We were tired of being held to our trick bids. Well actually, we were tired of Jeff making his bids exactly while the rest of us missed ours by a little bit. We'd been playing a popular trick bid game avidly for months and we losers were starting to lose interest.
Card games with trick taking have been around since at least the 1400's. Many popular games such as Bridge, Spades, Euchre and Pinochle involve taking tricks.
Generally, trick taking works the following way. Imagine a table for four with Damon, Shannon, Jeff and Debby seated clockwise. Damon deals each player in this imaginary game, for the sake of brevity, two cards. With two cards there will be two rounds of play. Two opportunities to take tricks. The players look over their hands and 'bid', or guess really, how many tricks they will take with their two cards. Shannon, next to the dealer clockwise, bids first. Everyone's bids are noted by the score keeper.
Shannon plays out her first card, face up to the center of the table. The first to play a card in the round is called the lead. Jeff, Debby and Damon play in turn. Let's say Jeff plays the winning card. He takes the four cards played. This is called a trick. He sets them aside in a little pile and leads out with the first card of the next round, the second card in the hand. The player who plays the winning card of this round, according to the rules of whatever game is being played, wins this trick. I hope it's not Debby. She bid zero. Scores are tallied before Shannon takes the deck, shuffles and deals the second hand.
We waited until Jeff left the room to devise our plans.
"Is it a lucky chair? He always sits in the same spot."
"Is it the seating order?"
"Should we make everyone bid zero?"
"Should we let everyone change their bids half way through the hand?"
Damon, a fiction author and by far the most devious among us, went away to his desk that night scheming his friend's demise.
The next time we met, Damon's face was beaming, or maybe gloating. He proposed a new game with approximate bids, All or Nothing. Even if a player didn't quite make a bid, all would not be lost. And better, Jeff would be less able to bid exactly the number of tricks he thought he could take, so he'd be missing his bid more often. Those of us with less exacting talents would have an in. But don't ask us who won the game last night. It's an in. Not a panacea.