1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bézique

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BÉZIQUE (probably from Span. besico, little kiss, in allusion to the meeting of the queen and knave, an important feature in the game), a game at cards played with two similar packs from which the twos, threes, fours, fives and sixes have been rejected, shuffled together and used as one. It is modelled on a group of card games which possess many features in common; the oldest of these is mariage, then follow brusquembille, l'homme de brou, briscan or brisque, and cinq-cents. Bézique (also called besi and besigue) is, in fact, brisque played with a double pack, and with certain modifications rendered necessary by the introduction of additional cards. The cards rank as follows:—Ace, ten, king, queen, knave, nine, eight, seven.

The usual game is for two players. The players cut for deal, and the higher bézique card deals. The objects of the play are: (1) to promote in the hand various combinations of cards, which, when declared, entitle the holder to certain scores; (2) to win aces and tens, known as “brisques”; (3) to win the so-called last trick. The dealer deals eight cards to each, first three, then two, and again three. The top card of those remaining (called the “stock”) is turned up for trumps. As sometimes played, the first marriage, or the first sequence, decides the trump suit; there is then no score for the seven of trumps (see below). The stock is placed face downwards between the players and slightly spread. The non-dealer leads any card, and the dealer plays to it, but need not follow suit, nor win the trick. If he wins the trick by playing a higher card of the same suit led, or a trump, the lead falls to him. In case of ties the leader wins. Whoever wins the trick leads to the next; but before playing again each player takes a card from the stock and adds it to his hand, the winner of the trick taking the top card. This alternate playing and drawing a card continues until the stock (including the trump card or card exchanged for it, which is taken up last) is exhausted. The tricks remain face upwards on the table, but must not be searched during the play of the hand.

The scores are shown as follows:—

Table of Bézique Scores.
Seven of trumps, turned up, dealer marks 10
Seven of trumps, declared (see below) or exchanged, player marks 10
Marriage (king and queen of any suit) declared 20
Royal marriage (king and queen of trumps) declared 40
Bézique (queen of spades and knave of diamonds) declared 40
Double bézique (all the four bézique cards) declared 500
Four aces (any four, whether duplicates or not) declared 100
Four kings (any four) declared 80
Four queens (any four) declared 60
Four knaves (any four) declared 40
Sequence (ace, ten, king, queen, knave of trumps) declared 250
Aces and tens, in tricks, the winner for each one marks 10
Last trick of all (as sometimes played, the last trick before the stock is exhausted) the winner marks 10

A “declaration” can only be made by the winner of a trick immediately after he has won it, and before he draws from the stock. It is effected by placing the declared cards (one of which at least must not have been declared before) face upwards on the table, where they are left, unless they are played, as they may be. A player is not bound to declare. A card led or played cannot be declared. More than one declaration may be made at a time, provided no card of one combination forms part of another that is declared with it. Thus four knaves and a marriage may be declared at the same time; but a player cannot declare king and queen of spades and knave of diamonds together to score marriage and bézique. He must first declare one combination, say bézique; and when he wins another trick he can score marriage by declaring the king. A declaration cannot be made of cards that have already all been declared. Thus, if four knaves (one being a bézique knave) and four queens (one being a bézique queen) have been declared, the knave and queen already declared cannot be declared again as bézique. To score all the combinations with these cards, after the knaves are declared and another trick won, bézique must next be made, after which, on winning another trick, the three queens can be added and four queens scored. Lastly, a card once declared can only be used again in declaring in combinations of a different class. For example: the bézique queen can be declared in bézique, marriage and four queens; but having once been declared in single bézique, she cannot form part of another single bézique. Two declarations may, in a sense, be made to a trick, but only one can be scored at the time. Thus with four kings declared, including the king of spades, bézique can be declared and scored, but the spade marriage cannot be scored till the holder wins another trick. The correct formula is “Forty, and 20 to score.” The seven of trumps may be either declared or exchanged for the turn-up after winning a trick, and before drawing. When exchanged, the turn-up is taken into the player's hand, and the seven put in its place. The second seven can, of course, be declared. A seven when declared is not left on the table, but is simply shown.

The winner of the last trick can declare anything hitherto undeclared in his hand. After this all declarations cease. The winner of the last trick takes the last card of the stock, and the loser the turn-up card (or seven exchanged for it). All cards on the table, that have been declared and not played, are taken up by their owners. The last eight tricks are then played, but the second player must follow suit if able, and must win the trick if able. Finally, each player counts his tricks for the aces and tens they may contain, unless (as is often done) they are scored at the time. If a player revokes in the last eight tricks, or does not win the card led, if able, the last eight tricks belong to his adversary. The deal then passes on alternately until the game (1000) is won. If the loser does not make 500, his opponent counts a double game, or double points, according as they have agreed. The score is best kept by means of a special bézique-marker.

Three- and Four-Handed Bézique.—When three play, three packs are used together. All play against each other. The player on the left of the dealer is first dealt to and has the first lead. The rotation of dealing goes to the left. If double bézique has been scored, and one pair has been played, a second double bézique may be made with the third pair and the pair on the table. Triple bézique scores 1500. All the cards of the triple bézique must be on the table at the same time and unplayed to a trick. All may be declared together, or a double bézique may be added to a single one, or a third bézique may be added to a double bézique already declared. The game is 2000 up. Sometimes the three players cut, the one who cuts the highest card plays against the other two in consultation, and continues to do so till the allies win a game, when the two cut as before to see who shall be the single player. Only two packs are then used.

