughout Europe, but there are not many in Scandinavia. They also exist in New Zealand, although they are not indigenous to that country. They were imported there in the 1860's and 1870's to help farmers control the population of some pests. Ironically, many of the farmers now consider the rooks themselves to be pests, as they have been known to destroy crops in order to find seeds to eat. In Scotland, rook pie (made from the breasts of young rooks) is a popular dish.

Physical Characteristics

The rook is very similar in appearance to the crow, although it is smaller and closer in size to a magpie. It is covered with glossy black feathers that have a subtle purple tint. The legs are only partially feathered. A greyish white area of skin encircles the base of the bill, covering the region between the eyes and the nostrils. This coloration does not happen until after the rook is more than 1 year old, and thus it can be used to identify an immature rook. Young rooks are often mistaken for carrion crows until they reach adulthood. The cry of the rook is short and raucous. As an adult, a rook achieves a length of 43-45 centimeters. Its wingspan is 90 centimeters. There is no sexual dimorphism in the species -- that is, there are no significant differences in appearance between male and female rooks.

Food Habits

Rooks are omnivorous, with approximately half of their diet coming from plants. They eat insects, worms, grubs, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.


Although quite wary of humans, the room is very social among other birds. It travels in flocks, and often birds of other species can be found in their company. They live in communities and nest together in large groups called rookeries.


Rooks prefer to nest high up in mature trees. Some rooks migrate seasonally, and others do not. In both cases, they typically live on farmland or open country.


Rooks breed monogamously, and a breeding pair can remain together for multiple years. In the Spring, a female rook will lay 3-6 eggs in her nest. The eggs are greenish and mottled grey and brown. It takes 19 days for the eggs to hatch. Approximately 1 month after hatching, the young are able to fly. Both parents help to feed and nurture the children after they hatch. Only one or two of the young usually survive the first year. The same nest may be used for multiple years by the same breeding pair, when possible.


The slightly pointy ridge inside the ear that is tucked just under the frontmost part of the helix (the ridge the runs from the back of the ear, around the top, and becomes the daith once it passes under the rook). It can also be seen as the culmination of the edge that demarks the border between the conch and the upper conch (the two big flat areas inside the ear).

If a left ear looks something like this, the linked area is the rook:

/ _  \
\_ \  |
 \  | |
 / _/ |

In chess, a rook is a type of piece that can move any number of squares horizontally or vertically. In terms of relative value, rooks are the second most powerful pieces after the queen, and are considered to be worth approximately five pawns. Rooks are not very valuable in the opening, because they start out blocked by other pieces, but their value increases in the middlegame and then they become extremely powerful in the endgame, once many ranks and files have opened up by the capture of other pieces.

The English word "rook" comes from Persian rukh meaning "chariot." In western standard chess, rooks are almost universally represented by a crenelated tower such as that found in medieval castles (which sometimes leads rooks to erroneously be called "castles" by the uninitiated). However, in older forms of chess played in India, Persia, and other parts of Asia, rooks were instead represented by wheeled chariots. One theory is that the change occurred as the result of a false etymology by comparison with Italian rocca, meaning "tower," when chess was first imported to the West during the Middle Ages.

Rook (?), n.

Mist; fog. See Roke.



© Webster 1913.

Rook, v. i.

To squat; to ruck.




© Webster 1913.

Rook, n. [F. roc (cf. Sp. roque), fr. Per. & Ar. rokh, or rukh, the rook or castle at chess, also the bird roc (in this sense pehaps a different word); cf. Hind. rath a war chariot, the castle at chess, Skr. ratha a car, a war car. Cf. Roll.] Chess

One of the four pieces placed on the corner squares of the board; a castle.


© Webster 1913.

Rook, n. [AS. hrc; akin to OHG. hruoh, ruoh, ruoho, Icel. hrkr, Sw. roka, Dan. raage; cf. Goth. hrukjan to crow.]

1. Zool.

A European bird (Corvus frugilegus) resembling the crow, but smaller. It is black, with purple and violet reflections. The base of the beak and the region around it are covered with a rough, scabrous skin, which in old birds is whitish. It is gregarious in its habits. The name is also applied to related Asiatic species.

The rook . . . should be treated as the farmer's friend. Pennant.


A trickish, rapacious fellow; a cheat; a sharper.



© Webster 1913.

Rook, v. t. & i. [imp. & p. p. Rooked (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Rooking.]

To cheat; to defraud by cheating.

"A band of rooking officials."



© Webster 1913.

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