Kontsina (Κοντσίνα)

This page is based on information from Alexandros Kouridakis and Thanos Tsakonas.

Introduction

Kontsina (Greek: Κοντσίνα), also called Koltsina (Κολτσίνα) or Kolitsina (Κολιτσίνα) is a Greek card game of the fishing category. It is a simple game that many people in Greece have learnt to play as children. This, together with another fishing game Xeri (Ξερή) form the basis of Diloti (Δηλωτή), a more complex game game with much scope for strategy.

Players, Cards and Deal

Kontsina is played by 2 players using a standard international 52-card deck. The goal is to accumulate points by capturing cards from the table.

The first dealer is chosen by any convenient method, and the turn to deal alternates between the players from round to round. It is generally disadvantageous to be the dealer.

At the start of the game the deck is shuffled, each player is dealt a hand 4 cards (the deal can be one card at a time, or in batches of two cards or all four cards at once), and another 4 cards are laid face-up on the table. The rest of the deck is set aside face down to form a talon (stock pile) and will be dealt out later in the round.

The Play

The non-dealer begins play after each deal, and the right to play passes back and forth between the players. On their turn, each player must play exactly one card from their hand, performing one of the following three actions:

  1. capture a card from the table by playing a card of matching value from their hand. So for example a 7 can capture a 7, a Queen can capture a Queen, and so on. If it happens that two or three cards of the same value are on the board, a player may capture all of them by playing a single card of that value. Note that this is the only way to capture face cards (K, Q, J) as these cards have no numerical value.
  2. capture a set of numeral cards from the board, the sum of whose values is equal to the value of a numeral card played from the player’s hand. Aces count as numeral cards with value one. If more than one separate combination of cards yields the same sum, all of these combinations can be captured by playing a single numeral card with a value equal to the sum. Examples:
    • Cards on the table: 3, 5. One single 8 can capture both cards.
    • Cards on the table: A, 4, 5. One 10 can capture all three cards.
    • Cards on the table: 2, 4, 6. One 6 can capture all three cards (2+4=6 and 6=6 by itself)
    • Cards on the table: A, 4, 5, 8: One 9 can capture all four cards (A+8=9 and 4+5=9)
    • Cards on the table: A, 2, 3, 6, 7: one 10 can capture A+2+7 or A+3+6 or 3+7, whichever the player chooses, but the remaining cards must be left on the face up on the table.
  3. A player who cannot or does not wish to capture any cards simply plays a card from their hand face up on the table where it stays along with any cards that are already there, and can be captured later by any of the above methods. This is referred to as “laying” a card on the table.

Whenever any cards are captured from the table, these cards along with the card card played to capture them are added to a face down capture pile in front of the player who made the capture. The cards in the players' capture piles may not be looked at again until the end of the play.

Players alternate turns performing one of these three actions, until their hands are both depleted. When that happens, the dealer deals each player a new hand 4 cards from the top of talon. No more cards are dealt to the table. Play continues as normal, with the non-dealer acting first after each deal. The sixth deal will use all the remaining cards of the talon. When the players have played these last cards, any remaining face up on the table are added to the capture pile of the player who last captured any cards from the table. This ends the round.

Scoring

Once the round ends, each player examines the cards in their capture pile and scores points for them as follows.

  • 2 points for “the cards”: awarded to the player who has captured the most cards. In the players capture exactly 26 cards each, the cards are said to be “split” and no player earns any points for “the cards”.
  • 1 point for “the clubs”: Awarded to the player that captures the majority cards in the suit of clubs.
  • 1 point for “the good 2”: Awarded to the player that captures the 2 of clubs (this card also counts toward the total of clubs for the “clubs” point).
  • 1 point for “the good 10”: Awarded to the player that captures the 10 of diamonds.

Note. The terms "the good 2" and "the good 10" are literal translations of the Greek terms «το 2 το καλό» and «το 10 το καλό» In English one could alternatively call them the “lucky 2” and the “lucky 10”.

Thus there are usually 5 points to be scored in each round (only 3 points if the cards are split). The player who scores the majority of these points wins the round, and the player who was the non-dealer becomes the dealer for the next round. An agreed number of rounds is played and whoever wins more rounds is the overall winner.

Variants

Rather than just counting rounds won, each player can record the number of points scored in each round, and the first player who accumulates some agreed number of points, for example 21, is the overall winner. If both players reach the target on the same round, whoever has the higher score wins. If there is a tie, another round is played.

It is possible for three or four people to play this game. In this case the direction of play is anticlockwise, beginning with the player to dealer's right. With three players there will be 4 deals in each round; with 4 players there will be 3 deals. Four players can play in teams, two against two, partners sitting opposite each other and combining their captured cards into a single pile.