Grand Trick-Track

by Richard Seymour

The earliest English material I know on the game of trictrac is Richard Seymour's The Compleat Gamester. This went through a number of editions. I have included a photograph of the Sixth Edition of 1739, but quote from the Fifth edition of 1734.

Compleat Gamester

The Compleat Gamester: In Three Parts. viz. I. Full and easy Instructions for playing the Games chiefly used at Court and in the Assemblees, viz. Ombre, Quadrille, Quinitille, Piquet, Basset, Faro, and the Royal Game of Chess. II. The true Manner of playing the most usual Games at Cards, viz. Whist, All-Fours, Cribbidge, Put, Lue, Brag &c. With several diverting Tricks upon the Cards. III. Rules for playing at all the Games both Within and Without the Tables: likewise at English and French Billiards. Also the Laws of each Game annexed to prevent Disputes. Written for the Use of the Young Princesses, by Richard Seymour, Esq.; The Fifth edition. London: E Curll. 1734. viii+132+94pp. [ Horr 1161, Jessel 1494]

II. The Noble and Courtly Game called GRAND TRICK-TRACK, is a French Diversion; and most commonly used by Persons of the first Quality.

It is thus played: The Table-Men are to be placed on the Side of the Tables. Next, it is also to be observed, that besides the Table-Men which you play, there are 3 other Pieces to be used, call Markers, whether Half Crowns, or Halfpence, or any other Coin: These are to mark the Throw of your Dice, on the Points of the Tables which are advantageous to you: For Example, If in you first Tables you make single Toots, in 3 Casts, or Throws, you mark with one Marker 4.

There are 12 Holes on the Sides of your Tables, with pegs in them, for the Use of this Game. Note then, that 12 Marks gained on the Points of your Tables, make an Hole, and 12 Holes make up the Game, if you agree to it; else less, or more: If you fill up your Points, for every single Throw on the Dice, you make 4, and for Doublets 6; and may hold your Game as long as you think convenient, that is, play on without breaking up your own, and your Adversary's if you believe you shall get no Advantage by beginning again.

If you hold with your double Men in your Tables, before you can make a Point, and your Adversary cannot fill his Tables, you are obliged with your Man to pass over into his Tables, tho' it be commonly a Disadvantage; but if he throws so well, as to fill up, then it alters the Matter, and you cannot pass. Note, that when you have marked 12 with your Marker, which, as I said before, makes up one Hole, you may go off, break up your Tables, and begin again, provided you have the Dice; or else you cannot.

If in playing this Game you touch a Man rashly, as intending to play it, and think to change it for another, you are obliged to play it as you before intended.

Note, As to those Men that are obliged to pass over into the Adversary's Tables, if he hits them, he marks thus:

For every single Throw 4; for Doublets 6; and if at any Time, by your good Fortune in throwing, you can mark over and above 12, you must then mark a Hole, or else 2, if you go double, and the Overplus remaining is called to the Good, provided you do not break your Game: You cannot go off, nor break your Tables by your Adversary's Throws. And note, that if you chance to make more or less than is right, it is in his Power to take the Advantake, (sic) put you back, or oblige you to mark full. This is what is most considerable in your first Tables.

Now, as to your Adversary's second Tables: For every Man you hit of his with a single Die, you mark but 2; and for Doublets 4; though in his first Tables, 4 for each single Die, and 6 for Doublets.

If you chance to hit a Blot or two in your Adversary's Tables, and cannot pass by reason of his Man standing in your Way, and hindering you, it is allowable for him to take the Advantage of marking by your own Throws in both Tables, as before mentioned.

The Ace-Point of both Corners in the second Tables, cannot be divided here, nor fill the Corners, as at other Games; though in Lieu of that Convenience, if the Dice favour, for each single Cast, you mark 4; and for Doublets 6.

Then as that Part of the Game, called Gens des Retour, or the Back-Game, which is the latter Part: Next, bearing off your Men, as it is used at Back-Gammon, you play your Men as fast as you can, into his Tables, endeavouring to fill up the Points, as at the Fore-Game; which being done, you bear off your Men; only there is on Distinction between this and Back-Gammon (noted before) that as Doublets thrown at the last Cast gives considerable Advantage to the Gamester there, it is here of no Value, nor gives any Addition to the Throw.

Note, that if at any Time you break up your Tables, and disorder your Men, except by gaining 12 Points, you can mark a Hole, it is in your Adversary's Power to oblige you to hold your Game on still and to play all the Table-Men you have so touched and disordered to his own Advantage.

Note also, that we distinguish the Single from the Double, in this Manner: If your Adversary, by his ill Fortune in throwing, has no Points on his Tables marked, altho' your Throw is single, yet still you may mark a double Point; but if otherwise, he has such good Luck by the Dice, to have any Point to mark, then he comes double; which you are to take off again, if you can hit him.

These are all the Passages that are considerable in this Game; which tho' easily to be comprehended, by those who divert themselves with playing often at Tables, and especially such who have any Skill in Tick-Tack, of which, this Game is observed to make a Compleatment, by adding more Parts and Embellishments; yet the most ready Way for a young Gamester, who is desirous to learn it, is to see it performed by two Gamesters; and then taking notice of these Instructions, he will presently be let into the Secret.


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