1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Piquet

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PIQUET, a game at cards, probably a development of ronfa, a game mentioned by Berni in 1526; la ronfle (included in Rabelais's list, c. 1530) may be regarded as the same game. The point at piquet was anciently called ronfle. The Spanish name of the game was cientos (centum, a hundred). Piquet was played in England under the name of cent, or sant, probably as early as 1550 (contemporaneously with the marriage of Mary to Philip of Spain). About the middle of the 17th century (shortly after the marriage of Charles I. to Henrietta Maria of France) the name cent was dropped in England, and the French equivalent, piquet, adopted. It is played by two persons, with a pack of thirty-two cards—the sixes, fives, fours, threes and twos being thrown out from a complete pack. At one time the partie was the best of five games of a hundred up (a player not obtaining fifty losing a double game). But now the partie is generally determined in six hands, the player making the largest aggregate score being the winner. The number of points won is the difference between the two scores, with a hundred added for the game. If, however, the loser fails to make a hundred in six hands, the number of points won is the sum of the two scores, with a hundred for the game. Piquet played in this way is called Rubicon Piquet.

The dealer deals twelve cards to his adversary and twelve to himself, two at a time, or three at a time. He then places the eight undealt cards, called the “stock,” face downwards on the table, the top five being for the elder hand (non-dealer) to take from first in exchange for his own. The players now look at their hands, and carte blanche (see later) having been declared, if there is one, put out (without showing them) such cards as they deem advisable in order to improve their hands, and take in an equivalent number from the stock. Each player must discard at least one card. If the elder hand discards less than the five he is entitled to, he must state how many he leaves. He is entitled to look at the cards he leaves, replacing them face downwards on the top of the stock. The younger hand then makes the exchange from the remainder of the stock. If the elder hand leaves any of the top five, the younger may exchange as many as remain in the stock, discarding an equal number. If the younger hand leaves any cards, he announces the number left. He may look at the cards he leaves. If he looks at them he must show them to the elder hand, after the elder has named the suit he will lead first, or has led a card.

If the younger hand elects not to look at the cards left the elder cannot see them. The younger hand must make his election before he plays to the card first led, or, if so required, after the dealer has named the suit he will first lead. Each player may examine his own discard at any time during the hand; but he must keep it separate from his other cards.

The elder hand next makes a declaration of what he has in his hand.

The “point” must be called first or the right to call it is lost. It is scored by the player who announces the suit of greatest strength, valued thus: ace 11, court cards, 10 each, other cards, the number of pips on each. Thus if the elder hand's best suit is ace, king, knave, nine, eight, he calls “five cards.” If the younger hand has no suit of five cards, he says “good.” The elder hand then says “in spades,” or whatever the suit may be, or shows his point face upwards. If the younger hand has a suit of more than five cards, he says “not good.” If the younger hand has also five cards, he says “equal” or “what do they make?” when the elder calls “forty-eight” (or “making eight,” short for forty-eight), The younger must not inquire what the point makes unless he has an equal number of cards. If the younger hand's five cards make less than forty-eight he says “good”; if exactly forty-eight, he says “equal”; if more than forty-eight he says “not good.” The player whose point is good reckons one for each card of it; if the points are equal neither player scores for point.

“Sequences” are usually called next, the elder hand stating what his best sequence is, and the younger saying, “good,” “equal,” or “not good,” as in the case of the point. Any three or more consecutive cards of the same suit held in hand constitute a sequence. The order of the cards is as follows: ace (highest), king, queen, knave, ten, nine, eight, seven (lowest). A sequence of three cards is called a “tierce”; of four, a “quart”; of five, a “quint”; of six, a “sixième”; of seven, a “septième”; of eight, a “huitième.” A tierce of ace, king, queen is called a “tierce major”; a tierce of king, queen, knave is called a "tierce to a king" (and so on for other intermediate sequences according to the card which heads them); a tierce of nine, eight, seven is called a “tierce minor.” Sequences of four or more cards follow the same nomenclature; e.g. ace, king, queen, knave is a quart major; knave, ten, nine, eight, is a quart to a knave; and so on. A sequence of a greater number of cards is good against a sequence of a smaller number; thus, a quart minor is good against a tierce major. As between sequences containing the same number of cards, the one headed by the highest card is good; thus, a quart to a queen is good against a quart to a knave. Only identical sequences can be equal. The player whose sequence is good reckons one for each card of it, and ten in addition for quints or higher sequences. Thus a tierce counts three; a quart, four; a quint, fifteen; a sixième, sixteen; and so on. If the elder hand's sequence is good, he names the suit, or shows it face upwards. If the highest sequence (or the sequence first called) is good, all lower sequences can be reckoned, notwithstanding that the adversary has a sequence of intermediate value. For example, A has a quart to a queen (good,) and a tierce minor. He calls and reckons seven, notwithstanding that B has a quart to a knave. B's quart counts nothing. If the highest sequence is equal, neither player scores anything for sequence, even though one player may hold a second sequence of equal or inferior value.

“Quatorzes” and “trios” are the next calls. “Quatorzes” are composed of four aces, four kings, four queens, four knaves, or four tens, in order of value; “trios” of three of any of these. A quatorze, if good, reckons fourteen; a trio, if good, reckons three; one that is good establishes any smaller quatorzes or trios in his hand.

