Hoyle's Games Modernized/Pope Joan

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Pope Joan Board.

Pope Joan Board.

This was formerly a very favourite round game, but of late years is rarely met with. It is played with a pack of fifty-two cards, from which the eight of diamonds (for a reason which will presently appear) has been removed, and with a special board, consisting of a circular tray revolving round a centre pillar, and divided into eight compartments, as shown in the illustration, respectively marked Pope (the nine of diamonds), Matrimony, Intrigue, Ace, King, Queen, Knave and Game. "Matrimony" signifies the combination in the same hand of king and queen of the trump suit; "Intrigue" that of knave and queen. Each player is provided with three or four dozen counters bearing an agreed value. There is a preliminary deal round with faced cards, and the player to whom the first knave falls becomes first dealer, and has the privilege of "dressing" the board, i.e. of paying from his own store, and distributing between the various divisions fifteen counters, as under: Six to Pope, two to Matrimony, two to Intrigue, and one each to Ace, King, Queen, Knave and Game.[40]

The cards, having been shuffled and cut, are dealt round one by one, but with an extra hand, this last towards the centre of the table, facing the dealer. The last card of the pack is turned up to decide the trump suit. Should the turn-up be Pope (nine of diamonds), or an ace, king, queen or knave, the dealer is entitled to all the counters in the corresponding compartment of the board.

The player to the left of the dealer leads any card he pleases, at the same time naming it. We will suppose that such card is the three of diamonds. The player who chances to hold the four thereupon plays and names it; then the persons holding the five, six and seven play them in like manner. In any other suit it would be possible to continue with the eight, but the eight of diamonds, as we have stated, is removed from the pack. This makes the seven what is called a "stop," i.e. the run of that particular lead can be continued no further, and the player of the seven is entitled to lead again. But besides the permanent removal of the eight of diamonds, it will be remembered that a certain number of cards were dealt as an extra hand. We will suppose that such cards were the two, five and nine of spades, the six and ten of hearts, the knave of diamonds, and the king of clubs. These being withdrawn from circulation make the cards immediately preceding them (viz., the ace, four and eight of spades, the five and nine of hearts, the ten of diamonds, and the queen of clubs) "stops" also.[41] As play proceeds other cards also will become "stops," by reason of the cards next following them having been already played. Thus, in the case supposed, of the three of diamonds being led, the two of diamonds thenceforth becomes a stop, and the holder should note the fact for his subsequent guidance. All kings are necessarily stops, as being the highest cards of their respective suits.

Whenever, in course of play, the ace, king, queen or knave of the trump suit appears, the holder is entitled to the counters in the corresponding compartment of the board. Should knave and queen, or queen and king of trumps fall from the same hand, the holder is entitled to the proceeds of Intrigue or Matrimony, as the case may be. Any one playing "Pope" is entitled to all the counters in the corresponding division. Unless actually played, the above cards have no value, save that the holding of Pope (unplayed) exempts the possessor from paying for any surplus cards as hereinafter mentioned.

The game proceeds as above described until some one of the players is "out," i.e. has got rid of all his cards. By so doing he becomes entitled to all the counters in the "Game" compartment of the board, and to receive in addition from each of the other players one counter for each card such player may have left in hand, save that the holder of Pope is exempt from payment. If Pope is played, the exemption ceases.

The skill of the player will be shown in his keenness to note, on the one hand, which of the cards are or become "stops," and on the other, what cards cannot be led to, and which, therefore, it is expedient to get rid of as soon as possible. At the outset, the only known cards which cannot be led to are the four aces, Pope (the removal of the eight of diamonds being purposely designed to place the nine in that position), and the card next higher than the turn-up (the next lower being a "stop"). But the list increases as the game goes on. If the nine of hearts is declared to be a stop by reason of the ten being in the surplus hand, it is clear that the knave cannot be led to, and must itself be led in order to get rid of it.

Sequences are valuable, inasmuch as they enable the player to get rid of two, three or more cards simultaneously. Nearly, but not quite, as useful are alternate sequences, as seven, nine, knave. The lowest should, of course, be led. Whether the card proves to be a "stop" or not, the leader can still continue the sequence, subject to the contingency of some other player going "out" with one of the intermediate cards. A sequence or alternate sequence terminating with king forms a very strong lead. Next to these, and to known stops, the lower of two pretty close cards of the same suit (as three and six, three and seven, or four and eight) should be led; especially if the higher is known or believed to be a "stop." After these the lowest card of the longest suit, especially if an ace.

"Pope," as we have seen, can only be played when the holder has the lead; and it is usually well, therefore, to play it at the first opportunity, first, however, playing out any known stops.

The unclaimed counters in each compartment are left to accumulate. In the case of Matrimony and Intrigue, a whole evening may occasionally pass without the necessary combinations of cards being played from the same hand, and these compartments therefore frequently become very rich. The counters in "Pope," or one or more of the Ace, King, Queen and Knave compartments may in like manner be unclaimed during several rounds. The best method of disposing of any such unclaimed counters at the close of the game is to deal a final round face upwards (without the surplus hand); the holders of Pope, and of the ace, king, queen and knave of the diamond suit (which in this case is regarded as the trump suit) being entitled to the counters in the corresponding compartments. The holder of the queen takes, in addition, half the amount in Matrimony and in Intrigue, the remaining halves going to the holders of the king and knave respectively.

40 ^  Strictly speaking, each dealer in rotation should himself dress the board, but it will be found more convenient to depute some one player to do so throughout the game.
41 ^  By some players the dealer is allowed the privilege of looking at the extra cards (sometimes, but incorrectly, themselves spoken of as "the stops"), and to act as a kind of referee as to whether a given card is a stop or otherwise, but the practice is not recommended.