French Tarot, the venerable card game

Welcome on this small site dedicated to the tarot, a card game whose origin goes up to the Middle Age and which is still played a lot today. It's the fifth version of this tarot page which I have put online since February 2002.

The site is composed of three sections: the french tarot's glossary contains about sixty articles; the commented deals approach 4 topics on attack or defense; and finally the problems of tarot approach some situations of play, bidding or card's handling. For the beginners, a page dedicated to the rules and the guiding principles of tarot is also available.

Also note that I do not disdain the variants of the game with 3 or 5 players. Some articles of this site are related to them. Each of these variants has its characteristics which make them difficult to master and I do not consider one of these variants better than the others.

Have a good visit!

Demenagement Constantineau


A new section on probabilities is now online. I will try to offer tables of probabilities on various situations of play. The first page of this section is related to the probabilities for the distribution of opponent card's residue in bridge. These data are thus valid, with little exceptions, for the 3-players tarot.

Defensive play in tarot

Are you one of those who are based on too rigid principles in defensive play in tarot? If it is the case, we will try to deflate (or at least to relativize) some of these long living principles. See the page related to defensive play for more details.

An extreme deal of tarot

Here there is a deal reported by Benoit Lessard from Montreal:

5-players tarot - regular game at 5 pennies the point (a serious game!)

tarot 17-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2
Heart -
Spade -
Diamond x-x
Club x-x

You are first to bid. What is your bidding? (unpleasant, isn't it?). Complete analysis here.

The readers ask

I sometimes receive mails of readers asking me for an opinion on a precise point of the game. Well, I decided to play a nasty trick to them and to publish their requests. Here is a first question:

M... of France, wrote to me:

For a declarer point of view, is it badly played to use the Excuse (fool) if defense plays in our longest suit, whether declarer is last to play or not? Can the excuse be used in all cases on the longest suit? Is this a mistake to use it like that when we are the declarer? Thank you.

Answer of your humble:

As usual for this type of questions, there are no absolute rules. The tarot (fortunately) is not made with blind rules, or it would be too easy : -)

My answer is simple: it all depends on the type of hand you hold!

Thus with:

If someone leads in your longest suit (x-x-x-x-x), playing the fool would be like to postulate that the declarer will have no problem to extract all defensive trumps before the end and thus make a trick later with this sixth card. But with 8 trumps, to gain the trump control is far from being sure. Moreover, if the defender started in a suit containing six cards (thus distribution 6-2-1 or 6-3-0 in defense) you will just add a losing card in your hand by playing the fool.

Demenagement Constantineau

Anyway, if this player really started in his longest suit, the defense will not be long to play trumps (because the defense will not be afraid to play trump if a defender has a strong holding in your longest suit) and there the play of the excuse will be more adapted to protect the 17, a rather vulnerable tarot.

On the other hand with:

Here the situation is different. Opening lead in your longest suit (C-x-x-x-x) must worry you for the future of your cavalier, which you could reasonably hope to make at the end of the deal, once eliminated defensive trumps. As there is no vulnerable tarot to protect, it is probably better to play the excuse to lengthen the cavalier, wishing that the opening lead was made from a 5 card's suit (of course if the lead comes from the bottom and that only small cards appear, you say thank you and take the trick with the cavalier : -)

Let us imagine an extreme case, a hand where declarer will not be able to overflow the defense in trump control, for example:


Here, it's difficult to imagine a defense that will not play trump at one time or the other. The Excuse must only serve to protect the 19 from an attack coming of an intermediate tarot, because the 2 points which represents the trick of the 19 are likely to be very significant for the success of the contract. By supposing that the K-Q's are not ruffed, this hand has 32 sure points: K-Q (6+5), K-Q (6+5), 21 (6), EX (4). The 9 missing points will come from possible trump tricks and the 6 cards discarded by the declarer (Chien). The declarer must give himself the maximum of chances to make his single intermediate tarot and thus reserve the play of the Excuse to its protection.

In short, there are no strict rules, it is necessary to weigh pro and counter. However, a general idea seems to be: with hands where gaining trump control seems a low or zero possibility, it is often preferable to hold the excuse to play it later on trumps to lengthen or protect a vulnerable tarot. Whereas with hands where trump control is acquired or almost, playing the excuse on leads in your longest suit appears more appealing.



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Updated: 06/02/2016