1902 Encyclopedia > Ecarté


ECARTE (French, écarté, separated, discarded), a game at cards, of modern origin, probably first played in the Paris salo?is, in the first quarter of the 19th century. It is a development of a very old card game called la triomphe, or French-ruff (Académie des Jeux, various editions ; Cotton and Seymour, Compleat Gamester, various editions ; and Paul Boiteau D'Ambly, Les Cartes à jouer, Paris, Hachette, 1854).

Écarté is generally played by two persons, but a pool of three may be formed, the player who is out taking the place of the loser, and the winner of two consecutive games winning the pool. At French écarté (but not at English) bystanders who are betting may advise the players, by pointing to the cards they desire them to play, and the loser of the game goes out and one of the rentrants takes his place, unless the loser is playing la chouette (i.e., taking all the bets that are offered), when he does not have to resign his seat if he loses.
A. pack of cards is used from which the small cards (from the two to the six both inclusive) are removed. The players cut for deal, the highest having the choice. The dealer gives five cards to his adversary and five to himself, by two at a time to each and by three at a time to each, or vice versa. The eleventh card is turned up for trumps. If it is a king, the dealer scores one.

The non-dealer then looks at his cards If satisfied with them he plays, and there is no discarding ; if not satisfied he proposes. The dealer may either accept or refuse. If he accepts each player discards face downwards as many cards as he thinks fit, and fresh ones are given from the undealt cards or stock, first to complete the non-dealer's hand to five, then to complete the dealer's. Similarly, a second proposal may be made, and so on, until one player is satisfied with his hand. If the dealer refuses the hand is played without discarding.

If the non-dealer announces that he holds the king of trumps, he scores one ; and similarly, if the dealer holds the king and announces it, he scores one.

The non-dealer, being satisfied with his hand, leads a card. The dealer plays a card to it, the two cards thus played forming a trick. The winner of the trick leads to the next, and so on. The highest card of the suit led wins, the cards ranking king (highest), queen, knave, ace, ten, nine, eight, seven. Trumps win other suits. The second to play to a trick must follow suit if able, and must win the trick if he can, whether by trumping or otherwise.

The scores are for the king (as already explained), and for the majority of tricks. The player who wins three tricks scores one for the point; if he wins all five tricks, he scores two for the vole. If the non-dealer plays without proposing, or the dealer refuses the first proposal, and fails to win three tricks, the adversary scores two, but no more even if he wins the vole. The game is five up.

HINTS TO PLAYERS.—The following hints, which merely touch on the elements of the play, may be of service to beginners :—

Shuffle thoroughly after every deal to prevent the cards packing in suits, otherwise the trump card is not unlikely to he of the same suit as those preceding it, which are in the dealer's hand. It is an act of courtesy to the adversary to shuffle your own pack well, to save him the trouble of making your cards.

Do not look at your hand when dealer, until after the non-dealer has decided whether he will propose or not. The countenance or manner, often betrays the nature of the hand.

Do not announce the king until in the act of playing your first card.

Propose quickly, as hesitation exposes the nature cf the hand. In order to be quick, the hands which should be played without proposing, called jeux de règle, ought to be thoroughly known. They are as follows :—

1. All hands with three trumps, whatever the other cards.
2. Hands with two trumps which contain also—
a. Any three cards of one plain suit;
b. Two cards of one plain suit, one being as high as a queen ;
c. Two small cards of one suit, the fifth card being a king of another suit;
d. Hands intermediate between b and c, i.e., with higher cards in one plain suit, and lower in another, e.g., two trumps, knave, ace of one suit, and nine or eight of another ; or ace, ten of one suit, and ten of another ; or ten, nine of one suit, and knave of another ;
e. Three cards of different suits, as high as king, knave, and a small card, or cards of equal value in different suits, as king, ace, nine ; or king, and two tens ; or two queens ; or queen, knave, ace ; or three knaves.
3. Hands with one trump, which contain also—
a. King, queen, knave of one suit, and a small card of another ;
b. Four cards of one suit headed by king ;
c. Three cards of one suit headed by queen, and queen of another suit.
4. Hands with no trump, which contain three queens or cards of equal value in different suits, e.g., four court cards.
5. Hands from which only two cards can be discarded without throwing a king or a trump.

