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Consolidate, Clarify, Simplify All Pinochle Rules
#11
This project is a good idea, but it's fairly close to what my existing Pinochle rules do. http://howell.seattle.wa.us/games/rules/Pinochle.html

The Pagat rules are clear and well-written, but they cover only one specific set of rules. Wikipedia covers nearly every imaginable rule, but provides no useful guidance as to WHICH rules you should use. I've written rules for games professionally, so while mine might not be perfect, I think most people will find them well above average in clarity, and not only do I include information about variations in the rules, I also provide guidance for people who aren't sure which rule to use.

The "Chinese Menu" scheme proposed here is great if what you want is a nice clean set of rules that you can pass out to make everybody play Pinochle the way YOU think it should be played. This is how we do it at our senior center, or at our game club, or what-have-you. It's not as helpful if you sit down with another couple on a cruise, and you discover that they think Kings in a run count 40, and you think they count 2. I get email messages on a regular basis from people who find my rules page, have a situation like that, and want somebody to tell them who's 'right.'

As hopefully everybody here already knows, neither of them is 'right.' There aren't any 'official' rules for Pinochle. However, I do provide recommendations based on game design principles, and I explain what those principles are and how they inform my recommendations.

I had a discussion just last week with a new friend who, it turns out, played Pinochle for years at his place of work during lunch. He played with the "player can call for a re-deal if they have 5 nines and no meld" rule. I think that's a TERRIBLE rule. "But everybody plays with that rule!" "Gary, you just told me a few minutes ago that you *taught* Pinochle to most of your co-workers. Of *course* they play the same way you do."

Being able to show other people what rules you play by clearly and cleanly is a worthy goal. If we could all start to agree on the *same* rules would be even better. Oh, I don't expect we'd ever get to one single set of rules. For one thing, there will always be people getting mixed up between single-deck and double-deck, and crossing rules back and forth between them. But if we could marginalize some of the uncommon &/or unnecessary rules, it would be a great boon to Pinochle players everywhere.

One example that leaps to mind is that I believe *most* players these days who play single-deck are playing Partnership Auction Racehorce, and if you're passing cards, the rule that you have to have a marriage to even bid is all but nonsensical.
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#12
(03-24-2016, 02:43 PM)Snarke Wrote:  This project is a good idea, but it's fairly close to what my existing Pinochle rules do.  http://howell.seattle.wa.us/games/rules/Pinochle.html

There is a lot that is right about your page.
Unfortunately, it is focused only on Single Deck Partnership Auction Racehorse Pinochle, so I still need to include many other variants' rules.

"If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants." - Isaac Newton
I am just an ordinary person, I haven't had a career in card games or published white papers on game strategy.
If I have any special skills at all, they would be an open mind, an attention to detail, an appreciation for simplicity, and a propensity for working in a team.
I plan to leverage the collective expertise of all of the high quality rules existing on the net.
I will cite IP owners when I extract greatness from external sources.
Much of the best knowledge is already out there, I just want to tidy it all up and centralize it.

I see Pinochle as an uncharted landscape riddled with variant tribes.
Like Monopoly, Pinochle has been enjoyed for many years offline and in isolated communities -- sometimes exclusively familial.
In our digital age, there is no excuse for ignorance, so the first step is Enlightenment.
Revolution cannot precede Enlightenment.

I would like to note, specifically, that I like the way your meld chart is layout out.  I have seen charts labeled Type I, Type II, and Type III.  These labels are arbitrary and lame.  Suit-based Meld, Rank-based Meld, and Pinochle are clear, accurate, and totally intuitive.  I haven't seen anyone put it so well.  Do you have a term for the 10x point separation between charts?  I mean one category of charts values a Common Marriage as 2, another category values it as 20.

Do you actually know of anyone who still plays Pinochle without an Auction?  If Auction-less Pinochle has become extinct, I'd like to strip it from the list of identifying keywords used to describe a variant.

(03-24-2016, 02:43 PM)Snarke Wrote:  The Pagat rules are clear and well-written, but they cover only one specific set of rules. Wikipedia covers nearly every imaginable rule, but provides no useful guidance as to WHICH rules you should use. I've written rules for games professionally, so while mine might not be perfect, I think most people will find them well above average in clarity, and not only do I include information about variations in the rules, I also provide guidance for people who aren't sure which rule to use.

