Historic Card Games described by David Parlett



From Professor Hoffmann and his bunch of fives

UK, early 20th century

Quinto is only "historic" Portrait
Professor Hoffmann
(Angelo Lewis)
Cover in that it is over 100 years old, not in that it belongs to the natural history of card games. It was in fact invented around 1900 by Angelo Lewis, who edited card-game books under the pen-name "Professor Hoffmann". He edited an edition of Hoyles Games which was one of the first I ever bought when I first started getting interested. I include it because I find it delightful and imaginative - it is, indeed, one of the few card games invented by someone else that I wish I had invented myself.

Cards and deal
Four players sit crosswise in partnerships and play to the left. From a 53-card pack ranking AKQJ1098765432 in each suit, and including a Joker, deal 12 each in ones and leave the last five face down on the table as a cachette.
To score 250 points over as many deals as necessary. Points accrue for winning tricks (5 each) and especially for any "quints" they may contain. The best quint is the Joker, or "Quint royal", worth 25 points. Additional quints are the Five of each suit, and two cards of the same suit totalling five (A+4, 2+3) that fall to the same trick. A quint in hearts scores 20, diamonds 15, clubs 10, spades 5.

Quints and their scores

Before play, each player in turn has one opportunity to pass, double, or redouble an opponent's double. A double increases the value of won tricks from 5 to 10 points in the current deal, a redouble further increases them to 20 each. An incidental but not insignificant effect of doubling is to reduce the relative value of quints to tricks.
Dealer's left-hand neighbour leads to the first trick and the winner of each trick leads to the next. You must follow suit if you can but may otherwise play any card. There is no single trump suit. Instead, the suits rank in order from low to high: spades, clubs, diamonds, hearts. A player unable to follow suit to the card led may discard from a lower suit (if any), or may "trump" by playing from a higher suit (if any). The trick is therefore taken by the highest card of the highest suit played. The Joker may not be led to a trick, and cannot win a trick, but otherwise may be played at any time, whether or not its holder can follow suit. (It follows that a player still holding the Joker at the 11th trick must play it if the only alternative is to win the trick, as it would be illegal to lead it to the twelfth.)
During play, the side winning a trick containing a quint scores immediately for the quint (Joker, Five, A-4, 3-2), according to its suit. If this brings them to the 250-point target, they win, and play ceases immediately. Otherwise, the side winning the last trick wins also the cachette, which counts as a thirteenth trick, and scores for any quint(s) it may contain. If neither side has reached 250, the thirteen tricks are then counted at 5, 10, or 20 each, depending whether or not any doubling took place. If both sides are still under 250, or both are over but tied, there is another deal. The turn to deal passes to the left.
Copyright © 2017 by David Parlett
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