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Cards And Dominoes

On This Page:- Trick-taking games: Marjolette
Trick-avoidance games: Polignac, Slobberhannes, Short Hearts, 11 Point Black Tile


Marjolette

Here's a fun two-hander that's simple but subtle. You'll enjoy its unique tension between trick-taking and melding. Invented by Howard Fosdick.

Players & Equipment: Two players use a 32-card deck. (You can make a 32-card deck by removing all cards below the 7 from a standard 52-card deck.) Cards rank A-10-K-Q-J-9-8-7. Note the 10 ranks second highest behind the Ace.

Objective:
Score the most points in a single hand (or deal); win Game by being first to total 250 points across hands.

Deal: Deal 6 cards each. Turn one card face-up to dictate the trump suit. Place remaining cards in a face-down pile to compose the draw stock.

Play: The non-dealer leads a card to the first trick. His opponent can play any card (he is not required to follow suit). If any trump(s) are played, the trick is won by the highest trump. Otherwise the trick is won by the highest card of the suit led.

The winner of the trick may optionally declare one meld. Then he draws the top card of the stock into his hand, and his opponent takes the next card. The trick winner then leads any card to the next trick. In this manner, the two opponents play cards to tricks, declare melds, and draw through the entire deck.

Melds: Here are the valid melds and the points they score for their declarer:


------Meld-----

Points-

-----Called-----

Four Aces

100

 

Four Kings

80

 

Four Queens

60

 

Four Jacks

40

 

K and Q of trumps

40

Trump Marriage

K and Q of same non-trump suit

20

Marriage

Trump Jack and Trump Queen

40

Trump Marjolette

Trump Jack and non-trump Queen

20

Marjolette




















Melds are placed face-up on the table in front of the player who declares them. These face-up cards are then used by that player just like the cards in his hand (played to tricks when desired).

A melded card can be used in subsequent melds of a different kind. For example, a Queen might be melded with a King of the same suit in a Marriage, then melded again after winning a second trick, as part of a Trump-Jack-plus-Queen combination. It could even be melded a third time as Four Queens after winning a third trick.

Another example: the Jack of trumps (known as the Marjolette) can be melded to one Queen after another in succession. Each match is declared after winning a separate trick.

There is one restriction imposed upon melds: Kings and Queens may each only participate in a single Marriage.

The Seven of Trump (the Dix): The seven of trump, or the dix, is special. If the dealer turns it up to indicate the trump, he scores 10 points. If a player has the dix in his hand, after winning a trick, he may exchange it for the turn-up trump (instead of melding that turn). The player scores 10 points for the exchange.

The Close: Eventually one player draws the last face-down card from the stock, and his opponent takes the turn-up trump. The deck from which to draw is now exhausted or closed. Both players now take any of their melded cards on the table up into their hands.

Now the rules of trick-play change. For these last six tricks, players must follow the suit led, if possible, and win the trick if possible. If a player can not follow suit, he must trump if he can. Otherwise he may play any card.

Players may still declare any melds they are able after the close. The winner of the last trick scores 10 points.

Scoring From Tricks: After the hand ends, both players count the Aces and 10’s they won in tricks. They score 10 points for each.

Strategy:  Win tricks for two purposes in this game:

     (1) To score by winning Aces and 10’s in tricks (called brisques)
    
(2) To declare melds

Part of the challenge in this game is balancing between the cards you play to win Aces and 10's in tricks, versus those you keep in hand in hopes of making melds. Ideally you assemble meldable cards in hand while keeping a “trick winner” around to ensure you can declare them. Often there's a trade-off between winning brisques versus casting them off to develop melds. It's not unusual to see one player score more in melds for a hand while his opponent scores more in trick points.

Be flexible in the melds you pursue. A good memory for what cards have been played is essential: don't chase unattainable melds.