Yes, those sources will be vital in the development of the Rules Documentor.  I will endeavor to strip out all extraneous advice/guidance from the clauses.  I share some opinions with you, and like you, I can't help blending my opinions of right and wrong into the rules clauses.  What I mean is, my opinion will factor into which rules clauses are listed, not that I will adding my thoughts as text into the rules clauses.

(03-24-2016, 02:43 PM)Snarke Wrote:  The "Chinese Menu" scheme proposed here is great if what you want is a nice clean set of rules that you can pass out to make everybody play Pinochle the way YOU think it should be played. This is how we do it at our senior center, or at our game club, or what-have-you. It's not as helpful if you sit down with another couple on a cruise, and you discover that they think Kings in a run count 40, and you think they count 2. I get email messages on a regular basis from people who find my rules page, have a situation like that, and want somebody to tell them who's 'right.'

As hopefully everybody here already knows, neither of them is 'right.' There aren't any 'official' rules for Pinochle. However, I do provide recommendations based on game design principles, and I explain what those principles are and how they inform my recommendations.

I want to convert Pinochle's current "land of tribes" into a "nation of states".  I don't want to create a singular game of Pinochle.  I want each variant to maintain its own proprietary rules.  My hope is that similar variants will become aware of each other and they will either merge their rules or one will absorb the other's player population -- resulting in fewer, larger, and more manageable "states".  When Pinochle can govern itself as a commonwealth of unified states, the benefits will be many (too many for me to bother listing right now).

(03-24-2016, 02:43 PM)Snarke Wrote:  I had a discussion just last week with a new friend who, it turns out, played Pinochle for years at his place of work during lunch. He played with the "player can call for a re-deal if they have 5 nines and no meld" rule. I think that's a TERRIBLE rule. "But everybody plays with that rule!" "Gary, you just told me a few minutes ago that you *taught* Pinochle to most of your co-workers. Of *course* they play the same way you do."

Dave, before I started playing online, I was your classic "Gary".  I was the spawner of Pinochle in our social circle, with assistance from other's that I taught, I probably taught over a dozen players to join in our regularly occurring games.  We played Pinochle with all of the soft, colloquial rules that my grandparents and dad taught me.  e.g. Bidding starts at 51, "By Me" is a Pass with Aces Around, you could force a redeal if you had 13 Jacks & Queens or No Aces.

It was only after I escaped my isolation that I realized which rules were just and which ones were actually negatively impacting the spirit of the game.

(03-24-2016, 02:43 PM)Snarke Wrote:  Being able to show other people what rules you play by clearly and cleanly is a worthy goal. If we could all start to agree on the *same* rules would be even better. Oh, I don't expect we'd ever get to one single set of rules. For one thing, there will always be people getting mixed up between single-deck and double-deck, and crossing rules back and forth between them. But if we could marginalize some of the uncommon &/or unnecessary rules, it would be a great boon to Pinochle players everywhere.

One example that leaps to mind is that I believe *most* players these days who play single-deck are playing Partnership Auction Racehorce, and if you're passing cards, the rule that you have to have a marriage to even bid is all but nonsensical.

I think we are on the same page, I hope you will continue to chime in and apply your expertise to Power Pinochle's efforts.
I only want the best for Pinochle.  When I am not doing that, I trust you will let me know.
It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life. -- Mickey Mantle
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#13
Mick I agree with your core vision to standardize the core pinochle variants. I also like your rules generator concept. My worry is that the tool is somewhat at odds with the goal of variant standardization.

In order for the rules generator to be really useful it needs to be flexible enough to allow a user to tailor the rules to their needs. If deep customization of the rules is allowed then we have the same amount of variants or potentially more as people try out different combinations. Like I said above I agree that standardization is incredibly valuable to the community. I also think that people should be able to have a nicely formatted definitive rules document that is customized to their house rules.

In order to accomplish both of those goals I think it would be valuable to take a template approach with the rules generator. That way the template will be the "standard rules" with options to customize the template. Then in the document that the tool generates the deviations from the "standard" are flagged somehow. This should give us all the benefits of standardization and customization. Furthermore, not only will people become aware where their house rules vary from the standard, people who are familiar with the norm will be able to quickly pick out the non-standard clauses. As a fringe benefit I think this will be easier to implement.

