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Cards And Dominoes

--- On This Page --- The Bezique Family ---

Marjolet, Bezique, Polish Bezique,
Rubicon Bezique, Chinese Bezique, Zetema

Here’s a great introduction to the challenging, strategic games of the Bezique/Pinochle family. If you’re only familiar with trick-taking and rummy games, you owe it to yourself to try these. Marjolet is a quick, elegant game for two played in southwest France. After this we provide the rules for Bezique, the parent to Pinochle and one of the most enduringly popular card games. Bezique is like a two-deck Marjolet. Then we present Bezique variants: Polish, Rubicon, and Chinese Bezique. We wrap up with Zetema, a fun game lost to history.

Goal of the Game--

To win a hand by scoring the most points. You score by taking Aces and Tens in tricks (called brisques), and by declaring melds (sets of matched cards).

To win a game across hands by being the first to make 500 or more points.

The Deck and the Deal--

The game uses the 32-card “French deck.” Create it by removing all cards below the 7 from a standard 52-card deck.  The remaining 32 cards rank-- A, 10, K, Q, J, 9, 8, 7. Note that the 10 is the second-highest card, ranking right below the Ace.

Deal each player 6 cards. Turn one card up and lay it next to the remaining part of the deck (the stock). The turned-up card dictates the Trump suit for the hand.

The Play--

The non-dealer leads a card to the first trick. His opponent can play any card (you are not required to follow suit). The trick is won by the higher card of the suit led, or by a trump to any non-trump lead. 

The winner of the trick may declare one or more melds if he cares to.  He then takes the top card of the stock into his hand, and his opponent takes the next card. The trick winner then leads any card to the next trick.  In this manner, the two opponents play cards to tricks, declare melds, and draw through the entire deck.

Honor Melds--

Winning a trick allows a player to declare any of these melds--



Four Aces


Four Kings


Four Queens


Four Jacks


King & Queen of Trump suit (Trump Marriage)


King & Queen of same non-trump suit  (Common Marriage)


Trump Jack & Trump Queen                


Trump Jack and any non-Trump Queen



Melds are placed face-up in front of the player who declares them. These face-up cards may later be used by that player just like the cards in his hand (played to tricks when desired).

A melded card can be used in other melds as well. For example, a Queen might be melded with a King of the same suit in a Marriage, then melded a second time later as part of a Trump-Jack-plus-Queen combination.

The trump Jack (called the Marjolet) may be re-melded to different Queens.

The Seven of Trump (the Dix)--

The seven of trump, or the dix, is special. If the dealer turns it up as the trump card when dealing, he scores 10 points. If a player has the dix in his hand, after winning a trick, he may exchange it for the turn-up trump. The player scores 10 points for the exchange. Or if he does not exchange, he scores 10 points when playing the dix to a trick (it does not matter whether or not he wins the trick).

The “Close” -- and More on Scoring--

Eventually, one player draws the last face-down card from the stock, and his opponent takes the turn-up trump.   The deck from which to draw is now exhausted or closed. Both players now take any of their melded cards on the table up into their hands

Now the rules of trick-play change. For these last six tricks, you must follow the suit led, if possible, and win the trick if possible. If you can not follow suit, you must trump if possible (if you can not trump, you may play any card).

Players may still declare melds after the close, if able.

The winner of the last trick scores 10 points. Should either player win all six tricks after closing, he wins 50 points. Also, the winner of the 10th trick in the hand scores 10 points.

After the hand ends, both players count their Aces and 10’s. They score 10 points for each.

Scoring Summary--

Here is a scoring summary for all points outside of the honor melds--



Dealer turns up a seven for the trump card


Seven of trumps (dix) played to trick or exchanged for the turn-up


Winning the 10th trick in the hand


Winning the last trick


Winning all six final tricks


Each Ace taken in tricks (Brisque)


Each 10 taken in tricks  (Brisque)



Win tricks for two purposes in this game--

       (1)  To score by taking Aces and 10’s in tricks
       (2)  To enable you to declare melds

Part of the tension in the game is the balance between the cards you play to tricks, versus those you keep in hand in hopes of making melds. Ideally you assemble meldable cards in hand while playing low cards to tricks, yet keeping a “trick winner” in hand for when needed.

