How to Play Bezique

Bezique, the forerunner of the card game Pinochle, was invented in the early 1800s in Sweden. By the 1850s, it was a hit all across Europe, and it soon arrived in America. It's still widely enjoyed in Britain. Over the years there have been many exciting variations of Bezique. In this article, you will. learn how to play classic Bezique, Rubicon Bezique, and Chinese Bezique.

Let's get started with traditional Bezique:

Number of players: Two

Card Term Glossary
Here's a quick reference for some of the card language you will find in this article.

Follow suit: To play a card of the suit led.

To play the first card to a trick.

Marriage: A meld consisting of the king and queen.

Meld: A combination of cards with scoring value, generally three or more cards in sequence in one suit or all of the same rank; also, to show or play such a combination.

Stock: The undealt cards available for future use.

Table: The playing area; also, to lay down a meld on the playing area.

A round of cards played, one from each player's hand.

A suit designated to be higher ranking than any other suit; any card in that suit. Also, to play a trump card on a trick.

Upcard: The first card turned up after a deal, often to begin play or initiate a discard pile.

For a complete listing of card terminology, click here.

Object: To score points by melding and by taking tricks containing aces and 10s (brisques).

The cards: Two sets of 32 cards, consisting of aces through 7s, are shuffled together into one 64-card deck. Cards rank -- from high to low -- A-10-K-Q-J-9-8-7.

To play: Deal eight cards to each player, in groups of three, two, and three, and then turn up a card. This "upcard" will designate which suit will be trump. Place that card face up and so that it is slightly sticking out from under the draw pile. If the trump upcard is a 7, dealer scores 10 points immediately.

Nondealer starts play by leading any card. At this stage of play, and as long as there remain cards to draw, you are not obliged to follow suit; you may play any of your cards.

The highest trump in a trick wins it, or, if there is no trump card, the highest card of the suit led wins it. When two identical cards contend for the same trick (for example, two 10s), the first one played wins the trick.

The winner of each trick scores 10 points for each ace or 10 (also called a "brisque") it contains, and may also table one meld. (You may tally the 10 points for a 7 of trumps along with a meld, and if you table the first 7 of trumps you may also trade it for the trump upcard.) Tally all points when you meld as you score them (see "Melds in Bezique" table below). Tally brisques at the end of the hand.

Both players take a new card from the stock, with the winner of the previous trick drawing first and then leading to the next trick.

Melded cards stay on the table until the stock is used up, but you may still play them on tricks. A card you meld one time can be used again, but only in a different meld and only with a winning trick. For example: Q melds with K in a marriage and can also meld later for 60 points with Q--Q-Q. But it can't meld with a second K -- a completely new pair is needed to score the second marriage.

When only the upcard and one draw card remain, the upcard goes to the trick-loser. Put your remaining melded cards back in your hand, with the winner of the previous trick taking the last draw card and leading to the next trick. In the play of the final eight cards, each player must follow suit and also must win a trick whenever possible. Whoever wins the final trick scores an extra 10 points.

In Bezique, you want to make a royal marriage.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Dealt this hand, you want to win a trick so that you can exchange the
7 for the K (pulled out here for clarity), giving you an immediate
40-point trump marriage (K-Q). You should not play an ace, which
would reduce your chance to complete a meld of 4 aces. The 10 is a possible
lead, though it gives opponent the chance to win a brisque.
Instead, you could try either J, but as a card of lower rank,
it is a more likely loser.

Scoring: The first player to accumulate 1,000 points -- or any other agreed-upon sum -- wins.

Bezique, the forerunner of the card game Pinochle, was invented in the early 1800s in Sweden.

Tips: The play in Bezique has 32 tricks, in which your opponent will try to trump any ace or 10 you lead. Therefore, you should save your 10s to win lower cards when your opponent leads. Meanwhile, there's usually a difficult suit for your opponent to win tricks in. Even if you lead low cards of that suit, it may cause discomfort: Players want to hold on to melding cards (aces, kings, queens, the 10 and jack of trumps, and Q and J for a possible 500-point double bezique). Yet each player can hold just eight cards! If you have a big meld near the end of the game -- for example, Q-Q-J-J -- you may not have time to meld it in two stages to score an extra 40 points. Your opponent may see through that plan and prevent you from winning a second trick and the additional 500 points.

Now that you've learned the basics of classic Bezique, move on to the next section to discover two challenging variations -- Rubicon Bezique and Classic Bezique.

Rubicon and Chinese Bezique

With a few minor variations to the rules of traditional Bezique, you can add two new games to your card repertoire.

Rubicon Bezique

Rubicon Bezique became very popular because of its emphasis on melding.

Number of players: Two

Object: To attain the better score. Each deal is one game. A losing player scoring under 1,000 points is said to be rubiconed.

The cards: Two 64-card Bezique decks (128 cards total).

To play: This game is similar to regular Bezique, but deal nine cards instead of eight. The first melded marriage determines the trump suit. There is no trump until a marriage is declared. If you're dealt a carte blanche (no picture cards), show it and score 50, and score 50 more after each draw until you do get a picture card.

Rubicon Bezique became very popular because of its emphasis on melding.

Scoring: New melds include triple bezique, quadruple bezique and backdoor (see table above). A meld can be remade even by replacing a played melded card for a trick. Although the winner of a trick still gathers the two played cards, brisques (aces and tens) are not scored unless they are needed to break a tie or to allow a player to avoid being rubiconed. If one player counts brisques, both must count them. Last trick counts 50 points. The 7 of trumps is not scored. As with all Bezique games, no declarations are scored after the stock pile is depleted. The player with the highest score at the end of the game adds 500 points. If the loser is rubiconed, the winner of a Rubicon game receives a 1,000-point bonus instead of 500 as well as 320 credit for brisques, plus all the opponent's points!

Chinese Bezique

Chinese Bezique, or Six-Pack Bezique, is fast paced and high scoring; it was Winston Churchill's favorite game.

Number of players: Two

Object: To score a high number of points. Each deal is one game. Loser must reach 3,000 points or be rubiconed.

The cards: Three 64-card Bezique packs (192 cards total).

To play: Players cut to determine dealer, with the choice going to the player with the high card. Cut again if cards are the same rank. It is a disadvantage to be dealer. Deal 12 cards each. It is common to pile up cards played in tricks on the table, where all can see what's been played. Or you may collect them in a neat pile. Brisques and sevens are not scored. There is no trump until the first marriage determines the trump. That trump remains in the next game until that game's first marriage is declared.

Chinese Bezique, or Six-Pack Bezique, is fast paced and high scoring.

Scoring: If dealer lifts 24 cards from the deck when cutting cards at the outset, dealer scores 250 points. If nondealer guesses the correct number of lifted cards, that player scores 150 points. Carte blanche scores 250, and 250 with each succeeding drawn card that is not a face card. Winning the last trick earns 250. The other melds are scored in subsequent winning tricks. The winner of the game receives an additional 1,000 points. If the loser is rubiconed, the winner scores that additional 1,000 points plus the loser's points.

Tip: Remember, you can score again for a meld just by replacing one card. So after melding four kings, if you play one and can replace it later, you score for the entire meld again. In this way you will not only increase your score, but you might also attain the points needed for game.

Now that you're well-versed in all three Bezique variations, get out your card deck and start melding!

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