1902 Encyclopedia > Piquet


PIQUET, a game at cards. The name, of uncertain etymology, is probably from pique (the spade suit). The Germans had formerly a Schwerter game, the packs used being like piquet packs. The pique of French cards corre-sponds to the spade (sword) of Italian and to the espadas of Spanish cards. Hence piquet may be the sword game.

It seems likely that piquet is a development of ronfa, a game mentioned by Berni in 1526 ; la ronfle (included in Rabelais's list, circa 1530) may be regarded as the same game. The point at piquet was anciently called ronfle.

The Spanish name of the game was cientos (centum, a hundred). Piquet was played in England under the name of cent, or sant, probably as early as 1550 (contemporane-ously with the marriage of Mary to Philip of Spain). About the middle of the 17th century (shortly after the marriage of Charles I. to Maria Henrietta of France) the name cent was dropped in England, and the French equi-valent, piquet, adopted.

Piquet is played by two persons, with a pack of thirty-two cards, —the sixes, fives, fours, threes, and twos being thrown out from a complete pack. Until recently the partie was the best of five games of a hundred up (a player not obtaining fifty losing a double game). But now the partie is generally determined in six hands, the player making the largest aggregate score being the winner. The number of points won is the difference between the two scores, with a hundred added for the game. If, how-ever, the loser fails to make a hundred in six hands, the number of points won is the two scores added together, with a hundred for the game. Piquet played in this way is called Rubicon Piquet.

The dealer (see "Laws") deals twelve cards to his adversary and twelve, to himself, by two at a time or by three at a time to each alternately. He then places the undealt cards, called the stock, face downwards on the table.

The players now look at their hands and discard, i.e., put out, such cards as they deem advisable, and take in an equivalent number from the stock. The elder hand (non-dealer) may exchange five or any less number. He separates his discard from his hand, places it face downwards on the table, and takes from the top of the stock the number discarded. If he discards less than five, he must state how many he leaves. He is entitled to look at cards he leaves, replacing them face downwards on the top of the stock.

The younger hand may exchange three cards or any less number. If the elder hand leaves any cards, the younger may exchange as many as remain in the stock, discarding an equal number. He takes his cards from the top of the stock, including any left by the elder hand. If the younger hand leaves any cards, he announces the number left. He has the option of looking at cards he leaves. If he looks at them, he must show them to the elder hand, after the elder has named the suit he will first lead, or has led a card. If the younger hand elects not to look at the cards left the elder cannot see them. The younger hand must make his election before he plays to the card first led, or, if so required, after the dealer has named the suit he will first iead.

Each player may examine his own discard at any time during the hand ; but he must keep it separate from his other cards.

The elder hand next calls his point, sequences, and quatorzes or trios, and, if good, scores for them.

The point must be called first or the right to call a point is lost. It is scored by the player who announces the suit of greatest strength, valued thus : ace, 11 ; court cards, 10 each ; other cards, the number of pips on each. Thus, if the elder hand's best suit is ace, king, knave, nine, eight, he calls " five cards. " If the younger hand has no suit of five cards, he says "good." The elder hand then says "in spades," or whatever the suit may be, or shows his point face upwards. If the younger hand has a suit of more than five cards, he says "not good." If the younger hand has also five cards, he says " equal " or "what do they make ? " when the elder calls "forty eight" (or "making eight," short for forty-eight). The younger must not inquire what the point makes unless he has an equal number of cards. If the younger hand's five cards make less than forty-eight he says " good " ; if exactly forty-eight, he says " equal " ; if more than forty-eight, he says "not good."

The player whose point is good reckons one for each card of it ; if the points are equal neither player scores for point.

Sequences are usually called next, the elder hand stating what his best sequence is, and the younger saying, "good," "equal," or "not good," as in the case of the point. Any three or more con-secutive cards of the same suit held in hand constitute a sequence. The order of the cards is as follows :—ace (highest), king, queen, knave, ten, nine, eight, seven (lowest). A sequence of three cards is called a tierce ; of four, a quart ; of five, a quint ; of six, a sixième ; of seven, a septième ; of eight, a huitième. A tierce of ace, king, queen is called a tierce major ; a tierce of king, queen, knave is called tierce to a king (and so on for other intermediate sequences according to the card which heads them) ; a tierce of nine, eight, seven is called a tierce minor. Sequences of four or more cards follow the same nomenclature, e.g., ace, king, queen, knave is a quart major ; knave, ten, nine, eight is a quart to a knave ; and so on.

