Mitigatti (Nice, 1930)
- Players and Cards
- Solo and Calling
- Declarations and Bonuses
- Three-Player Game
This early 20th century Tarot game of Mitigatti from Nice was described by François Cason under the heading Lü Tarocche in his 1930 article Les Jeux de Cartes à Nice (see bibliography). It has more in common with Piedmontese Tarocchi than with modern French Tarot. Like Savoy, Nice belonged to the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont until 1859. Features such as declaring combinations of important cards, scoring points for cards taken and for Pagat Ultimo can be found here in a very pure form. The three-player game, like other Piedmontese variants of Mitigati, has a similar format to other classic 18th century Tarot games. The four-player variant is a King-calling game, similar to variants such as Tübingen Tarock.
This game is probably no longer played in Nice. Even in 1930 Cason writes that it was hardly known at the time.
Players and Equipment
There may be three or four active players. The four-player game will be described first: it is the main version in Cason's account and was presumably the more popular.
A 78-card tarot pack is required. Cason describes the game as being played with Italian suited tarot cards, the same as those now known as the Tarot de Marseille. He also says that since the 1890's there hasn't been a playing card manufacturer in Nice and that players have switched to French suited tarot cards (as did French Tarot players from 1900 onwards).
The cards have four suits: spada (swords, spades), baston (Batons, Clubs), cupa (Cups, Hearts), denari (Coins, Diamonds). In each suit there are the court cards rei (King), dama (Queen), cavau (Cavalier) and fantin (Jack), as well as 10 cartes blanches (pip or numeral cards) from Ace to 10. They rank as follows:
- Long (black) suits of Swords and Batons:
- King, Queen, Cavalier, Jack, Ace, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2;
- Round (red) suits of Cups and Coins:
- King, Queen, Cavalier, Jack, Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
Note that the Ace is always the fifth highest card.
- There are 21 tarocche (Tarots), the ranking of which is also somewhat unusual.
- From top to bottom: XX (20, l'Ange, the angel), XXI (21), XIX (19), XVIII (18), etc. down to VI (6). After VI come V (5), IV (4) , III (3) and II (2), which are of equal rank and are called Papote (Popes) and finally the lowest Tarot is I (1), known as the Bagatte (Pagat).
- The 78th card is il matto or lu fuole
- This is the Fool, which corresponds to the Excuse in French Tarot. It cannot win a trick but cannot be captured.
Counting cards are:
- Honours (the Fuole, Bagatte and Ange): 4 points each,
- Kings: 4 points each,
- Queens: 3 each,
- Cavaliers 2 each,
- Jacks: 1 each.
The other cards have no card point value.
In addition 1 point is counted for each of the 19 tricks, and 1 point for the set of cards discarded by the dealer before the play (see below). Thus the total number of card points is 72 in the four-player game (62+19+1).
Deal and play are to the right, i.e. anticlockwise.
The game is played for counters known as marca, whose monetary value (if any) should be agreed in advance. Each player has a supply of 10 of these at the start of the session, and the number of marca held at the end determine how much each player has won or lost.
N.B. The inverse ranking of the pip cards in the round/red suits rank compared with those in the long/black suits is something found in most older Tarot traditions. The ranking of the Ace just below the Jack is a feature of some French games such as Écarté and Impériale. The equal ranking of the ‘Popes’ also exists in some Piedmontese variants and in Bolognese Tarot. The status of the Angel rather than the World as the highest trump is a feature of most Italian card game traditions, with the exception of that of Milan.
In the four-player game the dealer begins by giving each player a packet of 9 cards. There is then a pause and each player in turn, beginning to dealer's right, says whether they want to play with these cards (tenir: to keep) or ask for a redeal (anar a monte or au mügiu: “to go to the mountain”). If all four players want to “go to the mountain”, the cards are thrown in and the same dealer deals again but if anyone wants to play, all keep their cards and the deal continues.
In the second round of the deal a packet of 10 cards is dealt to each player and the last two cards are taken by the dealer, so that the dealer has 21 cards and the other players 19 each. There is now a second opportunity to throw in the hand. Again the players speak in turn and if all agree to go to the mountain all the cards are thrown in and the same dealer deals again.
