Reversis, or more rarely, Réversi, is a very old trick-taking 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...

 of the Hearts group whose origin is supposed to be Italian, transformed into Spain and then in France. It is considered one of the two probable ancestor of Hearts and Black Maria, the other being Conquimbert, or Losing Lodam. It was very popular with the French aristocracy in the 17th and 18th centuries, and much played elsewhere, except in Britain. The game involved vast quantities of counters and a complex system of pools and side-payments. Its name may have possibly come from the reverse order and construction of the game itself, or even from an exceptional slam bid which, like “shooting the moon” in the game of Hearts, reverses the whole normal practice of the game.


The game of Reversis was first mentioned in France in 1601, under the name Reversin, played with a 52-card pack. Jean-Baptiste Bullet
Jean-Baptiste Bullet
Jean-Baptiste Bullet was a French writer on philology and antiquities.-Biography:He was correspondent of the Royal Academy of Inscriptions and Letters, royal professor of divinity, member of the academies of Lyon and Dijon, and dean of the University of Besançon, where he died in 1775, in the...

 suggested it was invented in the Court of Francis I. Reversis is a subtle game which knew important additions, in particular towards the end of the 18th century in the form of options. At the 19th century the game, the increasinly popular game of Reversis saw its rules becoming more and more complex with the exclusive use of preceding options making it a high-tension kind of game. It was long thought to be a game of Spanish origin, once a 48-card pack was used, besides its counter-clockwise rotation and the words Quinola, name of a 17th century Spanish admiral, and Espagnolette, but it more probably originated in Italy where a negative variety of 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...

 called Rovescino is still played.

The highest cards were best in the usual method of play, but in this the lowest had the preference. The Jack was a better card than the King, and one of them, the Jack of Hearts, was called the quinola, just like at Primero
Primero, Prime, Primus, Primiera, Primavista, often referred to as “Poker’s mother”, as it is the first confirmed version of a game directly related to modern day poker, is a 16th century gambling card game of which the earliest reference dates back to 1526...

. The strange incongruity of this inverted order of things made the Spaniards, when this game became known to them, give it the appropriate denomination of La Gana pierde, that is, the winner loses.

The game

The game of Reversis is a trick-avoidance game where each player attempts to avoid taking tricks with certain cards in them (similar to Hearts). It is played by four players with a 52-card pack lacking 10s, making 48 cards in total, ranking A K Q J 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2, being Aces high. Each player starts with a box containing 36 units called "fish" (Fr. Fiches), 24 "counters" worth 6 fish each, and 6 "contracts" worth 8 counters each, making a total equivalent to 468 fish; likewise with two pools, called the great and the little quinolla pools (the great one to be placed under the little), which are always to be placed on the dealer's right hand.

Game playing

  • The dealer deals three cards to each player and four to himself in the first round, afterward always four, so that non-dealers will have eleven cards each, and the himself twelve, with the three remaining placed singly in the middle of the table opposite to each non-dealer. Each non-dealer must to put a card under the pools, and replace it with the card that is opposite to him on the table. The dealer, likewise, puts out one, but does not take any in, should three “remises”, or stakes, are in the pools, then it is in any player's option to take a card or not. If the players do not take a card, they may see it, before the same is placed to the discard; then, previous to playing any card, the opposite players exchange one with each other.
  • The cards rank as at Whist
    Whist is a classic English trick-taking card game which was played widely in the 18th and 19th centuries. It derives from the 16th century game of Trump or Ruff, via Ruff and Honours...

