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Old October 2nd, 2015, 04:56 AM   #1

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Tarot, the Game of Triumphs: European heritage in the form of leisure

Wanted to start a thread wherein I hope to focus some attention on a remarkable piece of European history, namely the pack of cards we now name Tarot. Why the history of the development of the game itself (and its artwork) attracted so shockingly little academic research so far is beyond me. I would have placed this in our humble and ever so elegant Medieval history forum, but as Tarot survived as a card game up until this very day all through the ages, I decided it was better to examine the thing in a broader context of games and leisure (not to mention, there are are no known rules for the game anything that earlier than the early 17th century). With this first post I hope to lift some of the obscure smokescreen that surrounds the game of Tarot.

False Popular belief

The average person you'd ask on the street thinks Tarot was a tool invented for alleged fortune-telling, and perhaps only used for gaming on the side (if at all) - while historical evidence shows that exactly the opposite is true. The pack of Tarot cards was not originally invented for cartomancy at all, but for playing sophisticated and challenging card games. For more than 600 years, these peculiar cards have been used in that way, that is to say, ever since their conception; any occult attachment to it is contrived and quite recent in that light. Popular modernday games like Contract Bridge and those of the Jass family, as well as all other games involving trumping, would probably not be in existence in their current forms if not for the elaborate ancestral family of Tarot games. Even though the popularity of these games signifcantly dwindled over hundreds of years, ever since late medieval times, millions and millions of people at European courts, in taverns and in households have been playing with these cards. The game is very much alive in some parts of Europe.

A history of not that much research

Why do we know so little about Tarot? One reason is that -aside from perhaps Chess- mental sports in general enjoyed suprisingly little research so far; most books about it are simply outdated rules for their time, passing on from one generation to the next. These are sadly often not even from first hand experience, but based on accounts from other books. If it contained any sort of mistake, it would be copied for years on end thereafter, and sometimes adopted in play. It was especially so for card games, that varied greatly as people introduced new rules continuously.

In modern books and history about card gaming as a leisure activity in Europe, the importance of Tarot is largely ignored. It is probably partially because its tremendous influence on the gaming world is not easily recognised. For a long time, the oldest pack of European playing cards were tarots, which led to the faulty conclusion that regular playing cards were derrived from it (while it is actually the other way around). Combine that with the misconception of occult roots, and historians quickly loose interest in examining it at all. "As they have little connection with England or the English pack, it is unnecessary to go further into their history and peculiarities," wrote Gurney Benhem in his Playing Cards: History of the Pack in 1931.

It must be said that card games in general have been largely regarded as inferior to abstract games like Chess, and so, not deemed worthy of research at all. Because of unequal opening positions there seems to be a large random factor to these games, as opposed to chess with “perfect” information. While this certainly could be applied to simple gambling games, it is very ignorant of the complexity and intelligence of games where everyone knows exactly which cards are in play, and the cards played by others are directly dependant on your own choices; like Bridge, Jass and Tarot. Often, a round of bidding is involved based on the cards you are dealt that has an enormous impact on the game. In that light, there is no "first-move advantage" in many of those games like in Chess. A game like Checkers is deemed superior over Backgammon mostly because the latter uses dice to determine future outcomes. Card games also do not use dice; it differs mostly from such games that the opening position of each player is hidden. With strategic and tactical skill, the information about the postion of the other players needs to be filched, every trick anew.

Not only the ignorance in the face history of playing games and sports (in particular mental games as opposed to physical sports) is important when discussing Tarot, equally badly researched is their place in the history of art; each pack of Tarot cards in Italian fashion have depicted no less than 22 medieval allegorical figures, as well as 16 court cards. These depicitions attest to the exquisite and exhorbitant taste for art and decorum of medieval nobility.

The depictions of allegorical figures were very typical and recognisable for that time, no matter how strange and mystical they seem to the modern mind. In that light, we’ll have to forgive researchers over the ages for mistaking the “Mategna Tarocchi” as a pack of tarot cards designed by Andrea Mantegna. They are neither tarot cards nor designed by Mategna, but a set 50 engravings designed in the area of Venice around the mid-15th century for education purposes. If anything, it attests to the regularity of the depicted allegorical figures. It could well be that Tarot was conceived by adding cards meant for educational purposes to a regular pack.


