Briscola one of Italy's most popular games together with Scopa
Scopa is an Italian card game, and one of the two major national card games in Italy. It is also popular in Brazil, brought in by Italian immigrants, mostly in the Scopa di Quindici variation...

 and Tressette
Tressette or Tresette is one of Italy's major national trick-taking card games, together with Scopa and Briscola. It is recorded only from the early 18th century, though greater antiquity is suggested by its trumplessness. The name of the game, literally "three Sevens" may refer to a scoring...

, and a little-changed descendant of Brusquembille
Brusquembille is a historical French 3-card trick-and-draw game for two to five players using a 32-card piquet pack. The game has random trumps. Side-payments are made for keeping or winning aces and tens....

, the ancestor of Briscan and Bezique
Bezique is a 19th-century French melding and trick-taking card game for two players derived from Marriage via Briscan by the addition of more scoring features, notably the peculiar liaison of Q and J, under the names Bésigue, Binokel, Pinochle, etc., according to the country.-History:Bezique was...

, is a Mediterranean trick-taking
Trick-taking game
A trick-taking game is a card game or tile-based game in which play centers on a series of finite rounds or units of play, called tricks. The object of such games then may be closely tied to the number of tricks taken, as in plain-trick games such as Whist, Contract Bridge, Napoleon, Rowboat, and...

 card game
Card game
A card game is any game using playing cards as the primary device with which the game is played, be they traditional or game-specific. Countless card games exist, including families of related games...

 for two to six players played with a standard Italian 40-card deck. Apart from the Northern Mediterranean, the game is also popular in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

. It is believed to have originated in the early 18th century in the Northern Eastern region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Friuli–Venezia Giulia is one of the twenty regions of Italy, and one of five autonomous regions with special statute. The capital is Trieste. It has an area of 7,858 km² and about 1.2 million inhabitants. A natural opening to the sea for many Central European countries, the region is...


Currently Modiano S.p.a. is a large manufacturing firm of Briscola cards and is currently located in Trieste
Trieste is a city and seaport in northeastern Italy. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of land lying between the Adriatic Sea and Italy's border with Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city...

, the capital of Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Friuli–Venezia Giulia is one of the twenty regions of Italy, and one of five autonomous regions with special statute. The capital is Trieste. It has an area of 7,858 km² and about 1.2 million inhabitants. A natural opening to the sea for many Central European countries, the region is...

. It is also common to find the Triestino coat of arms on Modiano playing cards, which is placed in order to recall the historics of the Briscola game.

Alternatively, it can be played with a modern Anglo-French deck, without the eight, nine and ten cards (see Portuguese variations below). With three or six players, twos are removed from the deck to ensure the number of cards in the deck is a multiple of the number of players; a single two for three players and all four twos for six players. The four- and six-player versions of the game are played as a partnership game of two teams, with players seated such that every player is adjacent to two opponents.

The cards

A deck of Italian cards consists of forty cards, divided into four suits: coins (Denari in Italian, and sometimes suns or sunbursts), swords (Spade), cups (Coppe) and clubs (sometimes batons, bats or Bastoni). The values on the cards range numerically from one through seven, plus three face cards in each suit: Knave (Fante in Italian), Knight (Cavallo in Italian), and King (Re in Italian). A Knave is a lone human figure standing. The Knight is a human figure riding a horse. The King is a human figure wearing a crown. 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 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.
Rank and point value of cards
Cards, by rank Point value
Ace (asso) 11
Three (3) (tre) 10
King (re) 4
Knave (or Horse, or Jack) (cavallo) 3
Woman (or Queen) (donna) 2

In total, a deck has 120 points. To win a game, a player must accumulate more points than any other player. If two players (teams) have same number of points (60) another game is played to determine the winner.

Game play

After the deck is shuffled, each player is dealt three cards. The next card is placed face up on the playing surface, and the remaining deck is placed face down, sometimes covering half of the up-turned card. This card is the Briscola, and represents the trump suit for the game. Before the game begins if a player has the deuce of trump he/she may retire the "briscola". This move may only be done at the beginning of the game or first hand. Before the first hand is played (in four player game), team players may show each other their cards. The deal, and game play itself, proceeds counter-clockwise.

The player to the right of the dealer leads the first hand (or trick) by playing one card face up on the playing surface. Each player subsequently plays a card in turn, until all players have played one card. The winner of that hand is determined as follows:
  • if any briscola (trump) has been played, the player who played the highest valued trump wins
  • if no briscole (trumps) have been played, the player who played the highest card of the lead suit wins

Unlike other trump card games, players are not required to follow suit, that is, to play the same suit as the lead player.

Once the winner of a trick is determined, that player collects the played cards, and places them face down in a pile. Each player maintains his/her own pile, though the four- and six-player versions may have one player collecting all tricks won by his partners. Then, each player draws a card from the remaining deck, starting with the player who won the trick, proceeding counter-clockwise. Note that the last card collected in the game should be the up-turned Briscola. The player who won the trick leads the next hand. During game play and only before the next to the last hand is played, a player who draws the card with the seven (7) of trump can take the "briscola". This may be done only if the player has won a hand. Before the last hand, people in the same team can look at each other's cards.

After all cards have been played, players calculate the total point value of cards in their own piles. For multi-player games, partners combine their points.


