A lover of unreason, and an exile (beingjdc) wrote,
A lover of unreason, and an exile

Get your cards

I have done a number of things over the last few days to avoid working on my dissertation. Despite this, I have a first draft done and dusted and with my supervisor for comments. Possibly the most timewasting thing I have done is to download the software from Objectif Tarot and play a few hands of Tarot (which apparently in English is called "French Tarot"). Well, a few; 93 so far.

I'm pretty good. Most of you probably aren't familiar with the game, but in brief it's essentially contract whist with a separate suit of 21 trumps (except that, in common with Bridge and unlike contract whist, you are aiming to maximise, not satisfice - so more like Solo Whist I guess). My game turns out not to have changed since the misspent youth that made me a decent player in the first place - I'm a nearly unbeatable attacking player (of the 93 hands I have attacked in 26 and won 20 of them) but my defence leaves a lot to be desired. Life imitates art, perhaps. Also if I get the King of Clubs I am guaranteed to lose, in attack or defence, for no obvious reason, it's always been that way. It probably helps that I'm playing late in the evening when everyone else is an hour more tired than me, too.

While canonically played four-handed, like Bridge, the highest bidding player in each deal takes on the other three, meaning you don't get nonsense coded messages in the bidding process, which is what I've always hated about Bridge - though the FFT have introduced some basic 'meanings' to the first card each player plays, which has annoyed me somewhat. In the five-handed version the bidding player 'calls' a King, and the holder of that King forms a team of two against the other three - with the twist that until it is played, nobody knows who it is. If you're cocky, you can call a King in your own hand and play one against four, sowing fear and suspicion, that's always fun.

Arguably I'm better at this than I am at chess (I'm not, in truth, terribly good at chess), but I don't like the level of luck involved in card games. It's too easy to blame bad cards, rightly or wrongly. It does make me wonder, though, it's always been a pretty popular game within France, but never made the leap. I suspect the need to invest in a specific deck (the fortune telling kind is not really playable) and the fact that (unlike Bridge, in practice) a deal can result in no high bid and therefore a redeal, often a few times in a row, are responsible. Both problems the internet gets around, but it does make me wonder - there are supposedly over a quarter of a million French people in London, and as far as I can find out on the internet, nobody plays. Not even a club, never mind a league. Odd.
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