Monday, 29 August 2016

Good two player card games are notorious for being few and far between. I cannot claim that this is anything special but it does attempt to address some of the problems these games face. It was developed on the train to Manchester Piccadilly and that seemed like a good enough name for it.

A game consists of two hands, each played out in two parts, being called Manchester Memory and Piccadilly Play respectively.

Pack: A tarot pack of 78 cards is used consisting of four regular suits of 14 cards, a suit of 21 trumps, and The Fool.

Card Points:
Honours 5 points
Kings 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All Others 1 point

Ranking: Rational ranking is used...

Pip cards rank in suit from high to low:
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace

Trumps rank by their number, 21 high, 1 low.

Empty Cards: These are cards that have values of 1 point or less.

Honours: The Juggler, The World, and The Fool are called The Honours. They are always among the highest scoring cards.

A game consists of two hands.

First Deal (Manchester Memory): First Dealer is chosen at random or by consent and the alternates between players. We will call the players Dealer and Opposite.

Opposite shuffles the cards and Dealer deals each of them 13 cards in packets of 5-5-3, setting aside the remainder of the pack for for the second half of the game.

Even Stevens & Discard: Players begin by totalling the card points in their hands and announcing it, they then discard three cards unseen into their trick pile – these may not be trumps, Honours, or Kings unless no other cards are held, in which case, they must be shown.

Play: Starting with Opposite, players take turns to lead to each trick. Players must try to follow suit if they can and if they cannot then they must play a trump. If trumps have been led, then players must play a higher trump if they can, if not, then they may play a lower one. If a player cannot follow suit and has no trumps, then they may play another card, though it will not win.

If The Fool is held, then it may be played at any time instead of a card that the rules might otherwise require and although it will not win, it is seldom lost. When played, The Fool is returned to to its player who then places it face up beside them until the end of the hand when they must pay the player who won the trick with a card from their trick pile (obviously, they will choose an empty card if they can). However, if they have taken no tricks, then they must surrender The Fool instead.

First Score: Once the hand is played, then players total the value of their trick pile and score this minus the value of their starting hand.

Second Deal (Piccadilly Play): Dealer now deals four hands of 13 cards in packets of 5-5-3, two hands to each player. Players may now examine each hand and decide which shall be their hand and which shall be their dummy. They may not mix cards between the hands. Once the choice has been made then at the same time, each player lays out their Dummy hand face up – Dealer’s Dummy is set out next to Opposite on Opposite’s left, while Opposite’s Dummy is set out next to Dealer, on Dealer’s right. Now each player should be seated with the Dummy hands to one side, each player with their opponent’s Dummy next to them and diagonally opposite their own Dummy.

Second Play: Dealer leads to the first trick, then in turn moving to the left, each hand must play a card (players play from their own Dummy’s hand), following suit if they can and playing a trump if they cannot. If they they must play a trump and one has already been played to the trick, then they must play a higher one if they can. If they cannot follow suit or play a trump then they may play any other card, though it will not win. The Fool is played as an excuse but if played to the last trick it is lost.

Second Score: Players total their card points, this time adding 1 point for each trick won. They then add this to their First Score and whichever player has the most points has won the hand and as many game points as the difference between their scores.

Ending: Players should each have the same number of turns playing as Dealer. They can then total their game points for a winner.

The play of Manchester offers enough card points to be worth making some effort for but not enough to dramatically effect the final scores. However, although the result will largely be a matter of luck, it does reveal a great deal of information. Attentive players with good memories will have a good idea of where most of the cards are when they come to play Piccadilly, which is where a little skill is needed, as well as where most of the points can be scored.

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