If anyone wants to play after the second round of the deal the hand must be played. The dealer must first discard two cards face down, and these discarded cards count for the dealer's team. Kings and Honours (4-point cards) may not be discarded. Any other cards may be discarded, but if the discard includes any Tarots the dealer must inform the other players.
Solo and Calling
After discarding the dealer asks if any player wants to go Solo ("Cü va solete?"). If anyone says yes, that player plays alone as declarer against the others as a team of three. The declarer of a Solo has the right to call for a card and its holder must give it to him in exchange for a card which the declarer passes across, face down. The only card that may not be called is the Fuole. Cason does not say what happens when the called card is a discard. Presumably, however, the declarer will almost always call for an Honour, King or high Tarot, so the issue will not occur in practice. The declarer can refrain from calling a card ("va sans prendre") in which case the payment for the game is doubled.
If no one wants to play a Solo, the dealer must call (ciama) a King that he does not hold or, if he has all 4 Kings, he calls for the Angel (XX). The holder of the called card becomes the declarer's partner but must not announce their identity. The partnerships will become clear when the called card is played.
Cason does not mention the case in which the dealer has all four Kings and the XX and is therefore unable to call a partner. In this case presumably the dealer has to play a Solo, for which the hand will normally be strong enough.
In a Solo or Call, a player who (presumably accidentally) calls for a card that he is holding himself must choose between playing Solo sans prendre or surrendering and paying one marca to each of the other players. In case of surrender, the value of any declarations (see below) are also paid to the player(s) that hold the relevant cards.
The player to dealer's right leads to the first trick and each of the other players in turn must play a card. The trick won by the highest Tarot in it if any were played. If two or more Papotes (Tarots V, IV, III, II) are in the trick, the last of these equal ranked cards that was played beats the others. A trick containing no Tarots is won by the highest card of the suit that was led. The winner of each trick leads to the next.
- Suit must be followed, i.e. a player who has cards of the led suit in their hand must play one of them.
- A player who has no card of the suit led must play a Tarot if they have any. A player holding no Tarots and no card of the suit led may play any card.
- If a Tarot is led the other players must play a Tarot if they can. If they have none they may play any card.
An exception to the above rules is the Fuole. This card can be played to any trick instead of following suit or playing a Tarot. It has no power to win a trick, but its point value counts for its original owner, not for the winner of the trick. The Fuole is stored with the tricks won by the person who played it.
- Cason does not in fact specify who should lead to the first trick. In the German edition of this web page Ulf Martin gives the first lead to the player to dealer's right in all cases as above, but in A History of Games Played with the Tarot Pack (see bibliography) Michael Dummett states that the declarer leads first in a Solo, perhaps because Cason writes that in this case the declarer holding 10 Tarots should show them before play begins and this declaration is normally made immediately before the holder plays to the first trick.
- Cason says nothing about what happens when the Fuole is led to a trick; a common rule in this case would be that the second card determines the led suit which subsequent players must follow.
- Players familiar with modern French Tarot should note that in this game there is no requirement to overtrump when playing a Tarot: either a higher or a lower Tarot can be played.
Declarations and Bonuses
Certain card combinations held in the hand of one player can be declared, and are paid for at the end of the play. These are known as accusassions.
- 10 Tarocche.
- At least 10 Tarots in hand, counting the Fuole as a Tarot for this purpose. In order to be paid, the holder must declare the 10 Tarocche and show them immediately before playing a card to the first trick. A player who has more than 10 Tarots chooses any 10 of them to show and does not say how many are held in total.
- All 3 Honours in hand. The holder declares this when playing the third honour.
- Quatre Rei.
- All 4 Kings in hand. The holder declares this when playing the fourth King.