A sequence of a greater number of cards is good against a sequence of a smaller number ; thus, a quart minor is good against a tierce major. As between sequences containing the same number of cards, the one headed by the highest card is good ; thus, a quart to a queen is good against a quart to a knave. Only iden-tical sequences can be equal.

The elder hand announces, say, a quint major. If the younger has a sixième he says "not good" ; if he has a quint major he says "equal" ; if he has a lower sequence, or no sequence, he says "good." The player whose sequence is good reckons one for each card of it, and ten in addition for quints or higher sequences. Thus a tierce counts three ; a quart, four ; a quint, fifteen (5 +10) ; a sixième, sixteen ; and so on. If the elder hand's sequence is good, he names the suit, or shows it face upwards.

If the highest sequence (or the sequence first called) is good, all lower sequences can be reckoned, notwithstanding that the adver-sary has a sequence of intermediate value. For example, A has a quart to a queen (good), and a tierce minor. He calls and reckons seven, notwithstanding that B has a quart to a knave. B's quart counts nothing.

If the highest sequence is equal, neither player scores anything for sequence, even though one player may hold a second sequence of equal or inferior value.

Quatorzes are composed of four aces, four kings, four queens, four knaves, or four tens ; trios of three of any of these. They are called and reckoned as before, except that here there can be no equality. A quatorze, if good, reckons fourteen : a trio, if good, reckons three. Any quatorze is good against a trio ; if each player has a quatorze the highest is good ; the same if each has a trio. As in the case of sequences, anything that is good enables the player to reckon all smaller quatorzes or trios in his hand. A quatorze or trio is called thus :—the elder hand says " four aces," "three queens," or as the case may be; the younger replies "good" or "not good," as before. "When a player calls a trio of a denomination of which he might hold a quatorze, the adversary is entitled to be informed which card is not reckoned. Thus, A, who might hold four kings, calls 1 ' three kings " ; B says "good" ; A says "I do not reckon the king of diamonds," or whichever king it may be that he has put out or suppresses.

When the elder hand has done calling he leads a card. Before playing to this card, the younger hand reckons all that he has good, stating of what cards his claims are composed, or showing the cards claimed for.

The next step is playing the hands. The elder hand leads any card he pleases ; the younger plays to it. The younger hand must follow suit if able ; otherwise he may play any card he thinks fit. The two cards thus played constitute a trick. The trick is won by the higher card of the suit led. It is not compulsory to win the trick if able to follow suit without. The winner of the trick leads to the next, and so on until the twelve cards in hand are played out.

During the play of the hands the leader counts one for each card led, whether it wins the trick or not. If the leader wins the trick, his adversary reckons nothing that trick ; but if the second player wins the trick he also counts one; and so on. The winner of the last trick counts two instead of one.

The tricks are left face upwards on the table, in front of the player who wins them. They may be examined by either player at any time.

If each player wins six tricks the cards are divided, and there is no further score. If one player wins more than six tricks he wins the cards, and adds ten to his score. If one player wins every trick, he wins a capot, and scores forty for the cards, instead of ten.

During the play of the hand, a player is entitled to be informed as to any cards his adversary holds which he has reckoned as good, or has declared to be equal. A player may require his adversary to exhibit any such cards ; but the usual practice is to reply to all necessary questions with regard to them, such as " how many of your point?" meaning how many in hand, "how many of your tierce ? " and so on.

During the progress of the hand each player repeats aloud the amount of his score for the time being (see example). At the end of the hand the number scored is recorded on a ruled card. Each player has a card and writes down the scores of both himself and his opponent. At the end of the sixth hand, the totals are recorded, and the necessary subtraction or addition made. The scores are then compared. If there is any difference in the written scores, a player's score of his own hand is deemed to be the correct one.

