Invented by Charles Magri
Showcase is a trick-taking game for 2 players based on various themes taken from other games such as German Whist and Draw Bridge. Rules, tips, strategies and a FAQ may also be found on Charles Magri's own Showcase page.
Showcase is played using an ordinary pack of 52 cards. The ranking in each of the suits is Ace (high) through 2 (low).
Each player is dealt 13 cards. The remaining (26) cards are placed face down between the players to form the stock pile. The top card of the stock pile is turned face up and is known as the (current) display card.
The non-dealer leads to the first trick. Thereafter the player who wins a trick leads to the next, until the stock pile is exhausted after trick 13. (After trick 13, the end-game takes place). The winner of a trick takes the display card and places it face up in front of him / her along with other previously collected display cards. These exposed cards are collectively known as the player's showcase and forms part of the player's hand.
The "loser" of the trick takes the next card from the stock pile and adds it to his / her hand without showing his / her opponent and turns up the next topmost stockpile card as the new display card.
Tricks won in play of the first 13 tricks are of two types:-
- Value-less Tricks won by a player who played the higher ranking card of the suit led wins the trick, but this trick does not count. The cards that constitute the trick are placed in the "discard pile", located somewhere near the stock, between the players.
- Value-Tricks When the second player does not follow suit, the trick is won and counts as a value-trick. In effect the first 13 tricks are played at "all-trumps" and only ruffing tricks count in this phase of the game.
The Obligation to Follow Suit
For the purpose of trick-taking, the normal obligation to follow suit is that a player must follow suit of the card led to a trick if there is a card of that suit in the showcase, otherwise he / she is free to play any card from the hand. The card used for the trick may be chosen from either the concealed hand or from the showcase.
Restriction on Playing cards From the Showcase
The play of cards in the showcase have some restrictions which form part of the overall strategic make-up of the game.
- The lead to a trick is restricted to a card from the concealed hand in the play of the first 13 tricks.
- Further, a Showcase card may not be used in a trick response when not following suit.
- Thus Showcase cards may only be used in following suit in response to a trick that has been led by the opponent and result in a value-less trick for either player (for the first 13 tricks).
Exhaustion of the Stock Pile - The End Game
When the stockpile is exhausted after the 13th trick, the end game takes place. Both player's hands are showcased (ie. fully exposed) and if one of the players has a less number of value-tricks than his / her opponent (the lesser offender of re-negeing) , he / she may nominate a trump suit for the next 13 tricks, otherwise, in the case of a tie of the number of value-tricks taken, the end-game is played in no-trumps. In the end game every trick counts as a value-trick. The nominated trump suit may be any one of six choices being a single suit trump ( clubs, hearts, spades or diamonds), no-trumps or all-trumps (as in the play of tricks 1 to 13 ). The winner of the 13th trick leads to the 14th.
At the end of a hand, each player scores one for each value-trick less six ( "for the book"). Players play to an agreed limit for a match.
Tips and Strategies
Ideally, play in the first 13 tricks has as a target one of three goals:-
- Only 1 value-trick advantage to the opposition with the edge gained by the option to nominate the trump suit in the end-game to be valued higher than the cost of the 1 trick.
- Play for a tie in value-tricks and play out in no-trumps. This strategy suits hands which look to be strong in honour cards or have a long suit that may be run through without ruffs by the opponent.
- Maximise the value-tricks taken in play. A handicap of 2 or 3 may be enough to undermine the edge granted to the opponent in his / her option to nominate the trump suit in the end-game.
An attacking campaign with a long suit ( 5+ cards ) will most likely force the opponent to take a value trick, by virtue of the fact that there are 13 cards in a suit and nearly half are in the hand already. If on the receiving end of this campaign by the opponent, remember that length in one suit implies a shortage in another so that the opponent may be vulnerable also to a contra campaign in another suit. This may be sufficient to set back the value-trick count.
The display card is extremely important. It governs whether or not to capture the trick on the table.
- The display card may be a valuable addition to the hand to either enhance the strength and the quality of the hand for the end-game or to replenquish shortages in suits that may be a threat to the player.
- Conversley, the display card may be beneficial to place in the opposition's showcase, expanding the scope of their showcase and further restricting the opponent to follow suit, not by choice. It may be a weak card so that giving it to the opponent costs nothing especially as the trick surrendoured counts for nothing.
- When indifferent or negative about the display card, remember that the gifting to the opponent of the trick costs nothing, that they get a useless card and that the gain of the topmost card of the stockpile is concealed to the opponent and is likely to be more useful that what is on display.
Another consideration that may be taken into account when determining whether or not to take the trick (in the first part of the game) is that the lead has to come from the closed hand. If the opponent is allowed to take the trick he / she must lead from the concealed hand which contains supposedly a concentration of valuable (high ranking) cards. Making the opponent use these cards in the first part in valueless tricks rather than later (in the endgame) on tricks that count is a strategic consideration. It may be worthwhile to allow the opponent's trick to hold in the last few tricks even when the display card is a high ranking card.