PINOCHLE, or Penuchle (Ger. Pinochel or Binochel, of uncertain etymology), a game of cards probably invented by Germans in the United States about the middle of the 19th century. It bears a general resemblance to Bézique (q.v.), and has almost entirely usurped the place of the older game in America. Pinochle may be played by two, three or four persons. Two packs, from which all cards below the nines have been deleted, are shuffled together, forming one pack of 48 cards. The object of the game is to make 1000 points. The cards rank as follows: ace 11, ten 10, king 4, queen 3, knave 2. The nine counts nothing unless it be turned for trumps, when it scores 10. The last trick scores 10. The term "to meld" (Ger. melden, to announce), as used in pinochle, means "to declare." "Melds" are combinations which are declared during the play of the hands. They are of three classes: (1) "marriages" and "sequences," (2) "pinochles," and (3) "fours." The "melds" of the first class score as follows: "marriage" (king and queen of any plain suit), 20; "royal marriage" (king and queen of trumps), 40; "sequence" (the five highest trumps), 150. In the second class the "melds" are "pinochle" (queen of spades and knave of diamonds), 40; "double pinochle" (both queens of spades and knaves of diamonds), 300; " grand pinochle " (king and queen of spades and knave of diamonds), 80; this "meld" is not often played in America. Of the third class the "melds" are: four aces of different suits, 100; four kings of different suits, 80; four queens of different suits, 60; four knaves of different suits, 40; eight aces, 1000; eight kings, 800; eight queens, 600; eight knaves, 400.
In single pinochle (two players) each player receives twelve cards, four at a time, the twenty-fifth being turned up beside the stock for trumps. The non-dealer leads a card, to which the dealer plays. There is no obligation either to take, follow suit or trump. The winner of the trick leads again, before which, however, he may "meld" any one combination he holds. After he has "melded," or refused to do so, he draws a card from the top of the stock and adds it to his hand without showing it, his adversary doing the same, so that each player continues to hold twelve cards. Playing, announcing, and drawing then go on until the stock is exhausted. All combinations "melded" must be laid face upward on the table but still belong to the player's hand, though they may not be taken up until the stock has given out. When this happens all announcements cease, and all cards exposed are replaced in the hands. The last twelve tricks are then played, but now both players must follow suit and must win the trick if possible, either with a superior card or a trump. A failure to do this is a "revoke" and is penalized by the loss of all points made by "cards," i.e. for the five highest cards in each suit, which after all the tricks have been played, are counted for the player holding them. Ace counts 11 points, ten 10, king 4, queen 3, and knave 2, whatever the suit, so that 240 points for "cards" are divided between the two players. Though points are not counted during the play, a mental count is kept, and whenever a player sees that, by adding the value of his "melds" to what he thinks his cards will count, he has enough to win the game, namely 1000 points, he "calls out" or knocks on the table, and proceeds to expose his cards. If he fails to show enough to win, he loses the game. If neither player knocks, the game continues until one of them scores 1250; if still a tie, 1500. If a player fails to make good a "meld" he is set back that number of points. The game is scored by counters or on a cribbage-board. In three-handed pinochle the "melds" are exposed before a card is played, and no player may "meld" after he has played to the first trick. A rule is sometimes made that an overlooked combination may be scored by the other players. Four-handed pinochle is played either with partners or each player for himself.