Current estimations place the invention of Tarot around 1420. The earliest pack of Tarots from which cards survive comes from the court of Milan, 1441, and the earliest known textual reference to Tarot dates from the court of Ferrara, 1442. Because the game became popular rapidly, towards the end of the 15th century it was known all over Italy. All of the accounts we have from this time refer to the cards as being used for playing a special kind of game (meaning significantly, that none of the sources associate it with occult matters in any way). These references easily debunk the idiotic belief that gypsies brought the Tarot to Europe, as they would not be travelling the continent for another 100 years. It is likely that such an expensive pack of personally designed cards was initially invented by (and reserved for) noble courts. It also hints that whatever is depicted on Tarot cards are typical images for Catholic late medieval life; if such a widespread pack would have overt occult meanings, surely, the clergy would have condemned them (instead of playing with them).

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Ace of cups, Queen of Coins, Cavalier of Sticks, "Visconti" tarot of the 15th century Visconti tarocchi;

The concept and structure

The term Tarot is an anachronism for the most part. In its early Italian days right after the invention, the pack was named carte da trionfi, meaning so much as “cards with trumps”. In early French sources, the name is spelled as tareau, which is a French version of the Italian term for the game, tarocco, of which the plural form is tarocchi. In Germanic languages it is mostly called taroc, tarock, tarokk or tarok.

Another briefly mentioned popular belief we can debunk here is that modern packs of cards are a watered down versions of the Tarot. Quite the opposite is true. Regular playing cards were brought to Europe by means of contact with the Islamic world. Lists of games from the 1360s don’t mention card games, but lists from the 1370s do so in abundance. This would place the invention of Tarot in the 1420s chronologically quite early in the history of card games in Europe, as it would not take 50 years after the introduction for Tarot in particular to become wildly popular.

McLeod & Dummett in their important book "History of games played with the Tarot pack" speak consitently of the tarot pack, because it was created by adding trumps to an extremely ordinary deck of cards of those Italian times. The suits those decks ordinarily used are Swords, Sticks (batons), Cups and Coins (denari). These are still used in most modern Italian packs, both regular card games and tarot, as well as in some French and Swiss parts (as opposed to the French suits).

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10 of coins, 9 of cups, 10 of swords, 9 of sticks, 15th century "Visconti" tarocchi

Tarot packs have four court cards for each suit, instead of the three we are used to now; King, Queen, Cavalier and Jack. In packs with only 3 court cards in Italy and all over Europe of that time (and in some places still), the usual three figures were King, Cavalier and Jack (not by those names). The odd man out here for the day and age of trionfi is thus the Queen, who did not become one of the three standard court cards until the introduction of the French suits of spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds. Where then did she come from? The answer is simple, she was introduced from another pack of cards that included a female consort for all three of the male figures, thus containing six court cards in each suit. Actually, the earliest and only example of a pack with six courts for each suit is Milanese, just like the earliest known Tarot is. It could be that Tarot in its original form also had six court cards, of which later two were dropped, or that the two were dropped from a regular pack before the trumps were added to it.

More importantly, the most prominent feature of the Tarot pack are the 21 extra cards that are supposed to be a sequence from 1 to 21 (though in early times they were often unnumbered), and were upon its invention named trionfi. We can now refer to them as “tarots" or "trumps".

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Three 15th century trumps from the "Visconti" tarot; the Mountebank, the Popess, the Traitor

There is another card, neither belonging to the sequence nor to any suit, originally named “il matto”, which can be translated as “the Fool”. “The Fool” is not in any way related to the modern “Joker”, which was invented specifically for the game Euchre. With 14 cards in each of the four suits, 21 trumps and the Fool, this will make a total of 78 cards in a standard pack of Tarot. It was in this form that it was most widely spread.

Spreading and development of the pack

In the 16th century it spread to France as well as Switzerland. In the 17th century Tarot spread to Germany, and from there to what is now the Netherlands, Eastern Europe and Scandinvia. From France, it entered what is now Belgium. Its peak was from approximately 1750 to 1850, when it was played in almost every country in Europe, except for the British Isles and the Iberian Peninsuala (where the game sadly never spread to), and also excluding most countries formerly under Ottoman rule.

