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All-Fours

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All-Fours, is a card game known in America as Old Sledge, or Seven Up, is usually played by two players, with the full pack of fifty-two cards, which rank in play as at Whist, the ace being the highest, and the two the lowest. The game is seven points.

There are four different items which count towards the score, whence the name All-Fours. Such items are as follows:

High.--The highest trump out, scoring one to the original holder.

Low.--The lowest trump out, scoring one to the original holder.

Jack.--The knave of trumps, scoring one to the dealer, if turned up; if otherwise, to the winner of the trick to which it falls.

Game.--Scoring one to the ultimate holder or the more valuable cards in the tricks won by him, according to the following scale:--

  • For each ten (trump or otherwise) 10
  • For each ace 4
  • For each king 3
  • For each queen 2
  • For each knave 1

In the case of the players being equal in this particular, or of neither party holding any card which counts towards Game, the elder hand scores the point.

Method of Playing

The players cut for deal, the highest card having the preference. (This is the old-fashioned rule, but at the present day the Whist rule of "lowest card deals" is frequently followed.) The dealer gives six cards to each, turning up the thirteenth as trump. If the elder hand is dissatisfied with his cards, he may say, "I beg," in which case the dealer is bound either to allow him (by the phrase, "Take one") to score one point, or to give each player three more cards from the pack, turning up that next following by way of fresh trump card. If this should be of the same suit as the original trump, the dealer is bound to give three more cards to each, again turning up the seventh, until a new suit does actually turn up. If the turn-up card be a knave, the dealer scores one, this taking precedence of any other score. If, by reason of the elder hand "begging," there is a further deal, and the dealer a second time turns up a knave, he again scores one. The elder hand leads any card he pleases. His antagonist must follow suit or trump, his right to do the latter not being affected by his holding cards of the suit led. If, however, having a card of the suit led, he neither follows suit nor trumps, he becomes liable to the penalty of a revoke.

The player of the highest card of the suit led, or a trump, wins the trick, which is turned down as at Whist, and go on throughout the six tricks. In scoring, the order of precedence is (1) High, (2) Low, (3) Jack, (4) Game; subject, as we have seen, to the contingency of "Jack" having been the turn-up card, the point for this being scored before the hand is played.

The play is mainly directed to capturing the Jack, and such cards as may score towards Game.

Some players score a point whenever the adversary does not follow suit or trump. Some, again, make it the rule that each player must count his score without looking at his tricks, under penalty of losing one or more points, as may be agreed, in the event of a miscalculation.

Historically, the lowest court playing card was termed the "knave", not the "Jack". However, due to the influence of the All-fours game, the knaves were increasingly referred to as "Jacks". When indices were added to playing cards, the lowest court card was labelled as "J" (Jack) in Anglo-American cards[?] because "Kn" (Knave) was too similar to "K" (King), and from then on the lowest court card in such decks has been referred to as the "Jack". Historically, All-Fours was a card game played by lower classes, and thus even the term "Jack" was considered vulgar.

See also: Four-handed All Fours



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