The player who holds the Bagatte (Tarot I) can try to Faire Bagatte, that is to keep the Bagatte until the end and win the last trick with it, all the other Tarots having been played. In order to earn a bonus payment for this the player has to satisfy one further condition in the play. If the player ever leads a plain suit (not a Tarot), they must continue to lead that same suit whenever they regain the lead until they hold nor more cards of that suit. If this condition is fulfilled and the player wins the last trick with the Bagatte they are paid 2 marca by each other player for Bagatte Ultimu. If on the other hand the Bagatte is beaten in the last trick by a higher Tarot the player must pay 2 marca to each other player for Petar Bagatte.
A player who does not satisfy the condition of continuing to lead the same suit until they have no more of it is considered not to be attempting a Bagatte Ultimu. In this case the player earns no bonus for winning the last trick with the Bagatte and suffers no penalty if their Bagatte is beaten in the last trick.
Note that a Solo player may ask for the Bagatte even if they did not receive it in the deal, thereby getting an opportunity to score Bagatte Ultimu. There is no corresponding opportunity in a partnership game, since everyone plays with the cards they were dealt.
The score is settled by payments of marca from one player to another. There are three possibilities to gain or lose marca.
- 1. La partida.
- Each team counts the value of the cards and tricks it has taken as described above, the total being 72. If the declarer's team (or the declarer alone if playing Solo) has 37 or more of these points each member of the other team pays 1 marca. In a Solo all three of these marca are collected by the declarer. If the declarer called a partner they win 1 marca each. If the declarer's team take 36 points or fewer these payments are reversed: a Solo player loses 3 marca, 1 to each opponent and when a partner is called the declarer and partner lose 1 marca each, each opponent taking 1.
If either side takes fewer than 18 points these payments are doubled: each opponent of the declarer wins or loses 2 marca.
- 2. Accusassions.
- The player who declared the combination is paid 1 marca by each of the other players.
- 3. Faire bagatte ultimu.
- The player who wins the last trick with the Bagatte is paid 2 marca by each of the other players, or pays 2 to each if the Bagatte is beaten in the last trick.
In case of a Solo sans prendre, in which the declarer plays alone without asking for a card, the payments for the partida and the bagatte ultimu are doubled, but each accusassion is still worth only 1 marca from each other player.
Note that in this game payments for accusassions and for bagatte ultimu are for the individual player - the player's partner(s) must also pay.
In this version everyone plays for themselves, there are no partnerships.
Each player is dealt 25 cards by the dealer in three rounds, first a packet of 9 cards to each, then 6, then 10. The dealer takes the last 3 cards so that the dealer has 28 cards and the other players 25 each. Although Cason does not explicitly say so, presumably as in the four-player game after each of the three rounds of dealing there is the possibility to throw in the cards and redeal if all three players agree that they want to "go to the mountain".
The dealer next discards three cards, which count for the dealer, effectively as an extra trick. As in the 4-player game Kings and Honours may never be discarded. Other Tarots may be discarded if the dealer informs the others.
There is no bidding or opportunity to call for a card. The player to dealer's right simply leads to the first trick. The rules of play and the accusassions are the same as in the four-player game, and the holder of the Bagatte can try for bagatte ultimu with the same restrictions on play.
Since there are 25 tricks plus the dealer's discard the total number of points available in the three-player game is 78 (62+25+1), so the average per player is 26. Any player who takes at least 13 but fewer than 26 points pays 1 marca to the player who took most points. Any player who takes fewer than 13 points pays 2 marca. The payments for accusassions and bagatte ultimu are the same as in the four-player game.
Cason says nothing about the case where two players tie for most card points. Since the marca are presumably indivisible, it will be impractical for the two winners to share when the loser pays only 1 marca. A possible solution would be to keep this odd marca in abeyance, to be collected by the winner of the next hand.
- Cason, François (1930), Les Jeux de Cartes à Nice. In: Armanac Nissart: 277–290. Online in the collection Occitanica, Centre interrégional de développement de l’occitan (CIRDOC) Hg., Béziers.
- Dummett, Michael; McLeod, John (2004), A History of Games Played with the Tarot Pack. Edwin Mellen, Lewiston, Queenstown, Lampeter. Games 8.43 and 8.44, Vol. 1: pp 190–194.