Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
841
BÉZIQUE

and at the other in a beautiful park, the Plateau des Poétes. The most interesting portion of the town is the extreme west where the old ramparts overlook the Orb. Above them towers St Nazaire, the finest of the churches of Béziers; it dates from the 12th to the 14th centuries and is a good specimen of the ecclesiastical fortification common in southern France. Its chief artistic features are the rose window in the western façade, and the stained glass and curious iron grilles of the choir-windows, which belong to the 14th century. Adjoining the south transept there are Gothic cloisters of the 14th century. The Orb is crossed by four bridges, the railway bridge, an ancient bridge of the 13th or 14th century, a modern bridge and the fine aqueduct by which the Canal du Midi is carried over the river. About half a mile to the south-west of the town are the locks of Fonserannes, in which in 330 yds. the water of the canal descends 80 ft. to reach the level of the Orb. There are remains of a Roman arena which have been built into the houses of the rue St Jacques. Béziers is seat of a sub-prefect and has tribunals of first instance and of commerce, communal colleges and several learned societies. It is an agricultural market and carries on an active trade in wine, brandy, fruit, leather and sulphur. Its industries are chiefly connected with the wine trade (cask and cork making, &c.) and there are important distilleries. It also has iron-works and tanneries.

The Romans established a colony at Béziers, and it was the headquarters of the seventh legion, under the title of Baeterrae Septimanorum. The present name occurs in the form Besara as early as Festus Avienus (later 4th century). The town was completely destroyed in 1209 by the forces of Simon de Montfort in the crusade against the Albigenses, on which occasion 20,000 persons were massacred. The walls were rebuilt in 1289; but the town again suffered severely in the civil and religious wars of the 16th century, and all its fortifications were destroyed in 1632.

BÉZIQUE (probably from Span. besico, little kiss, in allusion to the meeting of the queen and knave, an important feature in the game), a game at cards played with two similar packs from which the twos, threes, fours, fives and sixes have been rejected, shuffled together and used as one. It is modelled on a group of card games which possess many features in common; the oldest of these is mariage, then follow brusquembille, l’homme de brou, briscan or brisque, and cinq-cents. Bézique (also called besi and besigue) is, in fact, brisque played with a double pack, and with certain modifications rendered necessary by the introduction of additional cards. The cards rank as follows:—Ace, ten, king, queen, knave, nine, eight, seven.

The usual game is for two players. The players cut for deal, and the higher bézique card deals. The objects of the play are: (1) to promote in the hand various combinations of cards, which, when declared, entitle the holder to certain scores; (2) to win aces and tens, known as “brisques”; (3) to win the so-called last trick. The dealer deals eight cards to each, first three, then two, and again three. The top card of those remaining (called the “stock”) is turned up for trumps. As sometimes played, the first marriage, or the first sequence, decides the trump suit; there is then no score for the seven of trumps (see below). The stock is placed face downwards between the players and slightly spread. The non-dealer leads any card, and the dealer plays to it, but need not follow suit, nor win the trick. If he wins the trick by playing a higher card of the same suit led, or a trump, the lead falls to him. In case of ties the leader wins. Whoever wins the trick leads to the next; but before playing again each player takes a card from the stock and adds it to his hand, the winner of the trick taking the top card. This alternate playing and drawing a card continues until the stock (including the trump card or card exchanged for it, which is taken up last) is exhausted. The tricks remain face upwards on the table, but must not be searched during the play of the hand.

The scores are shown as follows:—

Table of Bézique Scores.
Seven of trumps, turned up, dealer marks 10
Seven of trumps, declared (see below) or exchanged, player marks 10
Marriage (king and queen of any suit) declared 20
Royal marriage (king and queen of trumps) declared 40
Bézique (queen of spades and knave of diamonds) declared 40
Double bézique (all the four bézique cards) declared 500
Four aces (any four, whether duplicates or not) declared 100
Four kings (any four) declared 80
Four queens (any four) declared 60
Four knaves (any four) declared 40
Sequence (ace, ten, king, queen, knave of trumps) declared 250
Aces and tens, in tricks, the winner for each one marks 10
Last trick of all (as sometimes played, the last trick before the stock is exhausted) the winner marks 10


A “declaration” can only be made by the winner of a trick immediately after he has won it, and before he draws from the stock. It is effected by placing the declared cards (one of which at least must not have been declared before) face upwards on the table, where they are left, unless they are played, as they may be. A player is not bound to declare. A card led or played cannot be declared. More than one declaration may be made at a time, provided no card of one combination forms part of another that is declared with it. Thus four knaves and a marriage may be declared at the same time; but a player cannot declare king and queen of spades and knave of diamonds together to score marriage and bézique. He must first declare one combination, say bézique; and when he wins another trick he can score marriage by declaring the king. A declaration cannot be made of cards that have already all been declared. Thus, if four knaves (one being a bézique knave) and four queens (one being a bézique queen) have been declared, the knave and queen already declared cannot be declared again as bézique. To score all the combinations with these cards, after the knaves are declared and another trick won, bézique must next be made, after which, on winning another trick, the three queens can be added and four queens scored. Lastly, a card once declared can only be used again in declaring in combinations of a different class. For example: the bézique queen can be declared in bézique, marriage and four queens; but having once been declared in single bézique, she cannot form part of another single bézique. Two declarations may, in a sense, be made to a trick, but only one can be scored at the time. Thus with four kings declared, including the king of spades, bézique can be declared and scored, but the spade marriage cannot be scored till the holder wins another trick. The correct formula is “Forty, and 20 to score.” The seven of trumps may be either declared or exchanged for the turn-up after winning a trick, and before drawing. When exchanged, the turn-up is taken into the player’s hand, and the seven put in its place. The second seven can, of course, be declared. A seven when declared is not left on the table, but is simply shown.

The winner of the last trick can declare anything hitherto undeclared in his hand. After this all declarations cease. The winner of the last trick takes the last card of the stock, and the loser the turn-up card (or seven exchanged for it). All cards on the table, that have been declared and not played, are taken up by their owners. The last eight tricks are then played, but the second player must follow suit if able, and must win the trick if able. Finally, each player counts his tricks for the aces and tens they may contain, unless (as is often done) they are scored at the time. If a player revokes in the last eight tricks, or does not win the card led, if able, the last eight tricks belong to his adversary. The deal then passes on alternately until the game (1000) is won. If the loser does not make 500, his opponent counts a double game, or double points, according as they have agreed. The score is best kept by means of a special bézique-marker.

Three- and Four-Handed Bézique.—When three play, three packs are used together. All play against each other. The player on the left of the dealer is first dealt to and has the first lead. The rotation of dealing goes to the left. If double bézique has been scored, and one pair has been played, a second double bézique may be made with the third pair and the pair on the table. Triple bézique scores 1500. All the cards of the triple bézique must be on the table at the same time and unplayed to a trick. All may be declared together, or a double bézique may be added to a single one, or a third bézique may be added to a double bézique already declared. The game is 2000