BY CHARLES L. BAILY
Pinochle is one of the most popular card games ever played, yet it has been all but ignored by the computer industry. In a market overflowing with poker; bridge and blackjack simulations, Charles Baily's Pinochle for the ST is a breath of fresh air. A color monitor is required.
It's your bid! File PINOCHLE.ARC on your START disk.
Check any catalog of entertainment software and you'll find all the card games you ever wanted, right? Wrong. I've perused both commercial and public domain lists and found enough poker, blackjack, cribbage, rummy, solitaire and bridge games to keep me happy well into the next century. But one card game is conspicuously lacking from all those lists: pinochle. Since this is the game I want to play the most, I decided to write one on my own.
To see the results, copy PINOCHLE.ARC and ARCX.TTP onto a blank, formatted disk and un-ARC PINOCHLE.ARC following the Disk Instructions elsewhere in this issue. Double-click on PINOCHLE.PRG. ST Pinochle was written in GFA BASIC 2.0 and runs in low resolution only.
Within the card-playing world, pinochle stands out. It uses its own special deck, can be played with one or two decks and in teams or singly (cutthroat). The pinochle deck has four suits, like a standard deck, but has two each of the cards from nine to ace and no card lower than a nine (Doubledeck pinochle uses two decks and no nines; that still means four of each card in the game.)
As the game begins, each player is dealt between 12 and 16 cards (depending on the type of game). Each player then counts up the possible points he or she can make in a combination of meld and play. Based on these points, the players then bid in an auction for the privilege to name the trump suit and, thereby, maximize his or her meld and play points. If you bid higher than you're able to make from your meld and play points, you "go down" and your bid is subtracted from your score. If you make your bid, all of your meld and play points are scored.
ST Pinochle is played to a set maximum number of points; in the computer version, you can choose the maximum--see below.
Once the bidding is completed, the successful bidder names the trump suit and all players lay down their meld. Once the meld is scored, the players pick up the cards and the play begins. The successful bidder leads the first card (which must be a trump). The play continues until all cards have been played.
Some special rules for pinochle: You must follow suit, and if you have a card in your hand that can beat the highest card already played in that trick, you must play it. Also, if you are out of a suit, you must play a trump if you have one.
In pinochle, as in most games, the highest trump or the highest card of the led suit wins the trick. The cards rank a bit differently in pinochle than you may be used to: the top card is the ace, followed by the ten, king, queen, jack and nine.
Play points are scored by taking tricks with point cards in them. The point cards are the aces, tens and kings. Also, one point is scored for taking the last trick.
In ST Pinochle, the computer plays two hands, counts meld (if you want it to), bids for the two computer players and keeps score. The bidding is "one bid and did," instead of by auction. The program will also count your meld and suggest a trump, if you want it to.
Then there is the play of hands. The computer plays two hands, making the most of each. All this is being done while it checks each card to be sure that there are no deviations from house rules.
ST Pinochle has its own house rules, but they can be modified if you wish. At the title screen click on the right mouse button to call up the Menu Bar. Under Options you can click on any of the rules you wish change. Here you can determine the dealer's bid, the minimum bid, whether double pinochle is worth eight or thirty and the maximum score to win. You can also change the speed of the game and choose whether to count your own meld or have the computer do it for you. The names of the player(s) with the high score(s) are highlighted as is their bid.
At Pinochle's title screen, click on the left mouse button to begin the game. This will take you to the bid screen where you can either make your bid or pass. Your cards have already been dealt and are at the bottom of the screen for your scrutiny. To bid, you can either click on a number from the grid or click on Other and type in your own bid. Click on Pass if you don't wish to make a bid at all.
|ST Pinochle's game
screen. As you can
see this is three-
the computer deter-
mines your two op-
ponents. At your
turn, choose a card
by clicking on either
its number or letter.
After the highest bidder chooses trump, click the left mouse button to get a meld count from each player. Click again to go to the final screen before gameplay. This screen gives you the statistics of the game you're about to play. It lists the lead player's bid, what that player's meld count is, what the trump is and what the lead player needs to score in order to make his or her bid. (See the sidebar for a breakdown of how melds are scored.)
Now click on Continue and the game begins. To choose a card, click on its number or letter. Play until all your cards are used. To exit the game, click on Quit. When your game is played out, you'll be given a rundown of the game's results. Click the left mouse button to continue play.
I hope you find the ST version of pinochle as relaxing and enjoyable as I have. And, if you play the game as much as I do, you'll be amazed at the money you'll save not having to buy a new deck of cards every couple of months.
Card-game enthusiast Charles L. Baily is professional programmer who lives in Easton, Pennsylvania. This is his first program for START.