Scoring Summary:

Meld or Trick Winnings:

Points:

 

Four Aces

100

 

Four Kings

80

 

Four Queens

60

 

Four Jacks

40

 

K and Q of trumps

40

Trump Marriage

K and Q of same non-trump suit

20

Marriage

Trump Jack and Trump Queen

40

Trump Marjolette

Trump Jack and non-trump Queen

20

Marjolette

Each Ace or 10 won in tricks

10

 

Win last trick

10

 

Dix

10

turn-up or exchange


 
























Origins: I developed this game from an obscure game played in southwestern France called Marjolet. Marjolet is related to the classic two-hander Bezique, except that it uses one deck instead of two. I applied many changes to Marjolet including:

(1) Players may declare only one meld after winning a trick instead of multiple melds
       – This increases the challenge, as players must better balance trick-winning and melding
       – It also matches the standard set by Bezique
(2) Cards may participate in multiple melds as long as all are of different kinds (except Marjolettes)
(3) Eliminate the 10 points scored for winning the 10th trick
     – This needless complexity forces players to count tricks during play
(4) Eliminate the 50 point bonus for taking the final 6 tricks – for simplicity
(5) Clear rules on how the dix works and simplified dix scoring
(6) Explicitly allow players to score for melds after the close
       – This increases tension for any player still holding a scoreable meld after the close
(7) Game is 250 points across hands instead of 500
       – This ensures a Game requires two to five hands, an ideal number for quick play

The only sources for Marjolet rules in English are this website’s here and in David Parlett's Oxford A – Z of Card Games.

*** Trick Avoidance Games ***

Trick avoidance presents a unique twist in gaming. The games are easy to learn and hands are quick: if you receive a bad deal, it's only minutes before the next. Here are four of the best -- Polignac, Slobberhannes, and Short Hearts, for playing cards, and 11 Point Black Tile -- known as “hearts with dominoes.”


Polignac

Players and Equipment:
 3 to 6 players, 3 or 4 work best. Use a 32-card French deck. (Create one simply by removing all cards below 7's from a standard 52-card deck.) If 3, 5, or 6 play, even the pack at 30 cards by removing the two black 7's. Cards rank A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7 in each suit. 

Objective: Avoid taking the four queens, especially the Queen of Spades, in tricks.

Play: Deal out all cards. The player to dealer's right leads the first trick. Others must follow the suit led if possible; otherwise, play any card. The highest card of the suit led wins the trick and the winner leads the next trick. (There is no "trump" suit.)

Passing: Though not part of the human version of this game, the chipmunks often play with passing. Before playing to the first trick, pass three cards face down to the player on one's right. The recipient cannot view those cards until he has set face down those he is passing to the player on his right. In the second hand, pass three cards to the player at left. If three play, hold cards and do not pass in the third deal. If four play, in the third deal pass cards to the player opposite, and in the fourth deal, hold all cards (no passing). Pass only two cards if 5 or 6 play.

Capot: After the deal, but before play to the first trick, any player may announce his intention to win all four queens.

Scoring: If no player bid capot, the Queen of Spades counts for 2 points and the three other Queens score 1 point each. Each player scores for the queens he wins. If a player bid capot and wins the four queens, he scores zero and his opponents each score 5. If the bidder loses his bid, he scores 5 and his opponents score according to the queens they took. Lowest score wins the hand (the deal).

Winning Across Hands: Lowest total score across a series of hands wins the game. Rotate the dealership (and lead player) clockwise every hand. Play a number of hands evenly divisible by the number of players. Thus for four players, before starting play you might agree that either four, eight, or twelve hands comprise a game.



Slobberhannes

How to Play: 
This game is similar to Polignac, described above. The difference is that the objective is to avoid taking the first trick, the last trick, and the Queen of Spades. Each scores one point for whomever takes it. If a player takes all three penalties, he scores 4 points (instead of 3). There is no bid of capot.


Short Hearts

Overview: 
This is a quick, easy version of Hearts, amongst the most popular of card games.

Players and Equipment: 3 or 4 players, 3 work best. Use a 32-card French deck. (Create one simply by removing all cards below 7's from a standard 52-card deck.) If three play, even the deal by adding a 7 of Clubs from a second deck, for a total of 33 cards. Cards rank A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7 in each suit. 

Objective: Avoid taking the any heart-suit cards, and the Queen of Spades, in tricks.

Play: Deal out all cards. The player to dealer's right leads the first trick. Others must follow the suit led if possible; otherwise, play any card. The highest card of the suit led wins the trick and the winner leads the next trick. (There is no "trump" suit.)

Passing: Before playing to the first trick, pass three cards face down to the player on one's right. The recipient cannot view those cards until he has set face down those he is passing to the player on his right. In the second hand, pass three cards to the player at left. If three play, hold cards and do not pass in the third deal. If four play, in the third deal pass cards to the player opposite, and in the fourth deal, hold all cards (no passing).

