Mariage card games

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The mariage card games are a family of trick-taking card games in which players can score bonus points for holding a "marriage" consisting of King and Queen of the same suit. Games in this family are typically played by 2 to 4 players using a pack of 20–40 cards, with Aces and Tens scoring 11 and 10 points in tricks, respectively, and marriages scoring 40 points in trumps and 20 points in a plain suit.

A German game known as 66 is one of the most typical games of the present family. The "marriage" theme seems to have originated in France in the context of unrelated card games before being added to an early form of 66, which was then for some time known as Mariagenspiel (German for "mariage game", using the original French word). 66 in its variants known as Schnapsen, Mariáš and Ulti is the most popular card game in the area of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Jass–Belote card games form another popular subfamily, characterized by the fact that the Jack and Nine of the trump suit are the highest trumps. These games originated as the Dutch game Klaverjas and developed into Swiss Jass and French Belote. Bezique and its variants Binokel and Pinochle are further examples of popular games in the Mariage family.

66 and variants

Point-values of cards
Rank A 10 K Q J 9
Value 11 10 4 3 2 0

66 is a 2-player game played with 24 French-suited cards which rank and score as shown in the table. The deal ends after the last trick or when one player claims to have reached 66 points or more. Since the winner of the last trick scores 10 points, there are at least 130 points in the game if a deal is played out for its full length.

Each player receives 6 cards in batches of 3. The next card determines the trump suit and is put face up and crosswise under the stock. The deal has two card-play phases of 6 tricks each: In the first phase the second player to a trick can play any card without having to follow suit. In the second phase, which starts when the stock is empty (or blocked, see below), the second player to a trick must follow suit.

During the first phase of the deal, a player who holds King and Queen of the same suit may meld a marriage by showing both cards when leading to a new trick with one of them. A plain suit marriage scores 20 points; a trump suit marriage scores 40 points. As a special exception, a marriage melded by elder hand when leading to the first trick is not counted before elder hand wins a trick. Marriages count towards the 66 points needed to finish the game. Also during the first phase, a player who holds the lowest trump (Nine of trumps) may exchange it with the bottom card of the stock at any time between two tricks.

The 12th and last trick scores 10 bonus points. The deal is won by the player with the higher score; a draw is possible.

At any time a player may claim to have scored 66 points or more, in which case the deal ends immediately. The number of game points scored for the deal depends on the performance of the opponent of the player who made the claim, whether it was correct or not: 3 game points if the opponent has won no tricks, 2 game points if the opponent has scored less than 33 points, and otherwise 1 game point. The game points are scored by the player who made the claim if the claim was correct, and otherwise by the opponent. Since the total score of both players is more than 130 if marriages have been scored, this rule makes it possible for the player with the lower score to win by making the claim earlier.

At any point during the first phase a player may block the stock by covering it crosswise with the bottom card (face down). This starts the second phase of the deal immediately, except that the opponent gets a last chance to exchange the lowest trump for the bottom card of the stock. Depending on whether or not both players have drawn from the stock before it was blocked, the second phase consists of 6 or 5 tricks.

Jass–Belote games

For more information, see: Jass–Belote card games.

In this subfamily the Jack ("jass") and Nine ("nell") of the trump suit are the highest trumps. Games in this family are typically played by four players with the 32 French-suited cards of a piquet pack.

The family contains the closely related French (Belote, Belote contrée) and Dutch (Klaverjas) national card games. The Swiss national card game (Jass) is also a close relative but features a number of peculiarities, has spawned numerous variants, and is played with 36 cards. Twenty-Nine, a popular South Asian card game, is a derivative of this family and shares many of its characteristics.

The earliest known games of this family were two-handed. Variants are still played worldwide. (The name for essentially the same game varies, e.g. Klaberjas, Clob, Bela.)

References