hist-games: RE: Playing Card questions

Michael and Susan McKay seaan at concentric.net
Tue Dec 10 21:59:59 PST 2002

The answer to the Ace of Spades question is a classic.  It basically dates
from the practice of a "duty ace".  Cards were taxed in England, and the Ace
of Spades was the card that received the "tax stamp".  There is an excellent
explanation at: http://www.cs.man.ac.uk/playing-cards/ace-of-spades.html
(part of the International Playing Card Society's site).  Another good site
on tax stamps in general is

I'm not familiar with any term for "just one card blocks you from winning".
A quick check of David Parlett's book "Solitaire" shows two terms for the
end of the game ("Blocked" and "Chockered"), but provides no real history or
background.  I've CC'ed the "hist-games" list, although solitaire is bit
late period for most of the people there.

Michael McKay
seaan at concentric.net

-----Original Message-----
From: CapBode [mailto:CapBode at hawaii.rr.com]
Sent: Tuesday, December 10, 2002 4:00 PM
To: seaan at concentric.net
Subject: Re: Playing Card oddities


  I'm a writer and I'm looking for information on playing cards.

  1 - Why is the Ace of spades, the most decorated of all the aces?

  2 - Is there a term in solitare, where just one card blocks you from

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