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It is not entirely clear how far it penetrated elsewhere.

When Tarot spread to France and Switzerland, it had the original Italian form. It was in this Italian form that it spread all over Europe initially. Italian suits can be divided in three different forms, all of which infleunced specific Tarot packs; Italian, which has curved swords, Spanish, which has straight, separated swords, and Portuguese, which has straight, intersecting swords. Another difference is that Spanish Kings stand upright, while the other two types are seated. In Portuguese cards, the Jack (lowest court card) is usually a female. The Portuguese cards were produced largely in Spain for export, and came to heavily influence the way cards looked in in Italy as well - and thereby Tarot. The Portuguese type were used in the Papal states, Rome and everything south of it in Italy in the 17th century, and are the current type for use in Sicilian Tarot to this day. From the 18th century onwards, the Spanish type started dominating regular card game packs in Italy. The true Italian type used for play only survives in northern Italy. Tarot from Sardinia used the Spanish type, and that is the only one of its kind known to us.

Its development never stood still. Around the 16th century, the standard pack for the region of Florence would include, exotically, 40 trumps, totalling 97 cards, for play of a game of the Tarot family called Minchiate. These packs were produced until the 1930s, after which the game died out. This pack was not as wide spread as Tarot, but still at least spread to Sicily under the name Gallerini (as Minchiate supposedly has an obscene meaning there).

In 1740, French suits were introduced, which replaced the suits with Hearts, Diamonds, Spades and Clubs. Clubs are equated to Sticks, Spades to Swords, Coins to Diamonds and Cups to Hearts. Around this time, the Italian figures of the trumps were replaced with rustic scenes of urban and rural life or animals. In some countries they dropped the roman numbering on the trumps were dropped in favor of arabic numerals. Until the onset of the 18th century, the new forms heavily contested the old forms all over Europe, and by 1900, only Italy and parts of Switzerland still use the classic tarot.

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Knight of Clubs, Italian and French suited

Packs started to get shortened in publication, as not all games played need 78 cards, especially those in Austria and further east; the most common form of shortening is dropping the lowest 6 pip cards in each suit, which results in a 54 card deck where the trump ratio is thus greatly increased. An exotic 73-card pack of French suited Taroks was discovered not too long which has the shortened verison of the pip suits, but the number of trumps is increased (like in Minchiate). Sadly, for what game they were used can sadly probably never be uncovered.

Trumps and the Fool

The trionfi cards that were added to the regular pack were designed so seperately because they were to play an entirely new and radical role; that of trumps, of triumphing over other cards. All games belonging to the extremely large family of Tarot are basically trick-taking games with a permanent set of trumps. With the invention of Tarots the entire concept of trumping was invented. This was the lasting effect on card gaming in general. Trick -taking games already existed and were introduced to Europe from the Islamic world, but none of them were trumping games. However, soon after the invention of Tarot, the idea of trumping was applied to regular trick-taking games as well, often adopting one of the suits as trumps. This happened likely because not all people could afford an expensive pack of 78 cards, but still wanted to play games with the exciting idea of trumping. This is why the name “trionfi” for trumps was let go of in Italy, and was applied as a general term for games involving trumping as well as trumps themselves. From that time onward, terms like tarocchi were preferred. The system of trumping with regular card games spread to the Iberian peninsula and Britain as well.

Even though it is probably that its development was probably gradual, we have no proof of that. The system of trumping is simple to imagine in tricks; a highest ranking allegorical figure would beat all other cards on the table. That is why the trumps had a sequence, and depictions; the lowest trump is usually the mountebank, or trickster; he would “trick” and take all other cards. Trump nr. 2 would beat nr. 1 as well as all other cards, because it depicted a more powerful figure. And so on. The 21 would be the most powerful card in the game, beating all other cards (except for the Fool).