Holding cards which make the point certain, propose, as you have the chance of a refusal, and one good card taken in may give you the vole. If you hold a jeu de regie, and one of the trumps is the king, it is generally right to propose, as your adversary, if he accepts, cannot then take the king. But, except in the case of the king, the value of the trumps does not affect the proposal hands, as the game is not to lead trumps originally (without the king), unless you have three, but to keep them for trumping, and for this purpose high trumps are no better than low ones.

"When discarding, throw out all cards except trumps and kings.

If your adversary proposes you should accept, unless you are guarded in three suits (a queen being a sufficient guard), or in two suits with a trump, or in one suit with two trumps. Hence the rule not to discard two cards, unless holding the king of trumps, applies to the dealer.

The hands with which to refuse are the same as those with which to play without proposing, except as follows :—

1. Two trumps and three cards of one plain suit should not be played unless the plain suit is headed by a court card.
2. One trump and a tierce major is too weak, unless the fifth card is a court card. With similar hands weaker in the tierce major suit, accept unless the fifth card is a queen.
3. One trump aud four cards of a plain suit is too weak to play.
4. One trump and two queens is too weak, unless both queens are singly guarded.
5. One trump, queen of one suit, and knave guarded of another should not be played unless the queen is also guarded, or the card of the fourth suit is a court card.
6. One trump, a king and a queen, both unguarded, should not be played, unless the fourth suit contains a card as high as an ace.
7. Four court cards without a trump are too weak to play, unless they are of three different suits.

Refuse with three queens, if two are singly guarded ; otherwise, accept.

Lead from your guarded suit, and lead the highest. An ex-ception to this rule is with two small trumps, a guarded queen, and a small card of another suit, when the single card should be led.

When playing a weak hand after a refusal, with no hope of the point and fear of losing the vole, lead the strongest single card, unless you have a king.

If the strong suit led is not tramped, persevere with it, unless with king of trumps, or queen (king not having been announced), or knave, ace, when lead a trump before continuing your suit. Also, when playing for the vole with a weak trump and high cards, change the suit each time to avoid a ruff. Having made three tricks, then lead the trump.

You should not lead trumps at starting, even if your best suit, unless you hold king, or queen, knave, or knave, ace, with court cards out of trumps. Holding three tramps, the two best being in sequence, lead a trump.

If cards are refused, it is better to lead from two small cards in sequence, than from a high tenace.

If you have won two tricks, your opponent one, and you hold a trump and a plain card, lead the plain card ; but if your adversary has won two tricks and you win the third, lead the trump.
If you make two tricks and have the queen and two small trumps (the king having been announced against you), by leading a small tramp you must win the point.

The score has to be considered. If the dealer is at four, and the king is not in your hand nor turned up, play any cards without proposing which give an even chance of three tricks, e.g., a queen, a guarded knave, and a guarded ten. The same rule applies to the dealer's refusal, but he ought to be protected in three suits, e.g., three knaves, or a knave and two guarded tens. At the adverse score of four, and king not being in hand or turned up, any hand with one trump should be played, unless the plain cards are very small and of different suits. Further, the rule to ask for cards with the point certain does not hold at the adverse score of four, unless king is in hand or turned up.

If the non-dealer plays without proposing when he is four to three, and the dealer holds the king he ought not to mark it. The same rule applies to the non-dealer after a refusal, if the dealer is four to three.

At the score of non-dealer three, dealer four, the dealer should refuse on moderate cards, as the player proposing at this score must have a very bad hand.

At four a forward game should not be played in trumps, as there is no advantage in winning the vole.

