Quadrille (card game)
Quadrille is a Spanish trick-taking card game
Card game
A card game is any game using playing cards as the primary device with which the game is played, be they traditional or game-specific. Countless card games exist, including families of related games...

 directly ancestral to Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 and chief progenitor of Solo whist
Solo whist
Solo Whist, sometimes known as simply Solo, is a trick-taking card game whose direct ancestor is the 17th century Spanish game Hombre, based on the English Whist. Its major distinctive feature is that one player often plays against the other three. However, players form temporary alliances with...

. It was perfected in early 18th century France as a four-handed version of the Spanish card game Ombre
Ombre, English corruption of the Spanish word Hombre, arising from the muting of the H in Spanish, is a fast-moving seventeenth-century trick-taking card game with an illustrious history which began in Spain around the end of the 16th Century as a four person game...

, which was superseded as a fashionable game in about 1726, although it still remained as one of the great European games over a hundred years in France and England until it was ousted by partnership Whist
Whist is a classic English trick-taking card game which was played widely in the 18th and 19th centuries. It derives from the 16th century game of Trump or Ruff, via Ruff and Honours...

. Its chief problem was that of extreme complexity, its upside-down ranking system in two suits, non-standard bids and a hard-score pay-off system of extreme complexity.


Four play, each for himself in the long run, though temporary alliances may be formed from deal to deal. Each should start with an equal number of counters, but never fewer than forty. A 40-card pack is used and cards rank K Q J 7 6 5 4 3 2 in and and A K Q J 2 3 4 5 6 7 in and . The current trump suit, however, has certain peculiarities. The highest trumps ranks downwards and bear names as follows:
  1. Spadille, A
  2. Manille, the nominally lowest trump (2 and 7 )
  3. Basto, A

They are called "matadors" and have special powers in play. When a black suit is trump, the fourth highest trump is the King, and so downwards to the 3 (2 being Manille). When a red suit is trump, the fourth highest trump is the Ace, called Punto or Ponto, but it is not considered a matador, and so downwards to the 6 (7 being Manille).


A game consists of any number of deals divisible by four. The turn to deal and play passes always to the right. Before each deal, each player stakes one chip to the pot, or the dealer stakes four, if preferred. Players receive 10 cards dealt in two batches of 3s and one of 4.


An auction to determine who will become the soloist, or the principal player, is opened by the Eldest hand, the player to the dealers right. Each in turn may pass o bid, and, having passed may not come in again. The lowest bid is "Ask leave", which is an offer to win at least six tricks after naming trumps, calling a partner, and playing with him against the other two. Ask leave is so called because the bidder is asking leave to seek a partner, which any later player can deny by bidding solo.
  • Solo, the principal bid, is an offer to win at least six tricks after naming trump and playing alone against the other three. The first player to make this bid so is on, and name trumps immediately.

  • If an Ask leave is not overcalled by solo, the game played then is an "alliance". Before play, the soloist names trumps and nominates the King of any non-trump suit which he does not hold himself. If he holds all three, he calls a Queen instead. The holder of the called card then automatically becomes the other partner, but dos not announce that fact immediately, which can only be established when the called card is played to a trick, or when its holder makes some other play obviously advantaging the bidder.

  • If all four pass, the game is "Forced Spadille." It means the player holding the A is obliged to play Alliance by calling a King, or Queen if necessary. In this case, however, he may either name trumps himself or invite his partner to do so.

Note: Sources do not remark on the conflict on this rule with that forbidding partner's self-declaration. It is a nice point, perhaps intentional, that the caller should either name trumps or know his partner immediately, but not both.


Once the game has been established, Eldest leads to the first trick. Subsequently players must follow suit if possible, but otherwise may play any card. The trick is taken by the highest card of the suit led or by the highest trump if any are played, so that the winner of each trick then leads to the next.


An exception to the rules of trick-play concerns matadors. If an ordinary trump is led, a player holding a matador is not obliged to play it, but may, if lacking other trumps, "renege" by playing from another suit. The same applies to the holder of a higher matador if a lower one is led. However, if a higher matador is led, and another player has no trump but a lower matador, he may not renege, but must play it.
Note: A matador is not forced by the play of a lower trump or matador, but only by a higher one.

Premiers and the Vole

If the soloist wins the first six tricks straight off, he gains a bonus for "premiers", and may claim a win without further play. If, however, he leads to the seventh trick, this automatically counts as a bid to win all ten (the "Vole"), which carries an additional bonus if successful. If unsuccessful, it reduces but does not entirely cancel his basic win. In an alliance, the same rule applies to the partnership if they take the first six between them, and they must discuss whether or not to lead to the seventh trick.

Settlements if contract is won

For a successful solo, the soloist wins the stake. If, in addition, any of the following bonuses apply, they are paid to him by each opponent. A "unit" means one quarter of the current stake. The stake may be greater than four chips, as it is carried forward when a game is lost.
  1. If the soloist held three matadors he scores 1 unit.
  2. If the soloist held all three matadors plus Punto he scores 2 units.
  3. If the soloist won premiers he scores 1 unit.

Having won the game and premiers, and gone for the vole, the soloist receives an additional 2 units from each opponent if successful, otherwise pays 2 units to each player for the loss. If an alliance or forced Spadille comes to happen, the stake is divided between the allies, and each opponent pays each partner any of the relevant bonuses.
Note: In this case "matadors held" mean "held between allies", and not necessarily in one hand.

Settlements if contract is lost

  • If the soloist wins only five tricks, the loss is a "remise", and if four or fewer, it is a "codille". The same applies to an alliance.

