DFHC 11/19/2011

Ask Cool Daddy Gets Trumped

Dear Cool Daddy: Surfing the web, I stumbled upon this picture of a 5th suit for playing cards…something about “Zelda”…but I couldn’t make heads nor tails of it…can you help?  …from Stinky, in Beverly Hills

Dear Stinky: I believe this is what might be called a “fantasy” deck…in other words, produced simply as a novelty, and not intended for actual 5-suit play. It’s based on characters from the video game “Legend of Zelda,” and what looks like a triangle is called a “triforce.”

Now you might consider any attempt to add a 5th suit to the normal 4 a fool’s errand, but innovators and inventors are seldom swayed by the sheer impossibility of getting everyone to “switch over.” One of the most famous attempts came in the 1930s and was aimed at spicing up bridge…the 4th suit (above) was Eagles, colored green for good measure, and intended to be used as an invulnerable or unbeatable suit. It appears to have been successful enough that rule books published well into the 1940s still mentioned it, but of course it’s long gone today. Still, it appears that at any given time, there are always some 5 suit decks available for those who want to try something different.

Today, there is the Stardeck (above, left) and the 5 Dimension deck (right). And if you really want to go crazy, the “Fat Deck,” developed in the early 1990s, is still made, adding Roses, Axes, Tridents, and Doves (below) to the traditional Spades, Hearts, Diamonds and Clubs.

Those traditional suits comprise what is historically known the French deck…it was one of many different styles developed across Europe since the appearance of paying cards in the last 1300s, but the one that has of course won out and become the global standard. Even so, in Germany, Spain, and Italy one can still purchase “old style” decks, as outlined below…

To tell you the truth, I’m a sucker for this type of silly innovation, and buy them whenever I see them…it’s just that you seldom do. in 1988, Park Brothers colored Diamonds blue and Clubs green, but this was intended for a new game called Scan (below), and you couldn’t use the deck for any other games since the backs gave away which suit a card was.

More typical of the cock-eyed optimism of 5th suit reformers is Jack Poker, manufactured in Kansas City in 1981. The cover of the 2-deck box below introduced Clovers, the suit that is both black and red…calling this a “scientific development in playing cards” catches perfectly the goofy hyperbole of this whole way of thinking. The accompanying pamphlet explains how poker…with 5 cards but only 4 suits…makes as much sense as a 3-wheeled car, or a 99¢ dollar. Who or what the “Jack” in Jack Poker is is never explained…but it makes little sense, given all 5 suits have a Jack…and that makes the entire enterprise all that more trippy and fun.

straight shameless plugs flush…

Podcasts at http://stolfpod.podbean.com  and   http://thewholething.podbean.com

Deep Fried Hoods Cups Daily Blog:    https://deepfriedhoodsiecups.wordpress.com/

Other Daily Blog at http://stolf.wordpress.com  (the legendary Stolf’s Blog)

More bloggage at  http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com  and  http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi

Updated Resume at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com/p/resume.html

Audio samples at  http://stolfspots.podbean.com

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