Hoyle's Games Modernized/Bézique

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Bézique is a game for two players. The piquet pack of thirty-two cards is used, but in duplicate, two such packs of like pattern being shuffled together.

The players cut for deal, the highest card having the preference. The rank of the cards in cutting (as also in play) is as under: ace, ten, king, queen, knave, nine, eight, seven. Eight cards are dealt (by three, two, and three) to each player; the seventeenth card being turned up by way of trump, and placed between the two players. The remaining cards, known as the "stock," are placed face downwards beside it. Should the turn-up card be a seven, the dealer scores ten.

The non-dealer leads and the dealer plays to such lead any card he pleases. If he play a higher card (according to the scale above given) of the same suit, or a trump, he wins the trick; but he is not bound to do either, or even to follow suit. Further, he is at liberty to trump, even though holding a card of the suit led. If the two cards played are the same (e.g. two nines of diamonds), the trick belongs to the leader.

The winner of one trick leads to the next, but before doing so he marks any points to which his hand may entitle him, leaving the cards so marked on the table, and draws one card from the top of the stock. His opponent draws a card in like manner, and so the game proceeds until the stock is exhausted.

The holder of the seven of trumps is entitled to exchange it for the turn-up card, at the same time scoring ten for it. The holder of the duplicate seven of trumps scores ten for it, but gains no further benefit thereby.

The game is usually 1000 up, but, as the score proceeds by tens or multiples of ten, this number is pretty quickly reached.

At the earlier stage of the game, the player scores for the cards he holds in his hand; certain cards or combinations of cards, duly "declared," entitling him to score so many points, as under:—

For the seven of trumps, turned up by the

 dealer, or declared by either player

For the second seven of trumps 10
For the last (i.e. thirty-second) trick 10
For a Common Marriage, i.e. king and

 queen of any plain suit, declared together

For a Royal Marriage, i.e. king and queen

 of the trump suit, declared together 

For Single Bézique (queen of spades and

 knave of diamonds)

For Double Bézique—the same combination

 again declared by same player with fresh

For Four Knaves (of any suits, e.g. two

 knaves of spades and two of hearts), duly

For Four Queens, duly declared 60
For Four Kings, duly declared 80

For Four Aces, duly declared

For Sequence of five best trumps—ace, ten,

 king, queen, knave

Brisques—aces or tens in the tricks won by

 either player, each[7]


In order to score, the cards composing the given combination must be all at the same time in the hand of the player. A card played to a trick is no longer available (unless a brisque) to score.

A player can only "declare" after winning a trick. Having won a trick, he is at liberty to score any combination he may hold, laying the cards forming it face upwards on the table. If the cards exposed show two combinations he may declare both, but must elect which of them he will score, reserving the other till he again wins a trick. Thus, having king and queen of spades and knave of diamonds on the table, he would say, "I score 40 for Bézique, and 20 to score." When he has again won a trick, having meanwhile retained the needful cards unplayed, he can then score the second combination (Marriage).

A card which has once scored cannot be again used to form part of a combination of the same kind: e.g. a queen once used to form a Marriage cannot again figure in a Marriage, though it may still score as part of a Sequence, or as one of "Four Queens." In like manner, a card which has once figured in "Bézique" cannot be used to form part of a second Bézique, though it may be used to score Double Bézique. Neither can a card which has been declared in a given combination again be declared in a combination of an inferior order; e.g. if a king and queen have been declared as part of a Sequence, a Marriage cannot afterwards be declared with the same cards—though their having figured in a Marriage would be no bar to their subsequent use as part of a Sequence.

The declared cards, though left face upwards on the table, still form part of the hand, and are played to subsequent tricks at the pleasure of the holder.

When no more cards are left in the stock, the method of play alters. No further declarations can be made, and the only additional score now possible is for the brisques (aces or tens) in the remaining tricks (scored by the winner of the trick), with ten for the last trick, as before stated.

The mode of play as to these last eight tricks is according to Whist rules. Each player must now follow suit, if he can; if not, he is at liberty to trump.[8]

Hints for Play.

In the earlier stage of the game, tricks are of no value save in so far as they contain brisques, or enable the winner to "declare," the scoring of the different combinations being the main object of the game. The player will probably at the outset find that he has in hand some of the component parts of two or more combinations; but as he must furnish a card to each trick, he will be forced to abandon the one or the other. In choosing between them, two points should be considered; viz. first, the value of the combination, and, secondly, the prospect of making it. As to the last point, he may derive important information from the cards declared by his opponent. Suppose, for instance, that he holds a queen of spades and two knaves of diamonds. These he would naturally retain at any cost, in the hope of making Double Bézique; but should his adversary declare a marriage in spades, showing that he holds the remaining queen of that suit, all hope of Double Bézique is clearly at an end. In the case supposed, it would be the policy of the opponent, knowing or suspecting that Double Bézique was aimed at, to keep the queen of spades in his hand as long as he possibly could, even at some considerable sacrifice.

