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The 6-card and 7-card variations of cribbage differ very little from the 5-card game.  There is, in fact, no difference in the play nor in the crib, and very little in the mechanics of the game. The only differences of importance, apart from the number of cards, are that the non-dealer does not receive Three for Last, that the cards are played out to the end (the player failing to score for go leading again, thus giving his opponent the chance of making a pair of fifteen ) and that in the 6-card variation the play is twice round the board (121 holes ) and in the 7-card three times round (181 holes).

            The general principles explained for the parent game hold good at the 6-card variation.  It is to be noted, however, that in the 6-card variation the number of cards in hand and in the crib are the same, from which it follows that it is not so important for the non-dealer to make an effort of trying to baulk the crib by his discard.  The two objectives – preserving any values in hand and baulking opponent’s crib-are in this case on the same level, and either objective may be preferred, as the nature of the hand dictates.


Five cards are dealt to each player, and an extra one to the crib, to which each player contributes one card only.  There is no Three for Last.  The start is cut for in the usual way.  The player on the left of the dealer plays first, and has first Show.  He deals the succeeding hand.  The score may be pegged on a triangular board open in the centre, or on the regular board furnished with a pivoted arm that permits a third player to peg.  The game is once round the board.


Two play as partners against the other two, the partners sitting facing each other.  Each player is dealt five cards and discards one to the crib, which is the property others follow in clockwise rotation.  Consultation between partners is not allowed, nor may they prompt each other, but a player may help his partner in the count of the hand or crib. the cards are played out to the end, as in the 6-card and 7-card variations.  Game is usually twice round the board (121 holes).


Écarté is played with a 32-card pack; that is to say with a pack from which the 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, and 6s have been removed.  The cards rank in the order: King (high), Queen, Jack, Ace, 10, 9 , 8, 7 (low).
            The two players are deal five cards each, either in packets of three and two, or two and three, and the rest of the pack is placed face downwards on the table, between them.  To determine the trump suit the top card of the pack is turned face upwards.  After looking at his cards, the non-dealer either plays or proposes.  If he proposes, the dealer has the choice of either accepting or playing, and if he accepts both players may exchange any or all of their cards for others from the pack.  By agreement the exchange of cards may continue until the pack is exhausted.

            The non-dealer has first lead.  The object of the game is to win three tricks, called the Trick.  The winner scores 1 point for this, and if he wins all five tricks (the Vole) he scores 2 points.  The game is won by the player who first wins 5 points, and it is customary to count a treble if a player wins the game and his opponent has failed to score; a double if his opponent has scored 3 or 4 points.
            So far, then, Écarté appears to be childishly simple.  The game, however, lends itself to a number of refinements that raise it to the level of an adult game.  If the non-dealer does not propose, but plays, and fails to make the Trick, the dealer scores 2 points instead of only 1.  In the same way, if the dealer refuses a proposal, and plays, and fails to make the Trick, the non-dealer scores 2 points.  The value of the Vole (2 points) is not affected by playing without proposing.
            Another important feature of the game is that if the dealer turns up a King as trumps, or if a player is dealt the King of the trump suit, he scores 1 point.  The point can be scored by the non-dealer only if he declares the King before he makes the opening lead, and by the dealer only if he declares it before he plays to the first trick.  A player is under no compulsion to declare the King, and, indeed, sometimes it is better to sacrifice the point for declaring the King than to declare it and so disclose to the opponent that this important card is held against him.
            With the score West 3 points, East 4 points, East deals and the 8 ♠ is turned up

            East decides to play and must win the game if he handles his cards correctly.  In the event he loses the game by incautious play.  He leads K ♣ on which West plays 7♣.  West does not declare fore, will lose 2 points if he fails to win the Trick.  On the other hand, if he wins the Trick, declaring the King will be of no help to West.
            East is lulled into a false sense of security, and unaware that the K ♠ is against him he assumes that it is safe to lead Q ♠.  West wins with K ♠, leads Q to force East to win with J ♠, and comes to the last two tricks, and with them wins the game, with A ♠ and A ♥.
            There are a number of stock hands holding which a player should play and not propose, and equally refuse the opponent’s proposal.  The more important of them are set out below.  In all cases Spades are trumps:

  1. Any three trumps supported by two inferior cards in outside suits – ♠ J 10 7 ♥ 8 10
  2. Any two trumps supported by three cards in one outside suit- ♠ 10 9 ♥ J 8 7
  3. Any two trumps supported by the king and a low card in an outside suit, and one indifferent card in another suit – ♠ A 8 ♥ K 7 9
  4. Any one trump supported by four cards headed by the King (or Queen) in an outside suit – ♠ J ♥ K 9 8 87 (or Q J 8 7 )
  5. Any one trump supported by three cards headed by a court cards in an outside suit, and any high court card in another suit – ♠ 10 ♥ J 10 7 Q
  6. Any hand that contains three queens (or better) and even though it may lack a trump  card – ♥ Q 7 dh Q 7 ♣ K
  7. Any hand that contains four high cards (King, Queen , Jack ) and even though it may lack a trump card- ♥ K Q J ♣ Q 7

These stock hands are based on the Law of Probability, supported by the experience of the best players, who set great store on them.  So far as the dealer is concerned, they are the minimum types of hands for him to play on.  In a number of cases he may do better if he follows his luck, or decides to play on what is called a hunch, but the non-dealer should never propose when holding a hand similar to one of the above types.  The reason is that he has the opening lead is of vital importance.
            East deals and the 10 ♠ is turned up.

            West plays and if he leads Q ♥ he wins the Trick no matter how East plays.
            If, however, West had dealt,  East would be on lead and if he led the K he would win the Trick no matter how West played.  In fact, West would be hard put to save the Vole, and indeed, would do so only if he retained the J ♣ and not the Q ♥.  An experienced player would, of course, retain the J ♣ (although the Q ♥ is a higher card) because he holds three Hearts and only one Club, and since there are only eight cards in a suit it is about seven to five on that East’s last card is a Club  and not a Heart.

The deal is of some interest because it illustrates the danger of leading the Queen of trumps, unless the Kings has been turned up as trumps.  It will be seen that if West decides to lead the Q ♠, East wins with the K ♠, runs his Diamonds (scoring the Trick ) and West will save the Vole only if he retains the J ♣.  On the other hand, it is to be noted that the lead of the singleton King of trumps is nearly always a good lead, and rarely damages the leader’s hand.
As a general rule it is best for a player to play when he cannot see his way to discarding more than two cards; but if a player’s hand guarantees him the Trick, or virtually so, he should propose or accept, because if the proposal is refused he is on easy street (since the Trick is more or less in his pocket) and if the proposal is accepted he has the opportunity to convert his hand into one on which he may win the vole.






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