  • Given remise, the soloist doubles the stake, which is carried forward to the next deal, and, if applicable, pays each opponent for any matadors held by the contracting side.

  • Given codille, the stake is won by and divided between the two or three opponents of the contracting side, unless there are three and the stake is not exactly divisible, as well as twice the amount of that stake paid by the soloist to be carried forward to the next deal.

  • In an ordinary alliance, the loss is borne entirely by the player who called a partner, as the latter had no say in joining the partnership. And in Forced Spadille, however, it is shared, as both played on equally involuntarily terms.

Variations on game playing

Note: Countless variations are played on these basic theme, all devoided of standardization.

Point-score - Points for matadors held are ignored. If the soloist has an ally, the appropriate winning score is credited to each, but a losing score is only deducted from the ally's in the case of forced Spadille.

Remise or Codille - If a game is lost by remise or codille, the following game is won or lost double. If two are lost in succession, the next is trebled in value; if three, the next is quadrupled, and so on, until a game is won, when the next counts singly again.

Preference - If a suit was fixed in advance, usually Hearts, or that of the trump of the first deal, such that future bids in that suit overcalls the same in another, and are won or lost double.

Vole announced - The soloist could declare in advance of the first trick his intention of winning all ten tricks. This increase the game value but, if lost, the whole game is lost.

Médiator, also called Dimidiator - When the soloist plays after calling for a King, or Queen if four held, and taking it into his own hand in exchange for any unwanted card.

Casco, also called Gasco and Respect - When a player holding both black Aces makes an alliance by calling a King and allowing his partner to name trumps.

Grandissimo - A solo contract with no trump suit, apart from the two black Aces, which the soloist does not necessarily hold.

Devole, also called Nemo - When the soloist undertakes to, lose every trick, playing at no trump except for the black Aces.

Laws of the game

  1. The cards are to be dealt by fours and threes, and in no other way. The dealer is free to begin by four or three. If in dealing there is a faced card, there must be a new deal unless it is the last card.
  2. If there are too many or too few cards, it is also a new deal.
  3. No penalty is inflicted for dealing wrong, but the dealer must deal again.
  4. If you play with eleven cards you are, beasted.
  5. He who has "asked leave" is obliged to play.
  6. No one should play out of his turn; if, however, he does, he is not beasted for it, but the card played may be called at any time in that deal, provided it does not cause a revoke: nor either of the adversaries may demand the partner of him who played out of his turn, or his own partner, to play any suit he thinks fit.
  7. No matadors can be forced but by a superior matador, but the superior forces the inferior, when led by the first player.
  8. Whoever names any suit for trumps, must abide by it, even though it should happen to he the worst suit.
  9. If you play forced Spadille, or have matadors, you are to demand them before the next dealer has finished his deal, otherwise you lose the benefit.
  10. If any one names his trump without "asking leave", he must play alone, unless youngest hand, and the rest have passed.
  11. If any person plays out of his turn, the card may be called at any time, or the adversaries may call a suit.
  12. If the person who won the sixth trick plays the seventh card, he must play the vole.
  13. If you have four kings, you may call a queen to one of your kings, or call one of your kings, but you must not call the queen of trumps.
  14. If a card is separated from the rest, it must be played, if the adverse party has seen it; unless the person who separated it plays forced Spadille.
  15. If the King is called, or his partner play out of turn, no vole can be played.
  16. No one is to be beasted for a renounce, unless the trick is turned and quit, and if any person renounces, and it is discovered, if the player should happen to be beasted by such renounce, all the parties are to take up their cards and play them over again.
  17. Forced spadille is not obliged to make three tricks.
  18. The person who undertakes to play the vole has the preference of playing before him who offers to play forced Spadille.
  19. The player is entitled to know who is his King called before be declares for the vole.
  20. When six tricks are won, the person who won the sixth must say: "I play, or I do not play the vole," or "I ask", and no more.
  21. He who has passed once has no right to play after, unless be has Spadille, and he who asks must play, unless somebody else plays forced Spadille.
  22. If the players show their cards before they have won six tricks, they may be called.
  23. Whoever has "asked leave", cannot play forced Spadille, unless he is forced.
  24. Any person may look at the tricks when he is to lead.
  25. Whoever, playing for a vole, loses it, has the right to the stakes, forced Spadille and matadores.
  26. Forced Spadille cannot play for the vole.
  27. If any person discovers his game he cannot play the vole.
  28. No one is to declare how many trumps are out.
  29. He who plays and does not win three tricks, is basted alone, unless he played forced Spadille.
  30. If there are two cards of a sort, it is a void deal, if discovered before the deal is played out.


A five-handed adaptation of Quadrille where each player receives eight cards and the soloist aims to win at least five tricks, either alone or with the aid of a partner ound by calling a King, or Queen if four are held.


The novel Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice is a novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England...

includes four references to the quadrille card game being played by an upper class
Upper class
In social science, the "upper class" is the group of people at the top of a social hierarchy. Members of an upper class may have great power over the allocation of resources and governmental policy in their area.- Historical meaning :...

 character, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and her guests.

"Diary of Thomas Vernon", which was written by a loyalist from Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is a city on Aquidneck Island in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States, about south of Providence. Known as a New England summer resort and for the famous Newport Mansions, it is the home of Salve Regina University and Naval Station Newport which houses the United States Naval War...

, during the American Revolution in 1776, the author mentions playing quadrille frequently while exiled in Glocester, Rhode Island
Glocester, Rhode Island
Glocester is a town in Providence County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 9,746 as of the 2010 census. The villages of Chepachet and Harmony are in Glocester. Putnam Pike Glocester is a town in Providence County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 9,746 as of the 2010...

, during the war.

External links

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