Bezique and Variations
This is an archive copy of a page from the former website cardsanddominoes.com, with thanks to Howard Fosdick for permission to republish it here.
Marjolet is a quick, elegant game for two played in southwest France. After this we provide the rules for Bezique, the parent to Pinochle and one of the most enduringly popular card games. Bezique is like a two-deck Marjolet. Then we present Bezique variants: Polish, Rubicon, and Chinese Bezique.
Goal of the Game
To win a hand by scoring the most points. You score by taking Aces and Tens in tricks (called brisques), and by declaring melds (sets of matched cards).
To win a game across hands by being the first to make 500 or more points.
The Deck and the Deal
The game uses the 32-card “French deck.” Create it by removing all cards below the 7 from a standard 52-card deck. The remaining 32 cards rank-- A, 10, K, Q, J, 9, 8, 7. Note that the 10 is the second-highest card, ranking right below the Ace.
Deal each player 6 cards. Turn one card up and lay it next to the remaining part of the deck (the stock). The turned-up card dictates the Trump suit for the hand.
The non-dealer leads a card to the first trick. His opponent can play any card (you are not required to follow suit). The trick is won by the higher card of the suit led, or by a trump to any non-trump lead.
The winner of the trick may declare one or more melds if he cares to. He then takes the top card of the stock into his hand, and his opponent takes the next card. The trick winner then leads any card to the next trick. In this manner, the two opponents play cards to tricks, declare melds, and draw through the entire deck.
Winning a trick allows a player to declare any of these melds
|King & Queen of Trump suit (Trump Marriage)||40|
|King & Queen of same non-trump suit (Common Marriage)||20|
|Trump Jack & Trump Queen||40|
|Trump Jack and any non-Trump Queen||20|
Melds are placed face-up in front of the player who declares them. These face-up cards may later be used by that player just like the cards in his hand (played to tricks when desired).
A melded card can be used in other melds as well. For example, a Queen might be melded with a King of the same suit in a Marriage, then melded a second time later as part of a Trump-Jack-plus-Queen combination.
The trump Jack (called the Marjolet) may be re-melded to different Queens.
The Seven of Trump (the Dix)
The seven of trump, or the dix, is special. If the dealer turns it up as the trump card when dealing, he scores 10 points. If a player has the dix in his hand, after winning a trick, he may exchange it for the turn-up trump. The player scores 10 points for the exchange. Or if he does not exchange, he scores 10 points when playing the dix to a trick (it does not matter whether or not he wins the trick).
The “Close” -- and More on Scoring--
Eventually, one player draws the last face-down card from the stock, and his opponent takes the turn-up trump. The deck from which to draw is now exhausted or closed. Both players now take any of their melded cards on the table up into their hands
Now the rules of trick-play change. For these last six tricks, you must follow the suit led, if possible, and win the trick if possible. If you can not follow suit, you must trump if possible (if you can not trump, you may play any card). Players may not make declarations after closing.
The winner of the last trick scores 10 points. Should either player win all six tricks after closing, he wins 50 points. Also, the winner of the 10th trick in the hand scores 10 points. Some play that the person who draws the final card from stock (the turn-up card), scores 10 points.
After the hand ends, both players count their Aces and 10’s. They score 10 points for each.
Here is a scoring summary for all points outside of the honor melds
|Dealer turns up a seven for the trump card||10|
|Seven of trumps (dix) played to trick or exchanged for the turn-up||10|
|Winning the 10th trick in the hand||10|
|Winning the last trick||10|
|Winning all six final tricks||50|
|Each Ace taken in tricks (Brisque)||10|
|Each 10 taken in tricks (Brisque)||10|
Win tricks for two purposes in this game--
- To score by taking Aces and 10’s in tricks
- To enable you to declare melds
Part of the tension in the game is the balance between the cards you play to tricks, versus those you keep in hand in hopes of making melds. Ideally you assemble meldable cards in hand while playing low cards to tricks, yet keeping a “trick winner” in hand for when needed.
Another tension is between winning Aces and 10’s in tricks, versus casting them off on occasion to develop melds. In many hands, one player scores more in melds while his opponent scores more in brisques (Aces and 10’s).
Be flexible in the melds you chase. A good memory for what cards have been played is essential.
The only book in English that covers Marjolet is Oxford A-Z of Card Games by David Parlett. This is the first write-up of this game on the web in English and it conforms to Parlett.
Bezique is an expanded version of Marjolet (above). It can be played with two, four, six, or even eight decks. Each variant features an expanded and ever more complex set of melds. Here we describe the classic -- Bezique for two, played with two 32-card French decks.
To keep things simple (and reward your patience for reading the above Marjolet rules), we list only the differences between Bezique and Marjolet rules here.
The Deck and Deal
Use two 32-card French decks. So you will have a duplicate set of cards, Ace down to 7. Deal eight cards to each of the players (instead of the six each dealt in Marjolet).
A game across hands in two-deck Bezique is 1000 points (not 500 as in Marjolet).
The rules of trick-taking are the same as in Marjolet. One new situation may come up. If two identical cards are played to a trick, the first card played wins the trick.
This chart summarizes Bezique scoring. The main differences from Marjolet are:
- You score 250 points for a Sequence (A-10-K-Q-J) in the trump suit.
