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Skat-bridge My variation over Australian 500

#1 User is offline   Tim Ocean 

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Posted 2023-September-24, 13:57

Ok, second try. Maybe this time this will make somebody interested.

Do we have some Australians here? I've recently discovered an excellent Australio-American card game called 500. A game similar to bridge, where 4 players get each 10 cards, there is bidding akin to that from bridge, and the biggest difference with bridge is that the top 4 trumps are: joker, jack of trump, jack of the same color as trump, A. Hierarchy in other suits is A,K,Q,(J),10,...,5,(4). For instance in the top 4 trumps are: joker, J, J, A. Hierarchy in no trump is joker,A,K,Q,J,... There is no dummy but there is kitty of 3 cards and the declarer can switch 3 cards. There is 43 cards total. The deck is obtained by removal of black 2s, 3s and 4s and red 2s and 3s and by adding the joker. You can read about the game at Wikipedia.

At first glance it looks very much like simplified bridge but it's not. The differences:
  • lack of dummy,
  • interesting hierarchy of trumps,
  • the fact that the declarer leads to the 1st trick,
  • 2 special contracts (misere where you avoid taking tricks)

makes it a very interesting game on its own. Worth playing even if you know bridge.

In my oppinion 500 is worth playing in tournaments. It could be played as duplicate. Of course it's far behind bridge, but since there are torunaments of skat (not duplicate as far as I know) why there couldn't be tournaments of 500? It's a partnership game what makes it automaticaly a better, more elaborate game than skat.

But I was wondering how we could improve 500 so that this game could be as intricate as bridge (and still not to be a copy of bridge). Here is what I figured out. I called it skat-bridge, because 500 is reminiscent of both bridge and skat.

Introduction

We take 2 identical decks. We take 3 twos from one of them: 2,2 and 2 and add them to the second deck. We add a joker. It makes 52+4 cards total. Every player is dealt 13 cards. 4 cards are dealt to kitty. The bidding starts with the player to the left to the dealer. The order of suits is as follows: ,,,,NT. The bidding goes from 1 to 7NT, but there are 3 additional contracts:
  • misere where the declarer plays alone against the 2 opponents and his aim is to take no tricks.
  • open misere where the declarer additionally uncover his cards after 1st trick.
  • double misere where 2 players plays against 2 opponents and their aim is to take 0 tricks.


Hierarchy in trump is as follows:
joker, J, J of the same color as trump, A, K,Q,10,...,3,2,(2).

Hierarchy is other suits is
A,K,Q,(J),10,...3,2,(2).

Hierarchy in no trump and misere is
joker, A, K, Q, J,10,...,3,2,(2).

For instance the hierachy in when are trumps is:
joker, J, J, A,K,Q,10,...,3,2,2.

The winner of the bidding takes the kitty, doesn't show it and can switch 4 his cards setting them aside to kitty. The winner is the player who bid the highest contract (like in 500, but unlike in bridge). He leads to the 1st trick (like in 500 but unlike in bridge). The play goes further as in bridge. There is no dummy. The "dummy" plays himself. There are doubles and redoubles.

Scoring
I think we can take the scoring almost untouched from bridge. However, because the declarer leads to the 1st trick, no trump is easier than in bridge. I just need joker AKxx xxxx and no side stoppers to take 9 tricks in no trump. Or joker AKxx xxx + a side ace at your partner. Because of it first trick in NT is worth only 30 points, what makes you need 10 tricks to get game in NT.

Misere
Misere is a kind of contract present in many card games, among them in German skat, Russian preferans, spades and, of course, in 500. In misere we avoid taking tricks. We fail if we take any trick. In 500 misere is played only by 3 players (partner of the declarer doesn't play). Misere in 500 is notoriously valued too high compared to other contracts. There may be many opinions where to put misere, I propose to:
  • Misere is worth 60 points and is above 2 but under 2NT in the bidding. Can be bid only after the level of 2.
  • Open misere, where the player uncover his cards after 1st trick is worth 90 points and is above 3 but under 3NT. Can be bid only after the level of 3.
  • Double misere, where both partners are playing and need to take 0 tricks. It is worth 120 points and is above 4 but under 4NT. Can be bid only after the level of 4.


I added double misere to the game, because we're losing 4NT Blackwood since 3NT doesn't make game. So my proposition to deal with it is as follows:
  • Double misere stubstitutes Blackwood.
  • If opponents bid double misere then double substitutes Blackwood.


Kitty
There are 4 cards set aside to kitty. The winner of the bidding get them, doesn't show them and can switch 4 his cards. I decided the kitty to be 4 cards, because this is accordance with the spirit of 500: in 500 you get 10 cards and the kitty is 3 cards. You can switch 3/10 of your cards. Out here you have 13 cards and can switch 4 cards. 4/13 is almost equal to 3/10.

