Comments on Frederic Jessel’s discussion of Bezique in “Notes and Queries” in 1903 . . .

Thanks to David Levy, in an earlier post I showed some information on Frederic Jessel’s discussion of Bezique, as found in “Notes and Queries” in 1903.  It this post, I hope to pursue that discussion a little.

To begin with, the first “e” in Bezique is usually — or, at least, frequently — found with a diacritical mark above it, specifically a “diacritic acute,” or what most people might simply call an accent.  In this blog, I have pretty much ignored the existence of diacritical marks.  However, I wanted to mention the foregoing, because Jessel’s discussion deals specifically with spellings of the word.  I believe that in modern usage, the accent is typically omitted from the word “Bezique.”  And, indeed, in looking over some of my card booklets, I saw that, at least in booklet titles, Goodall was somewhat inconsistent.

I found Jessel’s discussion to be more than a little interesting.  First of all, it gives an unusual opportunity to “get into Jessel’s head,” and see a little of his reasoning skill, analytical power, research energy, and communications capability.  The discussion, at least as handled by Jessel, was entertaining and educational, and maybe even a little suspenseful.

Interesting, too, was the fact that Jessel brought heavy artillery to bear on the rather small issue.  I saw Platt’s discussion, and it really was quite thin, but Jessel himself wasn’t  fiddling around.  In a nice way, he is making his assertions, supporting them effectively, and, well, if anyone disputes him, they had better be prepared to make a good case.

Jessel calls Cavendish’s theory on the relationship of Cinq-cents and Bezique into question.  Cavendish had died about four years earlier.  I wonder whether Jessel would have been so candid if Cavendish had still been alive.

Jessel mentions “books of rules” that were printed “in 1868 and 1869.”  Presumably this (at least in part) refers to certain small booklets of the type frequently discussed in this blog.

In the last paragraph, Jessel mentions some foreign, or quasi-foreign names of varieties of Bezique, which he indicates are “fancy” (apparently meaning “fanciful”) names.  One of them is Bezique Chinois, which is presumably the Chinese Bezique of the Jessel booklet discussed here.

—Tom Sawyer

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

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