Scoring: Hearts score 1 point each for players who capture them in tricks. The Queen of Spades scores 4 points. The player with the least total points wins the hand.

Winning Across Hands: Lowest overall score wins the game across a series of hands (deals). Rotate the dealership and lead player clockwise every hand. Play a number of hands evenly divisible by the number of players. Thus for four players, before starting play you might agree that either four, eight, or twelve hands comprise a game.

Shooting the Moon: If a player wins all the hearts and the Queen of Spades, he scores 0 points, whilst his opponents each score 12 points. Unlike the bid of capot in Polignac, the contestant who attempts to "shoot the moon" does not mention this to his opponents. He tries to mask his change of "heart" for as long as possible. If a player attempts to shoot the moon and fails, scoring is as per usual.

Tips for Play: Try Eleven Point Black Tile for a fun change of pace... it's like playing Hearts with domino tiles.



Eleven Point Black Tile

Overview:
 Here's the dominoes version of the famous Hearts card game. While the rules are similar, the dual suit membership of the tiles changes strategies and places the contest in a whole new light. This domino game offers a challenging variant for Hearts enthusiasts.

Objective: Avoid taking the any 3-suit dominoes, and the 0-0, in tricks.

Players and Equipment: 3 or 4 players use a standard 6-6 set of dominoes.

Deal: From the shuffled, face-down set of dominoes, 3 players each draw 9 tiles (one tile is not used in the game). 4 players each draw 7 bones.

Suits: There are 8 suits, each of which consists of 7 tiles. The doublet is the highest tile in each suit. The Doublets themselves comprise a suit, with the 6-6 tile as its highest member:

---Suit---

<--high                    Members                      low-->

 Doubles

6-6       5-5        4-4       3-3        2-2       1-1      0-0

     6’s

6-6       6-5        6-4       6-3        6-2       6-1      6-0

     5’s

5-5       5-6        5-4       5-3        5-2       5-1      5-0

     4’s

4-4       4-6        4-5       4-3        4-2       4-1      4-0

     3’s

3-3       3-6        3-5       3-4        3-2       3-1      3-0

     2’s

2-2       2-6        2-5       2-4        2-3       2-1      2-0

     1’s

1-1       1-6        1-5       1-4        1-3       1-2      1-0

  Blanks

0-0       0-6        0-5       0-4        0-3       0-2      0-1


Each tile is thus a member of two suits. Singlets are members of the two suit numbers on their faces. Doublets are members of the suit number on their face and the Doubles suit. Blanks on tiles are considered zeroes in this game.


Passing: Before playing to the first trick, pass three dominoes face down to the player on one's right. The recipient cannot view those tiles until he has set face down the bones he is passing to the player on his right. In the second hand, pass three tiles to the player at left. If three play, hold dominoes and do not pass in the third deal. If four play, in the third deal pass tiles to the player opposite, and in the fourth deal, hold all dominoes (no passing).

Play: A randomly selected player leads any tile to the first trick. He announces which of the numbers on the tile represents its suit. Others must play a tile of this suit if possible, otherwise, they can play any tile.

If the lead is a doublet, the first player announces whether the suit is the number on the tile, or the Doubles suit. If it is the Doubles suit, others must follow suit by playing a doublet if they have one. Otherwise, they can play any tile.

The highest tile of the suit led wins the trick, and the trick-winner leads a tile to the next trick. The hand ends after all tiles have been played.

Scoring: Each of the seven tiles of the 3's suit score 1 point against the players who capture them in tricks. The 0-0 scores 4 points against the player who wins it. There are 11 points out in each deal, hence the name Eleven Point Black Tile. The player with the least total points wins the hand.

Winning Across Hands: Lowest total score across a series of hands wins the game. Rotate the dealership (and lead player) clockwise every hand. Play a number of hands evenly divisible by the number of players. Thus for four players, before starting play you might agree that either four, eight, or twelve hands comprise a game.

Shooting the Moon: If a player wins all the point tiles (all 3-suit bones and the 0-0), he scores 0 points, whilst his opponents each score 22 points. The contestant who attempts to shoot the moon tries to hide his actions and does not mention this to his opponents. If a player attempts to shoot the moon and fails, scoring is as per usual.


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