Joker
Joker is the highest card in deck. It is the highest trump when there is trump and it beats all other cards in NT and misere. I've seen there is a lot of rules with respect to the joker in 500. I like the simplest from Trickster: In NT and misere you declare the suit of the joker when leading with it. You can add the joker to a trick only when you have void in the suit, but apart from it you can put the joker in any moment of the game even if you had shown void in the suit.

Bidding
There are many rounds of bidding. You can bid even if you passed (unlike in 500). There are doubles and redoubles.

Play
Exactly like in 500. In other words: exactly like in bridge with the expection that there is no dummy, there is different hierarchy in trumps and that the diclarer leads to the 1st trick.

I want the declarer to lead to the 1st trick, unlike in bridge, because this is how 500 is played and I don't want to create a copy of bridge. I want to turn 500 into a game as intricate as bridge and worth playing in tournaments. Notice that lack of dummy makes the game harder for the declarer - he cannot to plan the play. Leading by the declarer to the 1st trick makes the game easier for him. All together keeps good balance of the game I think.

If there are 2 same 2s in the trick (for instance 2(lead), 5,K, 2) the first one wins.

Bidding system?
I was wandering how the rules would affect bidding known from bridge and what bidding system we could sketch. Here are my propositions:
  • It's well known to the 500 players that you should open 1 in a suit with at least the jack of that suit. AKQ are too low trumps.
  • You open 1NT with joker and, say, 10 HCP.
  • You open 2NT with joker and good 6-cards suit, say
    joker, AKxxxx. Your partner raises with side aces.
  • You open 3NT with joker and good 7-card suit, say
    joker, AKxxxxx.
  • You open 2/// with joker and good 5 in the suit.
  • Double misere subsitutes Blackwood, when the opponents bid double misere, then double substitutes Blackwood.
  • In my oppinion in Blackwood answers should show the joker, the jack of trump and 3 side aces as "aces". So it should be akin to RKCB. Answers could be 03,14,2 without second jack, 2 with second jack or 140322.


For sure you could devise something much better.

Your opinion and my request.
To the 500 players: what's your oppinion about the game/my idea of the game? Would you like to play it?
To the bridge players: what's your oppinon about the game? Would you like to play it?

I ask you to try it out. If you have 3 colleagues you play bridge with, please play with them in my game and share your oppinion from the gameplay here. What do you like and what you don't? If you introduced any changes to the rules (for inatance with respect to the joker) please, write what are the changes.

I will be vary gratefull for your opinnions and even more gratefull if you try to play my game with your friends.
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#2 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2023-September-25, 10:23

I grew up in Minnesota (born in 1939) where more or less everyone lays cards and other board games. Starting with War and Crazy Eights I moved on through various rummy games. I learned poker (well, depending on what you mean by "learned") when I was ten or so, and 500 around the same time.

When I am back in Minnesota, I occasionally play bridge. The rules vary. For example, the Wikipedia article says "In American play, there is only one round of bidding".


For me, the main difference is that 500 is a casual game. When my daughter was in college she said some guy wanted to teach her to play bridge. i suggested that she wait until she graduated and she took my advice. Chess was similar for me. In college I was playing chess and decided I could get good at chess or I could graduate but maybe not both. But 500? 500 was casual. So was hearts. Play for the evening, have a couple of beers forget who won.


Of course it could be played more seriously but we never did. Bridge is enough of a time sink for me, but to each his own.
Ken
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#3 User is offline   Tim Ocean 

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Posted 2023-September-28, 12:09

View Postkenberg, on 2023-September-25, 10:23, said:

For me, the main difference is that 500 is a casual game.

Yes it as. But a very good one. But I'm wondering how we could improve it or devise a sport version. Bridge wasn't sport at once either. At first there was no bidding in bridge. It was called whist then. Afterwards there were no overtricks in bridge. It was called auction bridge then. Finally it took the current, evolved shape and started to be played at tournaments.
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#4 User is online   pescetom 

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Posted 2023-September-28, 14:39

View PostTim Ocean, on 2023-September-28, 12:09, said:

Yes it as. But a very good one. But I'm wondering how we could improve it or devise a sport version. Bridge wasn't sport at once either. At first there was no bidding in bridge. It was called whist then. Afterwards there were no overtricks in bridge. It was called auction bridge then. Finally it took the current, evolved shape and started to be played at tournaments.