Example.—A (elder hand) has dealt him ace, king, knave of spades ; ace, queen, knave, eight of hearts ; knave, eight, seven of clubs ; and nine, eight of diamonds. He discards king of spades ; eight, seven of clubs ; and nine, eight of diamonds. He takes in nine, eight of spades ; king of hearts ; nine of clubs; and king of diamonds.

B (younger hand) has ten, seven of spades ; ten, nine, seven of hearts ; king, queen, ten of clubs ; and ace, queen, knave, ten of diamonds. He discards seven of spades ; and nine, seven of hearts. He takes in queen of spades ; ace of clubs; and seven of diamonds.

The hand then proceeds thus. A (calls his point) " five cards." B (says) " equal," or " what do they make ?"

A "forty-nine," or " making nine." B " good."

A (counting his point) " five " and (counting his sequence, which is good) "a quart major, nine. Three knaves ? " B "not good."

A (leads ace of hearts and says) " ten." B " four tens, fourteen, and three queens, seventeen " (plays the ten of hearts).

A (leads the remaining hearts and says) '' eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen." B (plays seven, ten, knave, queen of diamonds, and repeating his score, says) "seventeen."

A has now five tricks, and in order to wdn the cards should lead any card but a high spade. He leads king of diamonds,and says "fifteen." B (wins with ace and says) " eighteen," (and then leads the winning clubs, saying) "nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two."

A (keeps ace, knave of clubs, and repeating his score says) " fifteen." B (leads queen of spades and says) " twenty-three."

A (wins with ace and says) " sixteen " (and leads knave, saying) "eighteen" (and adding ten for the cards) "twenty-eight."

A then writes on his scoring card 28 ; 23. B writes on his 23 ; 28. The pack is collected, and the next hand commences.

Three scores (omitted in order to simplify the description of the game) have yet to be mentioned.

Carte Blanche.—If either player has neither king, queen, nor knave in the hand dealt him, he holds carte blanche, for which he scores ten. As soon as a player discovers he has a carte blanche, he must tell his adversary ; this he usually does by saying " dis-card for carte blanche." The adverse discard is then made (as explained under discarding), after which the carte blanche is shown by dealing the cards quickly one on top of the other, face upwards on the table.

Pique.—If the elder hand scores, in hand and play, thirty or more, before the younger counts anything, he gains a pique, for which he adds thirty to his score. For example, A has a quint major, good for point and sequence, and three aces, also good. For these he counts twenty-three in hand. He next leads the quint major (twenty-eight), one of the aces and another card, making him thirty. He then adds thirty for the pique and calls his score " sixty."

Repuque.—If a player scores, in hand atom, thirty or more, before his adversary reckons anything, he gains a repique, for which he adds sixty to his score. Thus, point, quint, and quatorze, all good, make thirty-four. A player holding these adds sixty for the repique, and calls his score " ninety-four."

The order in which the scores accrue is of importance. For the sake of convenience, the elder hand finishes his reckoning before the younger begins. The scores, however, whether made by the elder or younger hand are recordable in the following order :—(1) carte blanche ; (2) point ; (3) sequences ; (4) quatorzes and trios ; (5) points made in play ; (6) the cards. This will often affect a pique or repique. Thus, a pique can only be made by the elder hand, as the one he reckons in play when he leads his first card counts before points subsequently made in play by the younger hand. The younger, therefore, cannot make thirty in hand and play before the elder scores one. But the one reckoned by the elder hand when he leads his first card does not prevent his being repiqued, because scores made in hand have precedence of points made in play. The elder leads his first card and counts for it before the younger reckons, simply as a convenient way of stating that he has nothing in hand which is good. Again, say A has a quint (good), a tierce, and a quatorze (good). He scores thirty-two in hand alone ; but, if his point is not good, he does not gain a repique, because the younger hand's point is recordable in order before the sequences and quatorze. And again, say A has a huitième (good for twenty-six), and a tierce, and leads a card thus reaching thirty in hand and play. B has three tens. The trio reckoning in order before the point made in pjlay by A saves a pique.

Carte blanche, taking precedence of all other scores, saves piques and repiques. It also counts towards piques and repiques. Thus, a player showing carte blanche, and having point and quint, both good, would repique his adversary.

A capot does not count towards a pique, as the capot is not made in play. It is added after the play of the hand is over.

