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Piquet is probably the best known of all card games for two players; there is no doubt that is more skillful and interesting than any other.  It is played with a 32-card pack, namely a pack from which the 6s, 5s, 4s, 3s, and 2s have been removed, sometimes called the short  or piquet pack.  The cards rank from Ace (high) to 7 (low) and he who cuts the higher card has the right of first deal; he would be advised to take it because there is some advantage to be gained from it.

            Twelve cards are dealt to both  players in packets of either twos or threes, and the remaining eight cards (talon) are placed face downwards on the table between the players.  The non-dealer may now exchange any five of his cards with the five top cards of the talon.  He need not exchange as many as five cards, but he must exchange at least one, and, if he has not exchanged five cards, he be may look at those that he was entitled to draw.  The dealer may exchange cards up to the number that remain in the talon.  He, too, must exchange at least one card.  If he does not exchange all the cards, he may look at those that he was entitled to, but he must show them to his opponent if he does.  The players places their discards face downwards on the table in front of them.  The discards of the players should not be mixed together as, during the play of the hand, the players are entitled to look at their own discards.
            The score is made up in three ways: the count of the hand; the count during the play of the cards; the extraordinary scores.
            The hand is counted in the following way:

  1. The point, which is the number of cards held in the longest suit.  The player who holds the longest suit wins the point, and scores 1 point for each card that he holds in it.  If the number of cards in the suits held by the players is the same, the player with the highest count (Aces 11, Kings, Queens and Jacks 10 each, and other cards at their pip values ) wins the point.  If the count is equal neither player scores.
  2. Sequences, which must not be of less than three cards of the same suit, are won by the player who holds the most cards in one sequence.  As between sequences of equal length, the highest wins.  For a sequences of three (tierce) 3 points are scored; for a sequence of four (quart) 4 points are scored.  For a sequence of five (quaint) 15 points  are scored; for a sequence of six (sixeme) 16 points; for a sequence of seven (septime) and for a sequence of eight (hutieme) 18 points.
  3. Quatorzes and Trios are any four or three cards of the same rank higher than the 9.  The player who holds the superior quatorze or trio wins.  Thus, a player who holds a trio of Aces will win even though his opponent may hold trios of Kings and Queens.  In the same way, a player who holds trios of King and Queens.  In the same way, a player who holds trios of Aces, Kings, Queens and Jacks, will score nothing if his opponent holds a quatorze of 10s.  Quatorzes are scored at 14 points each; trios at 3 points each.

The count of the hand must be declared in the order: point, sequence, quatorze and trio, and, on demand, a player must show any combinations of cards for which he has scored.  In practice, however, this is rarely necessary, because the opponent is usually able to infer from his own cards what cards are against him.

            When counting the hand a player is not compelled to declare all that he holds.  It is in order, and sometimes the very best play, to mislead one’s opponent by declaring less than one holds in order to conceal one’s strength.  The practice is known as sinking.  The player who holds a quatorze of Aces may declare only a trio.  The opponent may inquire which Ace is not being reckoned, and the player may name any Ace he chooses, because the explicit replay: ‘I do not count the Ace of Clubs’ is not a guarantee that the player does not hold this card.
            After the non-dealer has counted his hand he leads a card.  The dealer then counts his hand and plays a card to the non-dealer’s lead.  Two cards constitute a trick, and it is compulsory for the second player to follow suit to the led card if he can do so.  If not he may play any card he chooses, because there is no trump suit.  The player who leads to a trick scores 1 point, and if his opponent wins it he scores one point for doing so (except in the case of the last trick, when he scores 2 points) and leads to the next trick, scoring 1 point for the lead.  After all twelve tricks have been played, the player who has won most tricks scores 10 points for having done so (Ten for the Cards, as it is called).  There is no score to either player if they win six tricks each.  Plate 12 shows play in progress.
            There are four extraordinary scores:

  1. Carte Blanche.  If a player is dealt a hand that contains no court card he may claim carte blanche and score 10 points.  It takes precedence over any other scoring combination, but the player must announce his carte blanche as soon as he picks up the cards dealt to him, and he must show his hand, though he need not do so until after his opponent has discarded.
  2. Pique.   If  a player scores in hand alone a total of 30 points, before his opponent scores anything, he wins a pique and scores 30 points for it.  Only the non-dealer can win a pique, because he scores 1 point for the first lead before the dealer counts his hand; this, of course, automatically rules out the dealer from scoring for a pique.
  3. Repique.  If a player scores in hand alone a total of 30 points, before his opponent scores anything, he wins a repique and scores 60 points for it.  Either player may score for a repique, because points in hand are counted in priority to those won in play.
  4. Capot.  If a player wins all twelve tricks he wins a capot and scores 40 points, not 10, for the cards.  The capot, however, is not counted towards a pique because the points are not scored until the hand has been played.

The players deal alternately, and partie (game) consists of six deals (three deals each).  At the end of the partie the player with the higher score deducts from his score that of his opponent, and adds 100 points to the result.  If, however, one player fails to score 100 points, he is rubiconed, and the player with the higher score adds the two scores together, and a further 100 points.  If the score after six deals is equal, each player has one more deal, and if the score still remains equal the partie is a draw.

