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Important Notice   ⋄   April 18, 2014

I have decided to shut down the Internet Pinochle server, partially due to lack of participation. Since transitioning the server to a home-based machine that is behind my firewall, many (but not all) players lost the ability to connect, and as a result, the activity level dropped significantly. (I regret my choice to use DirectPlay for networking, because it uses a host of IP ports and protocols. This makes firewall configuration a hassle and diagnosis of connection issues difficult. Still some could connect, which only made it more infuriating.)

The good news is that I have decided to renew my effort to convert Internet Pinochle to a web-based game. I'll let you know right here when it is ready, so check back later.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Welcome to Internet Pinochle! This is the documentation page that describes the game and how to install it. Let's start with the installation.

1 Installation

Internet Pinochle is distributed in the form of a self-extracting archive. Here are the steps to install the program:

  • Download the archive to a known location.
  • Execute the archive, which will decompress all files necessary for installation into that directory.
  • Run the setup program (Setup.exe) and follow the on-screen instructions.

Please verify that your system meets the modest minimum requirements before installing the game.

1.1 System Requirements

To run Internet Pinochle, you need:

  • Windows 95 or later.
  • A video card capable of 800x600 resolution (1024x768 is strongly recommended), 16 colors.
  • A TCP/IP connection to the Internet.
  • DirectX 5.0 or later. You can download this from Microsoft.

Meet the requirements? Then whaddya waitin' for? Download Internet Pinochle now!

Downloads Removed

With the server shut down, there is little point to downloading the client executables, so I have removed them. In the extremely unlikely event that Internet Pinochle ever returns as a client/server application, I will post new clients here for download.

I will reiterate the good news that I have decided to renew my effort to convert Internet Pinochle to a web-based game.

Stay tuned.

1.2 Sounds

Internet Pinochle installs several sound files into its "Sounds" sub-directory. These sounds play as a result of certain events, such as when a team fails to make its bid, and I think they add considerable flavor to the game. Note that you may disagree, so you can disable them using the Preferences screen (see below).

In addition, you may want to remove some of my selections (there's no accounting for taste :-), or you may want to add your own. Both of these things are possible, but you must feel comfortable editing a (text) configuration file.

The configuration file is named "Sound.cfg," and it resides in the installation directory. The sounds are organized by topic (such as "BidFail" -- when a team fails to make its bid), and the game will randomly select one to play from the list of sounds for that topic. Topics are surrounded by square brackets ("[]"), and the wave files are listed below the topic. For example, here is an excerpt that shows the "BidFail" sounds (there are a bunch of 'em :-):

[BidFail]
Sounds\BidFail1.wav
Sounds\BidFail2.wav
Sounds\BidFail3.wav
Sounds\BidFail4.wav
Sounds\BidFail5.wav
Sounds\BidFail6.wav
Sounds\BidFail7.wav

To add a sound, simply add a line, under the desired topic, containing a relative or absolute path to the wave file. To remove a sound, simply delete the corresponding line. You may also delete the sound file itself, at that point, if you wish to save disk space.

1.3 Connecting to the Internet

As mentioned under System Requirements, you need a TCP/IP connection to the Internet in order to play the game. You can make your connection (using Dial-up Networking, DSL, cable modem, FIOS, or other means) before or after launching Internet Pinochle, but you won't be able to connect to the Lobby until a connection is present.

2 The Lobby

When you first launch Internet Pinochle, you see the Lobby screen:

The Lobby

Note that you are not actually in the lobby yet, since you have not connected to the server. We will see how to do that shortly.

2.1 Setting Preferences

Before connecting for the first time, you may want to examine the Preferences screen, and customize the game to your liking.

Preferences Menu Item Preferences

Here we see the Preferences screen.

The suit ordering controls allow you to specify how the cards in your hand will be sorted, and how the buttons are ordered when you get to choose trump. When you select a suit, one or both of the movement buttons will activate.

To the right, you can select the card backs you'd like to use. There are eleven choices.

The "Sound" checkbox turns the sound on and off. The check box below that controls whether a double-click plays a card from your hand. You will find that this quickens your play, but it also increases the chance of a mis-play. (By default, this option is "off.") The last checkbox controls whether or not your decision to pass is confirmed. Again, play will be faster without this confirmation, but the chance of passing unintentionally increases.

