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Kemps or Scenics is a matching card game for two to six teams of two players each. It is played with a standard 52-card deck.

Objective and gameplay

The object of the game is for one member of a team to accumulate all four cards of a single rank in his hand and to have his partner recognize that fact aloud by yelling kemps or scenics before another team realizes.

Prior to the game, partners may confer to create a signal to indicate when four cards of a rank have been accumulated. Partners sit opposite each other, with the playing surface in the middle. Each player is dealt four cards to begin the game. Four more cards are then turned face up on the central playing surface. All players may swap one of their cards for one of the central cards at any time. If it appears that no further swaps are desired, a player will verify this, clear the central four cards, and then turn up four new central cards. Cards that have been cleared may not be retrieved, so their ranks cannot be collected in full to complete the game objective.

The game is ended in one of two ways. If a team calls kemps, it is checked to see whether they were successful or not. If the call was valid (i.e., the partner does in fact have four cards of a rank), the calling team wins. If the call was invalid, the calling team loses. (In a two-team game, the other team may be said to win in the case of an invalid call. Otherwise, no team is declared a winner.) Alternately, if a player believes that another player has four cards of a rank but his partner has not recognized this fact, he may call cuts, indicating which player he believes has four cards of a rank. If the call is valid, the calling team wins. If the call is invalid, the calling team loses (a winner may or may not be declared, as above).


The strategy of kemps lies in the signals devised by each team. A signal should attempt to be subtle enough not to be noticed by other teams but recognizable enough that the partner can make a confident call.

Experienced players can use the fact that table talk is allowed during the game. There is no rule prohibiting verbal or non-verbal communications regarding what cards are needed by a player or whether a kemps call can be made. Players can develop a complex code or set of signals to indicate the progress of their gameplay. A team can even create a set of false signals to try to draw a cuts call. Most blatantly, a player can yell "say kemps!" (this is not considered a kemps call) either as an honest signal to his partner or as a bluff.