When a brisque is led, the second player should win the trick if he can do so without too great a cost, for, though a brisque only scores ten to the winner, the capture of the trick means a loss of ten to the opposite party, and practically, therefore, makes a difference of twenty to the score.

Unless a brisque be led, or you have something to declare, pass the trick or win it with a brisque. The best cards to throw away are the sevens, eights, nines, and knaves of plain suits (other than the knave of diamonds, which should be retained on the chance of making Bézique).

It is generally better to risk losing an ace than a queen or king, the two latter having the greater chance of scoring.

If you chance to hold three aces at an early stage of the game, with no prospect of a more valuable combination, retain them, in the hope of drawing a fourth. In any other case, make tricks with aces in plain suits whenever you can.

"Sequence" cards should be kept in reserve as long as possible. A duplicate of a sequence card, though valueless for scoring purposes, should still be held up, as the uncertainty respecting it may hamper your opponent.

Even more important than sequence cards are the bézique cards. After scoring Bézique, the declared cards should still be retained until it becomes clear that Double Bézique is unattainable.

At a late period of the game, when the opportunities for declaration are growing limited, it is often wise to declare (say) Double Bézique without previously declaring single Bézique, or Sequence without previously declaring a Royal Marriage. If you declare the smaller score, and do not again win a trick, you lose the larger score altogether.

When the stock is nearly exhausted, take a trick whenever you can, as you thereby deprive the adversary of the opportunity of scoring his remaining cards. Note at this stage the exposed cards of the adversary, as you will thereby play the last eight tricks to greater advantage.

In the play of the last eight tricks, your main object is to make your brisques, and capture those of the enemy. Reserve, if possible, a good trump wherewith to secure the last trick.


"Rubicon" or "Japanese" Bézique is a modification of the ordinary game, which has for some years found much favour in Paris. In 1887, a code of laws, which we append, was drawn up by a committee of the Portland Club, and Rubicon Bézique may now be regarded as the standard game.

Four packs, of like pattern and shuffled together, are used. The cards rank as at ordinary Bézique; but nine instead of eight cards are dealt, singly or by threes, to each player. There is no "turn-up," the first "marriage" scored determining the trump suit. If a "sequence" be declared and scored before any marriage, such sequence determines the trump suit.

The scores at Rubicon Bézique are as under:—

Carte Blanche (a hand without a single court card)[9] 50
Marriage in plain suits 20
Marriage in trumps[10] 40
Sequence in plain suits 150
Sequence in trumps 250
Single Bézique 40
Double Bézique 500
Treble Bézique 1500
Quadruple Bézique 4500
Four Knaves (irrespective of suit) 40
Four Queens " 60
Four Kings " 80
Four Aces " 100

The procedure as to playing and drawing is the same as at ordinary Bézique, save that the tricks are left face upwards in a heap between the players until a brisque is played, when the winner of the trick takes them up, and turns them face downwards, near himself. The value of each brisque is ten points, but they are not scored till the close of the game, and in certain events (see post) may not be scored at all.

Only one declaration can be scored at a time, and that only (save in the case of carte blanche) by the winner of a trick; but if, on the cards exposed, the player has more than one combination to score, he may score whichever he prefers, at the same time calling attention to his further claim by saying, "And —— to score." A player is not bound to declare any combination, even when exposed upon the table, unless he thinks fit. If he is compelled to play a card of the combination before he has actually scored it, the right to score is at an end.

A card declared in a given combination may not again be declared in an inferior combination of the same class—e.g. a king and queen declared in Sequence cannot be afterwards made available to score a Royal Marriage. The same card may, however, be used in conjunction with a new card or cards to form, not merely a combination of the same kind, but the same combination over again.[11] Thus, if Four Queens have been declared, the player may play one of them, and, when he next wins a trick, add a fifth queen to the three left on the table, and again score four queens.

If a combination, duly scored, is broken up, one or more cards must be substituted, either from the cards upon the table or from the hand of the player, to entitle him to a fresh score. There is an apparent exception to this rule in the fact that, if a player has declared two independent marriages in the same suit, and all four cards are on the table simultaneously, he may make two more declarations of marriage with the same cards. In truth, however, this merely follows the rule. King 1 (already "married" to queen 1) may again be married to queen 2; and king 2 (already married to queen 2) to queen 1 in like manner.