A player who reckons nothing that hand as a penalty (see ' ' Laws " ) is not piqued or repiqued if he holds any cards which, but for the penalty, would have reckoned before his adversary reached thirty.

Equalities do not prevent piques or repiques. A player who has an equal point or sequence scores nothing for it. Therefore if, notwithstanding the equality, a player makes thirty, in hand and play, or in hand, by scores which reckon in order before anything his adversary can count, he gains a pique or a repique.

Hints to Players. —On taking up your hand look for carte blanche.

Before discarding, ascertain what there is against you. Thus : if you have knave or ten of a suit, there is no quint against you in that suit.

When discarding, elder hand, your main object is to plan an attack. Younger hand, on the contrary, should guard his weak places and then see if he has a chance of attacking anywhere. Thus, the elder hand may freely unguard kings and queens, or discard whole suits of which he has indifferent cards only. The younger should do just the reverse, keeping guards to kings and queens, and should not leave himself blank of a weak suit, as his small cards may guard high ones taken in.

In most hands, and especially younger hand, it is essential to keep the whole of your best suit for point. Gaining the point makes an average difference of at least ten to the score ; and, what is of more consequence, it saves piques and repiques.

The cards are next in importance to the point. In discarding you should, when in doubt, take the best chance of dividing or winning the cards. Winning the cards instead of losing them makes a difference of about twenty-three points. Hence, especially elder hand, you should not necessarily keep the longest suit for point, if that suit is composed of low cards, and keeping it involves the discard of high cards from other suits.

As a rule, it is not advisable to leave any cards. The younger hand is at less disadvantage in leaving a card than the elder ; for a card left by the elder can be taken by the younger ; but a card left by the younger is only excluded from his hand. A card may generally be left when there is a chance of a great score if the cards in hand are not parted with, there being at the same time no pique or repique against you.

It is generally right to keep unbroken suits. Having made up your mind to discard from a given suit, you should throw the whole of it, except (a) winning cards ; (5) guards to kings or queens, especially younger hand ; or (c) cards which make up a quatorze or trio. It is better to keep cards in sequence than cards not in sequence. Trios should be kept if they can be retained without injury to the hand in other respects ; but it is seldom advisable to put out a high card for the sake of keeping a trio of knaves or tens, especially if there is a -quatorze against you.

The discard is further affected in the last hand of a partie by the state of the score. Thus, if you are a long way behind, and your only chance is a desperate discard, in order to keep cards which may possibly give you a pique or a repique, you may run consider; able risk with that object. On the other hand, if you are well ahead, make a safe discard, i.e., one which is likely to win the cards or to keep your adversary back.

When taking in after discarding, count that you leave the full number of cards for the younger hand, the penalty for taking in I one of your adversary's cards being that you can reckon nothing that deal. The younger hand should also count that the proper number of cards are in the stock, before he takes in, as, if he mixes one of the elder's cards with his hand, he can reckon nothing that deal.

After taking in and before calling your hand, look through it and your discard to ascertain what remains against you. If there is anything against you which is not called, you will probably be able to judge from this some portion of the discard, and will so be assisted in playing the cards. But implicit reliance must not be placed on this. For experienced players not unfrequently omit to call some small score, such as a tierce, in order intentionally to mislead you. This manoeuvre (called sinking a score) is especially resorted to when a player has a high card unguarded. In order to induce you to believe that it is guarded, he will put up with the loss of several points in calling, on the chance of recouping himself by afterwards saving or winning the cards in consequence of your misconceiving his discard.

If your adversary calls a point which is not good, you should at once note in which suit it is (or may be), in order to count the hand. If the younger hand admits a point to be good (as regards the number of cards that compose it), the elder should observe whether the younger could possibly have had equal or better in any suit. If so he has probably put out that suit. But it may be that the younger hand, if a good judge of the game, will admit the number of cards of a point to be good when he has an equal number. Thus :—A calls five cards, and B knows, from examining his hand and discard, that there is only one suit in which A can have five cards, and that they make fifty. B has five cards making forty-nine. B should promptly reply "good," although he has five cards himself ; because he ought to know that A's five cards are better than his. By saying " equal, " he unnecessarily exposes his hand.