When four play four packs are used. The players may then score independently or may play as partners. A second double bézique or triple bézique may be scored as before; to form them the béziques may be declared from the hand of either partner. A player may declare when he or his partner takes a trick. In playing the last eight tricks, the winner of the last trick and the adversary to his left play their cards against each other, and then the other two similarly play theirs. Four people may also play in pairs by consultation, only two packs being then required.

Polish Bézique (also called “Open Bézique” and “Fildniski”) differs from ordinary bézique in the following particulars. The game is not less than 2000 up. Whenever a scoring card is played, the winner of the trick places it face upwards in front of him (the same with both cards if two scoring cards are played to a trick), forming rows of aces, kings, queens, knaves and trump tens (called open cards). Cards of the same denomination are placed overlapping one another lengthwise from the player towards his adversary to economise space. When a scoring card is placed among the open cards, all the sevens, eights, nines, and plain suit tens in the tricks are turned down and put on one side. Open cards cannot be played a second time, and can only be used in declaring. Whether so used or not they remain face upwards on the table until the end of the hand, including the last eight tricks. A player can declare after winning a trick and before drawing again, when the trick won contains a card or cards, which added to his open cards complete any combination that scores. Every declaration must include a card played to the trick last won. Aces and tens must be scored as soon as won, and not at the end of the hand. The seven of trumps can be exchanged by the winner of the trick containing it; and if the turn-up card is one that can be used in declaring, it becomes an open card when exchanged. The seven of trumps when not exchanged is scored for by the player winning the trick containing it.

Compound declarations are allowed, i.e. cards added to the open cards can at once be used, without waiting to win another trick, in as many combinations of different classes as they will form with the winner's open cards. For example: A has three open kings, and he wins a trick containing a king. Before drawing again he places the fourth king with the other three, and scores 80 for kings. This is a simple declaration. But suppose the card led was the queen of trumps, and A wins it with the king, and he has the following open cards—three kings, three queens, and ace, ten, knave of trumps. He at once declares royal marriage (40); four kings (80); four queens (60); and sequence (250); and scores in all, 430. Again: ace of spades is turned up, and ace of hearts is led. The second player has two open aces, and wins the ace of hearts with the seven of trumps and exchanges. He scores for the exchange, 10; for the ace of hearts, 10; for the ace of spades, 10; and adds the aces to his open cards, and scores 100 for aces; in all, 130. If a declaration or part of a compound declaration is omitted, and the winner of the trick draws again, he cannot amend his score.

The ordinary rule holds that a second declaration cannot be made of a card already declared in the same class. Thus: a queen once married cannot be married again; a fifth king added to four already declared does not entitle to another score for kings. The fundamental point to be borne in mind is, that no declaration can be effected by means of cards held in the hand. Thus: A having three open queens and a queen in hand cannot add it to his open cards. He must win another trick containing a queen, when he can declare queens. Declarations continue during the play of the last eight tricks just the same as during the play of the other cards.

Rubicon Bézique.—Four packs are used. Nine cards are dealt by three to each player. The rules of Polish bézique hold good in regard to dealing, leading, playing to lead, drawing and declaring; but a player who receives a hand containing no picture-card (king, queen, or knave) scores 50 for carte blanche, which he shows. If he does not draw a picture-card, he can again score for carte blanche. The trump suit is decided by the first sequence or marriage declared. As four packs are used, triple and quadruple bézique may be made. Triple bézique counts 1500, quadruple 4500. Tricks are left face upwards till a brisque (ace or ten) is played, when the winner takes all the played cards and puts them in a heap; their only value is the value of the brisques, which are only counted when the scores are very close; then they are used to decide the game. They may be counted during the play, provided there are not more than twelve cards in the stock. Declarations can only be made after winning a trick and before drawing. In addition to the ordinary bézique declarations, sequence, counting 150, can be made in plain suits. Declared cards, except carte blanche, remain on the table. If the holder of carte blanche hold four aces and wins the first trick, he can declare his aces. With the exceptions already made, the scores for declarations are the same as at ordinary bézique. Declaration is not compulsory. Cards led or played cannot be declared. There are three classes of declarations, their order being (1) marriage and sequence, (2) bézique, (3) fours. A card once declared can be used for a second declaration, but only in an equal or superior class. If a card of a declared combination be played to a trick, another card of the same rank may be used to form a second similar combination; e.g. if aces be declared and one of them be played by the playing of a fifth ace, aces can be declared again. If a player has a chance of a double declaration he can declare both, but can only score one at the time. As in other variations of bézique he announces, say, “forty, and twenty to score.” He should repeat, “Twenty to score,” after every trick, until he can legally score it, but if he plays a card of the combination he cannot score the points. To the last nine tricks, after the stock is exhausted, the second player must follow suit and win the trick by trumping or over-playing, if he can. The winner of the odd trick scores 50. The game consists of one deal. In reckoning the score all fractions of 100 are neglected; the winner scores 500 for game in addition to the difference between his own points and his opponent's. The loser is “rubiconed” if he does not score 1000 points, in which case the winner adds the loser's points to his own, takes 300 for brisques and 1000 for game, but the loser may claim his brisques to save a rubicon, though they are not reckoned among his points. If a rubiconed player has scored less than 100 the opponent counts the score as 100.