The final control allows you to enter your preferred nickname. When you connect to the server (see next section), this name will be used by default.

2.2 Connecting to the Server

Now it's time to connect to the server.

Connect Menu Connect

Here we see South connecting to the server. As mentioned in the Preferences section, this field will default to your preferred nickname. Note that the server requires players to have unique nicknames, so if another player has already connected using that name, you will be prompted to choose another.

After entering your nickname, you will be asked for the location of the server. This can be an IP address or "resolvable" machine name. (Note: despite what the screen says, do not leave this field blank. This is a DirectPlay-controlled window, so I cannot change the displayed text.) Enter the server name (NO WORD) in the Locate Session dialog box.

Locate Session

After connecting, the chat area will become active, and the lists of players and games will be populated. Here is how the Lobby appears after four people have joined and South has made a good suggestion:

The Gang's All Here

To send a message, type it into the message field (at the bottom of the screen on the left-hand side), and press the "Send" button (or hit the "Enter" key). Your message is sent to everyone in the Lobby.

Note that "system messages" are color coded and appear to come from no one.

2.3 Starting a Game

Starting a game is as simple as pressing the "Start" button and entering a name.

Start a New Game

Note that, unlike player nicknames, game names do not have to be unique.

2.4 Joining a Game

Games that have fewer than four players, whether forming or underway, will appear in the game list.

Game List

You join a game by selecting its name in the list and pressing the "Join" button or by double-clicking on its name.

3 Playing the Game

And now, the moment we have all been waiting for -- the game begins. Well, almost. :-) Just a few more logistical details to cover.

The game screen is divided into three sections: the table, scoresheet, and chat area. The chat area is always visible, on the right side of the screen. On the left side, you can switch back and forth between the table and the scoresheet using the tabs at the top.

Let's cover each of these in more detail.

3.1 The Chat Area

In-game Chat

The in-game chat area works exactly like the one in the Lobby. Type your text into the message field, and press the "Send" button (or hit "Enter"). Your message will be sent to all other players in the game.

3.2 The Scoresheet

The scoresheet always shows the current score.

The Scoresheet

There are six columns for each team: Bid, Meld, Play, Hand, Game, and a game-winning (star) indicator. The Bid column shows the winning bid and is only filled in for the team taking the bid. The Meld and Play columns represent the number of points acquired in those phases of the game. The Hand column is the sum of the previous two columns. Finally, the Game column is the running point total for the game.

To the left of the team scores, the dealer of each hand is recorded.

3.3 The Table

Finally, we get to the table! Here's what it looks like after a player has started the game but no other players have joined:

The Table

The player is "seated" at the bottom of the screen. His (or her) partner is across the table, and his opponents are to the right and left. Since no other players have joined, these other seats are vacant.

Here are some things to notice:

  • There are places for the cards of the four players. Your cards will always be visible in the bottom, oblong section. You will see the backs of the cards in the other players' hands, except while melding. At that time, you'll see their melded cards.
  • Each player has a name tag. As players join, their nicknames will appear next to their card "bins."
  • The trump will be indicated graphically at the top right. Obviously, trump has not yet been chosen.
  • The bidding controls are in the bottom left. We will see how these work shortly.
  • Buttons will appear in the empty area to the right of your cards at appropriate times.
  • The player starting the game is the "gamemaster," which gives him or her the extra duty of assigning seats to incoming players at appropriate times. If the gamemaster disconnects or quits, the server will randomly pick one of the remaining players to be the new gamemaster.

3.4 Seating Assignments

Here is how the screen looks after the remaining players have joined:

Take Your Seat

Notice the new buttons. This is one of the occasions when seats can be assigned. The gamemaster can (1) swap "East" (the player to the right) and "North" (the player across the table) or swap "West" (the player to his left) and "North." When everyone is positioned satisfactorily, the gamemaster starts the game.

Note that in our example (for illustrative purposes), South will team with North and oppose West and East. In order to get the proper arrangement, South would press the "Swap E/N" button once, and then press the "Start Game" button.

