Breaking the silence… Yesterday I had my first game session since the birth of our #2, Anni. Olli came to visit in the evening for hour or so. I recently bought a copy of David Parlett’s The Penguin Book of Card Games. The new 2008 edition is a really great book, the best card game book there is in my opinion. Highly recommended!
Anyway, so I wanted to play a traditional card game and Olli shared that wish, so we tried Bezique, a classic two-hander from the 19th century. It was fashionable during the 20th century, too, and Winston Churchill apparently loved the six-pack version. We played two games of the basic two-pack Bezique.
It’s a trick-taking game, where trick-taking is almost pointless. However, when you win a trick, you can declare a meld from your hand. Melds start with lowly marriages, then there are pretty nice four jacks, queens, kings and aces, the really hot trump sequence and the best, the double bezique worth 500 points when 1000 wins the whole game.
There’s plenty of luck involved, as you get half of the pack and if your half doesn’t contain the cards required for the double bezique, it’s tough luck. There are some interesting decisions to make, but many of those depend on data you don’t have (ie. what’s coming in the pack), so in the end they are fairly random — but nevertheless they are fun to make.
That’s my verdict: Bezique is fun. It was a good way to spend an hour (about 30 minutes for the first game, 40 minutes for the second) and captivating enough. There’s enough depth to make things interesting. The combination of trick-taking and melding is interesting, though the game definitely feels more like rummy than trick-taking.
So, we played two games, and I lost both. The first one was quite an obvious one, as Olli got a double bezique for 500 points in the first hand and after that I was basically struggling to cross the Rubicon (get 500 points) before he got to 1000. I did, scoring 520 points in the end. Close! The second one was much closer and we didn’t finish in three deals, like the first. It took a part of the fourth deal before Olli could secure his victory. I was close, though, missing just one card from a trump sequence that would’ve taken me over the 1000 point line.
I think I would like to try other variations, at least the four-pack Rubicon Bezique (and perhaps Fildinski or Polish Bezique, where melds are not made from hand cards but from cards won in tricks, which would emphasize the trick-taking aspect of it all). And, of course, try some Pinochle, especially the three-player auction variety.
I also invested in some proper playing-cards and bought four packs of Copag cards. These plastic cards are really well-liked and are indeed a pleasure to handle. They should last for ages without any damage and if they get dirty, they can be washed. Nice. I just don’t like the style of the cards too much, the font used is quite heavy and block-like, I’d prefer something more elegant… Well, the quest for perfect cards goes on.