Annoyingly, the early tarot packs we have available to us are incomplete, so a standard order can not be deduced. The exact themes and sequences of cards differed from region to region early on. I give here the most standard order of the older Italian trumps, ranking from high to low, that Decker, Depaulis and Dummett give in their book “A wicked pack of cards”;

XXI the World
XX the Angel / the Last Judgment / The Trumpets
XIX the Sun
XVIII the Moon
XVII the Star
XVI the Tower
XV the Devil
XIV Temperance
XIII Death
XII the Hanged Man / the Traitor
XI Fortitude / Strength
X the Wheel of Fortune
IX the Hermit
VIII Justice
VII the Chariot
VI Love
V the Pope
IV the Emperor
III the Empress
II the Popess
I the Mountebank

Decker, Depaulis and Dummett state right thereafter;
It would take someone with an abnormally low degree of curiosity not to wonder where, when and for what purpose such a pack of cards was invented.
I tend to agree.

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Italian-suited French Tarot cards. Queen of Swords, Trump I: the Mountebank, Jack of Cups, Trump VII: the Chariot, 8 of Cups, 10 of Coins, Trump XII: the Traitor, Trump XVIII: the Sun.

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Modern Italian-suited Swiss playing cards.

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Modern Sicilian tarocco cards.

Centuries after its conception, with the invention of French suits, the cards and thereby the trumps took on all sorts of forms. The ones in France mostly started to depict urban and rural scenes.

The most used rustic scenes these days for French suited cards are double headed cards, depicting a urban scene on one head, and a rural on the other. Their original meaning is lost to us, but it is generally thought to represent at least the four ages in trumps 2-4, the four times of the day in trumps 6-9, the four leisures in trump 12-15, the four seasons in trump 16-19.

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Trumps 1-4, 19-20 and the Fool in a modern French deck

21 Celebration: Carnival / Military Parade
20 Gaming: Playing Cards / Bowling
19 Winter: Ice-skating / the Vigil
18 Autumn: At the market / Treshing wheat
17 Summer: At the races / Drying the wheat
16 Spring: Gardener / Sheep Shearing
15 Visual Arts: Photography / Painting
14 Open air: Hunting / Fishing
13 Shopping: The Store / The Store
12 Dance: Soirée / Folk Dance
11 Picnic / Boating
10 Mining / Shepherding
09 Night: Returning home / Night watch
08 Evening: Music Room / Returning home
07 Afternoon: Parlour / Resting in the field
06 Morning: Breakfast / Mowing the wheat
05 Old age: Grandfather / Grandmother
04 Adult age: In office / Women with children
03 Youth: Park / Maidens
02 Childhood: Children playing / Boys playing
01 Fool: Mime player / Fool and the Ballerina

You can find these type of Tarot playing cards in every supermarket in France, where you will see that they sell not only regular cards, but also “Jeu de Tarot”. It is a very popular game even to this day.

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A hand of French Tarot

The ones used in the area of the Black Wood in Germany has trumps depicting mostly animals.

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Cards for the German Tarot game named Cego

Most other regions, like Austria and Hungaria, use cards like the French, only with roman numerals.

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A wicked pack of cards - Decker, Depaulis & Dummett
A history of games played with the tarot - Dummett & McLeod
A history of card games - Parlett
A history of the occult tarot - Decker & Dummett

Last edited by Spikey; October 2nd, 2015 at 05:54 AM.
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Old October 2nd, 2015, 05:04 AM   #2

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Of course, especially exotic is the Minchiate deck with its 40 trumps, it died out in the 1930s. It was obtained by adding signs of the zodiac, the four elements and the missing virtues. The cards from the Star up are still the highest ones. Also, the deck removed the Popess and the Pope, bumping down all other cards in the regular sequence. The court cards are extremely exotic, depicting the cavaliers as being half animal.
Almost all of regular trumps are present here too,

XL; Trumpets
XXXIX; The World
XXXVII; The Moon
XXXVI; the Star
XXXV-XXIV; Gemini, Taurus, Leo, Aquarius, Pisces, Cancer, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aries, Scorpio, Virgo, Balance
XX-XXIII; Air, Earth, Water, Fire
XIX; Charity
XVIII; Faith
XVII; Prudence
XVI; Hope
XV; The Tower
XIV; The Devil
XIII; Death
XII; The Traitor
XI; Time
X; Chariot
IX; Wheel of Fortune
VIII; Justice
VII; Strength
VI; Temperance
V; Love
IV; Eastern Emperor
III; Western Emperor
II; Grandduke
I; The Performer

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Minchiate cards, replica

addendum II

Special designs for French suited regular Tarot decks

Ever since the late 19th century, special packs have been printed specifically for playing games. You can usually easily recognise them for what they are; playing cards.

