2 players - 1 short pack (32)
From high to low, AKQJT987 per suit.
A partie is six deals, each dealing alternately, and is won by the player with the higher score. Points are counted throughout play and are traditionally announced verbally as the deal progresses. Only the resultant score of each deal need be recorded.
Higher cut decides whether or not to deal first. Deal 12 each in batches of two or three – not both, and whichever arrangement you use for your first deal you must stick to for your next two. Lay the remainder face down and slightly spread in the middle of the table. They constitute the talon. Note that the dealer is known as younger, his opponent elder hand.
If either player has been dealt a hand devoid of courts – a rare occurrence – he may claim 10 for carte blanche and must prove his claim by rapidly playing his cards one by one face up to the table. If younger has it he announces the fact immediately but waits until elder has discarded before proving his claim and making his own exchange. If elder has it he announces the fact immediately and tells younger how many he intends to exchange. Younger then exchanges up to as many as he is entitled to, then elder proves his claim and makes his own exchange.
Each player rejects unwanted cards face down from his hand, then draws the same number from the talon – sight unseen – to restore his hand to 12. The purpose of the exchange is to “improve the hand” by (hopefully) drawing cards that make up scoring combinations and/or are good for playing tricks at no trumps. The scoring combinations are:
- Point – greatest number of cards in any one suit
- Sequence – longest run of consecutive cards in one suit
- Set – three or four cards of the same rank, Ten or higher
Elder exchanges first. He must discard at least one and not more than five. He then draws a like number from the top of the talon downwards, strictly in order. Being entitled to five, he may, if he exchanges fewer, look at any cards he was entitled to but did not take, without showing them to younger.
Younger, in turn, must discard at least one and up to as many as are left – usually three, but more if elder took less than his due. If younger takes fewer than are left, it is his choice whether the untaken cards be faced or left concealed, but it is not permitted for one player to see them and not the other. If younger is to exchange first because the elder declared a carte blanche, he draws from the top of the talon, the number he is entitled to being eight less the number that elder said he was going to exchange himself.
After the exchange, the eight cards not held in the players’ hands remain unused and out of play, though each is permitted to refresh his memory by referring to his own discards during the play.
If either player had a carte blanche he announces his score as 10 before declarations begin. Elder announces, strictly in this order, his best point, his best sequence, and his best set. To each announcement younger replies “not good” if he can beat it, “good” if he can not, or else “equal”. If his combination is acknowledged “good”, elder scores for it immediately. Furthermore, if his sequence is good he may score for any other sequence(s) he may hold, and if his set is good he may score for any other set(s) he may hold.
The combinations and their scores.
In announcing point, elder merely states how many cards he has in his best suit. If younger replies “equal”, elder then declares the combined pip-value of his point suit, counting each Ace 11, each court 10, and others at face value. Elder then scores for his point if younger declares it “good”, and not if “not good”. If younger can equalize on this basis, neither player will score for point.
If younger has a sequence equal in lenght to the one announced by elder, the winning sequence is the one with the higher top card. If there is still equality, neither player may score for any sequences.
Having made his announcements and totalled his score so far (if any), elder leads any card face up to the table and adds one point “for leading”.
Before replying to that card, younger scores for any combinations he may hold which are better than those announced by elder – i.e., in all those classes which he declared to be “not good”. If he scores for sequence or set he may score for any other sequence or set he may also hold. Having declared and scored any combinations to which he is entitled, younger plays to the first trick.
If either player reaches a score of 30 before his opponent has scored anything he adds a bonus of 60 for repique. For this purpose it should be noted that declarations are counted strictly in order: carte blanche, point, sequence, set. Thus if one player scores for carte blanche, the other cannot score repique, even if he makes 30 for point and sequence, as the carte blanche is reckoned first. On the other hand, if there is no carte blanche and one player makes 30 or more on point and sequence alone, the other cannot prevent it by scoring for set, as point and sequence have priority. Finally, equality does not save the repique. Even if both equalized on point, and neither scored for sequence, a player could score repique on two quatorzes and a trio (14+14+3=31, plus 60 for repique 91). Elder’s 1 for leading does not save him from repique if he previously made nothing and younger reaches 30 in declarations.
After elder has led his first card, and younger has replied, neither player can score repique. Elder, however, can score 30 for pique if he reaches 30 during the trick play and younger still has yet to score. (It is impossible for younger to score pique because elder counts 1 for leading and cannot therefore enter trick-play with a zero score.) If elder makes 29 in combinations, his 1 for leading may give him pique but not repique.
Tricks are played at no trump. Suit must be followed; the trick is won by the higher card of the suit led; and the winner of one trick leads to the next. The winner of a trick scores 1 point if he led to it, or 2 if his opponent led to it.
THE CARDS, CAPOT
If both players take six tricks the cards are set to be divided and neither scores a bonus. If one player takes more than six tricks he counts a bonus of 10 “for the cards”. If one player wins all 12 tricks (a rare occurrence) he scores a bonus of 40 for capot. The bonus for cards or capot does not count towards a pique.
At the end of each deal the players note their scores for that deal and their cumulative score for the partie so far. If the result is a tie at the end of a partie, two more hands are played, each dealing once more. The winner scores the difference between the two players’ totals, plus 100 for game. If the loser has failed to reach 100 he is rubiconed (even if the winner also failed to reached it), and the winner scores 100 for game plus the sum of the two totals.
SINKING AND PROVING
Neither player is obliged to declare a combination or to declare the whole of one. Holding back part of a combination – e.g., declaring only a trio when you hold a quatorze – is called sinking and is a legitimate manoeuvre to make when wishing to hide the fact that you hold a particular card. On the other hand, any combination declared by either player must be considered known to his opponent.
If, therefore, you have declared a sequence of five and your opponent asks which suit it is in, or what the highest card is, you must tell him. But you are not obliged to reveal anything you have not declared (sunk).