Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Royal Game of the Ombre

The Royal Game of the Ombre.

Written At the Request of divers Honourable Persons.


Printed for Thomas Palmer, at the Crown in Westminster-Hall, 1665.

The Royal Game of the Ombre.

L'Ombre is a Spanish Game at Cards, as much as to say, The Man: so he who
undertakes to play the Game, sayes Jo so l'Ombre, or, I am the Man. And
'tis a common saying with the Spaniards, (alluding to the name) that the
Spanish l'Ombre as far surpasses the French le Beste, as a Man do's a
Beast, There are divers sorts of it, of which, this (which we shall only
treat of, and which chiefly is in vogue) is called the Renegado, for
reasons better supprest then known.

_How many can play at it, and with what Cards they are to play._

There can only three play at it, and they are dealt nine Cards a piece: so
by discarding the Eights, Nines, and Tens out of the Pack, there remains
thirteen Cards in the Stock.

_Of the Trump_

There is no turning up Trump, nor no Trump but what the Player pleases,
the first hand having alwayes the choice to play or pass, after him the
second, &c.

_Of the Stakes_

For Stakes there are two sorts of Marks or Counters, the greater and the
less; for example if you value the great ones at 12. pence, the lesser may
be pence the piece (and so according as you please) of which great Marks
you stake each one one for the Game: and the lesser for passing, for the
hand, if you be eldest, and for taking in, giving for each Card you take
in, one Mark or Counter.

_Of the names of the Cards, and order in ranking them_

_Of the Black Suits_

1. The Spadillio, or Ace of Spades.
2. The Mallilio, or black Deuces of either suit.
3. The Basto, or Ace of Clubs.
4. The King.
5. Queen.
6. Knave.
7. Seven.
8. Six.
9. Five.
10. Four.
11. And Three.

_Of the Red Suits_

1. The Spadillio, or Ace of Spades.
2. The Mallilio, or Sevens of either Suit.
3. The Basto, or Ace of Clubs.
4. The Punto, or Ace of Hearts or Diamonds according as they are Trump.
5. The King.
6. The Queen.
7. The Knave.
8. The Deuce.
9. The Three.
10. The Four.
11. The Five.
12. The Six.


By this you see first that the Spadillio, or Ace of Spades is always the
first Card, and alwayes Trump, be the Trump what suit soever; and the
Basto, or Ace of Clubs alwayes the third. Secondly, the of Black, there
are but eleven Trumps, and of Red twelve. Thirdly, that the Red Ace enters
into the fourth place when it is Trump, and then is called the Punto,
otherwise 'tis only rank'd after the Knave, and is only call'd the
Ace. Fourthly, that (excepting the Deuces of Black, and Sevens of Red,
which are call'd the Mallilio's, and are alwayes the second Cards when
they are Trumps) the least small Cards of the Red are alwayes best, and
the greatest of the Black.

_Of the Matadors._

The Matadors or killing Cards, as the Spadillio, Mallilio, and Basto, are
the three chief Cards, and for these, when they are all in a hand (else
not) the others pay three of the greater Marks or Counters the piece; and
though there be no counting the Matadors without these three, yet these
three for foundation, you may count as many as you have Cards in an
interrupted series of Trumps; for all which the others are to pay you one
Mark or Counter, the piece, even to nine sometimes.

_Of taking in, and the order and manner of it._

1. Who has the first Hand, has choice of playing the Game, of naming the
Trump, and of taking in as many of or as few Cards as he pleases, and
after him the second, &c.
2. Having once demanded whether any one will play _without taking in_, you
oblige your self to take in, though your Game be never so good: wherefore
you are well to consider it before.
3. If you name not the Trump before you look on the Cards which you have
taken in, any other may prevent you, and name what Trump they please.
4. If (as it often happens) you know not of two Suits which to name
Trump; e.g. with the two black Aces you have three Trumps of either
sorts: First, the Black Suit is to be preferr'd before the Red, because
there are fewer Trumps of it. Secondly, you are rather to choose that Suit
of which you have not the King, because besides your three Trumps, you
have a King, which is as good as a fourth.
5. When you have the choice of Going in three Matadors, or the two Black
Aces with three of four other Trumps, if the Stakes be great, you are to
chuse this last, (as most likely to win most Tricks) if it be but a simple
Stake, you are to chuse the first; because the six Counters you are to
receive for the Matadors, more then equavales the four or five, you lose
for the Game.


1. He is to ask _if any will play without taking in._ (when they have the
choice of those who will not.) Secondly, he is never to take in, or play,
unless he have three sure Tricks in his hand at least: To understand
which the better we must know

_The End of the Game_

The End of the Game is (as at Beast) to win most Tricks; whence he who can
win five tricks of the Nine, has a sure Games; or if he win Four, and can
so divide the Tricks, as one may win Two, the other Three: if not, 'tis
either Codillio or Repuesto, and the Player loses and makes good the

_Of the Codillio._

The call it Codillio when the Player is beasted, and another wins more
Tricks then he; when this takes up the Stakes, and tother makes it good:
where note, that although the other two alwayes combine against the
Player to make him lose, yet they all do their best (for the common
good) to hinder any one from winning, onely striving to make it Repuesto.

_Of the Repuesto._

They call it Repuesto when the Player wins no more Tricks then another:
for example, if he win but four, another four, and the third but one, or
each of them win three Tricks the piece; in which case the Player doubles
the Stake, without any ones winning it, and it remains so doubled for the
advantage of the next Player, &c. whence you may collect, that the Player
is as much concern'd in making Repuesto, in case of nesessity, as any of
the rest, by which means the Stakes oftentimes increasing to a
considerable summe, the Player is to be very wary what Games he playes.

