Translated and adapted from a text by David Parlett, in A story of card games, Oxford University Press, by Benjamin Weil, 2019

Speculation as played in Jane Austeen's Manfield Park novel. England, 19th century

This family and easy game card appeared towards the end of the 18th century and disappeared about a hundred years later. The English novelist Jane Austen mentions it several times, especially in this passage by Mansfield Park:

" - What should I do, Sir Thomas?" Whist or Speculation; Which one will have the most amusement?

Sir Thomas, after a moment of reflection, recommended the game Speculation. He was himself a whist player and thought it might not amuse him much to have him as a partner. »»

Dickens also mentions it in The life and adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1839), while Charles Pardon, in The Card Player (1868), says that "as a fun Christmas game, Speculation has no rival ". The game Speculation Also appears in Indoor amusements, card games and Fireside Fun de Cassell (1881), but it had to be endangered at that time, because it is not mentioned at all in Complete's Hoyle (1897) of Foster, also very complete.

The following description is taken from the 1847 edition of the Hoyle Games. By an extraordinary coincidence, the same label is found in the Hand-Book of Games BO can also (1850).

Speculation According to Hoyle, according to an edition of 1874

This is a noisy circular game, which several players can play, using a full game of cards, depending on the same formula as that of the Whist, with pawns, of an agreed value between the participants. The largest asset, in each transaction, wins the hen; And if no asset is treated, the player overlaps again and the event is decided the next round. Three cards are then distributed to each player, one at a time, and another presented as an asset to the donor who will have the privilege of selling it at most offering, unless it is an ace, in which case he wins the hen. The cards should only be shown as follows: the oldest hand shows the strongest of its three cards, on which players can, if it is an asset higher than that of the donor, speculate to new. When it is done, the one sitting next to the buyer is considered the oldest hand and shows the highest of his cards; But if the first card displayed does not prove a higher asset, then it will be the following so that the first player shows the strongest of his cards, and so on, the players continue to speculate as they please, until All the cards are discovered, and that the owner of the largest asset wins the hen.

N.B. The holder of the asset, whether by purchase or otherwise, is exempt from showing his cards by rotation, he must keep them hidden until all the others have been returned.

To play this game well, it is enough to recall which superior cards of the Atout combination appeared in previous offers and thus calculate the probability that the proposed asset is the highest of the operation.

Speculation according to Parlett, as reconstituted for the film Mansfield Park


Everyone starts with the same number of tokens and, at the start of each transaction, goes from one pot to another. Distribute three cards hidden faces on the table in front of each player, then turn the next card of the draw to create an asset series. (This is not any tip, the asset, in this game, only the color counts to win.)


Be in possession of the highest asset when all the cards at stake have been exhibited. To do this, the cards rank in decreasing order: AKQJ1098765432.


The reverse of the asset automatically belongs to the dealer. Therefore, if it is an ace, the dealer wins without playing more. If it is not an ace, but a card high enough to interest someone else, he can offer to buy it from the dealer, who can then negotiate it, sell it at auction or auction or auction or auction or auction or auction or auction Keep it, depending on the preferences.

Each in turn, starting with the player on the left of the reseller - or, if the turn -up has been sold, goes up the map of its own battery. This continues in rotation, but omitting the player who currently has the highest asset. If and when an asset is higher than that displayed previously, the player who returned it can offer it for sale at a mutually acceptable price or refuse to sell it. In both cases, the game continues from the left of the possessor of the largest asset to then be omitted.

In addition, anyone can offer to buy not necessarily the best visible asset, but any hidden card or belonging to another player. The buyer cannot look at them, but must place them in the face hidden at the bottom of his battery and turn them back in the rest of the game. The time to indulge in this speculation arrives when you have the highest asset and want to prevent someone else from doing better.


The game ends when all the cards have been revealed, or when someone turns the AS, and the one with the highest asset wins the pot.


1. Anyone who goes up a five or a valet adds a token to the pot. (This variant seems to be an Irish option borrowed from the Spoil Five game.)

2. A rescue hand is distributed and revealed at the end of the game. If it contains a higher asset than that of the potential winner, the pot remains intact and will be added to that of the next transaction.


Aldenham, Lord (Gibbs, G H) The Game of Ombre (London 1874)

Benham, W. Gurney Playing Cards (London 1931)

"Cavendish" (= Henry Jones), Card Essays (London 1879)

Chatto, William Andrew Facts and Speculations on the Origin and History of Playing Cards (London, 1848))

Parlett, David The Oxford Guide to Card Games, 1991

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