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Briscola: How to Play the Classic Italian Card Game
If you are looking for a fun and easy card game to play with your friends or family, you might want to try Briscola. Briscola is one of the most popular card games in Italy, along with Scopa and Tressette. It is a trick-taking game that can be played with two to six players, using a standard Italian 40-card deck or a modified Anglo-French deck. In this article, we will explain what Briscola is, how to play it, and some variations and strategies to spice up your game.
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What is Briscola?
Briscola is a card game that originated in Italy, probably in the 18th century. It is derived from a French game called Brusquembille, which was also the ancestor of other card games like Briscan and Bezique. Briscola is a Mediterranean trick-taking game, where players try to win tricks by playing the highest card of the suit led or the trump suit. The trump suit, also called the Briscola, is determined by a face-up card on the table.
The origin and history of Briscola
According to some sources, Briscola was invented in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, a northeastern region of Italy, but it soon spread to other parts of the country and abroad. It is also well-known in Puerto Rico, where it is called Brísca. Briscola is one of the traditional Italian card games that Italians usually learn from their fathers and grandfathers. It is often played in cafes, bars, or at home, as a social and recreational activity.
The cards and suits of Briscola
The traditional Italian-suited deck used for Briscola consists of 40 cards, divided into four suits: coins (Denari), swords (Spade), cups (Coppe), and batons (Bastoni). The values on the cards range numerically from one through seven, plus three face cards in each suit: Knave (Fante), Knight (Cavallo), and King (Re). The Knaves depict a man standing, the Knight is on horseback, and the King wears a crown.
The game can also be played with a modern Anglo-French deck, without the eight, nine, and ten cards. In this case, Queens take the place of Knights or Knaves.
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To determine the face value of any numeric card, simply count the number of suit icons on the card. The ace card of coins is usually a type of bird with a circle in the middle. Below is a table identifying card rank and point values. Unlisted cards have no point value, and are ranked in descending ordinal value, from seven to two. Note, however, the odd ranking of the three.
Cards, by rank
In total, a deck has 120 card points. To win a game, a player must accumulate more points than any other player. If two players (teams) have the same number of points (60) another game is played to determine the winner.
How to Play Briscola?How to Play Briscola?
The rules of Briscola are simple and easy to learn. The game can be played by two, three, four, or six players, either individually or in teams. The most common versions are the two-player and the four-player games, where two teams of two players face each other.
The setup and deal of Briscola
To begin the game, one player shuffles the deck and another player cuts it. Then, the dealer deals three cards to each player, one at a time, starting from their right and going counter-clockwise. The remaining cards are placed face down in a pile on the table, forming the stock. The top card of the stock is then turned face up and placed crosswise on the pile, indicating the trump suit (Briscola) for the game.
The gameplay and rules of Briscola
The player to the right of the dealer starts the game by playing any card from their hand, face up on the table. This card is called the lead card. Then, the other players follow in counter-clockwise order, playing one card each. The cards must be played in plain sight of all players, and once played, they cannot be changed.
The player who plays the highest card of the same suit as the lead card wins the trick, unless a trump card is played, in which case the highest trump card wins. The winner of the trick collects the cards and places them face down in front of them. Then, they start a new trick by playing any card from their hand.
If a player has no cards of the same suit as the lead card, they can play any card from their hand. They can either play a trump card to try to win the trick, or play a low-value card to save their high-value cards for later.
After each trick, the players draw one card each from the stock, starting from the player who won the trick and going counter-clockwise. The last card drawn is always the face-up trump card.
The game continues until all cards have been played and there are no more cards in the stock or in the players' hands. Then, the game ends and the scores are calculated.
The scoring and winning of Briscola
To score points in Briscola, players must count the values of the cards they have won in their tricks. The cards that have point values are: Ace (11 points), Three (10 points), King (4 points), Knight (3 points), and Jack (2 points). The other cards have no point value.
The total number of points in a game is 120. The player or team with more than half of the points (61 or more) wins the game. If both players or teams have exactly 60 points, the game is a tie and another game is played to determine the winner.
Variations and Strategies of Briscola
Briscola is a game that can be adapted to different preferences and situations. There are many variations of Briscola that change some aspects of the game, such as the number of players, the number of cards dealt, or the way to determine the trump suit. Here are some examples of common variations:
The different versions of Briscola for different player counts
Briscola for three players: Each player plays for themselves and receives nine cards each. The remaining four cards are placed face down on the table as a kitty. The top card of the kitty is turned face up to indicate the trump suit. The player who wins the first trick takes the kitty and adds it to their hand.
Briscola for five players: Each player plays for themselves and receives eight cards each. The remaining four cards are placed face down on the table as a kitty. The top card of the kitty is turned face up to indicate the trump suit. The player who wins Briscola for five players: Each player plays for themselves and receives eight cards each. The remaining four cards are placed face down on the table as a kitty. The top card of the kitty is turned face up to indicate the trump suit. The player who wins the first trick takes the kitty and adds it to their hand.
Briscola for six players: Two teams of three players are formed, with partners sitting opposite each other. Each player receives six cards each. The remaining four cards are placed face down on the table as a kitty. The top card of the kitty is turned face up to indicate the trump suit. The player who wins the first trick takes the kitty and adds it to their hand.
The tips and tricks to improve your Briscola skills
Briscola is a game that involves both luck and skill. While you cannot control the cards you are dealt, you can use some strategies to increase your chances of winning. Here are some tips and tricks to help you play better Briscola:
Remember the cards that have been played: Keeping track of the cards that have been pla