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The most popular card game in Italy

I played many card games before I took up bridge. In my second ever bridge event, I finessed ATxx of trumps because an elderly player won the ace with the leftmost card in her hand, then followed with the 4th card from the left leading me to conclude that she had started with 4 of the suit. Please don't give up on this boring start, it gets better ...

When my partner asked how I guessed the trumps, I explained, not knowing that doing so was against the rules. In Poker, Gin, and many other games, things like that are just considered part of the game. My partner explained that was not within the rules, and after a little reluctance in accepting that one of my "skills" must be "left at the door" I came to appreciate the sportsmanship of the game.

This brings me to one of the most popular card games in Italy, Briscola, which is played by almost everybody in the country. It is a partnership game with some similarities to bridge, but with the same "anything goes" set of rules as with many other card games.

While reading Avon Wilsmore's book about the Blue Team, "Under The Table." I had trouble not thinking about Briscola. Below I have cut and pasted from Wikipedia one of the most important skill sets ...

(From Wikipedia:)



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 - wink or 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


Lastly, to be fair, my Italian friend who explained the game to me, admitted that not *everyone* playing Briscola uses signals, her Grandmother does not.

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