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Polignac - card game

A trick-taking avoidance game.
Origin French
Alternative names Four Jacks
Family Trick-taking
Players 3-6
Cards 32
Deck French
Play Clockwise
Playing time 20 min.
Random chance Easy
Related games
Hearts, Black Lady

Polignac (a.k.a. Jeux des Valets), the version of Knaves, is a French 18th century trick-taking card game ancestral to Hearts and Black Maria. It is played by 3-6 players with a 32-card deck. It is sometimes played as a party game with the 52-card pack, however, it is better as a serious game for four, playing all against all. Other names for this game include Quatre Valets and Stay Away, being the German Slobberhannes, also called Slippery Jack, one its reminiscents.


Unless four play, remove the black Sevens. The turn to deal and play passes always to the left. The cards should be divided evenly among the players, with the dealer dealing the cards in 2s and 3s. The aim of the game is to avoid capturing any Jacks in tricks, and specially the J ♠, called Polignac. The rank of the cards are: K Q J A T 9 8 7 in each suit.

Eldest leads first and the other players follow suit if possible, otherwise they may play any card. The trick is won by the highest card of the suit led, and the winner of each trick leads to the next. There are no trumps.


The players lose 2 points for capturing the J ♠, and 1 for each other Jack captured. The first player to reach an agreed total of penalties, which may be 10 or 20 points, then loses the game.




A simple German variation similar to Polignac. The name means "Slippery Jack", though the card in question is a Queen.


Possession of the Queen of Clubs is not always dangerous. If it is well "guarded" and one can rely on it not being forced out by the Club leads of the other players,, and one will, sooner or later, be able to discard it. As in Black Maria and those Misere hands which lend so much interest to Solo, one wants to conserve as long as possible the low cards which control the suit.


First recorded in the early nineteenth century and still played as a family game in parts of German-speaking Europe. It is a member of the trick avoidance group of playing cards.

Dealer put up a pool of twelve chips and deals eight cards each from a 32-card pack ranking and counting as follows:

Eldest leads to the first trick and the winner of each trick leads to the next. Suit must be followed if possible. The trick is taken by the highest card of the suit led. There are no trumps.

Whoever takes fewest card-points win 5 chips, second fewest 4, third fewest 3. Ties are settled in favour of the eldest player, but a player taking no trick beats one who merely takes no card-points.

A player winning every trick is paid 4 each by the others and a player taking 100 or more in card-points, but failing to win every trick, pays 4 each to the other players. In these cases, the pool remains intact and the same dealer deals again, as also if all four take the same number of card-points.


Ace may count 5 points instead of 11, and each player adds 1 point per trick to his total of card points, which may be classified as the easiest form to play the game.

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