French Piquet deck
|Deck||Piquet (subset of French deck)|
|Card rank (highest to lowest)||A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7|
Piquet has long been regarded as one of the all-time great card games still being played. It was first mentioned on a written reference dating to 1535, in Gargantua and Pantagruel by Rabelais. Although legend attributes the game's creation to Stephen de Vignolles, also known as La Hire, a knight in the service of Charles VII during the Hundred Years' War, it may possibly have come into France from Spain because the words "pique" and "repique", the main features of the game, are of Spanish origin.
The game was introduced in Germany during the Thirty Years War, and texts of that period provide substantial evidence of its vogue, like the metaphorical use of the word "Repique" in the 1634-8 political poem Allamodisch Picket Spiel ("Piquet Game à la mode"), which reflects the growing popularity of the game at that time. As with other games like Bête, the substantive form of the word "Piquet" was turned into a verb and this is used substantially by Rist's 1640 Spiele: die man Picquetten who gives the word his grudging assent.
Until the early 20th century, Piquet was perhaps the most popular card game in France, occupying a similar position to Cribbage in England. It first became popular in England after the marriage of Queen Mary I of England (Bloody Mary) to King Philip II of Spain in 1554. During this period the game was known as Cent, after the Spanish game Cientos, referring to the fact that one of the chief goals of Piquet is to reach 100 points. Following the marriage of King Charles I of England to Henrietta Maria of France in 1625, the British adopted the French name for the game. It went in and out of fashion among the upper classes in Britain between the 17th and early 20th centuries. With the advent of Contract Bridge, however, Piquet has faded into general obscurity among amateur card-players.
Piquet is played with a 32-card deck normally referred to as a piquet deck. In some countries piquet decks are commercially available because they are used for other, nowadays more popular games, such as Belote in France and Skat in Germany. The deck is composed of all of the 7s through to 10s, the face cards, and the aces in each suit, and can be created by removing all 2-6 values from a 52-card poker deck.
Each game consists of a partie of six deals (partie meaning match in French). The player scoring the most points wins (see the scoring section for further details).
The player who cuts the higher card has to deal, and the dealer has the choice of cards at the commencement of each partie. A partie consist of six deals.  The players deal alternately for each hand in the partie. It is preferable to deal first so as not to deal the last hand. Dealing puts a player at a disadvantage.
Twelve cards are dealt to each player, with the remaining eight forming the talon, which is placed face-down between the players. The talon may be split by the dealer into two piles of five and three cards, respectively.
The dealer is referred to as the Younger hand and the non-dealer, the Elder hand.
After the deal, players sort their cards in their hands. If a player has no face cards in her hand, then she may declare Carte Blanche, which is worth 10 points. This she does by quickly showing her hand to the opponent while saying "Carte Blanche".
A hand of this type is fairly rare, appearing roughly once every 1800 hands. It often scores poorly, so it is usually advantageous to declare it, despite the tactical disadvantage of giving information to the opponent.
Carte Blanche must be declared prior to exchanging cards. Only after the Elder hand has exchanged cards does the younger declare Carte Blanche. Note that no conflict may arise, as it is impossible for both players to hold Carte Blanche.
The goal of exchanging cards is to improve one's hand before the declaration and the play.
The Elder hand exchanges first. This is done by taking one to five cards from the hand and placing them face down. An equal number is then drawn from the talon. At least one card must be exchanged. The player must state how many cards she intends to exchange if fewer than the maximum. If the Elder chooses to take fewer than the maximum, she may then look at the remainder from the five (which are the first ones that the Younger will take).
The Younger hand exchanges next. Again, at least one card must be exchanged. The younger may also exchange up to five cards, depending on how many the Elder exchanged. If the Elder exchanged all five, then obviously the Younger may only exchange up to three.
In the declaration phase, the players ascertain who has the better hand in each of three categories. This is done in an oblique sort of way that leads to some of the intrigue of Piquet. Elder hand declares first always, with Younger responding.
In each part of the declaration, the Younger hand may choose to contest the Elder's claim. By doing so, the Younger may reveal information that would be useful during the trick-taking phase, called the play. Likewise, the Elder may choose not to reveal information in one or more parts of the declaration.
