Tweaks

The application supports two types of tweaks: rule variations and cheats. Both tweak types are game specific: they are set up for each new session and remain unchanged until it is complete.

To setup tweaks, start a new session and select Tweaks (the last item in the bottom frame) from New Session page.

For easy reference (e.g. in saved game details) each tweak has a two-letter code, specified in square brackets […].

Rule variations

Since there are no official rules of the game, several flavours of the game exist. Most of the rules variations reflect this diversity, the others are now really used but make sense to us. Please, consult Rules information page before reading this page, otherwise some terms may be unclear to you.

The rule variations are arranged in 3 tabs: Switches, Trumps and Choices.

Switches

This tab contains general-purpose options that can be either enabled (on), of disabled (off). All the switches are disabled by default

One bid each [1B]

An auction consists of a single round of bidding, so each player can bid only once. By default the action will continue until two players pass.

Bid Misère after 7 [M7]

By default the misère bid is available straight away. If enabled, Misère cannot be called until a seven-trick bid is made.

This switch does not affect Open Misère bid, which is always available straight away.

Show taken kitty [SK]

Before adding to the contactor's hand at exchange stage, content of the kitty is shown to the opponents.

Though a card may be later discarded, each opponent knows that the contractor is the only player who may have the card.

Initiator leads first [IF]

By default the contractor leads to the first trick in a contract game. If the switch is on, the first trick is lead by the player sitting left to the dealer (the initiator), no matter who contracted the game.

At the first glance it may appear that this option makes the life harder to the contractor. However, quite the opposite can happen, since it forces the initiator to start a game completely unaware of the card layout.

Only contractor scores [OC]

Eliminates trick points in a contract game. (Trick points are still scored in an All-Pass game.)

Absence of trick points has a significant impact on the game. Here are some consequences:

Enabling Only contractor scores allows to stop a game as soon as it becomes evident that the contract has succeeded or failed. Actually, the game stops immediately for a failed contract, while for a successful contract the application waits for another trick to be taken by the contractor, in order to find out (just to satisfy possible curiosity) if the contracted number of tricks was precise. Also, in order to allow Slam, a succeeded contract game with bid value below 250 continues until the contractor gives a trick away.

Trumps

This tab contains switches related to using trumps in the game. All switches are off by default.

You can combine the switches as you wish. In particular, all No Joker, No Left Bower and No special Jack ranking can be enabled, so the trump suit will have no difference to other suits … just like in Bridge or Préférence, however doing that undermines the idea of increasing the trump suit and introducing flexibility in bidding.

No Joker [NJ]

Pack of cards has no Joker. This reduces trump suit to 9 cards and content of kitty to 2 cards, as well as turns a non-trump into a real game without trumps ☺

No Left Bower [NL]

Another way to reduce trump suit (and increase same-colour-as-trump suit) for someone who cannot get used to Left Bower carrying a suit different to the one it represents.

No special Jack ranking [RK]

For someone who finds it rather awkward (and even unfair to the royalty) that a Jack can be treated higher than a King or a Queen. If the switch is on, the Ace of trump suit becomes the Right Bower and the Ace of same-colour-as-trump suit is the Left Bower, while Jack takes its usual place.

Be aware that this reduces flexibility of bidding as illustrated by the following example.

Suppose you have:

Q♣ J♣ 9♣   A♦ 10♦   K♠ J♠   K♥ 10♥   Joker

Under standard rules you may bid 7 (or even 8) clubs, since this will give you Right and Left Bowers, but you should avoid a non-trump bid, as clubs suit will be weak for a non-trump game. No special Jack ranking makes your hand so weak that you have to pass.

Now replace J♣ and J♠ with A♣ and A♠:

A♣ Q♣ 9♣   A♦ 10♦   A♠ K♠   K♥ 10♥   Joker

The standard rules makes the hand inappropriate for a suit bid, however it is just right for a non-trump bid. With no special Jack ranking you can still go for a non-trump bid in order to score more points, however it's much safer to bid spades.

Therefore no special Jack ranking reduces the chance of non-trump game.

Must trump if void of suit [TR]

If a player has no leading suit, the standard rules allow either to play trump, or renounce. If this switch is on, the player who cannot follow the suit must play trump, if possible.

Here are the useful features of this rule:

Choices

This tab contains parameters that allow several values, each having its own three-letter reference code: two letters for the parameter and one letter for the value.

Default values are marked with asterisk (*).

Score System

Specifies the system used for evaluating bid value and bid order at an auction.

The application supports both Original and Avondale score systems. Modern is effectively Avondale score system with special rules for nil bids.

Original [SCO]

Trick-taking bids. 6 spades is valued 40 points. Each of the following suits adds 20 points (6 clubs — 60 pts, 6 diamonds — 80 pts, etc). A 7-trick bid doubles the value (7 spades — 80 points, 7 clubs — 120 points, etc), an 8-trick bid triples the value (8 spades — 120 points, etc). The formula for bid value is therefore the following:

20(SuitOrder+1)(Tricks-5)

If two bids have same value, the one with bigger number of tricks overbids.

Nil bids. Misère — 250 points, Open Misère — 520 points (between 10 hearts and 10 no trump).

This score system appears rather unfair, being strongly affected by suit orders, for example 9 spades (160 pts) is valued below 7 hearts (200 pts). For that reason Original score system isn't commonly used and supported here just as a tribute to the game history.