_What Games are to be played_

One is never to play unless he have three sure Tricks in his hand at
least, as we have said before; as the three Matadors, or six or seven good
Trumps without them; where note, the Kings of any Suit are alwayes
accounted as good as Trumps (since nothing but Trumps can win them) mean
while all other Cards but them and Trumps, are to be discarded.


He who playes having taken in, the next is to consider the goodness of his
Game; and to take in more or less, according to his Game is probably like
to prove good or bad, alwayed considering, that 'tis as much his advantage
that the third have a good Game to make it Repuesto, as himself. Neither
is any one, for Covetousness of saving a Counter or two, to neglect, the
taking in, that the other may commodiously make up his Game with the Cards
which he leaves; and that no good Cards may lye dormant in the Stock,
except Player playe without taking in when they may refuse to take in, if
they imagine he has all the Game.

_Of playing without taking in._

When one has a sure Game in his hand, he is to play without taking
in; when the others are to give him each of them one of the greater Marks
or Counters, as he is to give them, if he play without taking in, a Game
that is not sure, he'd(?) loses it.

_Of the Voll._

If you win all the Tricks in your hand, or the Voll, they likewise are to
give you one Mark or Counter the piece; but then you are to declare before
the fifth Trick, that you intend to play for the Voll, that so they may
keep their best Cards, which else seeing you win five Tricks (or the
Game) they may carelesly cast away.

_Of the Forfeitures_

If you Renounce, you are to double the Stake, this(?) also if you have
more or fewer Cards then Nine, (to avoid all wrangling or foul play) to
which end you are carefully to count your Cards both in dealing and taking
in, before you look on them; besides according to the Rigour of the Game,
if you speak any thing that may discover your Game, or anothers (excepting
onely Gagno as we shall declare afterwards) or play so, as wittingly to
hinder the making it Repueto or Codillio (and if ignorantly, you are not
fit to play.)

_Of playing Trumps_

In playing Trump; you are to note, that if any playes an ordinary Trump,
and you have onely the three best Cards, or Matadors, singly or can
jointly in your hands, you may refuse to play them, without Renouncing,
because of the priviledge which those Cards have, that none but commanding
Cards can force them out of your hands; as for example, the Spadillio
forces the Mallilio, and the Mallilio the Basto; for all the rest you are
to follow Trump.

_Of what you are to say_

You are to say nothing but onely, _I pass_, or _play_, or Gagno, that is,
'tis mine, simply, when you play your Card, to hinder the third from
taking it; or Gagno de l' Re when you play your Queen to hinder them from
taking it with the King, &c. but this you cannot say till it come unto
your turn.

_General Rules_

'Tis impossible to provide against all accident in the Game, onely these
general Rules may be observ'd in playing: First, the chiefest Art
consisting in knowing the goodness of ones Gane, and how it may be
improved to the best, one is never to win more then one trick, if they
cannot win more then two because of the advantage they give the Player by
it in dividing the tricks. Secondly, you are alwayes to win the trick from
the Player if you can, unless you let it pass for more advantage, wherein
note the second is to let pass to the third; if he have the likelier Game
to beast the Player, or if he be likely to win it.

_Of the Tenaces_

There may be divers advantages in refusing to take the Players trick, but
the cheifest is if you have Tenaces in your hands, that is, two Cards,
which if you have the leading, you are sure to lose one of them. If the
player lead to you, you are sure to win them both; for examples, if you
have Spadillio and Basto in your hand, & he have the Mallilio & another
Trump, if you lead you lose one of the; for either you lead your

Spadillio, and he player his lesser Trump upon it and wins your Basto
the next trick with his Mallilio, and so the contrary; whereas if he
leads, he loses both; for if he lead his Mallilio, you take it with your
Spadillio, and with your Basto win the other Trump; or if he lead with
that, you take it with your Basto; and then your Spadillio wins his
Mallilio, and 'tis called Tenaces, because it so catches you betwixt
them, there is no avoiding it, &c.

_Of the Players playing his game for his best advantage_

Of this (becuase every one playes according to his own fancy) I will only
say, that if you are not sure of winning five Tricks, but have only the
three Matadors, (as for example) and Kings be your Auxilary Cards, if you
have the leading you are to begin with a Matador or two before you play
your Kings, to fetch out those Trump perhaps which might have trumped
them; and if you have three Matadors with two other Trumps your best way
is first to play you Matadors, to see how the Trump lie, and if both
follow, you are sure that if three Trump be Red, there remains onely one
Trump in their hands; if Black, none at all; it importing so much that the
player counts the Trumps, as the miscounting only one, do's often lose the
Game. In fine, if they have but a weak Game, they are to intimate cunning
Beast Players, in dividing Tricks, and consult them in playing of their
Cards. And these few Instructions may suffice, leaving the rest to each
one's particular observation.

Certain other more Questions there are; as whether any may look on the
Tricks to see what Cards are played beside the Ombre, or he who playes the
Game, which ordinarily is resolved on the affirmative; or when any Cards
are left in the Stock, whether any may look on them or no, which the Table
lef once, usually is done. Only observer to lay your Tricks Angle-wisse.

[Transcribers note: Several diagrams here have been omitted], to the end
that one may easily perceive whether they be two, three, or four.]

F I N I S.

This etext was retrieved by ftp from
It is also available from

Produced by Imran Ghory while at the University of Bristol

[Transcribers note: This transcription was made from a copy of the work
held in the British Library as Jessel #1249. Original spelling and
punctuation has been preserved where possible.]

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