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Non-standard Danish Tarok, Holmblad, 1850

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Dondorf Tarok replica, originally printed late 19th century

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Tarot Fleurs les Francais, late 19th century, oddly printed with a set of rules for a tarot game in the Piedmontese tradition, played in the area of Chambery

Last edited by Spikey; October 2nd, 2015 at 05:41 AM.
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Old October 2nd, 2015, 05:08 AM   #3

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never heard about "minchiate" but if i have to advance an educated guess i would say it has sicilian origins, am i wrong?
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Old October 2nd, 2015, 05:15 AM   #4

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Excellent essay, Spikey. Most informative.
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Old October 2nd, 2015, 05:19 AM   #5

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Originally Posted by gustavolapizza View Post
never heard about "minchiate" but if i have to advance an educated guess i would say it has sicilian origins, am i wrong?
The earliest known examples of it are from Florence, where it quickly supplanted the regular Tarot deck, becoming the dominant form for centuries there. It is sometimes referred to as Germini in textual sources. It eventually spread quite far over Italy, too. It stayed for a long while in Sicily under the name "Gallerini". If you ask me, it heavily influenced the way the modern Tarocco Siciliano looks (depicted above), as that deck lacks the card "the Devil" and instead places a ship on the place where you would expect it. The only other Tarot card I know of that depicts the ship that way is the trump XXI ("Water") from the Minchiate pack.

The game differs from most other Tarot games in point distribution; of the pip and court cards, only the Kings have value; probably why the game is called minchiate (things you don't care about, bullshit) with so many empty cards. Even more exotic is the aim to fetch certain sequences of Trump cards in your tricks; this mechanic is extremely rare if not unique for the Tarot family.

Tarocco Siciliano Trump 14;
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Minchiate Fiorentine Trump XXI;
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ETA: Where the Sicilian name "Gallerini" comes from is unknown, but so is the name "Germini". One may be based on the other, and the only explanation why the game would carry that name I can think of is that the highest trump of the Zodiac part is Gemini. While this is the highest trump that you would not otherwise find in tarotcards, the Star, the Moon, the Sun, the Trumpets and the World still come above it. I wonder if the original sequence placed the zodiac on top, making Gemini trump 40, the highest card.

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Old October 2nd, 2015, 05:27 AM   #6

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Originally Posted by Triceratops View Post
Excellent essay, Spikey. Most informative.
Thanks! I will follow it up with two more essays;

- Brief overview of what the Italian trumps are supposed to have meant to Catholic culture

- Rules of play of some of the oldest games we know
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Old October 2nd, 2015, 05:49 AM   #7

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Originally Posted by Spikey View Post
Thanks! I will follow it up with two more essays;

- Brief overview of what the Italian trumps are supposed to have meant to Catholic culture

- Rules of play of some of the oldest games we know

Look forward to reading them.

Hnefatafl, the Viking game is still played on Shetland.
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Old October 2nd, 2015, 06:02 AM   #8

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Originally Posted by Triceratops View Post
Hnefatafl, the Viking game is still played on Shetland.
Just Googled that, and wow - it boggles my mind. It seems so significant, yet I have never heard of it. I dearly hope that it is described in books researching Chess-like games. I have yet to find a good book on the general history of playing games, and the impact it has had on cultures - if such a book even exists.
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Old October 2nd, 2015, 07:50 AM   #9

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addendum III;


So, anyone who would like to play a game of Tarot, needs to know the basics! (I've also included a simple game from about 1900 at the bottom). Tarotgames are so-called point-trick trumpgames, which means there are points on the cards, unevenly distributed, and largely unrelated to their trick-taking value; some cards then are more valuable than others during play and in the end for scoring. This is much like Jass-games, and very unlike plain trick-taking games like Bridge.

