hist-games: Queries about One and Thirty (the card game)

Jane & Mark Waks waks at ne.mediaone.net
Fri Nov 3 16:19:31 PST 2000

Lee-Gwen wrote:
> Justin says:
> "The dealer goes around to each player, starting with eldest and ending with
> himself, and asks whether they want to "stick" or "have it". If the player
> wishes to stick, the dealer goes to the next; if they will have it, they get
> another card."
> The other reconstruction differs from this slightly:
> "Starting with the eldest hand (the player to the left of the dealer), a
> card may be discarded face up by each player. It is replaced by the top card
> on the deck or the previous card on the discard pile."

I don't see any particular justification for the replacement model in
Cotton, although he is cryptic enough that I suppose it's plausible.
It's definitely not supported by Willoughby, though, who is much more
explicit about what's going on. Quoting from Willoughby:

"If he say he will stick, hee leaves him & askes the next, & so round to
himself; but if he say he will have it, hee draws one from the bottome
of the deck & gives it him. If hee say he wil have another, he gives him
another &c."

Given the fact that one can clearly ask for a *number* of cards at a
time, I don't find the replacement model supportable.

> Justin then goes on to say:
> "They may continue to get more cards until they decide to stick, or they go
> over 31, in which case they are out."
> Which again differs from the second reconstruction:
> "The player that comes closest to 31 with three cards in the same suit is
> the winner. Play continues by discarding one card at a time until a player
> knocks twice on the table. After the knock the players get one last discard.
> The hands are then shown and the hand closest to 31 wins. A player who hits
> 31 exactly wins automatically and does not have to wait for the knock or
> make a knock."
> I wonder whence this knocking aspect is derived.  Again, I find this
> interesting, but I am not certain of its period accuracy.  As well, it seems
> to me that the second method is less "cut throat".

Perhaps, but it's not attested by either Cotton or Willoughby. I find no
reference to this "knock" thing, which leads me to suspect that there's
another source involved; I have no clue what that other source might be.

Also, note that the business about trying to make 31 *in the same suit*
is definitely not what Willoughby is talking about. I have no idea where
that comes from, either.

> On the value of the Ace, Justin says:
> "Neither Willughby nor Cotton states the value of the Ace; based on the
> statement about pip cards, I take the Ace to be worth 1."
> And the second reconstruction says:
> "aces are 11"
> Is there any way of knowing which of these statements is more likely to be
> true?  (e.g. is there evidence that the Ace was  often worth 11?)

It was certainly done sometimes; I don't think there's a clear
distinction between it being 1 or 11. The only evidence available is
that Willoughby says:

"(reckoning the coates tens, & the rest according to their peepes)"

Taking that literally, it means that Aces are worth 1; absent evidence
to the contrary, I would choose to believe that.

> Justin says nothing on the subject of threes of a kind, but the second
> reconstruction says:
> "A three of a kind (different suits) is worth 30 & 1/2 points. "
> Is there any evidence to support this statement?

Not from either Cotton or Willoughby. Frankly, I find the rule *very*
strange: fractional points are rare enough in period games that I can't
think of any examples. I have to suspect that the second source is
mixing in a post-period variant...

				-- Justin

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