2 players - 1 short pack (32)
32 cards, ranking KQJAT987 in each suit. Note the position of the Ace. It is convenient to use two packs so that one may be shuffled while the other is dealt.
The first to win 5 points wins the game. The best way of recording the score is by means of counters.
A trump suit is estalished at random and five tricks are played with ‘strict’ rules of following. A player scores 1 point for taking three or four tricks, 2 points for winning the vole (all five). The distinctive feature of the game is that there may be several rounds of changing cards before the play begins and good judgement is called for in deciding when to stop exchanging and start playing.
The deal alternates. Shuffle thoroughly, offer to cut, and deal five cards to each player in batches of two then three. Place the remainder face down to form a stock. Turn up the top card and place it to one side. The suit of the turn-up is the trump suit for the deal. If the turn-up is a King, dealer scores 1 point for it. (If this gives him 5 points he wins without further play.)
Non-dealer may start the play by leading to the first trick, in which case he will be penalized if he does not win, or he may call for cards (“propose”). If he proposes, leader may either refuse, insisting that the hands be played out as they stand (in which case he will be penalized if he does not win), or accept. If dealer accepts, both players must change at least one card.
Cards are exchanged as follows. Non-dealer discards from one to five cards face down and is dealt a like number from the top of the stock. Then dealer does likewise. The trump turn-up remains untouched.
Again, non-dealer may lead or propose and dealer may accept or refuse. This continues until non- dealer decides to lead, or dealer refuses a proposal, or the stock is exhausted. Neither player may call for more cards than remain in the stock, and when no more cards remain non-dealer is obliged to start play.
MARKING THE KING
After the exchange, but before the play, if either player holds the King of trumps he may declare it and score 1 point. This privilege ceases if and as soon as its holder plays some other card to the first trick.
Unusual rules of trick-taking apply. Non-dealer leads to the first trick (announcing, as he does so, what suit he is leading). The second player to each trick must not only follow suit but also win the trick if he can. If unable to follow he must trump if he can, and only if unable to do so may he renounce. The trick is captured by the higher card of the suit led, or the higher trump if any are played, and the winner of one trick leads to the next.
If any cards were exchanged the winning of three or four tricks scores 1 for the “point”, the winning of five 2 for the “vole”. But if non-dealer loses after failing to propose, or dealer loses after refusing the first proposal, then the winner scores 2 points regardless of the number of tricks he took. The game is won with 5 points. By agreement, the game is won singly if the loser has 3 or 4, doubly if 1 or 2, trebly if he has marked no points.
More than two players may take part in a game of Ecarté but only two are active in each deal.