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Subject: Four player, floating partners variant rss

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P.D. Magnus
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The rules for Chicane were recently revised to include trumps; rules are on the Wiki.

I've been playing around with a four-player variant that takes the declaration of top/bottom and trump a step further. The process determines not only how the hand will be played, but also who will be partner with whom for the hand.

We have played several times and had fun with it. It is somewhat hard to write down as rules, so... is it clear? Other feedback is also welcome.

Partners Chicane

Although it is possible to play free-for-all with four players, I much prefer this variant. Players pair up in shifting partnerships, changing their allegiances from hand to hand.

Deal out cards for four. The player to the dealer's left calls Top, Bottom, or a trump suit. The player to their left can then do the same, calling either Top, Bottom, or one of the six suits. If the first and second player called the same thing, then they will be partners for this hand. If they did not, then continue clockwise around the table: The third player must call either Top, Bottom, or a suit.

If the third player says that same thing that the first player did, then the first and third players will be partners. If she says the same thing that the second player did, then the second and third players will be partners. If she says something entirely different, then the dealer must call either Top, Bottom, or a suit.

If the dealer says something which has been said already, then he is partner with whoever already said it. If not, then the player on the dealer's left must make call again; that player may not say something she has already called.

When someone repeats something that has been said already, this both determines partnerships and also how the hand will be played. If it was Top or Bottom, then that is how the hand will be played. If the call was a suit, then that will be trump. The other two players (the ones who have not matched calls yet) will be partners but they continue calling to determine the other aspect of the hand.

The last player to make a call leads the first trick, and play proceeds according to the usual rules. At the end of the hand, each player scores one point for each trick taken by them or by their partner.

EXAMPLE: The players (in order of seating) are Henri, Imet, Jane, and Killian. Henri deals.

Imet looks at his cards, like his chances with Leaves, and so calls 'Leaves' for trump. Jane calls 'Suns'. Killian calls 'Waves'. Henri calls 'Wyrms'. It is back to Imet, who cannot call Leaves again. He says 'Waves', making him partners with Killian for the hand. Jane must now call Top or Bottom; she calls 'Top'. Killian is skipped, since he is already partners with Imet. Henri calls 'Bottom'. Jane cannot repeat herself, so she must call 'Bottom'.

Jane leads. She and Henri are playing against Imet and Killian. The hand is played Bottom, with Waves as trump.
 
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Lacombe
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Cute. Courtesy of Parlett?

I was reading Cross Purposes just the other day and struck by how wonderful an idea it was. Seems you must have been doing the same.

He has positively a plethora of wonderful bidding / trump / scoring ideas [always the most interesting part of traditional card play].
 
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P.D. Magnus
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NateStraight wrote:
Cute. Courtesy of Parlett?


I read about Cross Purposes a while ago, but yes. whistle

In some ways, it almost makes more sense in Chicane than it does in Cross Purposes. The structure of Chicane requires that there be a determination of Top/Bottom and of a trump suit, whereas Cross Purposes requires adding the novel element of top rank so that there's something else to declare.

The real question is: Would you have been able to follow the rules if you didn't already know about Cross Purposes?
 
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Lacombe
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pmagnus wrote:
In some ways, it almost makes more sense in Chicane than it does in Cross Purposes. The structure of Chicane requires that there be a determination of Top/Bottom and of a trump suit, whereas Cross Purposes requires adding the novel element of top rank so that there's something else to declare.


Might you just as well say that the element of determining the top rank is part of the structure of Cross Purposes rather than simply a novel added element for no purpose other than bidding?

Quote:
The real question is: Would you have been able to follow the rules if you didn't already know about Cross Purposes?


I think so, although all the "saids" / "says" reminded me of some godawful Icehouse game I remember reading the rules to long ago that went something like "On your turn, you say something." And that was the whole rules to the game. I wish I could find it.

I think it might be a little long-winded, though, your explanation. Couldn't you just say "On your turn, you declare either Top, Bottom, or a trump suit. If you declare something someone else has already declared, you become their partner, otherwise the next player makes a declaration. Once one partnership has formed, the remaining players continue making declarations until they agree on something. You cannot declare something you have previously declared." ?
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P.D. Magnus
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NateStraight wrote:

Might you just as well say that the element of determining the top rank is part of the structure of Cross Purposes rather than simply a novel added element for no purpose other than bidding?


Sure. That's why I hedged with "in some ways" and "almost". My point was just that the Top/Bottom stuff was already part of Chicane, in search of a better declaration mechanic. Having a declared high rank is not a typical feature of standard deck trick-taking games. (Although, now that I think about it, I can think of some games that have it. It's just not in Bridge, you know? )

Quote:

I think it might be a little long-winded, though, your explanation.


I'm not sure. Once you get the gist of it, it's not complicated. I just worry that too abbreviated an explanation might not be enough for someone who didn't already get it.

Maybe someone who wasn't already familiar with Cross Purposes could comment, as to whether the longer or shorter version is better? ... somebody? ... anybody? whistle
 
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Daniël Muilwijk
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pmagnus wrote:
The real question is: Would you have been able to follow the rules if you didn't already know about Cross Purposes?

Hard to say, I already know the rules of Cross Purposes (which is a great game! Yes, I am a David Parlett fan). I'll try to read them as if I didn't knew that game already.
 
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Daniël Muilwijk
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pmagnus wrote:
I'm not sure. Once you get the gist of it, it's not complicated. I just worry that too abbreviated an explanation might not be enough for someone who didn't already get it.

I would go with a compact explanation followed by a couple of examples in this case.
 
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George Leach
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I haven't played or read the rules for Cross Purposes but I have played Mu and Njet so they help with understanding. I have no idea what Top and Bottom denote but I understood the rules fine. I think Nate's shortened version is also good (perhaps you could write a short rules for experienced trick-taking players).
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Jugular wrote:
(perhaps you could write a short rules for experienced trick-taking players).


This is something all trick-taking games should have, really... kind of akin to the 18xx rules-difference database.

Must follow suit led: Y/N
Must trump if void of lead: Y/N
Can lead trump before broken: Y/N
Must beat highest play if able: Y/N

Etc, etc.
 
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George Leach
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It could form an awesome database. Perfect for use in a Smartphone App. It could then generate the rules for those who want something more verbose. Variants could be easily recognised and notated... Ahh, dreams.
 
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P.D. Magnus
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Jugular wrote:
I haven't played or read the rules for Cross Purposes but I have played Mu and Njet so they help with understanding. I have no idea what Top and Bottom denote but I understood the rules fine. I think Nate's shortened version is also good (perhaps you could write a short rules for experienced trick-taking players).


Thanks. Reading it over again, my version is a bit flabby.
 
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Met to play Decktet games tonight, and one of the regulars requested the new Partner Chicane.

We agreed in advance to play to 31 points; ultimately, this took six hands.

The first four hands were very close, with scores of 5 to 4. I was part of the winning partnership in each of those.

The fifth hand hand a bigger spread, with a score of 6 to 3. Again, I was on the winning side.

The sixth and final hand was a disaster, ending 7 to 2. I lost was on the losing side, and my partner for the fifth hand was on the winning side. So he ended up with exactly 31 points to my 28.

The declaration phase is where most of the action really happens. One complexity which is not present in Cross Purposes, is that the declarations effect the number of trump. In a Top hand, for example, there are only two Knot cards. So there was one hand in which I called Knots, expecting that my opponents would end up calling Top so as to minimize the number of trump cards. This was fine with me, because I had the Crown of Knots and a lot of other high cards. I got to trump once, but there weren't a lot of trump cards floating around to defeat my high cards in the other suits.
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