The real challenge to this approach is defining a standard. I think that the best way to accomplish this is to pick something to start out with. As people create variations on that arbitrary standard the variants would be optionally posted to the site. Then allow users to vote for one variant in each class that they think should become the standard. Over time the votes should show the community's consensus on what is "standard." Once that is determined then the standard template can be adjusted.

Overall this approach makes good sense to me and I'll try to implement it.
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#14
I fear you are right, bollingered.

The first big hurdle in completing the Pinochle Notation and the Rule Documentor is definitive scope.
A project without boundaries can never be completed.
That last thing I want is for Power Pinochle to be an authoritarian system where rakbeater and I crown ourselves the Kings of Pinochle.
I want all the benefits of a democracy, but we have some difficulties in that approach.
  1. Despite having members with valuable backgrounds, we don't have a high volume of active, contributing members; so we won't get a very accurate account of the masses by internal polling.
  2. Democracies are notoriously slow and sometimes deadlock.
  3. Democracies also include the votes of the under-educated and the biased.

The reason I didn't make the Rules Documentor a permanent fixture on the site and in the menu of tools is because I wasn't sure if it would actually work -- this is also why I didn't bother putting too much time in it before engaging in discussion.

I wonder if standardization can be tackled from a different angle.
Would it be better to start with the specific acknowledgment of all genuine forms of Pinochle?
As I mentioned else where, there is a variant that is adding a Joker to the deck -- does it qualify?

As we traverse the array of Pinochle variants, there needs to be robust principles in place which support WHY decisions are made to include or exclude a given variant or rule. Otherwise, we come off looking like self-serving variant snobs. I can set up individual polls for each rule clause that needs debating, but it may take a while to collect sufficient poll votes to declare a truly popular outcome.



As a new question, what are variants that use Passing?
I've heard that Racehorse means the Offense passes cards, but the defense doesn't.
My family plays Railroad which means both teams pass to their respective partners. Is that colloquial or has anyone else heard of that?
It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life. -- Mickey Mantle
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#15
In my opinion the notation is just a framework and only rules out variants that don't fit in the framework.
An example is passing. Keyword PASS. An assumption for example that passing is only to left (an assumption not made by anyone, just an example) and that starts with a certain player, maybe E: then groups of cards builds in all sorts of dependencies and rules out variants that pass left, then right, then across, etc. like in Hearts IIRC.

So instead it's PASS E: - N: group of cards N: - W: group of cards etc.

Another example of assumption built into framework would be PASS in the header and an assumption when PASS occurs. Instead PASS would be inserted in line with when it occurs. So it's just a description of play that the Animator executes. I'm sure it's close to that now but just pointing out the notation should be more descriptive than prescriptive and non-judgemental.

I think the basic suggested framework is pretty close to that.
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#16
I agree that a consensus driven approach is the model that we should strive for, and I have no desire to alienate people by invalidating whatever form of pinochle they grew up playing. That being said if you want standardization then you have to be willing to make a decision that X is standard and Y is a deviation from the standard. The best way in my opinion to derive that standard is to give feedback loops and be open about the voting. That way people can see that it isn't the site creator's fiat but the community's consensus which is driving the standardization process. I don't see anything inherently bad about drawing a line in the sand as long as it is apparent that the line can be adjusted.

It seems to me that if we rely on the forum model to reach a broad consensus first then it will end up turning into endless discussions that go nowhere. Similarly if we conduct endless straw polls the feedback loop will be too long, and deriving a cohesive set of rules might be a challenge. I want to avoid the problems shown in Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail (starting at 1:25). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxGqcCeV3qk The peasants' solution breaks down because decisions are too hard to enact (forums and pure polling). The king's solution breaks down because he needs to enforce rules through faith or might; neither of which has a chance to be effective here (fiat immutable standards).

As far as a base set of rules goes I think the National Pinochle Association tournament rules should be the standard for 4 handed double deck pinochle. http://www.npapinochle.org/Conf_Docs/Tou..._Rules.pdf  Even though those rules differ from how I played pinochle growing up this seems like a natural starting point.
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#17
As far as notation goes I think that largely depends on the goals of the notation. It will also depend heavily on who/what is the target producer and consumer of the notation. If the goal of the notation is to support any variation of pinochle imaginable, then I agree it has to be description focused. If the goal is to support XYZ mechanics that are deemed main stream pinochle then the notation can be more prescriptive. If the notation is to be consumed by a computer and is prescriptive then it can be very terse and simple. If the notation is to be consumed by people a prescriptive notation can be terse, but a descriptive notation must be verbose.

