This game, which is of considerable antiquity, is available for two, three,
four, or more persons, but is usually played by four, when two of the
players act as partners against the other two. It is, however, equally
available for four players acting independently, in which case each scores
his individual points, whereas in the partnership game, as with only two
players, the lesser number of points is taken from the greater, and the
difference only is scored by the winner. With three players it is also
necessary to score independently, although in all these independent
scorings it is sometimes decided that the lowest scorer shall not reckon
anything, while the number of his points is deducted from those of each of
the others; as, for instance: suppose A made 1 point, B 2, C 3 and
D 5; A would not score anything, while B would score 1, C 2, and
D 4. Similarly, if A made 2 points, B 2, C 2 and D 5; D would
be the only one to score, and he would count 3.
It is usual to play with the full pack of fifty-two cards; there is however
no reason why the smaller pack of thirty-two should not be used, but in
that case the hands would be of shorter duration.
Assuming that four persons intend to take part in the game, and that they
decide to play in pairs, the first question to settle will be as to who
shall be partners, and who the first dealer. This is arranged by each of
the four players taking a card from the top or other part of the pack,
when those who draw the two lowest cards have to play against the drawers
of the two highest. The lowest of the four (ace counting as lowest)
becomes the first dealer. In the event of a tie, which prevents the
decision being thus made, only those whose cards are alike draw a second
time. The partners sit opposite to each other, and the cards of each
player are kept distinct until the hands are completed by the entire pack
having been played through.
The cards having been shuffled and cut, the dealer distributes four cards
to each of the players, dealing them one at a time. He also places four
other cards face upwards in the middle of the table. It is usual to
deal these latter one at a time when going round with the regular hands,
but they may be taken all at one time from the top of the pack, after the
players have received their cards. The player on the left-hand side of the
dealer then plays a card from his own hand, and takes with it every card of
the same denomination among those exposed on the table, as well as all that
will combine and make the same number. For instance, a ten not only takes
every other ten, but also nine and ace, eight and two, seven and three,
six and four, or two fives, two threes and a four, and other combinations.
If the player is able to pair or combine any of the cards, he places them
with his own card face downwards on the table in front of him; but if he is
not able to pair or combine, he must add a card, face upwards, to those
already exposed on the table. The next player does the same, and so on
round the table until the four cards in hand have either been paired,
combined, or added to the exposed stock on the table. The original dealer
then distributes four fresh cards to each of the players, but does not
expose any on the table as in the first round. The same proceeding
is repeated until the whole pack has been exhausted, the player who is last
able to pair or combine any of the exposed cards taking all the remaining
cards off the table, and scoring one point for thus "sweeping the board,"
as it is termed. If a player is able to sweep the board at any other time
during the progress of the game, he also scores a point, and the following
player has to commence a new board by laying out a card.
The whole of the cards having thus been played, the partners combine their
winnings, and the counting of the cards commences, the various points of
the game being as follow:
The winner of Great Cassino (the ten of
diamonds) reckons ... ... ... ... 2 points.
The winner of Little Cassino (the two of
spades) reckons ... ... ... ... ... 1 point.
The winner of each ace reckons ... ... ... 1 "
The winner of the majority of the cards of
the spade suit reckons ... ... ... 1 "
The winner of the majority of the entire pack
of cards reckons ... ... ... ... ... 3 points.
The partners whose winnings show the greater number of points then deduct
the points of their opponents from their own, and score the remainder
to their game; thus, if one sides secures 6, and the other side 5,
the former score 1 point and the latter score nothing; while if the
respective scores were 7 and 4, the winners of the seven points would
add to their score.
The object of those engaged in the game being to secure Great Cassino,
Little Cassino, the four aces, the majority of spades, and the greater
number of cards, a few rules will at once suggest themselves to guide
the play of the hands. Secure the Cassino cards on the first
opportunity, also aces and spades, after which aim to make as many
combinations as possible, leaving the pairs until last, unless they be
the ten or the two, which are always best got off the board as early as
possible, so as to prevent the opponents making the Cassinos if they
have them in hand.
When three players are engaged, it is sometimes agreed that the two lowest
shall add their points together, and subtract them from the highest.
In such a case, if the two lower numbers together either amount to or
exceed the higher, then neither party scores. This method will not be
found desirable in actual play, as it leads to so many hands resulting
in a negative score.
If a card is exposed by the dealer in the first round, other than those
dealt for the exposed hand, then the deal is forfeited, but the exposure of
a card at a subsequent period does not disqualify the dealer, the player
being compelled to take the exposed card, although it is best to impose
some penalty for the fault.
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