Another tension is between winning Aces and 10’s in tricks, versus casting them off on occasion to develop melds. In many hands, one player scores more in melds while his opponent scores more in brisques (Aces and 10’s).

Be flexible in the melds you chase. A good memory for what cards have been played is essential.

More Information--

The only book in English that covers Marjolet is Oxford A-Z of Card Games by David Parlett. This is the first write-up of this game on the web in English and it conforms to Parlett. The “Recommended Rule Changes” are our own.

Marjolette -- an enhanced Marjolet for playability --  

Playing Marjolet convinced me that altering the rules increases playability. I changed a half dozen key rules to transform it into a new game I call Marjolette. Here are the complete rules to Marjolette.


A Bezique

On this page --
Marjolet, Bezique, Polish Bezique,
Rubicon Bezique, Chinese Bezique, Zetema

Bezique is an expanded version of Marjolet (above). It can be played with two, four, six, or even eight decks.   Each variant features an expanded and ever more complex set of melds. Here we describe the classic -- Bezique for two, played with two 32-card French decks.

Bezique is unusual among card games in that it has a life cycle. Your hand matures through the course of the game. If you start with poor cards, for example, you will likely build your hand through the game and still score.  Conversely, if you are dealt lucky cards, after a blitz of melding you may find yourself struggling to reconstitute your hand. The lyrical feel of the life cycle underlies Bezique’s enduring appeal.

To keep things simple (and reward your patience for reading the above Marjolet rules), we list only the differences between Bezique and Marjolet rules here. We’ve enhanced traditional Bezique rules with a few minor changes of our own. The section ”Enhanced Rules” at the end enumerates these small improvements to standard Bezique.

The Deck and Deal--

Use two 32-card French decks.  So you will have a duplicate set of cards, Ace down to 7.   Deal eight cards to each of the players (instead of the six each dealt in Marjolet).

A game across hands in two-deck Bezique is 1000 points (not 500 as in Marjolet).

The Play--

The rules of trick-taking are the same as in Marjolet. One new situation may come up. If two identical cards are played to a trick, the first card played wins the trick.

Scoring Summary--

This chart summarizes Bezique scoring.   The main differences from Marjolet are:

     *   You can now score for a Sequence (A-10-K-Q-J) in any one suit.
         The Trump Sequence scores 250 points, while non-Trump Sequence score 120.
There is no Marjolet.  Instead, the Bezique is the unique combination of the
         Queen of Spades and the Jack of Diamonds. This scores 40 points.
         The Double Bezique (both Queens of Spades and both Jacks of Diamonds)
         scores 350 points.
     *   There is no special bonus for winning the eight tricks after closing the deck,
         nor do you score 10 points for winning the 10th trick in the hand.
     *   You can declare only one meld after winning a trick.

A card can participate in different melds in different turns. However, you can only score a second time for a card when you place it into a different kind of meld. Example- you could score a Queen of Diamonds together with a King of Diamonds in one turn for a Marriage. After winning another trick, you could add the Ace, 10, and Jack of Diamonds to score the lot for a Sequence.  But you could not just add a different King of Diamonds to the Queen to score a second time for another Marriage.

             ---Meld or Scoring Event---



Any 4 Aces



Any 4 Kings



Any 4 Queens



Any 4 Jacks



King & Queen of Trump suit  

Trump Marriage


King & Queen of same non-trump suit

Common Marriage


Queen of Spades and Jack of Diamonds



Both Spade Queens & Diamond Jacks

Double Bezique


A-10-K-Q-J of Trumps  

Trump Sequence


A-10-K-Q-J in any one suit (* an enhanced rule)    

Non-trump Seuence


Seven of trumps displayed/exchanged

The Dix


Each Ace or 10 taken in tricks



Winning the last trick




As with Marjolet, there is tension between winning Brisques and scoring melds. The player who wins in one category tends to lose in the other. There is no question that melds offer the greatest rewards.