A player who has two or more declarations to score may elect which he will score first, the other remaining in abeyance; e.g. a player having declared Four Kings, including the king of spades, and subsequently declaring Bézique (the king of spades still remaining on the table) would ipso facto become entitled to score a Marriage, royal or ordinary, as the case might be. We will suppose the former. In such a case, he would say, "I score forty, and forty for marriage to score." This declaration should be repeated, by way of reminder, after each trick, till actually scored. If, in the meantime, the player becomes entitled to score some other combination, he may, on winning a trick, score the latter in preference to the one previously declared, still keeping this in reserve. The mere fact of having declared a given combination "to score" does not preserve the right to score it, if in the meantime the declarant either plays one of the cards composing it or makes use of them to score some higher declaration of the same class.

The last nine tricks are played like the last eight in the ordinary game; but the winner of the last trick, instead of 10, scores 50.

How the Score is dealt with.

The game is complete in one deal, and is won by the player who scores most points, according to the foregoing table, exclusive of brisques. These latter are only taken into account where the scores are otherwise equal. If, after the addition of the brisques, the scores are still equal, the game is drawn.

There is one other case in which the brisques are reckoned. The score of 1000 points is known as the "Rubicon," and a player not reaching this score is "rubiconed." In this case, also, each player adds in his brisques; and if the score of the loser is thereby brought up to 1000, he "saves the rubicon."

Assuming that the rubicon is saved, the score of the loser is deducted from that of the winner, fractions of a hundred being disregarded in both cases. To the difference are added 500 points for game, and the total is the value of the game, the stakes being usually so much per hundred points. If it happen that the difference between the two scores is less than 100, it is reckoned at that figure, making, with the 500 for game, 600. Thus, if the respective scores are, A, 1510; B, 1240; A wins 1500 - 1200 + 500 = 800. If A's score were 1550, and B's 1520, A would win 100 + 500 = 600.

If B is rubiconed, the value of the game is computed after a different method. The points made by him (still disregarding fractions of a hundred) instead of being subtracted from, are added to the score of the winner, who is further entitled to 1000 for the game and 300 for brisques.[12] Thus, if A has won 1320, and B 620, the value of A's game will be 1300 + 600 + 1000 + 300 = 3200.

If the rubiconed player has scored less than 100, that amount (100) is added to the score of the other player, as well as the 1000 for game and 300 for brisques, as before mentioned.



1.—Rubicon Bézique is played with four packs of thirty-two cards, shuffled together.

2.—Each player has a right to shuffle the pack. The dealer has the right of shuffling last.

3.—The pack must not be shuffled below the table, nor in such manner as to expose the faces of the cards.


4.—A cut must consist of at least five cards, and at least five must be left in the lower packet.

5.—The cards rank as follows, both in cutting and in playing: ace (highest), ten, king, queen, knave, nine, eight, seven (lowest).

6.—The player who cuts the higher card has choice of deal, seats and markers. The choice determines both seats and markers during the play.

7.—If, in cutting for deal, a player expose more than one card, he must cut again.

8.—The cut for deal holds good even if the pack be incorrect.

9.—If, in cutting to the dealer, or in reuniting the separated packets, a card be exposed, or if there be any confusion of the cards, there must be a fresh cut.


10.—The dealer must deal the cards by one at a time, giving the top card to his adversary, the next card to himself, and so on; or by three at a time, giving the top three cards to his adversary, the next three to himself, and so on; until each player has nine cards. The undealt cards (called the "stock") are to be placed face downward, in one packet, in the middle of the table, to the left of the dealer.

11.—If the dealer deal the cards wrongly, he may rectify the error, with the permission of his adversary, prior to either player having taken up any of his cards.

12.—If, after the deal, and before the dealer has played to the first trick, it be discovered that either player has more than nine cards there must be a fresh deal. If it be similarly discovered that either player has less than nine cards, the deal may be completed from the top of the stock by mutual agreement, otherwise there must be a fresh deal.

13.—If the dealer expose a card belonging to his adversary or to the stock, the non-dealer has the option of a fresh deal. If the dealer expose any of his own cards, the deal stands good.

14.—If a faced card be found in the pack before the play of the hand has begun, there must be a fresh deal.

Carte Blanche.

15.—If a player have a hand dealt him without king, queen or knave, he may declare carte blanche before playing a card. Carte blanche must be shown by counting the cards, one by one, face upward, on the table.