We also need to determine investigate edge cases like player position notation. A five player game doesn't fit neatly into the N,S,E,W player location framework. http://boardgames.stackexchange.com/q/27621/13495 Additionally it should be remembered that the more complicated the notation it becomes the more powerful it is, but the more difficult it is to use by humans. If the goal is for humans to write and read the notation then I think a simpler more prescriptive approach is superior. If we are comfortable requiring software to create and consume the notation artifacts then we aren't necessarily constrained to a simple prescriptive approach.
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#18
(03-24-2016, 02:06 PM)Snarke Wrote:  
(03-20-2016, 09:01 AM)mickmackusa Wrote:  ...nope, radio buttons are no good because once one of them in the group is selected, the group can never be totally deselected.

Radio buttons are perfectly good. You just have to include the "None" radio button. 

That's true.  I'll need to think about how it will look in the grand scheme and if it might look confusing in a big list; it may be just fine.
It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life. -- Mickey Mantle
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#19
I would think not confusing, mick. It was a good suggestion, it would come set to None and if they made another selection they could set it back to None very straightfowardly.

I have that in a group of selections on my registration page but it isn't the default selection.

Or it may be llike mine where defaults to a standards preference but they can set it to None. I would think if it could be None it probably should stay None unless they chose another setting.

Anyway, good suggestion.
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#20
Dave Barber's East Point Pinochle Rules

Some interesting things going on in this 2-handed (Heads-up) variant:

Four 2's are added to the deck and four 9's are removed.
No Auction.
Some unique meld and trick scoring.
An interesting attempt to create a suitable (yet myopic) notation for the game.

9's are abbreviated to "N".
2's are abbreviated to "D". (Deuces)
This is so all card ranks are declared using letters.
Tigre and I discussed, not too long ago, the best way to annotate 9's.  While I can see the appeal of all-letter ranks, it doesn't prepare Pinochle for universal, long-term use by other variants that abandon the traditional Pinochle deck.

My current position on card identifying abbreviations and symbols:
* - Termination
- - Negative Score
? - Unknown/Requested value
2 - Two
3 - Three
4 - Four
5 - Five
6 - Six
7 - Seven
8 - Eight
9 - Nine
A - Ace
C - Clubs
D - Diamonds
E - [intentionally not used for East]
H - Hearts
J - Jack
K - King
N - [intentionally not used for North]
Q - Queen
S - Spades, [intentionally not used for South, to avoid confusion]
T - Ten
W - [intentionally not used for West]

Now, I still don't know what to do about Jokers.  I had a quick look around the Web and didn't find any suggestions.  I am hesitant to use a symbol because it is not very intuitive, but what choice do I have, the J is spoken for?  Jokers are typically a "wildcard" which in many I.T. circles is an asterisk, but that would conflict with Bridge's use of an asterisk for Hand Termination.

Since I am not bowing to Bridge in any other case, maybe I make the following adjustment:
  • * - Joker ("wildcard")
  • ! - Hand Termination, in modern digital jargon an exclamation mark is called a "bang" that seems fairly intuitive for an abrupt occurrence.
I would love some feedback on this.


Back to the cited rules document above...
I personally don't like the arbitrary hierarchy assigned by this variant to the suits (I don't like it about any other card game either, e.g. Bridge); but that makes no difference to the survival of the variant in my project.

The document also identifies cards by Rank then Suit.  This was my initial preference, as it mirrors spoken language ("AS" => "Ace of Spades") ergo more intuitive.  My belief is reinforced by common Poker notations that do the same.

However, PBN identifies by Suit then Rank ("SA" => "Spade Ace").  The benefit to human readers in card games with suit hierarchies (Hearts, Pinochle, Bridge, etc.) is the immediate acknowledgment of whether a card has followed suit, trumped, or other.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?  Power Pinochle's card icons are named Rank then Suit, and my preference is still Rank then Suit.  Oh and that reminds me of something unimportant, I thought more about the name for Power Pinochle's simple card icons, originally called "cardies" because they are in "MyBB software's Smilies area", then Tigre suggested "emoticards" but they don't convey "emotions" so it doesn't seem accurate.  I am now thinking that "icard" is more accurate in describing "card icons".  But like I said, it's not very important.
It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life. -- Mickey Mantle
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