Flexibility in the melds you pursue and a good memory count for much in Bezique. No mistake is worse than seeking a card for a meld that is no longer available. You’ll have to keep track of more cards than in Marjolet -- there are eight of each rank.

Building melds is a winning technique. This means scoring a card in a simple meld, then melding it again in a larger meld for more points. For example, meld a King and Queen of the same suit and score for a Marriage.   Then add the Ace, 10, and Jack of the same suit for a Sequence. Or score a Spade Queen and Diamond Jack for a Bezique. Then, add the other Spade Queen and Diamond Jack and score a Double Bezique.

Enhanced Rules--

This section describes the minor rules changes in the above from those of “standard Bezique.” Rules about the Dix vary in different sources. Here we’ve used a simple approach, consistent with the Marjolet rules above. Standard Bezique rules do not allow melding after the close.  This renders the last eight tricks anti-climatic. Allowing melding after closing increases suspense and leads to exciting conclusions.  Standard rules score the Double Bezique at 500 points. This betrays Bezique’s pre-modern origins. We’ve reduced the score for this meld more in line with its statistical probability of occurrence. We’ve added the Non-trump Sequence meld, typically only scored in 4, 6, and 8 deck versions of Bezique. It adds interest to the game. Many books discuss how you can declare more than one meld per turn while still scoring but one per turn. We’ve eliminated this needless complexity.

More Information--

All comprehensive rule books for card games include Bezique. Our favorite is the book Oxford A-Z of Card Games by David Parlett.

Polish Bezique

Here’s a wild twist on Bezique that only changes a single rule. All rules are the same as for Bezique above, except that melds are created solely from cards you capture in tricks.  

Leave tricks face-up on the table as you win them. After every trick, you may score either one or two melds. You create these melds by using the two new cards you have won, added to the other cards you’ve previously won in tricks. Each of the two new cards you have won can participate in only one meld... this is why you can declare two melds after winning a trick.

You can continue to meld after the Close (unlike standard Bezique rules). Some books state that each card can only be used in one meld in Polish Bezique.

Rubicon Bezique

Rubicon (or Japanese Bezique) is like standard Bezique described above except that you play with 128 cards (4 packs of 32 cards). The only rule differences are--

1. Deal each player 9 cards (instead of 8)
2. The trump suit is dictated by the suit of the first marriage or sequence scored
3. The seven of trumps (dix) has no special value.
4. The last trick is worth 50 points (rather than 10)
5. Non-trump sequence scores 150 points (A-10-K-Q-J).
6. You score 50 points for carte blanche if you are dealt no court cards.  You can re-score this each
   time you draw without fetching a court card.
7. After melding to the table, you can move a card out of that meld (to a trick or another meld),
   then re-create that meld with a replacement card.  Example-- declare a trump sequence in
   hearts, next turn move the king from that sequence to another meld or play it to a trick, then
   play another king into the meld and score again for the trump sequence
8. Two marriages of the same suit can be considered rearranged to form two more marriages.
9. Standard rules score one bezique at 40 points, two beziques at 500 points,
   three beziques at 1,500 points, and four beziques at 4,500 points.
   We recommend-- one bezique 40 points, double bezique 350 points, triple bezique 700 points,
   quadruple bezique 1400 points.  
9. Each deal is a complete game. Players total their points and round down to the nearest 100.
   Winner gains 500 points plus the difference between players’ scores. A player is “rubiconed” if
   fails to score 1000 points.  In this case the winner scores 1000 points plus the sum of both scores.
   Brisiques (Aces and 10’s taken in tricks) are only counted in case of ties or to prevent a rubicon.

