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LECTURE VI.
THE ELEVEN RULE (by desire).
——
“Three wise men of Gotham
Went to sea in a bowl;
If the bowl had been stronger
My tale had been longer.”

This lecture, though quite irrelevant, is given to gratify the curiosity of many youthful enquirers.

The eleven rule (which only applies to American leads) is simply this: that, if under favourable circumstances, you add certain integers together and the result should be eleven, then you shall see what you shall see. (It can scarcely be called a novelty, for it seems to have been well known to Virgil,
“Magnus ab integro s?clorum nascitur ordo.”)

Bearing this cardinal fact firmly in mind, supposing a deuce is led—and it is ex rei necessitate a fourth best; this is the favourable circumstance just referred to—then, if you hold nine higher cards of the suit, you add nine to the pips on the deuce, and if you add it correctly and it comes to eleven, you play the lowest of your superior cards, and (with the proviso the suit is trumps) win the trick.

[56]

Though it is scarcely an epoch-making discovery,[29] still it is true, and that in these days of the new journalism is something to be thankful for.

There is one example of this rule in the “Field” which is to me a source of perennial joy.

The second player who holds the ace, the king, the queen, the knave, and the eight of hearts, to his own enquiry which card he ought to play on the six led, replies, “I say the eight!”

Now, though certainly 6 + 5 = 11, and the rule—as I have already admitted—is true, this play does not commend itself to my intelligence, and I should advise you not to trouble your youthful brains about the later rounds of a plain suit—when the leader, to your own certain knowledge, has from four to eight, and you yourself follow holding five, including a quart major. If you win the first four tricks in it, you will do as much as you can reasonably expect, and will have done enough for glory.

O sancta simplicitas! That eight, so innocently stepping to the front, has done more to reconcile me[57] to human nature than anything that was ever done by Jonas Chuzzlewit.

May it continue to retain its evergreen faith unspotted of the world!
“May no ill dreams disturb its rest,
No deeds of darkness it molest,”

and that it may never be rudely awakened to find a serpent in its Eden, and the harmless looking six a singleton, is my fervent prayer.

I have mentioned that this kind of thing is not whist as played in this country, and it is by no means certain it will long be the whist of any country; for I hear that in the American Whist Club of Boston, “they have now quite chucked the American leads,” and one of the later Cavendishes has propounded this singular view; “I have the craze for giving information in such an acute form that I should like to be allowed to show my whole hand to the whole table before the first lead, on the condition that my cards are not to be called.” I presume all the hands must be exposed, otherwise this is merely an offer to back[58] his partner against his two opponents at single dummy, and there is nothing particularly sporting in that.

If, then, this doctrine and position is a rule of faith and not merely a pious opinion—and pious opinions have a nasty knack of becoming extended into principles—the devotees of the new game will, it is to be hoped, at once relegate its uninviting literature to the nearest dust-bin, and all with one accord, in pairs (like the wooden animals in your Noah’s ark), betake themselves to double-dummy; where, happily, elaborate schedules of leads are not required; where extensions of principle are unknown, and where “faith is lost in sight.”


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