In the declaration phase, the players ascertain who has the better hand in each of three categories. This is done in an oblique sort of way that leads to some of the intrigue of Piquet. Elder hand declares first, with Younger responding.
In each part of the declaration, the Younger hand may choose to contest the Elder’s claim. By doing so, the Younger may reveal information that would be useful during the trick-taking phase, called the play. Likewise, the Elder may choose not to reveal information in one or more parts of the declaration.
If the Elder has at least four cards in a suit, they may make a declaration. For example, “Point of four”.
The Younger would then respond indicating that they had more, fewer, or the same number of cards in a suit. This is done by saying “Good” (the Elder has more and wins the point), “Not good” (the Elder has fewer), or by saying “Making?” or “How many?”, indicating that the Younger has the same number of cards in a suit, which requires clarification.
If both players have the same number of cards in a suit, then they must tally the value of the cards. The values of the cards are: ace = 11, face cards = 10, and face value for the rest.
After adding the values of the cards, the Elder calls out the number. The Younger may then say “Good”, if the Elder’s value is greater, or “Not good” and the number that wins the point. For example: “Not good: 39” or “Not good, I have 39”. If the values are the same, Younger says “Equal”.
The player with the better point scores the number of cards in the suit, not their value. If the values are the same, neither player scores. Note that Younger does not actually score for any declarations until Elder has led to the first trick in the play (see below).
The next part of the declaration is the sequence, in which the longest consecutive run of cards is valued. A sequence must have at least three cards and they must all be in the same suit.
Again, the Elder hand starts. For example, “Run of three” or “Sequence of four”. The Younger then responds with “Good” or “Not good”, in the same way as before, or by contesting. To contest, the Younger says “How high?”, to which the Elder responds with the highest card in the sequence. For example, “To the queen”. Younger replies with “Good”, “Not good” or “Equal”.
In keeping with the game’s ancestry, one may utilize the historical names for sequences in this part of the declaration, instead of the prosaic “Run of three”, for example. The following are the proper names and their associated values:
- 3, tierces (pronounced tier-s) are worth 3 points
- 4, quarts (carts) are worth 4 points
- 5, quints (cants) are worth 15 points
- 6, sixieme (seize yem) are worth 16 points
- 7, septieme (set yem) are worth 17 points
- 8, huitieme (wheet yem) are worth 18 points
The person winning the sequence may declare any additional sequences that he has, if desired. If both players’ best sequences are equal then neither player may score for any sequences.
A set is three or four of a kind, ten or greater (7’s, 8’s, and 9’s don’t count). Sets of three are called trios (tree ohz) and are worth 3 points, and sets of four, quatorzes (cat orz), are worth 14 points. The declarations take place in the same manner as Point and Sequence, with Elder stating his best set (for example, “Three Kings”), to which Younger replies “Good” or “Not good”.
The person with the best set may declare any additional sets that he has, if desired.
Repique and Pique
If a player scores 30 points in the declaration phase and his opponent scores nothing, including Carte Blanche, and if neither point nor sequence were equal, that player gains a repique, which is worth an additional 60 points.
If Elder scores 30 points in declarations and play combined, before Younger scores any, then Elder gains a pique and scores an additional 30 points. Note that Younger cannot gain a pique because Elder always scores one point for leading to the first trick (see below).
By the end of the declaration, each player will have a pretty good idea of the other’s hand (to the degree that each chose to claim their points).