The Jack and the Ace

(And no, this isn’t about AC/DC and Motörhead songs)

Okay I’ve read the info and understand where all the suits come from. I understand why a king would be an inclusion above the numbered cards and why he’d want his wife in there with him. But what exactly is a Jack? Is it an archaic (at least to me) term for a prince/duke/lord? That would make sense to keep the family together I suppose, but then what is an Ace? Is the Ace just a fancy “one”? It’s ranked higher than the King in many of the more popular games (I don’t consider sheepshead a “popular” game unless you’re from Wisconsin), and if a deck of cards is as medieval as I assume they are, then the Ace would represent God or Jesus or something? Help!

-Mr. Sheepshead

I think the card was originally called, “Knave,” but the name was changed to “Jack” to avoid confusion with the initial. In Esperanto, the “jack” is called bubo, meaning “fool.”
In Wink Martindale’s song “Deck of Cards,” in which a soldier with cards but no Bible explains to his CO what he had cards in church, it says “And the jack or knave is the Devil.”

Once upon a time, when Papa Bear still roamed these boards, he asked a similar question. Somebody posted a terrific link devoted to playing cards - unfortunately, I didn’t hang on to the address. I wrestled the Search for a bit but none of my strategies worked. Maybe someone else can make it cough up the thread.

And if anyone wants to go to Cuba: is there anything we can do - aside from nagging the mods - to get the BB people to fix the search? Can we users bring any pressure to bear?

Don’t know about PapaBear but I know I did ask the very same question sometime this summer. Since I’ve changed ISP, I never have been able to make heads or tails of the search engine (it simply doesn’t work, either to retrieve other members’ posts or to check on topics previously dealt with); if, on top of this, SD has been having its own problems in that respect, then I’m doubly toast.

Sheep: I’ll try to locate my thread manually. Wish me luck.

Got lucky:

Hope that helps.

You can see if you can find out about the ace at:

“The secret of life is, there ain’t no secret, and you don’t get your money back.”

This has all been enlightening, and I appreciate the information. Now I pose a related question: I have often heard at card tables that certain games that have an ‘irregular’ order of power (in sheepshead it’s A, 10, K, 9, 8, 7 [Q’s & J’s are all trump]), the king was demoted below his ‘normal’ standing as a jab at royalty. Is there any proof of this, or is it just card table lore?

In answer to aseymayo’s lament on the search engine - we know it’s completely useless. We are taking steps now to begin archiving some of the older topics, as we feel the database has just gotten too large. (I can remember the search engine working just fine as late as May of this year). UBB has a new version in the pipeline, we hope this will help solve the problem as well (without creating other more serious ones, please, God!).

We realize having this treasure trove of previously covered material without a good search engine is like having the leash without the puppy dog. All we can ask is you please be patient.

GQ Mod

Sheepshead, I suspect that some games have deliberately obtuse rules so that regular players have an advantage over newbies. If your learning a new game and the order of the cards is K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-A you will grasp the concept pretty quickly. If you’re learning a new game and you have to remember the order of the cards is J-3-6-9-A-Q-10-5-7-K-2-8-4 it’s going to take you a lot longer before you catch on and start beating the old-timers.

I suspect the promotion of the Ace was a part of the same spirit that promoted the chess Queen, originally the weakest piece in the game, to the strongest.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

Mr. Sheepshead, sounds like you’re talking about Euchre (I’m sure there are other card games that fit this description as well). Once a suit is defined as trump, the Jack of that suit has the highest rank, followed by Jack of the other suit having the same color, then Ace of the original suit, King of the original suit, etc. For example, say that Diamonds is trump, the heirarchy is as follows: Jack of Diamonds, Jack of Hearts, Ace of Diamonds, King of Diamonds …

Well yeah, I’m talking about Euchre, Sheepshead, Sixty-Six, and others. Here in central Wisconsin you can find enough people to play any card game because we’ve had lots of diverse cultures settling here. And this “demoting of the rotten king” story always seems to come up. I want to know who this royal bastard is. It seems to be especially big to people of Germanic descent and to a lesser extent the Polish. But I took a Polish history class and IIRC the Poles didn’t have many bad rulers; I seem to recall them being proud and fond of the greater portion of their leaders, at least the native ones.

I’ve never heard the “demoting the king” argument. In Pinochle, the 10 ranks after the ace in the trick play, and ahead of the K-Q-J. I’ve always assumed that’s to even up the game: you can use the Kings, Queens and Jacks to make various combinations in the meld part, but the 10 is not much help there. So, if you have the 10s in your hand, you have a chance to catch up in the whist play.

jti, I was about to express the same sentiment. The 10 is promoted to give it value in the game, otherwise it would be useless, and the balance of the game would be lost. The nine is used similarly because of the deice.

Sheepshead is a game that is really peculiar to me. Not the game itself, but the fact that its so regionally distinct. Wisconsin is littered with people who all know and play this game. You leave the area even to Chicago and no one has heard of it. I would think the game would spread more. I grew up with Euchre being the primiere party game (drinking games excluded) in the Chicago area and wonder if any games have a regional bias similar to Sheepshead. I am not wondering about rare games played in small towns, but games virtually universally known in one part of the world, but rarely understood in other near by, and culturally similar places.

well, I grew up on the Canadian prairies, and only learned euchre from ontarioans. and, we play a game here called Kaiser - when I lived in Ontario, no-one had heard of it.