To play tarot games, you'll need of course a tarot deck practical for play. By deciding on which one to buy, keep in mind that you want one which isn't all too alien to what you are used to playing regular games. Occult decks are rarely suitable for play. Most people will need a French Tarot deck, orginally called "Jeu de Tarot". It has all 78 cards and can be used to play all Tarot games bar Minchiate.

For playing Minchiate games, try finding the replica that is printed by Lo Scarabeo on occasion. Playing with it though, can be cumbersome.

Alternatively, take two decks of regular playing cards, and butcher them with a permanent marker;

1. Make sure you use the Jacks of the second deck to make them Cavaliers. Just turn the "J" or whatever it says into "C".
2. Make as many trumps as you like, number the corners largely 1 to 21 for regular tarot and 1 to 40 for Minchiate.
3. Use a Joker as the Fool.

It is not as elegant, but if you are purely interested in playing, it will do.

Regular rules of play

How does one actually play tarot? There is not one answer, as tarot is a family of games of which 100s of rules survive from all over Europe in a lot of different languages. Now follows a description of standard rules that are observed in most Tarot games.

Number of players

Tarot games range from 2 player games up to 8 player games. A lot of them involve floating partnerships, meaning that they are based on the bidding. Some versions have fixed partnerships, but they were likely only the preferred form in the Netherlands and parts of Switzerland. In other parts, like Italy, fixed partnerships were only used if you would play as many rounds as you could have different partner, each round with a different partner, your individual scoring adding up over the rounds.


The cards are usually dealt anti-clockwise, the dealer starting with dealing the first card to the player on his right (best called "eldest"). There is often a talon, and a round of bidding, after which the winner of the bidding exchanges cards with the talon before play begins. (Note that bidding is not present in the early games, as it was introduced from other games).

Regular tricktaking

Cards are played out in tricks. The player leading to the trick plays a card of his choice face up on the table. In anti-clockwise order, others do the same thing, one by one. The leader of the first trick is usually the player on the right of the dealer, and if the game involves announcements (contracts to attain certain goals during play) or declarations (gaining points for certain cards or combination of cards held in hands), that player goes first, too; it usually happens before playing the first card to a trick.

The players must always follow suit if they can when playing a card, which means they must play a card in the same suit as that of the leader if they have one, regardless of what other players do. If a trump is led to a trick, than others must play a trump as well.

If a player cannot follow the suit of the leader, he must always play a trump, no matter if it will win the trick or not. If a player cannot follow suit and is void of trumps, any card may be played. You cannot trump as long as you are able to follow suit of the leader.

A trick is won by the highest card of the suit led, except for when there are trumps in it, in which case the trick is won by the highest trump. The cards are collected and placed face down in a stack next to the winner of the trick (or one of his teammates), after which the winner leads to the next trick.

Card orders

How do cards beat one another? Trump cards of course rank in their order from high to low. In the suits, the King always ranks highest, then the Queen, Cavalier and Jack. In the suits of Staves and Swords (Clubs and Spades) the 10 follows the Jack, and then 9, and others down to 1 (Ace). In the suits of Cups and Coins (Hearts and Diamonds), the highest card after the Jack is the 1 (Ace), then 2 and up to 10, which is the lowest card in that suit. This is the classic order of the pip cards. The new order is largely used in France and in times gone by in the Netherlands, in which the 10 follows the Jack in each suit. Exceptions to both orders are known.

The Fool

The role of the Fool in its classic form was not a trump; it was an "Excuse". It can always be played instead of following the normal rules of play. It can not normally be beaten in a trick, nor can it win a trick; it always reverts to its player. This means it literally excuses the player from playing an obliged card to the trick. It was for a long time called in France l’Excuse, or the Excuse. Many games exist where an empty card from the tricks already won has to be given to the winner of the trick by the one playing the Excuse. Dummett and McLeod refer to this as Excuse with exchange, or Excuse without exchange if this is not the case.

Later in Tarok with German roots its role changed to simply the highest trump, even though its name in those games often still derrives from the old French “excuse”, being called Sküss, Skiss or something alike.