In playing the cards, you must be guided a good deal by what your adversary has called, and, to some extent, by what he has not called. You will generally know several cards in the adverse hand, or will be able to mark some that have been put out. Sometimes you will know all the cards. Thus, if the younger hand fails to follow suit to your first lead in which you could only have five cards, it is evident he has put out three cards of that suit, and you know every card in his hand.

Failing direct indications, lead the point, unless you have a small point and there is a tenace in that suit against you.

When playing to the opponent's lead, keep guards to kings and queens. Having the choice between throwing a card you have declared and one you have not, prefer the former.

If you can make a pique, lead your winning cards one after the other, without considering how many of the remaining tricks you will lose. There is one exception to this :—in the sixth hand, if your losing the cards will enable the younger hand to save his rubicon, and your score is such that you can win the partie without the pique, you should forego the pique, when by not leading out your winning cards immediately you can divide or win the cards.

When you have five or six tricks and a winning card, lead the winning card, unless certain that your opponent has cards of that suit. By playing otherwise, you risk eleven points for the chance of gaining one for the last trick. This, of course, is liable to a similar exception as the previous case, viz., in the sixth hand with five tricks up, if you must win the cards or the last trick to win the partie or to save the rubicon.

In the sixth hand, if a player has scored less than a hundred, he should consider, before calling or playing, whether he can make his aggregate score up to a hundred or more. If he cannot, his object should be to reckon as little as he can, and to prevent his adversary from scoring, by making his point or sequence equal (if possible), and by endeavouring to divide the cards. If he is satis-fied he cannot divide the cards, and there is no capot against him, he is at liberty to score two (one for a trick he wdns, and one for a card he plays), and to throw his cards down, allowing the adversary to reckon thirteen in play.

On the other hand, a player who is ahead, and who sees his adversary cannot reach a hundred, should endeavour to prevent the declaration of equalities, and, if he cannot win the cards himself, should play to lose them.

During the calling and play of the hand, always keep in mind your adversary's score and satisfy yourself that he does not reckon too many. Mistakes occur, even among the most honourable players. If your adversary reckons too few, you are not bound to correct him.

Lawn of Piquet.—1. A player may shuffle either pack, above the table. The dealer has the right to shuffle last. 2. A cut must consist of at least two cards. 3. Highest has choice of deal and cards. (Ace highest, seven lowest.) 4. If a card is exposed in cutting or before dealing, there must be a fresh cut. 5. The mode of distributing the cards (by twos or by threes) must not be altered during the partie. 6. The stock must be placed, in one packet, face downwards, between the players. 7. If the cards are dealt wrongly, the error may be rectified before either player has taken up his hand, or the adversary may demand a fresh deal. 8. If a card belonging to the elder hand or the stock is exposed when dealing, the adversary has the option of a fresh deal. If there is a faced card in the pack, there must be a fresh deal.