In four- and six-player variations a system of signaling is often allowed between members of the same team. In this variant, the first round is played without speaking, and on all subsequent rounds players are permitted to signal their partners and attempt to signal without the other team noticing. A common system of signaling is as follows:
  • Ace - stretch the lips over the teeth or purse lips
  • Three - distort the mouth to one side
  • King - glance upwards or raise eyebrows
  • Knight - shrug one shoulder
  • Knave - show the tip of the tongue or lick your lips
  • Threes or Aces outside of the Briscola suit - quickly open and close your mouth


There also exists a variation whereby the three, is ranked as a three (i.e. a four can beat it) but maintains its status as worth 10 points. However, as mentioned, this is a variation, and not standard rules.

Briscola Chiamata

Briscola Chiamata (English: declaration Briscola) is the five-player version of Briscola. Every player is dealt eight cards, so that no cards remain undealt. Then, each player, starting from the dealer's right and proceeding counter-clockwise, bids in an auction to declare how many points they will score. A player may pass, and hence cannot bid again in that game. The bid represents the number of points that player believes he is capable of accumulating. Bidding continues until all but one player have passed in a round. This remaining player has then "won the bid" and therefore gets to declare the Briscola, i.e. the trump suit. The declarer also declares a specific Briscola card (example, the "Ace of Cups" if Cups was the declared Briscola) and the holder of this card is then determined to be the declarer's partner. Logically, the declarer would declare the highest Briscola card he does not already hold in the hopes of creating the strongest combined hand between him and his partner.

The remaining three players are partnered with each other, without their knowledge. Each player, other than the declarer's partner, acts independently, until it is clear which players are partners. Infrequently, the declarer may declare a Briscola card he already holds (if he feels he has a very strong hand), in which case the other four players are partenered against him.

Because of the unique method of declaration and blind partnering in this variation of the game, it is considered to be one of the most entertaining variations of the game. Game strategy is often devised to determine which player is partnered with the declarer, whereas the declarer's partner may devise ruses and decoy strategies to fool the other players, such as not taking a trick, or playing points on a trick that will be won by an opponent.


Briscola Chiamata also features a unique scoring scheme. Each player collects tricks as per the regular version of the game, and counts points collected similarly. Partners, which are known by the end of the game, then combine their points. Game points are assigned as follows:
  • if the declarer and partner accumulate card points greater than or equal to the points that were declared after the bidding process
    • the declarer earns two game points
    • the partner earns one game point
    • the other players each lose one game point
  • if the declarer and partner accumulate fewer card points than declared
    • the declarer loses two game points
    • the partner loses one game point
    • the other players each earn one game point

These points are accumulated after every game. The grand winner is the player with the most points at the end of the last match. Note that if the declarer calls a Briscola he holds, then the declarer will win or lose four points, and every other player will win or lose one point.

Usually, players determine the number of game points to accumulate in order to declare the grand winner, typically ranging from 10 to 20 points.


A modified version of Briscola Chiamata requires the players to bid the rank of the Briscola they wish to call. As the bidding progresses, the rank is reduced, until a two is bid or all other players pass. Then, the last bidder may declare the suit of the Briscola. In this version, the objective is for the declarer and his partner to earn at least 61 points.

This version has a secondary variation, in which bidding can continue once a two has been bid; in this case, players start bidding the point total they must earn to win the match, starting from 62 (since 61 is the minimum possible to win during normal bidding).

Briscola scoperta

The Briscola scoperta (Uncovered Briscola in English) is a variation where the cards are dealt face up to each player. The deck is also upturned so that the first card to be drawn is visible. This variation usually leads to more thoughtful play; remembering which cards have already been played is also very important.


In Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

, the briscola game is called briškula and it is played predominantly in the coastal areas. The game is played with normal briscola cards in the normal Italian fashion though there is also a popular variation called briškula Dalmatian style or briškula na duplo (double briškula). This variation is exactly the same as the normal Italian game except that each player plays two cards separately during the course of a trick. To play briškula Dalmatian style four cards are dealt to each of the players and then the player to the right of the dealer leads the first hand (or trick) by playing one card face up on the playing surface. Each player subsequently plays a card in turn, until all players have played one card. Then, the player who played the first card again plays another card as does each subsequent subsequent player. The winner of that trick is determined by the normal rules of briscola.


In Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, the briscola game is called bisca and it is played with a modern Anglo-French 52-card deck. The 8, 9 and 10 cards must be removed from this deck, though, in order to obtain the 40 cards needed to play. The Kings equal to the Italian-deck kings, the Jacks equal to the knights, and the Queens equal to the knaves (to know the reason why the Jack ranks higher than the Queen, see Latin-suited cards in Portugal). The seven (called bisca or manilha), and not the three, ranks above the face cards. Thus:
Rank and point value of cards
Cards, by Rank Point Value
Ace (ás) 11
Seven (7) (bisca or manilha) 10
King (rei) 4
Jack (valete) 3
Queen (dama) 2

The game play is the same as in Briscola, except that the trump suit is given by up-turning the last card of the deck (and not the next one after the dealing).

0Anglo-French cards which rank the same as in Bisca, Sueca can be considered a variat

Sueca Italiana

The Sueca Italiana (which means "Italian Sueca", evidencing the origin of the game) or just Italiana is the Portuguese variation of the Briscola Chiamata, also played with an Anglo-French deck. The bidding and card playing phases are identical to the Italian version — Bisca card ranks and values always apply, though — but the scoring system is a bit different. For more detailed rules and game play, see Sueca Italiana.

External links

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