One of the most important factors of Tarot games are the card points. Card points determine what party wins at the end of the game by counting all cards won. The usual values of the cards are as follows;

Trump 21, trump 1, the Fool; 4 points each
Kings; 4 points each
Queens; 3 points each
Cavaliers; 2 points each
Jacks; 1 points each
Each trick won; 1 point
The rest of the cards, including trumps 2-20, are empty.

This distribution of the points led to cards often being counted in groups for convenience. For example, if there are 4 players, 4 empty cards together would be 1 point (for the trick). If that trick were to contain a King, it would be worth 5 points, 4 for the King, 1 for the trick. Confusingly, this sometimes led to the attribution of 5 points to a king, simply assuming you would count empty cards with it that would make up a trick. The point distribution then is as follows;

Trump 21, trump 1, the Fool; 5 points
Kings; 5 points
Queens; 4 points
Cavaliers; 3 points
Jacks; 2 points
Each trick won; 1 point

Counting like this can be faster / practical. Be careful when a trick contains multiple cards with points, substract 1 point for each extra card with value in the trick. A comparison of the counting;

Say, a trick would contain four cards. If you are counting a trick with both a King and a Jack as well as two empty cards the method for counting seperately would be;

K, J, trick;

The method for counting in groups would be;
K, J, minus 1 for each counting card extra;

You see that the net effect is the same. However, there are examples of irregular counting, for example, counting in groups of three even in four-handed games. This would mean that the principal form was three handed but later in time switched to four handed while the counting stays the same. The net effect of such counting then is of course NOT the same.

The Trumps 21 & 1 together with the Fool are often called Honors are something similar.

Note that the highest valued cards are the Honors and the Kings. Of these, Trump 21 and the Fool can not normally be lost in play. The Kings and especially Trump 1 are extremely weak, and are easily lost to other parties. There are sometimes bonusses or penalties involving weak cards winning the last trick with Trump 1, or losing it to the enemy.

addendum IV;

"CARNEVAL TAROT" (Jeu du Tarot, ca 1900)

This is probably good as an introductory game. It was largely found scribbled on a piece of paper and stuck with a tarot deck named "Mainzer Carneval", hence the nickname I gave it. It was reported by Dummett & McLeod. Refer to the regular rules of play above for the most part.

Players;3 - 7
Cards;54 cards, when using 78 cards packs remove 1-6 in the black suits and 5-10 in the red suits.
Direction; Anticlockwise
Fool; Excuse without exchange
Ranking of the Pipcards; Classic order

3 players; 6 cards to the talon, deal 3x3x3x3x4 to players
4 players; 6 cards to the talon, deal 3x3x3x3 to players
5 players; 9 cards to the talon 3x3x3, 3x3x3 to players
6 players; 12 cards to the talon 6x6, 3x4 to players
7 players; 12 cards to the talon 6x6, 3x3 to players

Bidding starts with the eldest. The following bids are available; a) pass, b) play with the talon or c) play without the talon. Playing without the talon is a higher bid than playing with the talon. The highest bidder becomes the delcarer, which means he plays alone against all other players in a big team. When playing with the talon, you must take all those cards up, and discard ones you don't want to take into the game before first trick, the discarded ones going to your won tricks pile. Always discard as many cards as the were in the talon. You may not discard Kings, Trump21, Trump1 or the Fool this way (except for when playing with 7 players, in which case you may discard any of them). When the declarer bid without the talon, those cards don't count for anybody this hand. If everyone passes, eldest must exchange with the talon and becomes declarer.

Regular rules are in effect, refer to above.

Regardless of the number of players, cards are counted in threes, with standard point values. This makes 70 points altogether in the pack. The player who was the declarer must make at least 36 points to win the game.

Last edited by Spikey; October 2nd, 2015 at 07:58 AM.
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Old October 2nd, 2015, 09:35 AM   #10

Edratman's Avatar
Joined: Feb 2009
From: Eastern PA
Posts: 6,044

Great posts Spikey.

You suggested making a deck marking up regular playing cards, but I was able to find Minchiate Tarot cards on Amazon, for as low as $35.00, and also quite a bit more.

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