16.—If, after playing a card, a player who has declared carte blanche draw a card other than king, queen or knave, he is entitled to declare another carte blanche on showing the card drawn to his adversary; and so on after every card drawn, until he draws a king, queen or knave.


17.—If a player play with more than nine cards he is rubiconed; but the amount to be added to his adversary's score is not to exceed nine hundred, exclusive of the thirteen hundred for a rubicon game.

18.—If both players play with more than nine cards, the game is null and void.

19.—If a player play with less than nine cards, the error cannot be rectified. He is liable to no penalty; his adversary wins the last trick.

20.—If both players play with less than nine cards, the deal stands good, and the winner of the last trick scores it.

21.—If one player play with more than nine cards, and the other with less than nine, the deal stands good. The player with more than nine cards is rubiconed (as provided in Law 17), and neither player scores the last trick.

22.—If a faced card be found in the stock after the play of the hand has begun, it must be turned face downward, without altering its place in the stock.

23.—A card led in turn may not be taken up after it has been played to. A card played to a trick may not be taken up after the trick has been turned, or after another card has been drawn from the stock; but if two or more cards be played together, all but one may be taken up; and cards accidentally dropped may be taken up.

24.—A card led out of turn must be taken up, unless it has been played to. After it has been played to, it is too late to rectify the error.

25.—A player who wins a trick containing a brisque should at once take up all the played cards on the table, and turn them face downward near himself. If he fail to do so, his adversary is entitled, as soon as he has won a trick, to take up all the played cards on the table. Tricks turned may not be looked at (except as provided in Law 27).

26.—The stock may be counted, face downwards, at any time during the play. A player counting the stock should be careful not to disturb the order of the cards.

27.—A player may not count the brisques in his tricks so long as more than twelve cards remain in the stock.


28.—If the winner of a trick see two cards when drawing from the stock, he must show the top card to his adversary.

29.—If the loser of a trick draw the top card of the stock and see it, he must restore the card drawn in error, and must show the next card to his adversary; but, if the loser of a trick draw the top card, and the winner draw the next card and see it, it is too late to rectify the error, and the players retain the cards erroneously drawn.

30.—If the loser of a trick, after the winner has drawn, see two cards when drawing from the stock, his adversary has choice of the two cards of the following draw, and is entitled to look at both before choosing. If he choose the second card, he need not show it.

31.—If a player see several cards when drawing from the stock, his adversary has choice of the two cards of the following draw, and then of the cards of the next draw; and so on, as long as any card which has been seen remains undrawn; and he is entitled to look at the cards before choosing.

32.—If there be an odd number of cards in the stock, the last card is not drawn.


33.—Declared cards must be placed face upward on the table separate from the tricks, and (except in the case of carte blanche) must remain there until played, or until the stock is exhausted.

34.—If a declared card be played, and a card which restores any scoring combination or combinations be substituted, these combinations may be declared again.

35.—If a player declare more than one marriage in the same suit, he may declare a fresh marriage whenever he plays one of the declared cards, so long as a king and queen remain on the table.

36.—A player who has declared marriage may afterwards add the ace, ten, and knave of the same suit as the marriage, and declare sequence; or he may declare sequence without first declaring the marriage.

37.—A king or queen, once declared in sequence, cannot be afterwards used to form part of a marriage; but a player, having declared sequence, may declare marriage with a fresh king and queen of the same suit.

38.—Bézique combinations may be declared separately, and may be afterwards united to form a superior combination; or single, double, or triple bézique may be added to any already declared combination, to form a superior one; or, double, triple, or quadruple bézique may be at once declared, without having been previously declared separately. Bézique cards once declared in a superior bézique combination cannot be afterwards used to form part of an inferior one; but they may be used to form part of equal or superior combinations with a substituted card, or with added cards, or with both.

39.—A player who has cards on the table with which he might form a scoring combination, is not bound to declare it.


40.—A player declaring—

Carte Blanche scores 50
Marriage in trumps " 40
Marriage in plain suits " 20
Sequence in trumps " 250
Sequence in plain suits  " 150
Bézique " 40
Double Bézique " 500
Triple Bézique " 1500
Quadruple Bézique " 4500
Four Aces " 100

Four Kings

" 80
Four Queens " 60
Four Knaves " 40

41.—The first marriage scored makes the trump suit. If no marriage his been scored, the first sequence scored makes the trump suit.

42.—A player can only score a declaration on winning a trick and before drawing, except in the case of carte blanche, which is scored before playing, and independently of winning a trick.