Chinese Bezique

6-pack or Chinese Bezique is played the same way as Rubicon Bezique (above) except for these rules changes--

1. Use 6 decks of cards (A -> 7), 192 cards total. Each player is dealt 12 cards (instead of 9).
2. Carte blanche scores 250 points each occurrence. The last trick scores 250 points as well.
3. Additional declarations are:  4 trump Aces = 1,000    4 trump 10’s = 900    4 trump Kings = 800
   4 trump Queens = 600   4 trump Jacks = 400
4. A player is rubiconed if he fails to score 3,000 points.  The rubicon bonus is 1,000 points.

Strategy --

This game is much longer than standard or Rubicon Bezique (you’re drawing through a much bigger deck). Since you can “re-declare” a meld multiple times simply be replacing a single card within it, there is a premium on obtaining high-scoring melds early in the game and re-scoring them multiple times. Trump sequences work well, especially if you can overlap their suit with beziques or a 4-of-a-kind. Another strategy is to obtain a 4-of-a-kind (preferably in Aces), re-score it many times, and hope to convert it to 4-of-a-kind in trumps (scored extra). Note that 10’s have a new-found value (4-of-a-kind in trump 10’s scores 900 points), and that while there is scoring for triple and quadruple beziques, there is no score specifically for quintuple or sextuple beziques.  


A Marriage

On this page --
Marjolet, Bezique, Polish Bezique,
Rubicon Bezique, Chinese Bezique, Zetema

Zetema was invented about 1871, published in an 1881 games book, then quietly forgotten. While based on a novel concept, Zetema has minor defects that likely led to its demise.

In 1969, game expert Sid Sackson rediscovered Zetema and recognized the game's potential. He corrected its rules and modernized it. Then he published it in his book, A Gamut of Games. This led to renewed interest in this novel game among the cognoscenti.

Like Bezique, Zetema features a game lifecyle. The game feels like a cross between Bezique and Rummy.  It's flexible -- from 2 to 6 can play. 3 works especially well. 4 or 6 play best in partnerships. The partnerships for 6 may be either 2 partnerships of 3 each or 3 partnerships of 2 each. 

Zetema is not one of the world's great games, so perhaps it doesn't really earn its place on this web site. But Sackson’s modern corrections make it quite enjoyable. (Our rules here follow Sackson’s). Try Zetema and step back into the minds of the Victorians through a game that reflects their love of the ornate. The game also offers strategic interest. 


For two or three players, the goal is to be the first to score at least 300 points across as many hands as necessary. If four or more play, the winning total is 200 points.

The Deck and Deal--

Zetema uses a 65 card deck. This is a regular deck of 52 cards, plus one "duplicated suit" from another deck.  Make the Zetema deck by taking the 13 Spades from a second deck and shuffling them into a regular 52 card deck. The duplicate suit is called the imperial suit. Use Spades as the imperial suit for consistency and convenience.

For two to five players, deal 6 cards each. For six players, deal 5 cards each. (In the game description that follows, we assume a 6-card hand).


In each turn, a player performs these three steps--

         1.   Draws as many cards as necessary to bring his hand up to six cards
         2.   Plays one meld or combination (if possible and if desired)
         3.   Discards one card to the tableau

The Tableau--

A player ends his turn by discarding one card to the tableau. The tableau is rather like the layout of a solitaire game. There are 13 different piles of cards, one for each rank. Discards are placed face-up in skewed stacks so that every card is visible. 

Scoring Combinations--

A player can score for one combination in each turn. The combinations that may be scored are--






6 cards in numerical order



6 cards of the same suit


Flush Sequence

6 cards of the same suit in numerical order



5 cards of the same rank

See chart below


King and Queen of the same suit

See chart below




Kings or Queens




Aces or 5’s


All other ranks



---Number of Marriages---













A single marriage

Any marriage in the duplicated suit scores an extra 10 points when fewer than 5 are declared

You can score for one combination in a turn. To do so, display the meld to your opponent, write down the score for the combination, then end your turn by discarding one card from the combination to the tableau.  The tableau consists of 13 piles of face-up cards, one pile for each rank.

