Four players play in the “screw” three times a week: Evpraksiya Vasilyevna with his brother Prokopy Vasilievich against Maslennikov and Yakov Ivanovich. Yakov Ivanovich and Maslennikov absolutely do not approach each other as partners: the thin old man Yakov Ivanovich is extraordinarily cautious and pedantic, he never takes risks, unlike the hot and enthusiastic Maslennikov. Evenings after the game are extremely monotonous, the players are completely absorbed in the cards, the busiest conversation that comes between them is the exchange of comments about good weather.
“The cards have long lost in their eyes the meaning of soulless matter, and each suit, and in suit each card individually, was strictly individual and lived its own separate life.” However, once the measured life course of players is violated: Maslennikov disappears for two weeks. After his return, he reports that his son was arrested and sent to St. Petersburg. The rest are surprised, as before nobody was interested, whether there are children at Maslennikov.
On Thursday, November 26, the game develops unusually: Maslennikov is extremely lucky. And in the end he declares a “big helmet”, which he longed to play for a long time. Reaching out for his purchase, Maslennikov suddenly falls to the floor and dies of paralysis of the heart. The other three are shocked by what happened, they do not even know where to report the death of their friend. Yakov Ivanovich, confusedly, asks where to find the fourth partner for the game. The mistress of the house, busy with her thoughts, suddenly wondered where Yakov Ivanovich lived.