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Quinto (card game)

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Quinto is a card game invented by "Professor Hoffmann", stage and pen name for Angelo Lewis (1839-1919), an English lawyer and conjuror. The description here is based on his little book[1] Quinto: a New and Original Card Game, issued in 1907 by playing-card manufacturers Goodall & Son of London. The book is the size of a playing card, being designed to fit into a package with the cards. Notes in the book refer to different practices of play in Britain and America, suggesting that the game had already been current for a while. The game has never achieved great popularity, but continues to appear in some card game books. While not as original as the inventor suggests, it has at least two rare features: the possibly unique idea of a hierarchy of trump suits (see below), and the not quite unique[2] use of a 53-card pack.

Pack and players

From highest to lowest, the suits rank ♥ ♦ ♣ ♠, and the cards within them A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 (but the Ace counts as 1 in scoring value, and is low if players draw cards to decide order of dealing). In addition to the familiar 52 cards, there is an extra card known as Quint Royal, which in the original Goodall packs had a design featuring five crowns. The firm closed down in 1922, and these special packs are now available only second-hand. However, as noted in the book, a joker (to be found in most standard packs of cards) can be used instead.

The game is for four players, with those seated opposite each other as partners (as in the bridge-whist family of games). The book also describes variants for three and two players.

Deal and doubling

Turn to deal (if more than one hand is played) passes clockwise. The dealer starts by setting aside, face down, the top five cards, to form what is known as the cachette, and then deals the rest of the cards, one at a time face down, clockwise, starting with the player on the left.

After looking at their cards, each player, in the same order, has in turn the option of doubling the value of tricks, but not quints (see below for scoring; this of course changes the balance). Partners cannot both double. If one player of each side doubles, the second double is called a redouble.

Play

Standard rules apply for most things. Player on dealer's left leads to the first trick, and each player, clockwise, contributes one card to it. A player holding a card in the suit led must play one, except that Quint Royal may always be played instead. The winner of the trick leads to the next, and so on. However, the rules for determining the winner of a trick are non-standard. Instead of a trump suit, or none, as in most trick-taking games, a higher-ranking suit trumps a lower. Thus the entire pack is ranked in a single sequence, from the Ace of Hearts, which always wins a trick to which it is played, to Quint Royal, which always loses (so a player holding it will try to play it to a trick partner will win), and the highest card wins the trick.

Scoring

There are two types of scores, tricks and quints. (There are plenty of games scoring for cards taken in tricks instead of the tricks themselves, but scoring for the two in the same game is more unusual.)

Tricks score 5 each, 10 if doubled, 20 redoubled. The last trick effectively scores double, with the cachette treated as an extra (5-card) trick for its winner.

Quints score as follows: Quint Royal 25, ♥ 20, ♦ 15, ♣ 10, ♠ 5. Apart from Quint Royal (which has five crowns in the special pack), a quint is a card or cards in the suit totalling 5 in pip value, i.e. the 5, or the Ace and 4, or the 2 and 3. The score is for taking a quint in a trick (A 4 or 2 3 must be in the same trick) or cachette.

The game is won by the first side to reach a total of 250. There are 65, 130 or 260 points for tricks, and 75 to 175 points for quints, so game will be reached in one to four deals. Note that the order of scoring is not "chronological", quints are scored as the tricks (and cachette) are won, but tricks simultaneously after the end of play. Thus, if one side reaches 250 from quints, the game ends immediately, and tricks are not counted. Otherwise, the tricks (and cachette) are counted after the close of play. If this takes both sides over 250, the larger score wins, not the one that made enough tricks first.

Variants

In the three-player version, the fourth "player" is dummy, the hand opposite the first dealer, and is face up for dealer to play (before the opening lead, unlike bridge). This advantage is compensated for by an initial score of 25 to opponents (per game, not per deal).

In the two-player version, each player simply plays two hands, with a rack to hold up at least one of them.

Notes

  1. It has enough pages to satisfy the official UNESCO definition of a book.
  2. Five-player Five Hundred also uses a 53-card pack, but that game is mainly a three-player one.