- Players and Cards
- The Deal
- The Play
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This Italian game is related to the popular game Briscola. The order and value of the cards is the same, but in Marianna there are extra scores for marriages, which are also used to set the trump suit.
This page is based mainly on information provided by Paolo Ronzoni.
Players and Cards
Marianna is a four-player game with fixed partnerships. Players sit opposite their partners. Deal and play are anticlockwise.
A 40-card pack is used, usually a French suited pack without 8's, 9's and 10's with suits of hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades. The rank of the cards in each suit from high to low and their values are as follows:
Additional points are available for declaring a marianna, consisting of the king and queen of a suit held in hand. It is possible to play with Italian suited cards, in which case the horse (cavallo) replaces the queen and a marianna consists of the king and horse of a suit.
Any player may deal first. The dealer shuffles and the player to dealer's left cuts the cards. The dealer then deals five cards face down to each player and places the remainder in a face down stack on the table.
The player to dealer's right leads to the first trick. Initially there are no trumps. There is no obligation to follow suit: players may play any card to any trick, but a trick can only be won by a card of the suit that was led. Whoever plays the highest card of the suit that was led wins the trick. Beginning with the winner of the trick, each player in turn draws the top card from the stack of undealt cards so that everyone has five cards again. The winner of the trick now leads to the next trick.
At your turn to play to any trick if you hold the king and queen of a suit in your hand, you can declare "marianna" and show them. The first marianna declared scores 40 points for the team. The suit of the marianna becomes trumps from this trick until the end of the play or until another marianna is declared. If another marianna is declared, the trump suit is changed to the suit of the latest marianna. The second marianna scores 60 points, the third 80 points and the fourth 100 points.
After a marianna has been declared, there is still no obligation to follow suit. Players may play any card, but if there is a trump suit and any trumps were played, the trick is won by the highest trump in it. For this purpose, only the suit that is trumps at the end of the trick counts.
A player is not allowed to declare more than one marianna in the same trick, but it may happen that during a single trick two or more different players each declare a marianna. In this case, it is whichever of these players played latest to the trick whose marianna determines the trump suit for this and subsequent tricks.
After the last card has been drawn from the stock it is no longer possible to declare a marianna. The last five trick are played using the cards the players then have in their hands, under the same rules of play but without drawing new cards.
Two other combinations can be declared, if a player is lucky enough to hold one of them.
- A player who has four queens and a king can declare a mariannino for 250 points. The suit of the king becomes trumps.
- A player who holds four kings and a queen can declare a mariannone for 500 points, winning the whole game.
It is not legal to play a marianna and a mariannino in the same trick, but if you declare a marianna, keep the cards and later acquire all the other queens as well you could then declare a mariannino Alternatively, if you have four queens and pick up a king, you can declare mariannino immediately and then, if you keep the king and queen of the same suit, also declare a marianna in the next trick.
Each team keeps a cumulative score, starting from zero. At the end of the play, each team counts the points they have won in tricks (total of 120 in the pack) plus any marianne etc. that they have declared and add them to their score. If either team has 501 or more points, the game ends and the team with the higher score wins.
Some play that marianne are declared at the start of the trick, even by a player who is not the leader to the trick. Before the start of each trick, the player leading to the trick must pause for a few seconds to give anyone who wishes to the chance to declare a marianna. Once a card has been led, no more marianne can be declared until the start of the next trick. If more than one player declares a marianna at the start of the same trick, they are considered to be declared in the order in which cards will be played to the trick, the last of them determining trumps. This creates a kind of tension as a player who holds a marianna will pause to find out whether another player also wishes to announce one. There is also the tactic of "fare morire in mano una marianna", in which you try to discourage another player from declaring their marianna by acting as though you have a marianna of your own which you will declare later, even though in fact you don't have one.
Some play with lower scores for declaring a marianna: 20 for the first, 40 for the second, 60 for the third, 80 for the fourth.
Some play that a marianna can only be declared by the player who leads to the trick. Therefore, in order to declare a marianna you either have to be the player to dealer's right in the first trick, or to win a trick in order to acquire the lead.