LAWS OF ÉCARTE.—The following laws are abridged from the revised code adopted by the Turf Club :—

Cutting.—1. A cut must consist of at least two cards. Card exposed in cutting, fresh cut. Dealing.—2. Order of distribution of cards, whether by three and two, or vice versa, once selected, dealer must not change it during game. If changed, or wrong number of cards dealt, non-dealer, before he looks at his hand, may claim fresh deal. 3. Dealer turning up more than one card, non-dealer, before looking at his hand, may select either for trump, or may claim fresh deal. If he has looked at his hand there must be a fresh deal. 4. Faced card discovered in pack before trump card is turned, fresh deal. 5. Dealer exposing own cards in dealing, no penalty ; exposing non-dealer's cards, non-dealer, before looking at his hand, has option of fresh deal. 6. Deal out of turn, discovered before trump turned up, void ; after, too late to rectify. 7. Misdeal discovered after trump card turned, and before proposing or playing, non-dealer has option of fresh deal. If deal stands, dealer cannot mark king turned up, and non-dealer having superfluous cards discards them; dealer having superfluous cards, non-dealer draws and looks at them ; either having too few cards, hand is completed from stock. 8. Either player playing with wrong number of cards, adversary has option of fresh deal. Marking king.—9. King turned up may be marked any time before trump card of next deal is turned; king in hand must be announced before playing first card, or if king is card first led by non-dealer before being played to, or cannot be marked ; if king is card first played by dealer, it must be announced before he plays again. 10. Player announcing king when he has not got it, and playing a card without declaring error, adversary may correct score and have hand played over again. If offender wins point or vole that hand, he scores one less than he wins. Proposing.— 11. Proposal, acceptance, or refusal made cannot be retracted. Discarding.—12. Cards discarded must not be looked at. 13. Either player taking too many cards, and mixing any with his hand, adversary may claim fresh deal. If deal stands, adversary draws superfluous cards, and may look at them if offender has seen any of the cards given. Non-dealer asking for less cards than he discards, dealer counts as tricks all cards that cannot be played to. Same rule for dealer, but if he discovers error before playing a card, he may complete hand from stock. 14. Dealer giving more or less cards than Jwked for, non-dealer may claim fresh deal. If deal stands, non-dealer with too many cards discards superfluous ones'; with too few, has hand completed from stock. 15. Faced card in stock after discarding, players may look at it; it is put aside and next card given. 16. Cards exposed in giving cards to non-dealer, be has option of taking them or of having next cards ; dealer ex-posing his own cards, no penalty. 17. Dealer turning up top card after giving cards, cannot refuse second discard. 18. Dealer accept-ing when too few cards in stock to supply both, non-dealer may take cards, and dealer must play his hand. Playing.—19. Card led in turn cannot be taken up again. Card played to a lead can only be taken up prior to another lead, to save revoke or to correct error of not winning trick. Card led out of turn may be taken up prior to its being played to. 20. Player naming one suit and. leading another, adversary has option of requiring suit named to be led. If offender has none, no penalty. 21. Player abandon-ing hand, adversary is deemed to win remaining tricks, and scores accordingly. Revoking, and not winning trick.—22. For either of these offences same penalty as in law 10. Incorrect packs.—23. Deal in which discovery made, void ; preceding deals good. By-standers.—24. If players declare to play English écarté, bystanders, betting or not, not allowed to make remarks or give advice, nor to play out game of player resigning. If bystander makes remark which affects score, player prejudiced may call on him to pay his stakes and bets. 25. At French écarté, those betting may correct score, give advice (by pointing only), or play game of player who resigns.

See Académie des Jeux (various editions after the first quarter of the 19th century); Hoyle's Games (various editions about same dates); Ch. Van-Tenac et Louis Delanoue, Traité du Jeu de l'Écarté, Paris, 1845 (translated in Bonn's Handbook of Games. London, 1850); "Cavendish," The Laws of Écarté, adopted by the Turf Club, with a Treatise on the Game. London, 1878. (H. J.)

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