Another Monday session. This time I played seven games of Go with Juho. In the first five games, I played white and Juho black without any handicap. For the last two games, I gave Juho white stones. I won three out of seven, so it’s official now: Juho is probably as good as I am or maybe even better.
Ari joined at then and we played Huutopussi or Auction Marjapussi. Marjapussi (“berrybag, but it’s probably twisted form of “marriage”) is a trick-taking game, which is part of the Marriage group of Ace-Ten -games, which in turn are point-trick games. You’re still with me? This means: certain cards are worth points, the goal of the game is to collect those; card ranking goes A, T, K, Q, J, 9 and so on; pairs of kings and queens of same suit have special meaning.
Round of Huutopussi begins with an auction. Players promise to get points. Highest promise wins the right to begin the round and to take a look at the devil’s pack, three cards that weren’t dealt (game is played using cut deck, which has no cards under six). Those cards can be used to replace weaker cards from the winner’s hand.
Then a game of trick-taking is played. Using David Parlett’s notation system, rule for following suit is F, T,r. Suit must be followed; if that’s not possible, trump must be played. Only if he or she has no correct cards or no trumps, can player renege. One must also always beat the previous card, if possible.
Trumps can be declared after player wins a trick. To declare a trump, player must hold a king and queen of the same suit. That suit can be declared as trumps. Trumps are important scoring-wise: trump of spades is worth 100 points, hearts 80, diamonds 60 and clubs 40. Aces are worth 11 points, tens are 10, kings 4, queens 3 and jacks 2. Last trick is worth 10 points. Therefore, the deck has 130 points plus the trumps.
In the end of the hand, the winner of the auction checks if he or she has as many points as promised. If not, promised points are scored in negative. If the score was reached, it’s scored. Winner of the auction can’t get any more points, no matter how many cards they collect! The can, however, raise their promise after they review the cards in the devil’s pack. Other players score normally. If someone is left without any tricks at all, they must go to Porvoo (to find out how much a kilo of salted herrings costs at the marketplace!) — they lose the amount of the promise. If the auction winner goes to Porvoo (which is a city in Southern Finland, by the way; it’s an old city and pretty nice place), he or she loses the amount doubled. However, that’s very unlikely.
It’s a fun game, I liked it a lot. Trick-taking fans should definitely try it. It works with three players — I’m not so sure how well it works with four. It’s partners game with four. Three is probably better, original non-auction Marjapussi might make for a better four-player game. Our game today was close and exciting. After seven rounds the scores were 395-370-370, with Juho in the lead. He collected 120 points in the last round, making up for the 60 points he lost in the previous round when he went to Porvoo. I had the honour of playing the best round — I promised 130 points with my two trumps and collected about 160 or 170. Too bad, I only got the 130 I promised.
This is a game I have to play more!