Cicera

This page is based on a contribution from Virgilio Ferrari

Introduction

Cicera is an Italian fishing game closely related to the popular game Scopa.

It is played in the province of Brescia and the technical terms are given in the dialect of Brescia. This game is the reason why the Bresciane pack is made with 52 cards and not with 40 as other Italian packs. (Trevisane cards are also made as 52 card packs because in that zone they play Scaraboción, which is another variant of Scopa similar to Cìcera)

Players

There are four players, two against two in fixed partnerships; you sit opposite your partner. As in most Italian games, play is anticlockwise.

Cards

A Bresciane 52 card pack is used. The cards in each suit are Re (king), Cavallo (horse), Fante (jack), 10, 9 ,8 ,7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A. It would also be possible to play with a standard international 52 card pack, but in Brescia, the local cards are always used.

The Deal

Choose the first dealer at random. Turn to deal passes to the right after each hand. The dealer shuffles and the dealer's left hand opponent cuts.

Deal a packet of twelve cards face down to each player (anticlockwise, beginning with the player to dealer's right), then four face up to the centre of the table. The players pick up their 12 card hands and look at them.

The Play

The player to dealer's right plays first, and the turn to play passes anticlockwise, until all the cards in the players' hands have been played.

A turn consists of playing one card from your hand face up to the table, which may capture one or more table cards. In the event of a capture, both the played card and the captured card(s) are taken and stored face down in front of one of the members of the team that made the capture, like a trick. If there is no capture the played card remains face up on the table. In either case the turn then passes to the next player.

The numeral cards 1 to 10 have a capture value that is equal to the rank of the card (for example: tens have a capture value of 10, sixes a capture value of 6, and so on). The courts (re, cavallo, fante) do not have a numerical capture value.

The capturing rules are as follows:

  1. if the rank of the card played matches that of a table card, the table card may be captured;
  2. if a numeral card is played whose capture value is equal to the sum of the capture values of two or more table cards, then that set of table cards may be captured;
  3. if more than one capture is possible, because the card played matches more than one table card, or there is more than one set which adds up to the capture value of the played card, or there is a choice of capturing a single card or a set, the player of the capturing card chooses which to take, but only one capture can be made on a turn - either one single card or one set adding up to the capture value of the played card;
  4. if the card played does not match any table card or sum of table cards, then there is no capture and the played card remains face up on the table.

Important points to note:

  • there is no obligation to play a card which makes a capture - it is legal (and sometimes better play) simply to add a card to the table;
  • even if you play a card which can make a capture, the capture is optional and you can choose simply to add the played card to the other cards on the table without capturing;
  • if a card matches both a single card and a sum of cards on the table, the player can choose whether to capture the single card or the group.
  • the court cards can only capture court cards of the same rank (for example: kings can only capture kings - they cannot capture a set of cards which add up to 13).

After all the cards have been played, the last player who made a capture also takes any face up cards remaining on the table.

The Scoring

At the end of the play, points are scored for the cards in each team's trick pile as follows:

The Cards
Two points are won by whichever team has taken the majority of the cards. If they split 26-26 the points are not awarded.
The Swords
One point is won by whichever team has taken more cards of the swords suit.
Napula
If one team has taken the ace, two and three of swords, they score a number of points equal to the highest sword card they capture in unbroken sequence with these - for example if they took the A-2-3-4-5-6 and 8 of swords they would score 6 points (in addition to the point for swords).
La Mata
The team which takes the two of swords (la mata) scores one point.
Ten of coins
The team which takes the ten of coins scores one point.
Fante of cups
The team which takes the fante (jack) of cups scores one point.
Additional points can be won during the play of the hand. Traditionally, for each of these points, a card is placed face up in the trick-pile of the capturing side, so that the number of extra points made by each side can easily be seen when the scoring is done at the end of the play.

The points which can be won during the play are:

Scùa (Italian: Scopa) (= scoop, or sweep)
You score one point for Scua when you play a card which captures the all table cards, leaving the table empty.
Picada (Italian: Picchiata)
You score one point for Picada if you capture the card just played by the player to the left by playing a card of the same rank.
Simili
You win a point for a capture in a single suit - that is, the card you play and the cards you capture from the table all belong to the same suit (for example: the 3 and 4 of coins are on the table and you capture them with the 7 of coins).
Quadriglia
You win a point for quadriglia (= quartet) if you play a card which captures a set of three or more cards from the table.

It is possible to win more than one of these points with a single play. For example, if the 2, 3 and 4 of coins are on the table and you capture them with the 9 of coins you win two points, one for Simili and another one for Quadriglia. If those were the only cards on the table you would also score a third point for Scua. Similarly, if the previous player played a card to the empty table and you have a card of the same rank, you can capture the card played and you mark two points, one for Scùa and one for Picada).

It is possible for the dealer to score a Scùa or Picada (or both) with the very last play, but only if the last card played actually captures the necessary cards by matching or addition. Simply gathering up the remaining cards because you captured a card with your last play does not count.

Winning the Game

The first team to have 51 or more points at the end of a hand wins. If both sides reach 51 in the same hand the side with more points wins. If both are equal, play further hands until one side has more points at the end of a hand.

Variations

Instead of dealing all 12 cards at once, the cards may be dealt one, two or three at a time.

There is a variant in which initially six cards are dealt to each player, and four cards face up on the table. The remaining 24 cards are put aside until everyone has played their first six cards. Then the rest of the cards are dealt out, so that each player has a new six card hand, and play continues until all the cards have been played.

Other web sites and Software

The Italian site Tretre includes rules of Cicera.

You can download a freeware Cicera program from Thanos Card Games.