This is a simple variation on the regular game of Partita but worth knowing if you’re
short a player.
The game uses a reduced pack of 54 cards with irrational ranking, traditionally Piedmontese
cards, so your pack will consist of:
The Fool, I-XXI of trumps, and then in the suits:
Spades & Clubs / Swords & Batons
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 10, 9, 8, 7
Hearts & Diamonds / Cups & Coins
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 1, 2, 3, 4
Fool, Pagat & Angel 4
As with other Italian games, the Angel is the highest trump and honour. Like the
old Bolognese cards, the II, III, IV, and V of trumps (the Female Pope, Empress,
Emperor, and Pope) are all of equal rank. If more than one is played to the same
trick, then the last to be played is considered to outrank the previous card.
The first Dealer is chosen at random with the deal moving to the right after each
hand. Each player is dealt 17 cards with Dealer taking the last three and discarding
three cards that will count towards Dealer’s tricks. Kings and Honours may not be
discarded, trumps may only be discarded if there is no option and then they must
be exposed to the other players.
Dealer leads to the first trick, playing any card in his/her hand to the middle of
the table. Each player in turn, moving to the right, must then play a card of the
same suit (follow suit). If a player cannot follow suit, then they must play a trump,
if they cannot play a trump, then they can play any card, though it will not win.
If no trumps have been played, then the highest card of the suit led wins the trick
and that player takes the cards and puts them into his/her trick pile. Otherwise,
the highest trump played wins the trick.
The Fool may be played to any trick as an excuse for not playing a card you are otherwise
obliged to play, but may be neither won nor lost – it is retained by the side that
played it. Unlike other games, if the opposing side won the trick, no card is given
There are three obligatory signals:
If leading from a long suit (strictly defined as four or more cards), then drag the
edge of the card from your left to right before placing it on the trick.
If leading another card to a trick when the King is held in that suit, then a call
of “King” must be made.
When leading to a trick with a regular suit that you believe the last player will
trump, you must knock on the table with your fist.
The cards are counted individually, so that there are 104 points in the pack. Each
game consists of three hands, at the end of each hand players score or lose a point
for each card point over or below 34. At the end of a game, the player who has the
lowest total pays a fixed stake to the other two players. This is a little unusual
and it would not be unreasonable to assume that the stake would consist of the next
Going out early
This rule is played as standard but I’m tagging it at the end as an option because
not everyone will play a game like this in a focussed manner. During the third hand
of a game, players are expected to keep a mental not of the points they win trick
by trick. When one of them reaches a total of 35 points for the game, then they declare
that they are out. In reckoning the total, the Fool and Angel may be taken into account
(as they will not be lost). The player continues to play but according to the following
Whenever leading to a trick, the highest trump held must be played. If no trumps
are held, then the highest card of any of the other suits must be led.
When playing to a trick, the player must play to win the trick with the highest card
they have. If they cannot win the trick, then the lowest possible card must be played.