When the elder hand has done calling he leads a card. Before playing to this card, the younger hand reckons all that he has good, stating of what cards his claims are composed, or showing the cards claimed for. The elder hand leads any card he pleases; the younger plays to it. The younger hand must follow suit if able; otherwise he may play any card he thinks fit. It is not compulsory to win the trick. The leader counts one for each card led, whether it wins the trick or not. If the second player wins the trick he also counts one. The winner of the last trick counts an additional one for the last card. The tricks are left face upwards in front of the player who wins them. They may be examined by either player.

If each player wins six tricks the cards are “divided,” and there is no further score. If one player wins more than six tricks he wins “the cards,” and adds ten to his score. If one player wins every trick, he wins a capot, and scores forty for the cards, instead of ten.

During the play of the hand, a player is entitled to be informed as to any cards his adversary holds which he has reckoned as good, or has declared to be equal. A player may require his adversary to exhibit any such cards. But if a player, having played three cards of a sixième, declared as a quint, is asked how many he has left, he need only reply "Two."

During the progress of the hand each player repeats aloud the amount of his score for the time being. At the end of the hand the points scored are recorded by each player. If there is any difference in the written scores, a player's score of his own hand is deemed to be the correct one.

Example—A (elder hand) has dealt him ace, king, knave of spades; ace, queen, knave, eight of hearts; knave, eight, seven of clubs; and nine, eight of diamonds. He discards king of spades; eight, seven of clubs; and nine, eight of diamonds. He takes in nine, eight of spades; king of hearts; nine of clubs; and king of diamonds.

B (younger hand) has ten, seven of spades; ten, nine, seven of hearts; king, queen, ten of clubs; and ace, queen, knave, ten of diamonds. He discards seven of spades; and nine, seven of hearts. He takes in queen of spades; ace of clubs; and seven of diamonds.

The hand then proceeds thus. A (calling his point) “five cards.” B says “equal,” or “what do they make?”

A “forty-nine,” or “making nine.” B “good.”

A (counting his point) “five” and, counting his sequence, which is good) “a quart major, nine. Three knaves?” B “not good.”

A (leads ace of hearts and says) “ten.” B “four tens, fourteen, and three queens, seventeen” (plays the ten of hearts).

A (leads the remaining hearts and says) “eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen.” B (plays seven, ten, knave, queen of diamonds, and repeating his score says) “seventeen.”

A has now five tricks, and in order to win the cards should lead any card but a high spade. He leads king of diamonds, and says “fifteen.” B (wins with ace and says) “eighteen” (and then leads the winning clubs, saying) “nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two.”

A (keeps ace, knave of clubs, and repeating his score says) “fifteen.” B (leads queen of spades and says) “twenty-three.”

A (wins with ace and says) “sixteen” (and leads knave, saying) “eighteen” (and adding ten for the cards) “twenty-eight.”

A then writes on his scoring card 28; 23. B writes on his 23; 28. The pack is collected, and the next hand commences. Three scores (omitted in order to simplify the description of the game) have yet to be mentioned.

Carte Blanche.—If either player has no king, queen or knave in the hand dealt him, he holds carte blanche, for which he scores ten. As soon as a player discovers he has a carte blanche, he must tell his adversary; this he usually does by saying “discard for carte blanche.” The adverse discard is then made (as explained under discarding), after which the carte blanche is shown by dealing the cards, face upwards on the table; they are then taken back into the hand.

Pique.—If the elder hand scores, in hand and play, thirty or more, before the younger hand counts anything in that deal, he gains a pique, for which he scores thirty.

Repique.—If a player scores in hand alone thirty or more before his adversary reckons anything, he gains a repique, for which he adds sixty to his score. Equalities do not prevent piques or repiques. A player who has an equal point or sequence scores nothing for it. Therefore if, notwithstanding the equality, a player makes thirty, in hand and play, or in hand, by scores which reckon in order before anything his adversary can count, he gains a pique or a repique.

The order in which the scores accrue is of importance. For the sake of convenience, the elder hand finishes his reckoning before the younger begins. The scores, however, whether made by the elder or younger hand are recordable in the following order: (1) carte blanche; (2) point; (3) sequences; (4) quatorzes and trios; (5) points made in play; (6) the cards. This will often affect a pique or repique. Thus, a pique can only be made by the elder hand, as the one he reckons in play when he leads his first card counts before points subsequently made in play by the younger hand. The younger, therefore, cannot make thirty in hand and play before the elder scores one. But the one reckoned by the elder hand when he leads his first card does not prevent his being repiqued, because scores made in hand have precedence of points made in play. The elder leads his first card and counts for it before the younger reckons, simply as a convenient way of stating that he has nothing in hand which is good. Again, say A has a quint (good), a tierce, and a quatorze (good). He scores thirty-two in hand alone; but, if his point is not good, he does not gain a repique, because the younger hand's point is recordable in order before the sequences and quatorze. Carte blanche, taking precedence of all other scores, saves piques and repiques. It also counts towards piques and repiques. A capot does not count towards a pique, as the capot is not made in play. It is added after the play of the hand is over. A player who reckons nothing that hand as a penalty is not piqued or repiqued if he holds any cards which, but for the penalty, would have reckoned before his adversary reached thirty.

See “Cavendish,” The Laws of Piquet and of Rubicon Piquet, adopted by the Portland Club, with a Treatise on the Game (1882); "Cavendish," “Guide to Piquet” (1898).