Our Life in Burgundy

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The Blog: Our life in Burgundy

February 27, 2015

The Mysteries of Tarot

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Mary @ 13:49

No, I don’t mean  the fortune tellers’ game but French tarot, a game like bridge but much more complicated. We are starting to learn how to play tarot and discovering that even in its simplest form it is not easy.


A winning hand; 7 atouts including the 21, two kings and a run of diamonds

The first requirement is that you need enormous hands as you are dealt 18 cards which need to be arranged. There is the addition of a cavalier to the normal four suits, and an extra suit of atouts, or trumps, that run from 1 to 21, plus an excuse (joker). The possession of the atouts, especially the 1, the 21 and the excuse, determine the ability to meet a contract. If you are tentative you can bid a petite, and if more confident a garde, where you get double the points if you win. Because it’s necessary to give at least one person a good hand you don’t shuffle the cards much between games.

Claude generally wins but he does insist on letting everybody see his cards

The person who is the strongest bidder takes the chien, a set of 6 cards that he can exchange with his own, and sets himself against the other three players. Other strange rules kick in, for instance if an atout is played the following players have to trump it even if they are on the same side.

A final difficulty for me is counting, in French, the points in a pile of tricks. The cards are added in pairs to make it easier, most being worth a half point except for the four face cards, the Valet, Cavalier, Dame and Roi. Then points are added to the winner’s score and subtracted from the loser’s in various multiples depending on the contract

I assure you it is a lot more complicated than this potted version but if anybody wants to join us two duffers in learning tarot one morning a fortnight you are most welcome.

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