NABOKV-L post 0023859, Mon, 1 Apr 2013 13:11:55 -0700

Subject
how to play Pharoh?
Date
Body
The day before I had seen The Queen of Spades, a 1949 British film based on
Alexander Pushkin’s 1833 short story. It concerned a Russian officer who, in his
desperation to win at cards, murdered an elderly Russian countess while trying
to learn her secret method of picking cards in the game of faro. He seemed
uninterested in having me recount the plot, which he must have known well, but
his head shot up when I said in conclusion that it reminded me of Dead Souls.
Vera also turned around and stared directly at me. Peering intently at me, he
asked, “Why do you think that?”

This quote is from the same article as the tale of the train station from Anna
Karenina.

As it happens, I was recounting the story of Pikovaya Dama at our seder last
week and one little boy was particularly fascinated (precocious chess player,
beats everyone who takes him on) and wished to know how the game was played. I
came up with a possibility, a variant of the children's game 'war', but had to
admit I didn't really know. How can you win with a tuz after all? (that's a
deuce).

By googling I got a variety of explanations. The clearest, done by some Civil
War re-enactors, was clearly not the game described inP.D.

Does anyone know how faro was played in Pushkin's time? It is interesting that
although I could not recall the name of the game at the seder table, I kept
imagining a pyramid. Well, I put that down to the fact that we were of course
talking a lot about Egypt. However, it does turn out that faro was derived
frompharaon, the original name given to the original game as played at the court
of Louis XIV at Versailles.

Carolyn

p.s. Is faro pronounced with end stress? which you would expect.

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