9. If, after the deal is completed, more than one card is found to have been dealt wrongly, or nine cards are found in the stock, there must be a fresh deal. The same if the wrong pack is dealt with, and the error is discovered before either player has taken up his cards ; otherwise the packs remain changed. 10. If only one card has been dealt wrongly, the elder hand, after looking at his cards and before taking in a card, has the option of a fresh deal, and if there are only seven cards in the stock, he may alter his discard (see Laws 12 sq.). 11. The players deal alternately. If a player deals out of turn, and the error is discovered by either player before he takes up his cards, the deal is void, and the right dealer deals. If the error is discovered later, the elder hand must deal twice running with his own pack, unless that or the next deal is the last of the partie. 12. Each player is bound to discard at least one card (but see Laws 21, 22, and 23). 13. When taking in, the cards must be taken in order from the top of the stock. 14. After taking a card, a player cannot alter his discard ; and if he then takes back any of his discard, he must play with more than twelve cards (see Law 30); if after taking a card he mixes any of his hand with his discard, he must play with less than twelve cards (see Law 29). 15. If either player, when taking in, exposes a card of the stock belonging to his adversary, he can reckon nothing that deal. 16. If either player mixes with his hand a card of the stock which belongs to his adversary, he can reckon nothing that deal; or the adversary may have a fresh deal. If he stands the deal he can only take in such of his cards as have not been mixed. 17. If a player discards more cards than he takes in, he must play with less than twelve cards (see Law 29). 18. If a player discards fewer cards than he takes in, he can reckon nothing that deal. 19. The adversary has the option of not enforcing the penalty of reckoning nothing that deal. 20. If the younger hand leaves any cards and mixes them with his discard, without showing them to the elder hand, the elder, after leading a card, is entitled to see the younger's discard. 21. If the elder hand elects to stand the deal when one card has been dealt wrongly, and he has thirteen cards, he must discard one card more than he takes in, and must discard at least two cards. If there are eight cards in the stock, the younger hand discards one less than he takes in, and if he only takes one card he need not discard any; if there are seven cards in the stock, and the elder hand discards six cards and takes five, the younger hand can only take two cards. 22. If the elder hand elects to stand the deal when he has eleven cards, and there are eight in the stock, he must discard one less than he takes in; if he only takes one card he need not discard any. The younger hand must discard one more than he takes in, and must discard at least two cards. 23. If the elder hand elects to stand the deal when he has twelve cards, and there are seven in the stock, he discards the same number as he takes in; the younger discards one more than he takes in, and must discard at least two cards. 24. When the elder hand's call is good against the cards, it is suffi-cient if he states the number of cards that compose it; if not he must say what it makes or to what card it is, or the value of the cards of which it con-sists. 25. The elder hand calling too little may correct his miscall before it has been replied to by the younger hand ; and the younger hand, allowing a correct call to be good or equal, when he holds better, may correct his reply before the elder hand has made another call, or, if there is no further call, before the elder hand has led a card. 26. If a player calls what he does not hold, he may correct his call before the younger hand has played to the first trick; and, if the younger hand has miscalled, the elder hand may take up his card and play differently. In the absence of correction, the offender can reckon nothing that deal, and the adversary, on discovery of the error, can reckon anything he has good, which is not barred by a correct call made in addition to the miscall. But there is no penalty for calling anything which a player could not possibly hold in his hand and discard taken together, nor for misnaming a suit, nor for misnaming the rank of a sequence, when one of the counting value named is held, provided the claim could not have been held in the hand and discard taken together; and, if a player voluntarily shows what he claims for, he is liable to no penalty for miscalling it. 27. A player who calls anything which is allowed to be good or equal must show the cards called at any time they are asked for during the play of the hand. 28. When the younger hand has played to the first trick, neither player can reckon anything omitted (but see Law 26). 29. A player is liable to no penalty for playing with less than twelve cards. His adversary counts as tricks all cards that cannot be played to. 30. If a player plays with more than twelve cards, he can reckon nothing that deal; but his cards, though not good to score, are good to bar his adversary. 31. A card led or played cannot be taken up (but see Law 26), but cards accidentally dropped may be retaken. Also, if the leader leads several cards consecutively without waiting for them to be played to, and the adversary plays too many cards, he may retake the extra ones; and cards subsequently played in error must be taken up and played over again. Or, if a player leads out of turn, he may take up his card unless it has been played to. Or, if a player does not follow suit when able, the card played in error and all cards subsequently played must be taken up and played over again. Ox-, if a player misinforms his adversary when asked what cards he holds that have been allowed to be good or equal, the adversary may retake all the cards he has subsequently played, and may play differently. 32. Errors in counting the hand, if proved, may be rectified before the player in error has seen his next hand. 33. If both players score the same number in six deals, each deals once more, when the partie is concluded, even if there should be a second tie. 34. If the loser fails to score a hundred, he is rubi-coned, whether the winner's score reaches a hundred or not. 33. The deal in which the discovery of an incorrect pack is made is void. All preceding deals stand good. 34. A bystander calling attention to any error or oversight, and thereby affecting the score, may be called upon to pay all stakes and bets of the player whose interest he has prejudicially affected.

See Edmond Hoyle, A Short Treatise on the Game of Piquet (1744); "Cavendish," The Laws of Piquet and of Rubicon Piquet, adopted by the Portland Club, with a Treatise on the Game (1882). (H. J.)

The above article was written by: Henry Jones.

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