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My untested French Tarot variant: a mistake!

Raymond Gallardo
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Correction: The math in this blog post is incorrect!

In "standard" French Tarot, suppose I won my petit contract with 36 card points, including three honours. My score would be (25 + 0 + 0) * 1 + 0 + 0. Suppose that we're using the "reenvisioned" version where the goal is to win 56 card points in tricks, but there's a 5/15/20 point bonus for winning 1/2/3 honours. I would still win my petit contract with 36 card points, including three honours as I would have 36 + 20 card points. My score would still be the same: (25 + 0 + 0) * 1 + 0 + 0.

I'm keeping this blog post here as witness to my poor math skills!



In Untested variants of sacred cows to compensate for my card playing deficiencies I proposed a French Tarot variant that simplified how to determine if the declarer won their contract (and added partnership contracts).

In French Tarot, the declarer wins the hand if they win at least a number of card points in tricks; this number varies depending on the number of honours (21-trump, 1-trump, or excuse) that they won:

0 honours: 56 card points
1 honour: 51 card points
2 honours: 41 card points
3 honours: 36 card points


I reasoned that you can rethink the goal as follows: The declarer needs to win 56 card points, but gets an additional bonus if they win honours in tricks; the bonus for winning three honours is 20 card points (56 - 36 = 20). There are 91 card points in the deck. But with this bonus, there are actually 111 card points in the deck (91 + 20 ). 111 / 2 = 55.5 or 56 rounded up, and that's how that value of 56 was derived.

Here's the mistake, or rather, my oversight. In French Tarot, you get to use this fancy formula:

Victory points =
( 25 + <difference between card points won and goal> + <10 if you won the last trick with the 1-trump> ) × <value of your contract> + <bonus for being dealt lots of trumps> + <bonus for winning all the tricks>

I made a mistake in the "difference between card points won and goal" part.

Suppose I won 56 card points in tricks, which includes the three honours. With French Tarot scoring, I needed 36 points to win. So my difference between card points won and goal would be 56 - 36 = 20.

However, with the idea of a single goal of 56 card points, my difference between card points won and goal would be zero!

So in French Tarot, honours are actually scored twice: In card points and in victory points!

My initial "reform" was as follows: Each card is worth the following number of points:

Honours: 10 (six points more than their original value)
Rois: 4
Dames: 3
Cavaliers: 2
Valets: 1
Every two cards 1


The declarer simply has win more than half of the points in the deck, 55 points.

To make the honours score twice in this version, I'd have to make the honours worth 16 points, but keep the objective at 55 points!

This fudge in the scoring defeats the purpose of my French Tarot reform: to make it easier to remember (or at least derive) the multiple goals.

Note: I could be totally wrong about all of this as my math is horrible.
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