KnightMove wrote:A full tarot deck consists of 78 cards. According to the classical rules they have a combined value of 78 points to be divided among the (originally 3) players. 52 points are contributed from the whole card values of 0-4 points, plus 1 point for each won trick, which was absorbed into the cards as 1/3 point each. So each card has a value from 1/3 to 4 1/3 points, and their sum is 78.

There is no compelling reason on behalf of gameplay why it should be this way. The vast majority of point trick games have different card number and points to score, including most modern tarot games (e.g. French tarot has 78 cards and 91 points; Austrian 54-cards tarot has usually 70 points; etc.).

But it's also higly unlikely that this has been a coincidence.

So, how did it come that tarot has 78 card worth 78 points? Are there any hypotheses? Evidence?

(I have my own - entirely speculative - hypothesis, but will wait before presenting it - maybe this topic has already been settled.)

I agree, that it isn't an accidental "78 points".

I don't like these "1/3 to 4 1/3" points, as this is just a way to hide, that the "essential old rule" should have been just trick-counting, not card counting. 78 cards with 3 players have just 78/3 = 26 tricks, so 26 points for trick taking, and the other 52 for "special cards" (courts [40] and the trumps 0, 1 and 21 [12]).

I think, that it was "old custom" to arrange the game numbers in an elegant manner, later rules didn't care for the finesse.

For instance, if we take the old 52 card game, and assume, that ...

King = 4 points

Queen or Ober = 3 points

Jack or Unter = 2 points

Ace or Ten = 1 point

13 points for the tricks in a game with 4 players (4x13=52)

... we would get 53 points in a game with 52 cards. "53" possibly was chosen instead of "52" to have a tie-breaker.

The 52 cards game should have been older than the Tarot game.

There are some other old games, which look being arranged with "elegant numbers".