Spizzichino

This page is based mainly on information from Paolo Ronzoni.

Introduction

This game, also known as Pizzichino, is a version of the Italian game Tressette adapted for two players. Each player has some cards in hand and some packets of cards on the table from which the top card can be played.

Players and Cards

This game is for two players, normally using a 40-card Italian pack with Latin suits. The cards of each suit, from highest to lowest, and their values are as follows.

Card Value
3
2
1 (ace) 1
Re (king)
Cavallo (horse)
Fante (jack)
7 0
6 0
5 0
4 0

It would be possible instead to use a 40-card French suited pack, with the Queen (Donna) replacing the horse.

In addition to the points for cards, the last trick is worth 1 card point extra, so that there are 11⅔ card points to play for. Since fractions of a point are rounded down, the points scored by the two players always add up to 11.

Deal

The players take turns to deal.

The dealer shuffles the cards and divides it into eight packets of 5 cards each which are placed face down on the table. These packets should be neatly stacked so that when they are picked up only the bottom card can be seen.

The dealer's opponent selects four of the stacks, turns two of them face up and takes the other two to form his hand. The dealer then does the same with the other four stacks. So each player has a hand of 10 cards and two face up packets of 5 cards on the table, stacked so that only the top card of each packet is identifiable.

Play

The hand is played out in 20 tricks, each consisting of one card from each player. The non-dealer leads to the first trick and thereafter the winner of a trick leads to the next.

When playing to a trick, you must either play a card from your hand or the top card of one of your packets. The first player to a trick may play any of these cards; the second player must play a card of the same suit if possible.

If the two cards of a trick are the same suit, the higher card wins. If they are of different suit, the first card wins, no matter how high the second card is.

When a card is played from a packet, the next card of the packet is immediately revealed and becomes available for the owner to play in the next trick.

If the top card of a packet is a 3 or a 2 or an Ace, the player may put it in his hand at his turn to play, revealing the card under it, which then becomes available to play. These top cards are called "pizzichi" or "spizzichi" or "stilli" in this game.

Certain combinations of honours (“buongiochi”) can be declared and scored by a player who has them together in hand. These are:

Four 3's, four 2's or four aces: 4 points
Three 3's, three 2's or three aces: 3 points
Napoletana (3, 2 and ace of a suit): 3 points

A player who is dealt one of these combinations or acquires one by taking a card into his hand from the top of a packet must declare it immediately to score the points. A player who has scored 3 points for a set of three 3's, 2's or Aces does not score anything extra if he subsequently acquires a fourth 3, 2 or Ace.

Scoring

When all the cards have been played, the players count the value of the cards in the tricks they have won, plus one point for the winner of the last trick, and add these points to their scores. There are 11 points to be won in each deal, plus any points for buongiochi.

The game ends when a player reaches 51 or more points, and the player with the higher score wins.

Variations

Some play that when the eight packets have been dealt and the players have chosen their four packets, each player may look at the bottom card of their own packets before deciding which two to pick up to form their hand and which two to turn fact up on the table. Others require players to choose which packets to turn up and which to use as a hand without looking at any card.

Some players do not allow the buongiocchi combinations to be declared or scored. In that case the game is played to 21 or 31 points. With boungiochi it may be played to 41 or 51 points.

Some players only allow buongiocchi to be scored if they are present in a player's initial hand of 10 cards, not if they involve cards picked up from packets.