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Four Handed Tarocchi

Source: Tarocchi by Philebus

This is another Piedmontese game. Four people play in two fixed partnerships with partners sitting opposite one another. It is simple but enjoyable and so an excellent introduction to partnership play - think whist with tarot cards.

The Cards

This is played with a 78 card pack, traditionally the piedmontese cards. As with some other Italian games, the Angel is the highest trump and honour, not the Mond. Cards use irrational ranking.

The Fool, I-XXI of trumps, and then in the suits:

Spades & Clubs / Swords & Batons
K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Hearts & Diamonds / Cups & Coins
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Honours 5 points
Kings 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point

The Deal

The first Dealer is chosen at random, with deal moving to the right after each hand. Each player is dealt 19 cards in a single round with Dealer taking 21 cards. Dealer then discards 3 cards that may not include honours or kings. The discarded cards (the scart) will count towards Dealer’s side’s tricks at the end.

Play

Eldest, the player to Dealer’s right, always leads to the first trick, playing any card in his/her hand to the middle of the table. Each player in turn, moving to the right, must then play a card of the same suit (follow suit). If a player cannot follow suit, then they must play a trump, if they cannot play a trump, then they can play any card, though it will not win. If no trumps have been played, then the highest card of the suit led wins the trick and that player takes the cards and puts them into his/her trick pile. Otherwise, the highest trump played wins the trick.

The Fool may be played to any trick as an excuse for not playing a card you are otherwise obliged to play, but may be neither won nor lost. At the end of a trick to which the Fool has been played, the person who played it takes it into his/her own trick pile and gives the player who won the trick, an empty card from their trick pile in exchange.

Counting the points

At the end of play, count the cards in groups of three and minus 2 points from each group. You might find it easier to first count the number of groups you have, double that and minus the result from your total point count. Two odd empty cards count for 1 point, one odd empty card counts for nothing. There are 78 points in the pack, so 39 card points are required for a side to win the hand. Unlike most tarot games, where game points are calculated, this game of four hands is usually played for a fixed stake.

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