Not sure that is a fair summary. IIRC, overtricks were around by WW1 (Plafond) and introduced in Auction Bridge long before it was superceded by Contract Bridge in the late 20s. There were tournaments of Whist well before Bridge and tournaments of Bridge well before Contract Bridge took shape. Sport is a noble word, I very much like to associate it with Bridge but would hesitate to do so before 1957 at least.
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#5 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2023-September-29, 16:24

I still struggle with associating the word "sport" with Bridge :)

My mate ChatGPT "A physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively. It is usually undertaken for enjoyment, fitness, or competition, often requiring skill and physical prowess. Sports can be played individually or as a team and are often organized with specific objectives or goals to achieve."

Maybe the Olympics needs a new form of Pentathlon event. Running, jumping a few hours of bridge and shooting and swimming
- apologies brain not thinking. Maybe a Team format is better - Basketball, Swimming Relay, Team Bridge, Rowing, finish with the 4x100 m

But I always found 500 a fun social game that didn't mean much
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#6 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2023-September-30, 08:10

View Postthepossum, on 2023-September-29, 16:24, said:

I still struggle with associating the word "sport" with Bridge :)

My mate ChatGPT "A physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively. It is usually undertaken for enjoyment, fitness, or competition, often requiring skill and physical prowess. Sports can be played individually or as a team and are often organized with specific objectives or goals to achieve."

Maybe the Olympics needs a new form of Pentathlon event. Running, jumping a few hours of bridge and shooting and swimming
- apologies brain not thinking. Maybe a Team format is better - Basketball, Swimming Relay, Team Bridge, Rowing, finish with the 4x100 m

But I always found 500 a fun social game that didn't mean much


Growing up oh so many years ago, hockey, baseball and football were sports, bridge, poker and crazy eights were card games. Poissibly hide and seek was a sport but I do not really think so. A sport should involve the use of some muscle to do something, and detaching a card from your hand and laying the card on the table doesn't do it for me. Punching out your partner for forgetting to draw trump? Well, maybe, but not really.

Anyway, I am just some old guy who thinks bridge is a card game, not a sport, and I am happy with it being that way. And 500 is a fun game, I think it is also fine to just leave it be as a fun game but Ido not object to jazzing it up and organizing tourneys.

Some things are just fun. When I was 12 or so I worked at the St. Paul Open, a golf tournament, I decided golf looked like fun so I went to the Salvation Army, I bought some clubs, some balls and a golf bag. I would get up early before the groundskeepers at the local golf course were on duty and play a few holes. It was fun. That was the beginning and the end of my thoughts. It was fun.
Ken
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#7 User is online   pescetom 

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Posted 2023-September-30, 11:43

View Postkenberg, on 2023-September-30, 08:10, said:

Growing up oh so many years ago, hockey, baseball and football were sports, bridge, poker and crazy eights were card games. Poissibly hide and seek was a sport but I do not really think so.


I would argue that hide and seek is a physical activity but not a sport like hockey, just as rummy is a mental activity but not a sport like bridge. The IOC seems to agree with me, as neither hide and seek nor rummy are on their radar, whereas hockey and bridge are both recognised sports.

I think that unlike many other games and pastimes, bridge (since 1957) and chess have the hallmark characteristics of a sport, in that there is organised competition on the basis of clear rules and objectively verifiable results which depend largely upon performance.

I have practiced various sports over the years and can testify that competing in bridge is no different from competing in physical sports, the mindset needed is the same (all sports are ultimately mind sports, and winners are ultimately just winners, although they may have some genetic quirk that makes it easier for them in one sport than another).
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#8 User is offline   Tim Ocean 

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Posted 2023-September-30, 14:48

View Postpescetom, on 2023-September-28, 14:39, said:

Not sure that is a fair summary. IIRC, overtricks were around by WW1 (Plafond) and introduced in Auction Bridge long before it was superceded by Contract Bridge in the late 20s. There were tournaments of Whist well before Bridge and tournaments of Bridge well before Contract Bridge took shape. Sport is a noble word, I very much like to associate it with Bridge but would hesitate to do so before 1957 at least.


I see we have here a nice historian of bridge (not irony) :) Yes indeed, there had been plafon, where overtricks did exist even before contract bridge. The French and especially Russians surprise here very much, because they had their own very evolved and elaborate versions of bridge well before the rest of the world (it was called vint in Russia). Interestingly there was an alternative scoring system in rubber bridge popular (reportedly) in Poland, fomer Austro-Hungary and Israel called Polish score (at least in Poland). In Poland it was popular well after the WW II and was in obvious way modelled after plafon - there were extremly large bonuses for slam and grand slam and you needed to make 6 to reach a rubber.

Ok, folks, so can some of you play my game and share feedback? :)
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