Tressette is an Italian partnership trick-taking game for four players, with partners sitting opposite. Variations for other numbers of players are listed at the end of the page. Like most Italian games, Tressette is played anticlockwise.
A 40 card pack is used, usually with the Italian suits: swords, batons, cups and coins. In each suit the cards rank as follows: 3 (highest), 2, A, Re, Cavallo, Fante, 7, 6, 5, 4 (lowest). In North America, Italian cards in various regional patterns can be obtained from TaroBear's Lair.
It is also possible to play with French suited cards: from a 52 card pack you need to remove the 10s 9s and 8s, and the cards rank 3 2 A K Q J 7 6 5 4.
The cards have point values and the object is to take tricks containing valuable cards. There is also a score for winning the last trick. The values are as follows:
|Each ace||1 whole point|
|Each 3, 2, re, cavallo or fante||1/3 of a point|
|Winners of last trick||1 whole point|
Deal (anticlockwise) 10 cards to each player, 5 at a time. Turn to deal passes to the right after each hand.
There are no trumps. The player to dealer's right leads first. Any card may be led, and the other players must play a card of the suit led if they have one. A player with no card of the suit led may play anything. The highest card of the suit led wins the trick, and the winner leads to the next trick.
There are certain card combinations which score points when held in the hand of one player. 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 with such a combination declares it at the end of the first trick, and scores for it immediately (it does not matter if one of the cards of the combination was played to the trick). When declaring a Napoletana you must specify the suit, and when declaring three of a kind you must say which suit is missing. It is possible to use the same card in a Napoletana and another combination - for example you could declare for a Napoletana in cups and four twos for 7 points.
When leading to a trick, certain remarks or signals are allowed:
- Busso ("I knock") indicates that you want your partner to play his highest card in the suit you led, and lead the suit back if it wins. Instead of saying busso you can strike the table (or the led card) with your fist.
- Volo (" I fly") (or piombo - "I fall") indicates that you have no further cards of the suit led. Instead of saying volo you can throw the card so that it glides onto the table.
- Striscio (or liscio) ("I stroke" or "I smooth") (not allowed by all players) indicates that you have, besides the card you are leading, one or more low cards (king or lower) of the suit led. Instead of saying striscio you can slide the card led onto the table.
When all 10 tricks have been played each side scores the value of cards it has won in tricks, plus the point for winning the last trick if applicable. The total points available amount to eleven and two thirds, but fractions are disregarded in scoring, so the total points scored on each deal (apart from any points for declarations) are actually 11, two thirds of a point being thrown away.
The side which first reaches 21 points wins. This will take several deals. A player can stop the play at any time and claim to have reached 21 points with the tricks already won up to that point. If the claim is correct that side wins (irrespective of the other side's total) and if it is incorrect they lose.
There are some ways of winning the game outright, irrespective of the score, or in fact winning several games at once (by which I mean that supposing you were playing Tressette for a bottle of wine, then by winning two games you would get two bottles):
- Cappotto (or collada): if one team win all 10 tricks, they win two games
- Stramazzo: if one team wins all the points but not all the tricks - that is, if the trick(s) won by their opponents contains less than one point (the point for the last trick does not count in this case), they win three games.
- Cappottone (or colladone): if a single player wins all 10 tricks, that player's team wins six games.
- Stramazzone: if one player wins all the points, the opponents winning at least one trick but the other three players together winning less than one point (the point for the last trick does not count in this case), that player's team wins eight games.
Some players use a different code of signals from the one described above. When leading to a trick, a player may say:
- "Busso" - meaning: I have the highest outstanding card in the suit I am leading - i.e. the 3, or if the 3 has already been played, the 2, etc.
- "Ribusso" - meaning: I have the second highest outstanding card in the suit I am leading
- "La meglio" or "Le meglio" - meaning: I am looking for the highest outstanding card in the suit. The is a request to partner to play this highest card if he has it.
- "Tutto fuori" - meaning: I have many cards in the suit I am leading, but none of the three highest cards.
It is possible to combine these sayings. For example, early in the game you might lead a low card saying "Busso e cerco la meglio" meaning that you have the 3 of the suit and would like your partner to play the 2. Partner will realise that you have a long suit headed by the 3 or the 3 and ace of the suit that you led.
It is a convention that players do not bluff with "busso" and "ribusso". A player who says one of these really has the indicated card. It is permissible to bluff with "tutto fuori", but probably not advisable, since it will confuse your partner.
Players should recognise that the information conveyed by these remarks may be more helpful to the opposing team than to their partner, so they should be used sparingly, especially when playing against skilled opponents.
There are quite a few games that use the same card ranking and values as Tressette and are also played without trumps. Variants of Tressette for four players include:
- Tressette con la Chiamata del Tre, in which the partnerships instead of being fixed are determined by the player right of the dealer calling a three.
- Mediatore, a version with simple bidding and a monte (a talon of undealt cards which can be used by the winner of the bidding).
- Quadrigliati, a version with bidding but no monte.
For other numbers of players there are:
- Tressette in Due, for two.
- Terziglio, formerly also known as Calabresella, an excellent game for three, with bidding, one player playing against two on each deal.
- Quintiglio, for five.
There is also Rovescino, also known as Traversone or Ciapanò, a reverse version of Tressette in which the object is to avoid taking card points.
Cards, play and scoring are the same as in the 4 player variant. The only difference is in the deal. Instead of dealing all the cards to the players, only 10 cards are dealt to each player, while the remaining 20 remain in a face down pile (monte) on the table.
After each trick, each player, beginning with the player who won the trick, takes the top card from the monte, shows it to the other player, and puts it in their hand. Then the player who won the trick leads to the next.
When there are no cards left in the monte, play continues without drawing cards until all the cards have been played.
The Italian site Tresettisti has rules, plentiful advice on strategy, example games and other resources.
The Bibbia del Tressette Incrociato is an Italian language strategy guide by 'il regista'.
You can play Tressette on line at Davide Gullo's GDM community site.
You can also play Tressette free on line at Ludopoli.
The freeware and PRO versions of Gianfranco Marzano's Tressette computer program are available from his Home Page dei giochi di carte italiani.
On the Italian site Tretre you can play Tressette on line against live opponents or against the computer, and read the rules of Tressette and several variants. At this site you can also find the Biblioteca del tre with online copies of early Italian rule books for various games including Tressette.
At the Solitari con le Carte site you can play Tressette in Due (2-player Tressette) online against the computer.
At Žan Kafol's Flash site briskula.si you can play Tršet (Tressette) online against live opponents.
You can play Tressette on line at the Italian site biska.com.
You can download a freeware Tressette program from Thanos Card Games.
You can download Igor Sarzi Sartori's open source Tressette program.
With the free Windows program BTM Pro, obtainable from Drazen's homepage, you can play Tressette and some other Italian games against the computer or against other players over a network.