            Most card games are played in silence.  Piquet is a continuous dialogue.  When a player counts his hand he declares his point, sequences, quartorzes and trios, and his opponent confirms whether they are ‘Good’, ‘Not good’ or ‘Equal’, and, if equal , the player announces the pip total which his opponent declares ‘Good’, ‘Not good’ or ‘Equal’.  Then, during the play of the hand, the two players announce their scores as each trick is played.
            At piquet it is customary to call the non-dealer the elder (hand) and the dealer the younger (hand).  The deal below (after both players have discarded) illustrates the method of scoring and is not to be accepted as an example of good play.

Elder : ‘Point of four’.
Younger : ‘Making?’
Elder : ‘Thirty-nine.’
Younger : ‘Not good.’

Elder : ‘Queens and Tens –six’.  (He counts his score for his trios without waiting for younger to confirm that the count is good.  He knows that his trio of Queens is good because, from his own cards, he can see that younger cannot hold a quatorze or a better trio than one of Jacks.  His announcement ‘Queens and Tens’ means that he holds three Queens and three 10s.  If he held four Queens and three 10s he would announce ‘Fourteen Queens and three Tens’.)
            Elder, who has no more to count, leads the Ace of Spades- ‘Seven’.
            Younger now counts his hand.

Younger:  ‘Point of four-forty,’ (Elder has a right to ask in which suit the point is.  In this case, however, he has no need because he knows from his own cards that it can only be in Hearts.) ‘and tierce to the Jack-seven.’  (here, again, elder has no need to ask because, from his own cards, he knows that the tierce must be in Hearts.)
            Younger plays the Queens of Spades on elder’s Ace of Spades, and repeats his score – ‘Seven’.

            The rest of the play is:

Elder                                 Younger
J ♠ ‘Eight’                            K ♠ ‘Eight’
Q ♥ ‘Eight ‘                        A ♥ ‘Nine’
K ♥ ‘Nine’                          J ♥ ‘Ten’
10 ♠ ‘ Ten’                        7 ♣ ‘Ten’
8 ♠ ‘Eleven’                        8 ♣ ‘ Ten’
K ♣ ‘Twelve’                          A ♣ ‘Eleven’
10 ‘Twelve’                        10 ♥ ‘Twelve’
Q ‘Twelve’                          9 ♥ ‘Thirteen’
Q ♣ ‘Thirteen’                         J ♣ ‘Fourteen’
A ‘Fourteen’                        J ‘Fourteen’
10 ♣ ‘Fifteen’                           K ‘Fourteen’

Elder, winning the trick- ‘Sixteen, and the cards twenty–six.’  This ends the deal with the score at Elder 26, Younger 14.
            A player’s first consideration must be the point.  The importance of scoring for the point cannot be over-estimated, because not only does it add to a player’s score, but it protects him against a pique or repique, and, of course, scoring for point diminishes the opponent’s score to the same extent.  Normally, therefore, a player should retain his longest suit intact and discard from shorter suits.  This, however, does not always hold good, particularly if the longest suit consists mainly of low cards, and the shorter suits of high ones.  The inexperienced player who is dealt:

will be tempted to retain the Spades, and discard from the other suits, with a view to scoring for point and sequence.  The experienced player will know that the better course is to discard all five Spades, because the Jack of Spades is the only card that will raise the suit from a quart to a sixieme, and the odds are about three to one against drawing it.  It is likely that retaining the Spades will win the point, but almost certainly it will result in the loss of the cards.  This will make a big difference to the score, and always the cards must be considered together with the point.  If the non-dealer holds a long suit headed by top cards, usually it guarantees the point and the cards.  The suit, therefore, must be preserved at all costs, but this is of much less importance for the dealer because he may never obtain the lead.

            A good general rule emerges.  The discards of the non-dealer should be made towards obtaining an attacking hand; that of the dealer towards obtaining a defensive hand; that is to say a hand in which there is some strength in as many suits as possible.
            Subject to these considerations, it is best to discard from as few suits, as possible, and, once a player has made up his mind to discard from a suit, he should discard the whole of it, unless it is necessary to retain the suit guarded.  Sequence cards should be retained in preference to non-sequence cards, and, of course, cards that help to make up trios and quatorzes should never be discarded if it is to be avoided.

            Playing to the score is very important, particularly in the last deal of a Partie.  As an example: if a player is well ahead, and sees the opportunity to gain a rubicon, he should discard cautiously and play so as to prevent his opponent from saving the rubicon by scoring 100 points.  By contrary, if a player is in danger of being rubiconed, he should be prepared to take some risks, since only a big score will save him.  It must be remembered, however, that if a player is rubiconed his score is added to that of his opponent, so if there is no chance of saving the rubicon he should play to keep his score down.  To this end he should declare equities or those scores that will save pique and repique, and he should aim to divide the cards.


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