Piquet

The basics

-Number of players: two

-Playing time: 45 minutes

-Cards: standard pack, from which all cards below the 7, excluding Aces, have been removed. Known as the short or Piquet pack (32 cards).

-Ranking: Ace (high) down to 7 (low). Suits are equal.

-Deal: 12 cards to each, either singly or in packets of two or three. The remaining eight cards are laid face down and slightly spread to form the talon.

 

History

One of the oldest of all card games, with a history that stretches back half a millennium. Probably of French origin, Piquet (usually pronounced pee-kay) has an obvious affinity with Bezique, which is probably an offshoot of it. Once widely and deservedly popular, Piquet has lost favour in recent years.

 

Object of the game

To score points by melding and taking tricks. A game, or partie as it is known, consists of six hands.

 

Play

If either player is dealt a hand without a court card, he may declare carte blanche, display the hand quickly card by card, and score 10 points. Younger need not declare until Elder has exchanged cards (see below).

The Exchange

Before play proper begins, players exchange cards from hand for unseen cards from the talon in the hope of improving their holdings. Elder starts; he must exchange one card, and may exchange up to five cards.

Elder discards from hand, takes the corresponding number from the talon, and examines any of the five-card entitlement not exercised. Younger may now exchange up to the number of cards left in the talon, but he is not obliged to exchange any. Younger then opts either to expose the remaining cards to both players or to leave them hidden. During the game, players are allowed to examine their own discards.

Declarations

Each class of combination is compared, in the strict order of point, sequence and then set, Elder declaring first in each case. Only the player with the better showing scores in each class – see table 4.

-Point: the number of cards in Elder’s longest and best suit is first announced. Younger responds with “Good”, “Not good” or “Equal”, according to whether his own best suit has less, more, or the same number of cards respectively as Elder’s. If “Good”, Elder scores at once; if “Equal”, Elder announces the total points value of the suit, counting Aces as 11 and court cards as 10 each. If still equal, neither scores for “Point”.

-Sequence: Elder’s best sequence is announced. If “Equal”, Elder’s highest sequence card is announced. If “Good”, Elder scores for declared sequence and, if desired, for any other sequence held. Neither player scores if again equal.

-Set: the same procedure applies. If “Good”, Elder scores for the declared set and, if desired, for any other set held.

Finally, Elder scores for repique if entitled and leads to first trick, scoring 1 point for leading. Before replying, Younger now declares all combinations that were better than Elder’s and scores them. He also scores for repique if appropriate.

The tricks are now played. There are no trumps. Younger, having declared, plays to the first trick. Players must follow suit of possible. A trick is won by the player of the higher card in the suit led. The winner of a trick leads to the next.

If Elder reaches 30 points in combinations and tricks before Younger scores, Elder scores 30 points for pique. (Because Elder scores 1 for leading, Younger can never score pique). If one player has more tricks than the other when all the cards have been played the appropriate bonus is scored.

 

Piquet: Scoring combinations

Carte blanche (no court cards in hand dealt)10
Point (highest holding in any one suit; per card)1
Sequence:
Tierce (three cards of the same suit)3
Quart (four)4
Quint (five)15
Sixieme (six)16
Septime (seven)17
Huitime (eight)18
Set (applicable to cards ranked 10 and above only):
Trio (three cards of the same rank)3
Quartorze (four cards of the same rank)14
Pique (scoring 30 points in combinations before opponent scores)30
Repique (scoring 30 points in combinations before opponent scores)60

 

Piquet: scoring tricks

For leading (Elder only)1
Trick (if led)1
Trick (if opponent led)2
Bonus for taking last trick1
Bonus for taking most tricks (“for cards”)10
Bonus for taking all tricks (capot)40

 

Scoring game

The winner scores 100 points plus the difference between the players’ scores. If the loser fails to reach 100 points (is rubiconed), the winner scores 100 plus the sum of the player’s scores (even though he may not have actually scored 100 points).

 

Tips on how to win

Apart from the odd card or two, an opponent’s hand may be deduced fairly accurately. For this reason it sometimes pays to understate a combination, or indeed not to admit to one at all in order to hide a card or cards – a permissible ploy.

A lot of skill is called for in the discard, which should be considered carefully. The urge to get rid of all the low cards in hand should be resisted: it may well be better to discard a high-ranking card or two. With the lead and the option on most of the talon, Elder is in a position of strength. Elder has one chance in four of finding a given card in the talon, but the odds against Younger doing likewise are much longer. A long suit, particularly if headed by A,K, is an advantage for point and (for Elder especially) in trick play. It often pays for Elder to void a suit.

It is usually advisable for Elder to exchange five cards. Younger on the other hand is engaged in a damage limitation exercise and should attempt to guard all suits as protection against capot. For example, holding K, 7 in a suit Younger should not discard the 7.

 

An example hand of Piquet

Deal (see picture below)

Exchange

Elder exchanges three cards – Jack of Clubs, 8 of Hearts and 7 of Clubs. He then receives Queen of Spades, Jack of Diamonds and 8 of Clubs, and examines the remaining two (10 of clubs and 7 of Diamonds). Younger now exchanges four – Queen of Clubs, 10 of Hearts, 9 of Clubs, 7 of Diamonds – and receives A of Clubs, King of Clubs, 9 of Hearts and 7 of Hearts.

Declarations

– Elder (for point) “Six”: Younger “Equal”; E “57”; Y “Good” (E scores 6 points).

– Elder (For sequence) “Six”; Y “Good” (Elder scores sixieme and declares trio for 19 points).

– E (for set) “Trio”; Y “Equal”; E “Kings”; Y “Not good”.

Play

Elder leads King of Diamonds and scores a point for leading. Younger declares a trio of Aces (3 points) and takes the trick with A of Diamonds (2 points).

Younger leads A of Spades. Elder players King of Spades, so Younger scores 1 point. Younger then leads Jack of Spades, E players Q of spades, thus scoring 2 points.

Elder now plays out all five diamonds, Younger discarding low spades and hearts. The new hands are shown in fig. 8 (opposite).

Elder now makes sure of winning the majority of tricks by leading the good hears (3 points) rather than gambling on winning the point for last by leading the 8 of Clubs. So Younger takes the last trick (2 points + 1 point) and Elder scores 10 “for cards”. The final tally is Elder 46, Younger 9 points.

 

Variants

Rule variations are commonplace. For example, proving – the requirement for a player to show or declare on demand a scoring combination – is widely practised. An older version of the game had the winner as the first player to pass 100 points.

In a three-player variant, 10 cards are dealt to each player and the dealer (only) may exchange one or two. In a four-player version, partners face each other and eight cards are dealt to each player. The rules governing declarations differ slightly from Piquet proper.

In Auction Piquet, players bid after the deal to win or lose seven or more tricks. Doubling and redoubling are permitted. In a minus bid, sinking (under-declaring or not declaring a combination) is not allowed.

 

Related External Links

There is an informative Piquet guide on the pagat website.

WhiteKnuckleCards also offer a great guide for this classic French card game.

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