Card Games: Hombre Group
Hombre (also known in various places as Ombre or l'Hombre or Lomber or Tresillo or Rocambor) was the earliest game to introduce bidding. It is a three player plain-trick game in which players bid for the right to play alone against the other two. In the basic game the soloist's objective is always the same: to win more tricks than either of the other players. The different bids affect the conditions of the game, particularly the extent to which the soloist is allowed to exchange cards with the undealt talon. Later players added other types of contract, such as losing all the tricks, and adapted the game for four players (Quadrille).
Characteristic of the original games of this group is that the black aces (or long aces if using Spanish cards) are permanent trumps - the ace of spades is highest and the ace of clubs is third highest. The second highest trump is the card that would be lowest in its suit if it were not trump. As in most old games of Mediterranean origin, the pip cards in the red (round) suits rank in reverse order.
Philippe Lalanne's Salon des Jeux site gives rules (in French) for Le Jeu de l'Hombre as played in 18th century France.
On this site there are pages about:
- Tresillo - the closest surviving relative of the original game, now played in Spain.
- L'Hombre - the version of the game now played in Denmark
- Quadrille - an adaptaion for four players, probably now obsolete, in which the bidder chooses a partner by calling a King
- Zanga - a related four-player game with fixed partnerships, played in Andalucia (Spain) and in the Canary Islands.
Later variants sometimes used the black queens as high trumps instead of black aces, perhaps through some influence from Schafkopf. In these types the numerals all rank in the same direction, but in the trump suit the normally lowest card is still promoted to second highest.