Some play that the trump suit is set by the first marianna. Later marianna declarations score points but do not change the trump suit.
Some allow marianne to be declared in the fifth from last trick, just after the last cards have been drawn from the talon, but not later than this.
This is a variant of Marianna played in Sicily. The rules are the same as for Marianna, except for the following differences:
- Italian suited (Sicilian) cards are used.
- The first marianna (Re and Cavallo of the same suit) has a value of 40 points and it determines the trump suit.
- After trumps have been set, other marianna declarations score only 20 points and they don’t change the trump suit.
- The combinations of mariannino and mariannone don’t exist.
- Declaring a marianna is called “cantare” (to sing). A player can declare a marianna whenever he wants, even in the middle of a trick. If it is the first one declared, it establishes the trump suit for the current trick and all later tricks.
- The game ends when a team's score reaches 500 of more points.
This variant can be played in Marianna or in Cinquecento.
If there are no trumps yet and the leader to a trick has a queen (horse) or a king in his hand, before leading the trick, he can ask his partner: “Mi copri a ..." ("can you cover me in...") and name the suit of the king or queen/horse - for example "Can you cover me in diamonds?"
If the player's partner has the other card needed to complete a marianna in that suit he may answer "yes". In this case the first player must lead the king or queen/horse and the partner must play the other card of the marianna to the trick. If they win the trick, then they score 20 points (instead of the usual 40 for a marianna in one hand) and the suit is established as trumps. If they don't win the trick, because an opponent plays the ace or three of the suit, they don't score and there are still no trumps.
Once trumps have been set, it is no longer possible to declare a marriage split between two partners.
This two-player variant with Italian suited cards is described on the Briscola Variations page of solitariconlecarte.it. After 5 cards each have been dealt, the next card is turned face up and placed at right angles under the stack of undealt cards (tallone) to indicate the trump suit, which is fixed for the deal.
The king and horse of a suit together in one hand is a matrimonio, scoring 40 points if the suit is trumps or 20 if it is not trumps. However a matrimonio cannot be declared and scored during the first trick or when the last cards have been drawn from the tallone.
The card values are as usual, and the winner is the first player whose score reaches 151 points.
Some play that if the trump indicator is a king or horse, the holder of the ace of trumps may exchange it for the trump indicator at their turn to play in order to complete a trump matrimonio for 40 points.
This two-player variant was described to me by Paolo Ronzoni. It is played with a 40-card Italo-Spanish pack (i.e. Latin suits with the swords and clubs separate, not interlaced, as in the Neapolitan and other South Italian patterns). It is also sometimes known as Mariaggia or Mariaccia.
Five cards are dealt to each player, and the eleventh card is placed face up on the table to determine the trump suit. The remaining stock is placed face down across the face-up trump. There is no possibility to exchange a card from and for the face-up trump in this game. The non-dealer leads to the first trick.
Until the stock is exhausted, there is no requirement to follow suit, overtake or trump - the second player to a trick may play any card. The winner of the trick draws the top card of the stock without showing it, the other player draws the next card, and the winner of the trick then leads to the next. The face up trump will be taken as the last card of the stock. When there are no stock cards left, the play continues as before except that the second player to each trick is obliged to follow suit and to beat the led card if possible, and if holding no card of the suit led to play a trump if possible.
A player who has just won a trick can declare 40 if holding the king and horse of trumps, or 20 if holding the king and horse of another suit, scoring that number of points.
After all the cards have been played each player counts the points won for cards in tricks and declarations. The aim is to be the first to reach or exceed a target score agreed in advance, normally 200 or 250 points, over as many deals as it takes. At the end of the play, if neither player has reached the target a new deal is played, dealt by the opponent of the previous dealer.
As soon as a player believes they have reached or passed the agreed target, they can claim to have won and stop the play. If the claim is correct the player wins (irrespective of how many points their opponent has). If a a player claims to have won but turns out not to have reached the target score, they lose and the opponent wins irrespective of their score.
Software and Online Games
At Solitari con le carte you can play a free game of Marianna or Briscola 151 in a web browser against the computer.