- There is no Marjolet. Instead, the Bezique is the unique combination of the Queen of Spades and the Jack of Diamonds. This scores 40 points. The Double Bezique (both Queens of Spades and both Jacks of Diamonds) scores 500 points.
- There is no special bonus for winning the eight tricks after closing the deck, nor do you score 10 points for winning the 10th trick in the hand.
- You can declare only one meld after winning a trick. No declarations are allowed after the Close.
A card can participate in different melds in different turns. However, you can only score a second time for a card when you place it into a different kind of meld. Example- if diamonds are the trump suit, you could score a Queen of Diamonds together with a King of Diamonds in one turn for a Trump Marriage. After winning another trick, you could add the Ace, 10, and Jack of Diamonds to score the lot for a Trump Sequence. But you could not just add a different King of Diamonds to the Queen to score a second time for another Marriage.
|---Meld or Scoring Event---||---Called---||---Points---|
|Any 4 Aces||100|
|Any 4 Kings||80|
|Any 4 Queens||60|
|Any 4 Jacks||40|
|King & Queen of Trump suit||Trump Marriage||40|
|King & Queen of same non-trump suit||Common Marriage||20|
|Queen of Spades and Jack of Diamonds||Bezique||40|
|Both Spade Queens & Diamond Jacks||Double Bezique||
|A-10-K-Q-J of Trumps||Trump Sequence||250|
|Seven of trumps
|Seven of trumps declared||The Dix||10|
|Each Ace or 10 taken in tricks||Brisques||10|
|Winning the last trick||10|
As with Marjolet, there is tension between winning Brisques and scoring melds. The player who wins in one category tends to lose in the other. There is no question that melds offer the greatest rewards.
Flexibility in the melds you pursue and a good memory count for much in Bezique. No mistake is worse than seeking a card for a meld that is no longer available. You’ll have to keep track of more cards than in Marjolet -- there are eight of each rank.
It's always shrewd to use a scoring card in more than a single meld, if possible. For example, use an ace in a set of 4 Aces, then later reuse the trump ace in a Trump Sequence.
Rules about the Dix vary in different sources. Some allow declaring more than one meld per turn while still scoring but one per turn.
All comprehensive rule books for card games include Bezique. Our favorite is the book Oxford A-Z of Card Games by David Parlett.
Leave tricks face-up on the table as you win them. After every trick, you may score either one or two melds. You create these melds by using the two new cards you have won, added to the other cards you’ve previously won in tricks. Each of the two new cards you have won can participate in only one meld... this is why you can declare two melds after winning a trick.
You can continue to meld after the Close (unlike standard Bezique rules). Some books state that each card can only be used in one meld in Polish Bezique.
Rubicon (or Japanese Bezique) is like standard Bezique described above except that you play with 128 cards (4 packs of 32 cards). The only rule differences are--
- Deal each player 9 cards (instead of 8)
- The trump suit is dictated by the suit of the first marriage or sequence scored
- The seven of trumps (dix) has no special value.
- The last trick is worth 50 points (rather than 10)
- Non-trump sequence scores 150 points (A-10-K-Q-J).
- You score 50 points for carte blanche if you are dealt no court cards. You can re-score this each time you draw without fetching a court card.
- After melding to the table, you can move a card out of that meld (to a trick or another meld), then re-create that meld with a replacement card. Example-- declare a trump sequence in hearts, next turn move the king from that sequence to another meld or play it to a trick, then play another king into the meld and score again for the trump sequence
- Two marriages of the same suit can be considered rearranged to form two more marriages.
- Standard rules score one bezique at 40 points, two beziques at 500 points, three beziques at 1,500 points, and four beziques at 4,500 points.
- Each deal is a complete game. Players total their points and round down to the nearest 100. Winner gains 500 points plus the difference between players’ scores. A player is “rubiconed” if fails to score 1000 points. In this case the winner scores 1000 points plus the sum of both scores. Brisiques (Aces and 10’s taken in tricks) are only counted in case of ties or to prevent a rubicon.
6-pack or Chinese Bezique is played the same way as Rubicon Bezique (above) except for these rules changes--
- Use 6 decks of cards (A -> 7), 192 cards total. Each player is dealt 12 cards (instead of 9).
- Carte blanche scores 250 points each occurrence. The last trick scores 250 points as well.
- Additional declarations are: 4 trump Aces = 1,000 4 trump 10’s = 900 4 trump Kings = 800 4 trump Queens = 600 4 trump Jacks = 400
- A player is rubiconed if he fails to score 3,000 points. The rubicon bonus is 1,000 points.
This game is much longer than standard or Rubicon Bezique (you’re drawing through a much bigger deck). Since you can “re-declare” a meld multiple times simply be replacing a single card within it, there is a premium on obtaining high-scoring melds early in the game and re-scoring them multiple times. Trump sequences work well, especially if you can overlap their suit with beziques or a 4-of-a-kind. Another strategy is to obtain a 4-of-a-kind (preferably in Aces), re-score it many times, and hope to convert it to 4-of-a-kind in trumps (scored extra). Note that 10’s have a new-found value (4-of-a-kind in trump 10’s scores 900 points), and that while there is scoring for triple and quadruple beziques, there is no score specifically for quintuple or sextuple beziques.