If the combination is a marriage, special rules apply. A marriage consists of a King and Queen in the same suit.  You can declare any number of marriages in one turn (the more you declare at once, the more points you score). Of these one or more marriages, only one card need be from your hand. Any other cards required may be taken from the tableau. So marriages consist of one or more pairs of same-suit Kings and Queens, any number of which may be from the tableau, as long as at least one card is from your hand.  

Declare marriages by showing them to your opponent. Score them, then place them all face-up in their own marriage discard pile. This face-up discard pile is for marriages only (it is not part of the tableau).

Scoring Zetemas--

After a player declares his combination for a turn (if any), he discards one card, face-up, to the proper pile in the tableau. If this card is the fifth one for that rank, the player scores points for a zetema. Zetemas score these points--



Kings or Queens




Aces or 5’s


All other ranks



U.S. Playing Card Stamps 2011

After a player scores a zetema, he places those cards face-down in a special zetema discard pile. These cards no longer participate in the hand.

Ending a Hand--

Once the stock is exhausted, players can no longer draw cards at the start of their hands. They continue to play by discarding cards to the tableau and scoring zetemas. Any player who can not continue simply drops out while the other players finish.

In a two-player game, any player completing a zetema is required to continue playing as long as he can do so.  He continues to discard and complete any zetemas he can. Then he  discards one card to end his turn, as always.


First, note a couple elements of play. If a single marriage is declared, no one will ever score a zetema for Kings or Queens because scoring even one marriage makes it impossible to ever accumulate 5 Kings or Queens in the tableau.

Assemblies are statistically difficult to attain. They tend to tie up your hand while you seek the necessary cards. Their high scores may not counterbalance these downsides.

If you seek marriages, you must decide whether to accumulate a large number of them for one large score, or to score for them piecemeal. The scoring chart shows that declaring a larger number of marriages increases the points awarded per marriage. The downside is that the larger number of marriages is harder to achieve and ties up your hand while you chase them. Kings and Queens in the tableau you might want to use are exposed to your opponent while you try for the larger number of marriages.

An very effective Zetema strategy is to try for flushes, sequences, and flush sequences in the imperial suit.  Since the suit is duplicated, your chances of getting cards in this suit are higher. After a score, you discard one card from the combination you just declared. This opens up the flush or sequence for you to reconstitute and score for again, just by adding a single card. The likelihood of getting such a card is high in the duplicated suit.

An important decision is whether to go for assemblies, marriages, or flushes, sequences, and flush sequences. Assemblies are tough to get, since you must draw all five cards of one rank from the deck. Marriages are much easier, but your strategy may be exposed to disruption by your opponent if he marries any Kings or Queens on the tableau before you meld them. 

The flushes-sequences-flush sequences strategy offers multiple scores using the same cards. It is especially statistically inviting when you work with the imperial suit.

Whatever combinations you try for, watch your opponent's discards to the tableau. This information tells you what cards you'll never draw and gives strong clues as to what cards your opponent has. It even discloses the combinations he may be striving for.

Enhanced Rules--

The rules above are standard Zetema with this one enhancement -- play stops immediately in standard Zetema once a player attains the game score of either 200 or 300 points. This happens even if players are in the middle of a hand. We've simplified the game by allowing players to fully play out the last hand. Otherwise you must keep running point totals while playing.

More Information--

These rules are those published in Sid Sackson's A Gamut of Games and David Parlett's Oxford A-Z of Card Games. Their rules differ in minor but vital respects from those of the original game as published in the late 1800's. Other sources for Zetema rules exist but are rare.


The Card Players,
by Paul Cezanne, 1895

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