Thirteen and the odd

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Dec 1 18:37:21 UTC 2013

W Brewer wrote:
>> <<thirteen-and-the-odd>> = "suit & tie".
>> WB:  (1) <13> cards = **SUIT** (spade, heart, club, diamond).
>> (2) <the odd> = Joker, sounds like <**CHOKER**>, i.e. 'neck tie'.

Laurence Horn wrote:
Ingenious, although I'm not sure I buy the "joker"/"choker" part. In
any case, there is a card game in Hoyle's called "Thirteen and the
> Two persons with a full pack of fifty-two cards play this
> game. The cards rank as In Whist. In cutting for the deal,
> low' deals. Thirteen cards are dealt to each player, one at a
> time. The dealer turns up the top card, after the deal, for
> trump. If he makes a misdeal he loses his deal.
> The elder hand leads. The tricks are regulated as In Whist,
> and the player first capturing seven tricks wins the game. In
> case of a revoke the player making the error loses the game
> if the trick has been turned, otherwise he is permitted to cor
> rect his error.
> Could this be relevant to *our* 13 + odd? (It's not clear from this description that the joker is involved, or suits.)

Michael Quinion's analysis also included some information about the
card/dominoes game. In 1855 a game with the name
"thirteen-and-the-odd" was mentioned in a court case in Alabama.
(Currently, the earliest slang instance referring to a clothing style
appeared in September 1898, I think.) Here are two excerpts from the
volume Michael cited:

Title: Reports of Cases Argued and Determined at January Term, 1855
Volume: 26
State: Alabama
Printers: Cowan & Martin, Montgomery, Alabama
Court Case: Bryan v. The State
Start Page 65
Quote Page 66

[Begin excerpt]
The State then introduced another witness, who testified, that a game
usually played with cards could be played with dominoes; that he had,
at the instance of the court and counsel, on this forenoon, in the
presence of the jury who tried a similar case to the one at bar,
played said game, called "thirteen-and-the-odd," both with cards and
with dominoes, with a like result, and on the same principle.
[End excerpt]

[Begin excerpt]
... that he had never known or heard of a game of cards called "ramps"
nor a game played with dominoes called "thirteen-and-the-odd," ...
[End excerpt]

World Wide Words Newsletter 860
Saturday 30 November 2013

[Begin excerpt from Michael Quinion's analysis]
A card game of the same name is mentioned by a witness in a case
before the supreme court of Alabama in 1855, who claimed that it could
also be played with dominoes. Nobody else mentions the domino version
but the card game is described in a number of American compendia, such
as The Modern Pocket Hoyle of 1868. It was a version of whist for two
people, who were each dealt 13 cards, with another turned up on the
pack to indicate trumps. Hence, I suppose, thirteen and the odd.

It’s possible that the black-and-white of the cards (or dominoes if
the game was more common than the references imply) was transferred by
analogy to formal dress. The written evidence hints that it was first
used for the tuxedo, which was introduced at Tuxedo Park in New York
State in the middle 1880s, but was later transferred to the formal
white tie, with soup-and-fish taking over for the tuxedo.
[End excerpt from analysis]

The American Dialect Society -

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