3.5 The Cut and the Deal

We are now ready to play a hand! The server randomly chooses a dealer, and the player to the dealer's right is offered the cut:

Cut the Cards

Moving the slider varies the cut depth from zero (a knock) to 79 (all but one card). You are given thirty seconds to cut the cards, after which the current cut depth will be accepted.

3.6 Bidding

After the cut, the cards are dealt, and bidding begins. In our example game, South dealt, so West begins the bidding. After three bids, it is South's turn to bid.

It's Your Bid

Notice that the bidding buttons have activated and the bidding announcements that have appeared in the chat window. Also notice the "Rvw Bidding" button, which will show you the bidding to this point.

Here's how the bidding buttons work:

  • Initially, the last bid will appear in the edit box to the left of the "Bid" button.
  • The "+n" buttons add to the bid currently displayed in the box (not to the last bid).
  • You may also directly enter a bid into the box.
  • The "Bid" button makes the bid currently displayed in the box.
  • The "Pass" button is self-explanatory. :-)

3.7 Choosing Trump

After the bidding is complete, the player taking the bid chooses trump:

Choose Trump

3.8 Melding

Now that trump has been chosen, it's time to meld your cards.

Count Your Points

Notice how the table has changed:

  • The card backs of your opponents have disappeared. Their melded cards will appear here when they "announce" their meld.
  • A new card "bin" has appeared above your hand. This is your "working" meld area. Also note the number above this new bin. This is the meld value of the cards in the working area. You are still responsible for counting your own points and ensuring that you meld them all!
  • The trump is displayed in the upper right.
  • The "Meld Cards" button has appeared. Until you press this button, the cards in the working area are not visible to the other players. After pressing this button, your meld will be "announced" to the other players, and you will no longer be able to change it in any way. Also note that the other players will not see any gaps in your melded cards, even though there may be some in your working area.

So, let's see, it appears that South has a run in Spades (not surprising, since South won the bid and called trump), queens around, a marriage in Hearts, and a Pinochle. Twenty-seven points in all. To meld a card, you simply click on it. It will move from your hand to the working area. To remove a card from the working area, click on it again. It will return to your hand. When you are happy with the cards in your working area, press the "Meld Cards" to show your meld to the other players.

[Note: Yes, I am aware that South also has aces around! I'd love to say that this was a shrewd attempt to keep you on your toes, but the fact is that I just missed them when putting this page together. And, of course, I am too lazy to take another series of screenshots. :-)]

Meld Your Cards

Here, South is ready to announce his meld. Notice that East has already done so, but the other players have not. Also notice that as the other players announce meld, their meld points are displayed. (East has 12 points in meld.)

When all four players have melded, they each must then acknowledge the displayed meld:

The Meld is on the Table

Here, all the meld is on the table. Press the "Ack Meld" button after examining the other players' melded cards.

3.9 Playing

Now, it's on to the play!

It's Your Lead

Here we see South about to make his opening lead.

To play a card, select it by clicking on it once. The card will move partially out of your hand. Then, press the "Play Card" button. To put the card completely back in your hand, click on it again. Or, just select a different card.

Alternatively, you can play a card by double-clicking on it, if you have enabled that option (see the Preferences section).

Notice also that the bid-taker has the option of tossing in the hand before playing his first card. The "Toss Hand" button will disappear after the first card is played.

Throughout the play you can examine the last trick with the "Last Trick" button, or view the piles of accumulated cards taken by each team with the "View Piles" button.

As cards are played, they appear on the table:

It's Your Play

Here we see North about to put a king on his partner's ace of trump lead.

3.9.1 Reneging

Currently, the server will not allow you to play a card that will result in a renege. In future releases, I would like to change this behavior, such that the server will recognizes reneges but allow them. It would then be incumbent upon a player to assert that his opponent has reneged. This is not a simple thing to implement, so I decided it was better to get some testing accomplished now -- and have some fun while we're at it! :-)

3.10 Scoring

Here is the score after the first hand:

What's the Score?

Note that the score is kept up-to-date throughout the proceedings. That is, you can check it any time -- during the bidding, melding, or play.

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