|Players||2, 3, 4, or 6|
|Card rank (highest first)||R C F 7 6 5 4 3 2 1|
|Cassino, Escoba, Skwitz, Zwickern|
Scopa (Italian pronunciation: [ˈskoːpa] ; literally "broom") is an Italian card game, and one of the two major national card games in Italy, the other being Briscola. It is also popular in Argentina and Brazil, brought in by Italian immigrants, mostly in the Scopa di Quindici variation. Scopa is also played in former Italian colonies such as Libya and Somalia or some other countries like Tunisia with changed appearance in the cards. It is played with a standard Italian 40-card deck, mostly between two players or four in two partnerships, but it can also be played by 3 or 6 players.
The name is an Italian noun meaning "broom", since taking a scopa means "to sweep" all the cards from the table. Watching a game of scopa can be a highly entertaining activity, since games traditionally involve lively, colorful, and somewhat strong-worded banter in between hands.However, skill and chance are more important for the outcome of the game.
Scopa was already widespread throughout Italy in the 18th century, but there is no earlier evidence of its origin.
A deck of Italian cards consist of 40 cards, divided into four suits. Neapolitan, Piacentine, Triestine, and Sicilian cards are divided into Coppe (Cups), Ori or Denari (Golds or Coins), Spade (Swords) and Bastoni (Clubs), while Piemontesi, Milanesi and Toscane cards use the 'French' suits, that is Cuori (Hearts), Quadri (Diamonds, literally "Squares"), Fiori (Flowers) and Picche (Spades, literally "Pikes").
The values on the cards range numerically from one through seven, plus three face cards in each suit: Knave [Fante in Italian] (worth a value of 8), Knight [Cavallo in Italian] in the Neapolitan-type decks, Queen [Donna in Italian] in the Milanese-type decks (worth 9), and King [Re in Italian] (worth 10). A Knave is a lone male figure standing. The Knight is a male figure riding a horse; the Queen is a female figure. The King is a male figure wearing a crown. To determine the face value of any numeric card, simply count the number of suit icons on the card. Since the Coins/Diamonds are important in winning some points, the cards of that suit are also nicknamed as "bello" (handsome): so, "il settebello" is the Seven of Coins/Diamonds, "l'asso bello" is the Ace of Coins/Diamonds.
All players arrange themselves around the playing surface. If playing in teams, team members should be opposite each other. One player is chosen to be the dealer.
Each player receives three cards. The dealer deals them out one card at a time, in a counter-clockwise direction, beginning with the player to their right. During this deal, the dealer will also place four cards face up on the table. A table card may be dealt before the deal begins, immediately after dealing a card to themselves but before dealing to the next player, or after dealing all players all three cards.
As it is impossible to sweep in a game where the initial table cards include three or four kings, such a deal is considered invalid. The cards are re-shuffled, and the dealer deals again.
The player to the dealer's right begins play. This player has two options: Either place a card on the table or play a card to capture one or more cards. A capture is made by matching a card in the player's hand to a card of the same value on the table, or if that is not possible, by matching a card in the player's hand to the sum of the values of two or more cards on the table. In both cases, both the card from the player's hand and the captured card(s) are removed and placed face down in a pile in front of the player. These cards are now out of play until scores are calculated at the end of the round. If by capturing, all cards were removed from the table, then this is called a scopa, and an additional point is awarded at the end of the round.
Note that it is not legal to place on the table a card that has the ability to capture. For example, if a 2 and a 4 are on the table and a player holds a 6, the player must either take that trick or play a different card from their hand.
In any circumstance in which a played card may capture either a single or multiple cards, the player is forced to capture only the single card. For example, if the cards on the table are 1, 3, 4, and 8 (Knave, or Fante in Italian), and the player plays another Knave, the player is not allowed to capture the 1, 3, and 4, even though their total does add up to 8. Instead, the player is only allowed to capture the Knave.
After all players have played all three cards, the dealer deals out three more cards to each player, again beginning with the player to their right. That player then begins play again. No additional cards are dealt to the table. This process is repeated until no cards remain in the deck.
After the dealer has played the final card of the final hand of the round, the player who most recently captured is awarded any remaining cards on the table, and points are calculated for each player or team. If no team has yet won the game, the deal moves to the right. The new dealer shuffles and deals the cards as described above.
Points are awarded at the completion of each deal. If playing in teams, the team members combine their captured cards before counting to calculate points. Players get one point for each "scopa".
In addition, there are up to four points available for the following, each worth 1 point apiece:
If two or more teams or players capture the same number of cards, the same number of coin cards, or the same prime value, no point is awarded for that result, e.g. if both Team 1 and Team 2 capture 20 cards total, neither gets a point for the most cards.