If the Elder has at least four cards in a suit, she may make a declaration. For example, "Point of four".
The Younger would then respond indicating that he had more, fewer, or the same number of cards in a suit. This is done by saying "Good" (the Elder has more and wins the point), "Not good" (the Elder has fewer), or by saying "Making?" or "How many?", indicating that the Younger has the same number of cards in a suit, which requires clarification.
If both players have the same number of cards in a suit, then they must tally the value of the cards. The values of the cards are: ace = 11, face cards = 10, and face value for the rest.
After adding the values of the cards, the Elder calls out the number. The Younger may then say "Good", if the Elder's value is greater, or "Not good" and the number that wins the point. For example: "Not good: 39" or "Not good, I have 39". If the values are the same, Younger says "Equal".
The player with the better point scores the number of cards in the suit, not their value. If the values are the same, neither player scores. Note that Younger does not actually score for any declarations until Elder has led to the first trick in the play (see below).
The next part of the declaration is the sequence, in which the longest consecutive run of cards is valued. A sequence must have at least three cards and they must all be in the same suit.
Again, the Elder hand starts. For example, "Run of three" or "Sequence of four". The Younger then responds with "Good" or "Not good", in the same way as before, or by contesting. To contest, the Younger says "How high?", to which the Elder responds with the highest card in the sequence. For example, "To the queen". Younger replies with "Good", "Not good" or "Equal".
In keeping with the game's ancestry, one may utilize the historical names for sequences in this part of the declaration, instead of the prosaic "Run of three", for example. The following are the proper names and their associated values; those from 6 up are obsolete in English:
|Number||Point worth number||Proper name||Pronunciation|
The person winning the sequence may declare any additional sequences that he has, if desired. If both players' best sequences are equal then neither player may score for any sequences.
A set is three or four of a kind, ten or greater (7s, 8s, and 9s don't count, and aces are highest). Sets of three are called trios or "brelans" and are worth 3 points, and sets of four, quatorzes ("cat-orz"), are worth 14 points. The declarations take place in the same manner as Point and Sequence, with Elder stating her best set (for example, "Three Kings"), to which Younger replies "Good" or "Not good".
The person with the best set may declare any additional sets that she has, if desired.
Pique & Repique
If a player scores 30 points in the declaration phase and his opponent scores nothing, including Carte Blanche, and if neither point nor sequence were equal, that player gains a repique, which is worth an additional 60 points.
If Elder scores 30 points in declarations and play combined, before Younger scores any, then Elder gains a pique and scores an additional 30 points. Note that Younger cannot gain a pique because Elder always scores one point for leading to the first trick (see below).
By the end of the declaration, each player will have a pretty good idea of the other's hand (to the degree that each chooses to claim their points).
Play starts with the Elder hand placing a card face up and scoring one point. The Younger then scores for their declarations, and plays a card that follows suit, if possible. If not, he may discard anything he chooses. The winner of the trick (the player with the highest card in the suit led), takes the trick, placing it face-down (usually—see variations) in front of her. The winner of the trick leads the next.
When forced to discard, it is important to choose the right card. See tactics.
Score is usually kept verbally as play progresses. Trick score counts as follows:
- 1 point for leading a trick
- If the second player (the player who doesn't lead) wins a trick, they get a point.
- The winner of the last trick wins a 1 point bonus (see variations).
If all 12 tricks are won by one player, that player scores 40 points for capot ("capot" is the origin of the word kaput). Otherwise, the player with the greater number of tricks won scores 10 for cards. If there is a tie, then neither player scores any extra points.
- Rubicon Piquet
- Six hands are played regardless of final score. If a player scores at least 100 in a partie (this is known as "crossing the rubicon"), then the score is winner - loser + 100. If, however, the loser fails to score 100, then the loss is much more punishing: winner + loser + 100.
- Classic piquet, also known as Piquet au Cent: Played to 100 or 101 points, regardless of how many hands it takes to reach 100, usually five or six.
Players may choose to keep tricks face up in front of them.
Players may look through both players' winning tricks.
The winner of the last trick may score 10 points instead of 1, making the choice of how to close the play more significant.
Declarations state the total card values for point each time it is declared, not just when Dealer says "Equal".
