Original Card Games by David Parlett

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SECONDS


A game for the also-rans of life

Players 4   Cards 52   Type Tricks
This game experiments with two ideas: that of split partnerships and that of having the trick won by the second-highest card played instead of the highest. It was developed in 1996 and first published in the 2000 edition of my Penguin Encyclopedia of Card Games. (I mention this in case anyone thinks the second-highest feature is copied from Mike Church's game Ambition, which he dates to 2003.) For a similar three-hand game, see Gooseberry Fool.

The scoring system makes it desirable to divide tricks as evenly as possible between yourself and your (temporary) partner, while trying to force all the opposing partnership's tricks on to one of its members rather than the other. The fact that partners change at each deal, putting them in different relative positions to each other, adds to the variety of tactics needed to place each trick as profitably as possible, having also regard to who will be leading to the next.

Cards
Four players receive 13 cards each from a 52-card pack ranking AKQJ1098765432 in each suit.
Partnering arrangements
The players are designated North, East, South, West. Whoever deals first is North. A game is seven deals and the turn to deal and play passes always to the left. Although everyone plays for themselves in the long run, there are different partnering arrangements in each deal, as follows:
  1. North and South are partners against East and West.
  2. North and East are partners against South and West.
  3. North and West are partners against South and East.
  4. Your left-hand neighbour is your half-partner.
  5. Your right-hand neighbour is your half-partner.
  6. There are no partners, and the aim is to win tricks.
  7. There are no partners, and the aim is to lose tricks.
A "half-partner" is the neighbour whose number of won tricks affects your own score, while yours affects not theirs but that of your other neighbour.
Play
The player at dealer's left leads to the first trick and the winner of each trick leads to the next. You must follow suit if you can but may play any card if you can't. There are no trumps. The trick is taken by -
  • the second highest card of the suit led; or, if nobody follows suit:
  • the second highest card played regardless of suit. And, if this is tied, then:
  • the second-played of the tied cards.
Score
In deals 1 to 5, your personal score is the number of tricks you won multiplied by the number won by your partner or half-partner. (So if either of you wins none, both of you score zero.)

In deal 6 (win tricks), you score the square of the number of tricks you win yourself (0, 1, 4, 9, etc).

In deal 7 (lose tricks), you score the number of tricks taken by the other three players. (Or, what comes to the same thing, 13 minus the number you took yourself.)
Game
The winner is the player with the second-highest final score. The player with the highest score is ranked second.
Copyright © renewed 2017 by David Parlett