    , and the points in the tricks are 40, each Ace reckoning 4, King 3, Queen 2, and Jack 1 (4 courts x 10 points per suit = 40).
  • The points in the discard, which form “the party”, that is, the amount paid by the loser to the winner, reckon as in the tricks, except the Ace of Diamonds, worth 5 points, and the Jack of Hearts, called the “great quinola”, which is worth 4.
  • The player having the fewest points wins “the party”. If two players happen to have the same number of points, then he who has the fewest tricks has the preference. If points and tricks are equal, then he who dealt last wins, but he who has not a trick has the preference over a trick without points.
  • If the "espagnolette" is played and won, gains the party in preference to the last dealer. When every trick is made by the same person, there is no party, and this is called making the reversis.
  • The great quinola pool should consist of 26 fish, and should be renewed every time it is cleared, or if it contains fewer than the 26 fish. This stake is attached to the Jack of Hearts, or “great quinola”, which cannot be put to the discard, unless there are three stakes, or a hundred chips in the pool.
  • The little quinola pool, consisting of 13 chips and it is attached to the Queen of Hearts, called the “little quinola”. It should be renewed in the same manner, in proportion as the other. The “little quinola” cannot be put to the discard, unless there are 3 stakes, or 50 chips in the pool.
  • Each time either or both of the quinolas are placed or played on a renounce, they are entitled to the stakes attached to them, except when there are three stakes in the pool, then the great quinola is to receive 100 chips, and the little quinola 50. On the contrary, each time the quinolas are forced, the stakes are to be paid in the same proportion as they would have been received, except only if the player who played the quinolas making the reversis, played it before the last two tricks.
  • Every trick must be made by one player so that the reversis is made, which is done when the first nine tricks are won by the same player. There is an end to the “party” and the quinolas if held by him, unless he has played both or either of them before the last two tricks. But, on the contrary, if his reversis is broken, he is then not only to pay the reversis broken, but the stakes to the pools, for the quinolas he may have played before the reversis was undertaken. All stakes which are paid for Aces or quinola by the player undertaking the reversis, are to be returned on winning it.
  • When the reversis is won or broke, the espagnolette pays singly for all the company. When the player holding the espagnolette can break the reversis, he is paid by the players whose reversis he broke. If the espagnolette has placed his quinola, and there is a reverses, either made or broken, he is not to receive the stake, for when the reversis is attempted, the stakes are neither received nor paid, except by him who undertakes the same. If, by another player having the Ace or King of Hearts, the espagnolette has, in any part of the game, either of his quinolas forced, he pays the stake and his consolation to him who forces, unless there is a reversis.
  • The dealer always puts 2 chips into the great quinola pool, and 1 into the little; besides which every player, at the start, puts into the former 6 chips, and into the latter 3; and each time the stakes are drawn, or when there are fewer chips in the pool than the original stake, the pool must be replenished as at first. To the points in the discard, 4 are to be added for the party. The player who gives an Ace upon a renounce, receives 1 chip from the player who wins the trick, and if it happens to be the Ace of Diamonds, he receives 2. The player who forces an Ace, receives the same payments from all the players.
  • The great quinola placed upon a renounce receives 6 chips and the little quinola 3, and if either of them is forced, the player who forces receives the same payment from each player: and these payments are made immediately when asked for.
  • One or more Aces, or either if the Quinolas are played or led out, pay the same as if they had been forced to the player who wins the “party”, but it is for him to recollect or demand them. When either Ace or Quinola are placed, played, or first card led out, it is called la bonne and are paid double to the player who sits opposite.
  • The payment for the reversis made or broke is 80 chip. Each player paying 20, and the opposite party 40 when the reversis is made. If it is broken, the whole is paid by the player whose reversis ii broken, that is, he pays the player breaking it exactly the same number of chips he would have received had be won it.


The espagnolette is either simply four Aces, or three Aces and one quinola, or two Aces and two quinolas. The player having one of these combinations has the right to renounce in every suit, during the whole game, and if he can avoid winning any trick, once there is no reversis, he wins the “party” in preference to the player who is better positioned in the game. But if he is forced to win a trick, he then pays the “party” to the other, and returns the stake he may have received for Aces or quinolas. And if he has a quinola, he must pay the stake to the pool, instead of receiving it. The player having the espagnolette can call for his privilege, and play his game as a common one, but renounces this privilege the moment he has renounced playing in suit. The player of the espagnoletle receives the stake in any part of the game, if another player forces the quinola.


A player who wins the first nine tricks is deemed to have undertaken the reversis. This obliges him to win the other two or lose the game. If no reversis or espagnolette, was undertaken, each player totals the value of counting cards contained in the tricks he won. The player with fewest wins, the player with most loses.

Game rules

  • Whoever misdeals, loses his deal.
  • If any person takes his card without having put out to the discard, the deal is void.
  • The eldest hand takes care that all the players have put their stakes into the pools, if he does not, he must make point that.
  • The discard cannot be changed after being put out.
  • The elder hand must not play a card till the discard is complete: should he have played, he is allowed, if nobody has played to it, to take it up, and play another.
  • No one may play before his turn.
  • If at the end of the game, there should be an error in the discard, the hand must be re-dealt.
  • It is too late to ask for any payments after the cards are cut.
  • The player who throws down his game, thinking he can win the remaining tricks, must pay for any ace or quinola that he has, or can be placed or given. And, in case of undertaking a reversis, the person who might break it can force him to play the cards as he who can break it will direct.
  • If a player, whether thinking he has won the “party” or not, ask for the Aces or quinolas led out, before the person who has really won the party has demanded them, he is to pay for him who might otherwise have been called upon to pay.
  • Before you play a card, it is always allowable to ask how the cards have been played, but it is not permitted to observe it to others who may not make that inquiry.
  • The player may examine all his own tricks at any time, but not look at those of any other person, except the last trick.

External links

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