Don't be afraid to throw away low cards (nine or lower) even if this means getting rid of four or more of one suit. This will lower the chances of winning the point round, but this round is the lowest scoring one. Getting rid of these lower cards to get straights of five or more is very beneficial and will increase one's score greatly.
Holding "stop" cards (usually Qs, Ks in your opponents' strong suit) are important for the last stage of play, in order to block your opponent's run of tricks with their long sequences.
The following excerpt is from The Gaming Table : Its Votaries and Victims : Vol. 2 by Andrew Steinmetz
The card game Piquet is said to have derived its name from that of its inventor, who contrived it to amuse Charles VI of France. The game was played with thirty two cards, that is, discarding out of the pack all the deuces, treys, fours, fives, and sixes. Regular piquet-packs were sold. In reckoning up the points, every card counted for its value, as ten for ten, nine for nine, and so on down to seven, which was, of course, the lowest; but the ace reckoned for eleven. All court cards reckoned for ten. As in other games, the ace won the king, the king the queen, and so on, to the knave, which won the ten. The cards were dealt at option by fours, threes, or twos, to the number of twelve, which was the hand— 'discarding' being allowed; but both the dealer and he that led were obliged to discard at least one card. When the cards were played out, each counted his tricks; and he that had most reckoned 10 for winning the cards; if the tricks were equal, neither reckoned at all. He who, without playing (that is, according to the various terms of the game), could reckon up 30 in hand, when his antagonist reckoned nothing, scored 90 for them; this was called a repic; and all above 30 counted so many—32 counting 92, and so on. He who could make up 30, part in hand and part by play, before the other made anything, scored 60; this was called a pic.
The game was also played as pool precisely according to the rules briefly sketched as above, the penalty for losing being a guinea to the pool.
Piquet required much practice to play it well. It became so great a favourite that, by the middle of the 18th century, the meanest people were well acquainted with it, and 'let into all the tricks and secrets of it, in order to render them complete sharpers.' Such are the words of an old author, who adds that the game was liable to great imposition, and he explains the methods in use. Short cards were used for cutting, as in Whist, at the time. Of these cards there were two sorts, one longer than the rest; and the advantage gained by them was as the adversary managed it, by cutting the longer or broader, as best suited his purpose, or imposing on the dealer, when it was his turn, to cut those that made most against him. The aces, kings, queens, and knaves were marked with dots at the corners, and in the very old book from which I am quoting precise directions are given how this marking can be effected in such a manner 'as not to be discovered by your adversary, and at the same time appear plain to yourself. With a fine pointed pen and some clear spring water, players made dots upon the glazed card at the corners according to the above method; or they coloured the water with India ink, to make the marks more conspicuous. The work concludes as follows: -- 'There are but 32 cards made use of at Piquet, so that just half of them will be known to you; and in dealing you may have an opportunity to give yourself those you like best; and if you cannot conveniently change the pack according to your desire, you will commonly know what you are to take in, which is a demonstrative advantage to win any one's money.'
Although much reduced in popularity these days, Piquet continues to enjoy a small but enthusiastic following, many of whom believe it to be the equal or even the superior of Cribbage as a card game for two. One famous enthusiast for the game is the author Richard Adams.
The game is also described with examples, in this site: http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Piquet
- Cavendish. The Laws of Piquet Adopted, 9th Ed. Thomas De La Rue & Co, 1908.
- Berkley. Piquet and Rubicon Piquet. FA Stokes CO, 1891.
- Foster, Robert Frederick. Foster's Complete Hoyle: An Encyclopedia of All the Indoor Games Played. FA Stokes Co, 1897, 426-439.
- A Lexicon of French Borrowings in the German Vocabulary (1575-1648) by William Jervis Jons - de Gruyter, Berlin & N.Y, 1976, pgs. 517-569 ISBN 3-11-004769-1
- Cavendish (1908). The Laws of Piquet Adopted (9th ed.). London: Thomas De La Rue & Co. p. 1.
- Cavendish (1908). The Laws of Piquet Adopted (9th ed.). London: Thomas De La Rue & Co. p. 14.
- Cavendish (1908). The Laws of Piquet Adopted (9th ed.). London: Thomas De La Rue & Co. p. 3.
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