Avondale [SCA]

Trick-taking bids. 6-trick bids values are like in the Original score system. Each additional trick adds 100 points (7 spades — 140 pts, 7 clubs — 160 pts, … 8 spades — 240 pts, etc). This suggests the following formula for the bid value:

20(SuitOrder+1)+100(Tricks-6)

Nil bids. Misère — 250 points (between 8 spades and 8 clubs), Open Misère — 520 points (above all trick-taking bids).

As opposed to Original Score System, a bigger number of tricks in Avondale always results in a higher bid value, no matter how the suits are related to each other, for example 7 spades (140 pts) is higher than 6 no trump (120 pts).

Modern* [SCM]

Trick-taking bids. As in Avondale score system.

Nil bids. Misère — is valued 250 points, however rated between 7-trick and 8-trick bids for an auction, despite its value is bigger than that of 8 spades (240 pts). The value of Open Misère is 500 points and it is placed between 10 diamonds (480 pts) and 10 hearts (500 pts).

All pass

Specifies the action taken when all players pass and there are no postponed winners.

Positive* [AP+]

A non-trump game is played where each player scores 10 points for taking a trick.

Negative [AP-]

A non-trump game is played where each player loses 10 points for taking a trick.

Though not being a common way to play an All-Pass game in Five Hundred, it appears to be a more logical one, since a player who opted out of bidding must have a rather weak hand and should feel quite comfortable in giving tricks away. In addition it encourages bidding as the players no longer can rely on all-pass game for scoring points.

Dealer bids [APD]

In an auction starts with two passes, the dealer must make a bid. A postponed winner cannot win 'automatically', unless someone gets negative 500 or below.

The choice for someone who considers an All-Pass game as a waste of time and insists that winning a contact must be the only way to win a session. However, some might find it rather unfair to the dealer and choose Skip instead.

Skip [APS]

If all players pass and there are no postponed winners, game is not played while player sitting left to the dealer deals to the next game. This may happen no more than three times in a row: when auction starts with two passes for the fourth time, the dealer must bid.

NT Joker lead

Sets up limitations for leading with Joker in a non-trump (NT) game. The choice is hidden when NO Joker switch (at Trump tab) is on.

Always* [JKA]

Leading with a Joker is always allowed. The player must specify the suit to follow, apart from the very last trick, where suit does not matter.

Conditional [JKC]

While leading with a Joker, it is disallowed to request a reneged suit, i.e. a suit that someone failed to follow in one of preceding tricks. If there are no available suits, Joker can only lead to the last trick.

Last trick [JKL]

Leading with Joker is allowed only in the last trick.

Own overbid

After two other players pass, the last bidder has a change to increase own bid, or select Keep to leave the bid unchanged. Increasing own bid brings other players back to the auction, so they can overbid the increased bid.

Since (as opposed to Préférence game) the bid is increased before taking the kitty, own overbid is not as efficient as someone might expect it to be.

Disallowed* [OON]

After two players pass the last bid becomes the contract and cannot be upgraded.

Same suit [OOS]

Own overbid can increase number of tricks but must keep trump suit. Open Misère overbids own Misère but there is no way to overbid own Open Misère.

Allowed [OOY]

Own bid can be overbid with any higher bid.

This opens a door for hiding your strong suit while bidding. For example, if you are going for 7 diamonds, you may mislead others by bidding 7 spades instead. If other players pass, you can overbid yourself with 7 diamonds. However, if another player overbids with 7 hearts forcing you to pass, your strong suit remains unknown to the contractor, who may assume Spades to be your strong suit. Unfortunately, the third player may make the same wrong assumption which is not what you really need ☺

Cheats

The cheats have been designed for the convenience of human player. Computer players have no access to those, with the exception of Active Cards (AC) list, used by Smart and occasionally by Average player.

Play Face UP is an obvious fraud. All other cheats are so subtle that have no effect on game records.

Play face up [FU]

Play game with open cards. This facility is designed for testing and demonstration. It can be used to understand the logic of computer player. Games with enabled FU are disregarded for statistics, high-score tables and achievements. Pauses for a non-purcashed copy are also absent there.

Reveal card position [RP]

By default a computer hand has no suit separation, while a card always seems to come from the middle of the hand. If RP is enabled, the suits are separated, and you can see from which place the card is discarded or played.

This option adds realism to the game. It is assumed when Play Face Up is set.

List active cards [AC]

Displays the list of cards, still held by other players, arranged by suits. Note, that unless you are the contractor, the discarded cards are listed as active, being in fact out of play.

Enabling this options turns on indication when a player shows an evidence of being void of suit (failed to follow suit, or renounced instead of playing trump, when Must trump if void of suit is on). Also, selecting Tricks from the game menu always brings the whole list of tricks, not only the preceding one.

It isn't really a cheat, since you could just keep track on paper instead ☺ The application only offers a convenience by doing that for you.

Detect 'Takes all/none'* [TA]

Play stops as soon as the application figures out that current trick leader cannot avoid taking all remaining tricks. A nil game also stops when it becomes evident that the contractor cannot be forced to take more tricks.

To make this decision the application in particular checks the content of discarded cards, unavailable to a non-contractor otherwise. If 'takes all' or 'no more tricks' message does not appear, when you expect it, this may indicate that a particular card, assumed to be discarded, is really in play. Such a cheat seems so negligible, that this option is enabled by default as a convenient feature for saving your time.