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Briscola

Briscola is a Mediterranean trick-taking card game for two to six players, played with a standard Italian 40-card deck. You can use a standard Anglo-American deck by stripping out the 8, 9’s and 10’s.

Objective

The objective of the game is to win tricks with valueable cards in them.

Rank and Value of Cards

Cards rank A 3 K Q J 7 6 5 4 3 2

For the purpose of calculating your Total the cards have the following point value:

  • Ace: 11 points
  • Three: 10 points
  • King: 4 points
  • Queen: 3 points
  • Jack: 2 points

The remaining cards have no point value

As you can see, the total value of cards in the deck adds up to 120 points. Therefore, the player or team which scores 61 points or more wins the game. A game is drawn if both parties end up with a Total of 60. Briscola is played to the best of 3 or the best of 5 games.

Two Player Briscola

For the purposes of simplicity, we will explain here the 2-player version of the game. This can serve as the basis for multi-player versions.

The Deal

One of the two players shuffles the deck and deals three cards to each player, one at a time, face down. He/She then turns up the next card and places it face up next to the pile of undealt cards. This face up card determines the "Briscola", the Trump Suit for the game.

The Play

The player to the dealer’s right leads first. Thereafter, whoever wins the Trick leads next. Once a trick is played, each player draws a card from the top of the deck.

Rules

In Briscola there is no obligation to follow suit.

  • If B plays a card of the same suit led by A, then the Trick is won by whoever played the highest card. The winner takes up both cards, and puts them in a pile near him.
  • If B plays a card of a different suit from the card led by A, and neither card is a Trump, then A wins the Trick because B hasn’t followed suit.
  • If one of the cards is a Trump, then the Trick is won by whoever played the Trump.
  • If both cards played are Trumps, then the Trick is won by whoever played the highest Trump.

After each trick, each player draws a card from the pile of undealt cards and the winner leads to the next trick. Eventually all the undealt cards will be exhausted, and one of the two players will have to draw the Briscola card. The game then continues, without drawing cards, until all the cards have been played.

Each player then takes up his/her pile of tricks and calculates their total. The player with the most points wins.

Variation

If the Briscola, the card turned up at the deal, is an Ace or a 3, it is returned to the middle of the deck and another card turned to make Briscola.

Four-Player Briscola

As above. Players are set in two fixed partnerships, and partners sit opposite each other. The player to the dealers right leads first, and play proceeds counter clockwise. Thereafter, whoever wins the Trick leads next.

Three-Player Briscola

As above, only the deck is reduced to 39 cards by removing a 2. Each player tries to gain the highest number of points for him/herself.

Briscola Bastarda - Five-Player Briscola

Briscola Bastarda, also know as “Call Briscola” is probably the most enjoyable version of the game. In this 5-player version, the basic rules remain the same, but there are some important variants.

The Deal

All the 40 cards are dealt out and each player ends up with 8 cards and can pick their hand up and look at it.

Auction

Starting with the player to the right of the dealer, everyone in turn "declares" how many points they think they can win. Each bid must be higher than the previous one. A player who does not wish to bid can pass. A player who has passed cannot bid again during the auction. The bidding continues, for several rounds if necessary, until all the players except one have passed.

The highest bidder then "calls" the Briscola. That means he calls the card that will act as the Briscola and determine the trump suit. By doing so, he also enlists the assistance of the “Holder” of that card.

For example, if the highest bidder calls the “Ace of Clubs”, then clubs are trumps and the player holding the Ace of Clubs is now playing with the Caller, and against the other three players.

However, no one knows who the Holder is.

It is important that the Holder not reveal his identity. It is for the other players to deduce his/her identity in the course of play and adjust their strategy accordingly.

Play continues until all cards have been played.

Scoring

At the end of the game, tricks won by the Caller and by the Holder are counted together.

If the total is equal to or more than the Caller’s bid, he gets 2 points, and the Holder gets 1 point. The three other players lose a point each.

If the total is less than the Caller’s bid, The Caller loses 2 points, and the Holder loses 1 point. The Other three players gain 1 point each.

The first player to reach 15 points wins the game.


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