43.—Only one declaration can be scored at a time; but if a player declare a carte blanche which contains four aces, he may also score four aces if he win the trick, notwithstanding that he has already scored carte blanche.

44.—If the winner of a trick have two or more declarations to score, he may choose which he will first score. On winning another trick, he may similarly choose which of the remaining declarations he will score, or he may make and score a fresh declaration, and leave any unscored declarations still to score on winning another trick.

45.—A player who has a declaration to score should repeat after every trick what he has to score. He may score it at any time on winning a trick, and before drawing.

46.—If a player who has a declaration to score play a card of the combination before scoring it, he loses the score.

47.—If a player have a marriage to score, and, on winning a trick, add to the marriage the ace, ten, and knave of the suit, and score sequence, he loses the score for the marriage.

48.—If a player have an inferior bézique combination to score, and, on winning a trick, add to the bézique combination cards which form a superior bézique combination, and score the superior combination, he loses the score for the inferior one.

49.—A player who has a declaration to score is not bound to score it.

50.—If a player erroneously score a declaration which does not constitute a scoring combination, and the error be not discovered before a card of the next trick has been played, the score marked stands good; and so on for all subsequent scores similarly marked before the discovery of the error.

51.—If an error in marking the score be proved, it may be corrected at any time during the game.

52.—No declaration can be scored after the stock is exhausted.

The Last Nine Tricks.

53.—The winner of the last trick adds fifty to the score.

54.—The winner of the last trick is bound to score it (except as provided in Law 21).

55.—If, during the play of the last nine tricks, a player fail to follow suit when able, or fail to win the card led when able—on detection of the error, the card erroneously played, and all cards subsequently played, must be taken up and replayed.

Computing the Game.

56.—The brisques (aces and tens) score ten each to the player having them in his tricks; but the brisques are only taken into account as provided in Laws 60 and 61.

57.—The winner of the game deducts the score of the loser from his own (excluding fractions of a hundred), and the difference, with five hundred added for the game, is the number of points won. If the difference between the scores be less than a hundred, the winner adds a hundred to the score of five hundred for the game.

58.—If the loser fail to score a thousand, he is rubiconed. The winner, whether his score reach a thousand or not, adds the score of the loser to his own (excluding fractions of a hundred) and the sum, with thirteen hundred added for the game, is the number of points won.

59.—If a player who is rubiconed has scored less than a hundred, the winner adds a hundred to his score, in addition to the score of thirteen hundred for the game.

60.—If the loser of a game fail to score a thousand, but have in his tricks a sufficient number of brisques to bring his total score to a thousand, he is not rubiconed. Each player adds his brisques to his score, and the game is computed as provided in Law 57.

61.—If the scores be so nearly equal that the brisques must be taken into account in order to decide who wins the game, and the loser be not rubiconed, each player adds his brisques to the score, and the game is then computed as provided in Law 57; but if the loser be rubiconed, the brisques, though taken into account in order to decide who wins the game, are not added to the scores, and the game is computed as provided in Law 58. In the case of a tie after adding the brisques, the game is null and void.

Incorrect Packs.

62.—If a pack be discovered to be incorrect, redundant, or imperfect, the deal in which the discovery is made is void. All preceding deals stand good.

63.—If a card or cards which complete the pack be found on the floor, the deal stands good.

Changing Cards.

64.—Before the pack is cut to the dealer, a player may call for fresh cards at his own expense. He must call for four fresh packs.

65.—Torn or marked cards must be replaced, or fresh packs called for at the expense of the two players.


66.—If a bystander call attention to any error or oversight, and thereby affect the score, he may be called on to pay all stakes and bets of the player whose interest he has prejudicially affected.

7 ^  Some players do not score brisques till the close of the hand. The better rule, however, it to score them when the trick is won.
8 ^  In some circles, when the Whist tricks are reached, the ten reverts to its Whist rank, i.e. below the knave, but the practice is not recommended.
9 ^  Carte blanche is scored at the outset of the game, and before the player has drawn a card. He must prove his title by exhibiting his nine cards, one after another (as rapidly as he pleases), face upwards on the table. Should the first card he draws not be an honour, he may show the card, and again score carte blanche, and so on, as often as this may happen; but carte blanche cannot be scored after the player has once held a court card.
10 ^  The first marriage scored is necessarily in trumps.
11 ^  It will be observed that this rule is directly contrary to that prevailing at ordinary Bézique.
12 ^  Roughly, the value of all the brisques in the four packs. There are actually 32, which at ten each would be 320; but as the odd 20 are not reckoned, this reduces the value to 300.