Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lead with trump.

Why are these people so unhappy looking?

In a word, Pinochle.

They were on the losing end of the great Pinochle controversy of 2010.

It had started simply enough with a friendly game of Pinochle. It was a game we had learned from two places: I had learned the game on scout trips and the E sisters had learned from their father. We had taught Mr C over the years and had friendly games down the shore.

Until this year.

On Tuesday of this vacation, the teams were determined randomly by tossing aces. The first two aces that came up determined who were partners. Aunt Tina and Mr C were selected as partners by the fates. The fates also handed them crappy cards for the first game and they lost. Lost big.

Well, it wasn't so much that they got crappy cards as much as they got semi-crappy cards but had bad seats.

We play single auction bid Pinochle and so each player gets a shot at out bidding the previous player to determine trump. Mr C had some good hands but was always out bid by the person following him, namely me.

This had gone on the entire first game. Mr C would have a shot a good hand, bid fairly high and I would out bid him.

Now, it's worth a short discussion about rules for Pinochle at this point. The words above "Single Auction Bid" make it sound like there were strict written rules we all knew and followed. In reality, there weren't any. Well, not in the sense that you could look them up anywhere. The E sisters had learned from their now deceased father and I had learned from Scout Master John. Scout Master John didn't make this particular "camping" trip. Between these two historical and yet invisible Pinochle pillars we had formed a common set of rules that we were all happy with..

One such common rule was "You had to lead with trump". This was usually not big deal. If you had won the bid, you did so knowing that you would need to lead with a trump card, usually the Ace as to win the hand.

We always played this way.

So we started game two and in the first hand, I got stuck with the bid and we barely made the required amount of points to not go negative.

This brought is to the second hand of the now very competitive second game. Aunt Tina dealt, My partner passed and we were back in our old situation with Mr C bidding a 27. I had a run in diamonds which would only be of value if I won the bid and based on his bid I guessed the Mr C was in the same position. He, OR HIS TEAM, had to win the bid and name trump.

I bid 28, thinking that it was very unlikely that Aunt Tina, who had the final bid, also had a run.

Wasn't I shocked when she bid 29. I thought she had a run as well and then said she was going to guess at Mr C's trump which she guessed correctly at spades.

Then came the fateful words from Aunt Tina, "I may have reneged"

Aunt Tina, you see had named trump as spades but the reason for the correct guess was that she had no spades.

She had selected a trump that she had none of but because she won the bid and not Mr C, she had to start the hand.

This is where it all came unglued. Aunt Tina couldn't follow the rule "You must lead with trump".

So it was off to the Internet and the ever malleable wikipedia where we found the rules to be that "some play that you must lead trump". In our case "some" meant the girls deceased father and Scout Master John.
Both sides dug in. We argued that we always play with the rule "You must lead trump" and they were revising history by saying "only if you have it", which to my knowledge had never come up before. It sounded to me like they were mixing two rules, one where if trump is lead, you must follow with trump that beats the trump and the now famous "You must lead with trump" rule. 

In short,  without an impromptu scout camping trip or a seance I'm not sure we were going to settle this.

I suggested that we determine the rule for going forward but pretend that this hand never happened and start the deal over for this hand. At first they didn't want to hear this but after going around in argumentative circles for a half hour, they huddled and determined that "they were taking the high road".

We would play that you had to lead with trump from here on and start this hand over.

We had settled it, well, sort of, because the game never continued. My partner got a phone call from her spouse that lasted over an hour and the game never continued again.

It was a very anti-climatic ending to the great Pinochle controversy of 2010 but if it ever comes up again, YOU MUST LEAD WITH TRUMP.

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