The "prime" for each team is determined by selecting the team's "best" card in each of the four suits, and totaling those four cards' point values. When calculating the prime, a separate point scale is used. The player with the highest number of points using this separate point scale gets one point toward the game score.
The most common version of the separate scale is:
|Card rank||Point value|
If one team captures the seven of cups and coins, the six of clubs and the ace of swords, that team's prime is (21 + 21 + 18 + 16) = 76.
Other versions of the prime's point scale exist. Most use the same ranking of cards but have variant scores, e.g. 0 points for face cards instead of 10. A variant that is popular in America but disliked by purists is to award the prime to the person with the most sevens, or the person with the most sixes if there is a tie, down to aces, and so on.
Obviously, the seven of coins is the most valuable card in the deck, as it alone contributes to all the four points. A player or team can win the "prime" even with only one seven but other useful cards. If one player has three sevens (3x21) and no cards of the fourth suit (sum=63), their opponent can win the "prime" with one seven (21) and three aces (3x16), for their sum would be 69. Therefore, it is a common tactic, while playing the game, to capture aces and sixes whenever possible.
Likewise, if a player is holding a six and there are an ace, a two, a four, and a five on the table, they should choose the five plus the ace, unless they have already taken the seven or the six of the suit of the ace and unless one of the two remaining cards is of the coins suit and they haven't made the point of coins yet.
In addition to the four standard points (called "punti di mazzo", literally "deck's points"), teams are awarded additional points for every "scopa" they took during game play. A scopa is awarded when a team manages to sweep the table of all cards. That is, if the table contains only a 2 and a 4, and player A plays a 6, player A is awarded a scopa. Clearing the table on the last play of the last hand of a round does not count as a scopa.
The game is played until one team has at least 11 points and has a greater total than any other team. No points, including scopa points, are awarded mid-round; they are all calculated upon completion of the round. For that reason, if the current score is 10 to 9, and the team with 10 points captures the seven of coins or a scopa, the team cannot immediately claim victory. It is still possible that the opposing team could end up with a tied or higher score once all points are calculated.
In some Italian cities, before the game the players can agree to play with the cappotto variant. In that scenario, if a player is winning 7 points to 0 then the game can be considered over and the player does not have to reach the total of 11 points.
It is also possible to agree on a different score, usually with increments of five or ten, e.g., 16, 21 or 31 points.
Traditionally, one card from a sweep is turned face up in the captured cards, to remind players while calculating points that a scopa was won, and to taunt them. Many players deal the initial table cards in a 2x2 square.
There are many variations of scopa. Since there are no formal rules, it is good manners to agree with the other players on the rules that are to be used before starting a game.
Many of the variations here can be combined. For example, a common variant in the Milan area combines "Scopone scientifico", "Scopa d'Assi" and "Napola".
When playing with a standard 52-card pack with French suits, 12 cards need to be removed from the deck. Easiest for most new players is to remove the face cards, and therefore play with cards ranging numerically from one through ten. More traditional is to remove the eights, nines, and tens from the deck, which yields the 40-card "Milanese" deck. With the Milanese deck the Jack is 8, the Queen is 9, and the King is 10 (note that in some Neapolitan decks, the Jack is called "Lady" and is worth 8). Regardless of which cards are removed, the diamonds suit is used for the Italian coin suit, making capturing the most diamonds and the seven of diamonds each worth a point.
In this variation of the game, playing an Ace captures all cards currently on the table (and does not count as a scopa).
Depending on other chosen variants, it can happen that an ace is already on the table when one draws an ace. Rules vary as to whether or not the player will take all the cards, but usually, the player takes only the ace already on the table. This event, that every player will try to avoid, is called burning an ace.
The game of Scopone is based on Scopa. In this game, which must be played in 2 teams of 2, players are dealt all nine of their cards at the start of each round. Play proceeds around the table until all players have played all of their cards.
In another form of the game, the scopone scientifico, the players are dealt ten cards each so that none is left.
Scopa d'Assi is mostly played in the latter variant.
In this variation (also known as Scopone trentino), a team capturing the ace, two, and three of coins achieves the Napola (aka Napula) and is awarded additional points equal to the highest consecutive coin they obtain, e.g. if a team captures the ace, two, three, four, and five, and eight of coins, that team is awarded 5 additional points.
Because of the higher number of points awarded per game, the game is played until one team has 21 points, rather than 11. Sometimes a team that manages to capture all 10 coins in a single round wins the game immediately.
In the Re Bello ("Beautiful King") version, the King of coins also counts as a point, just as does the Seven of coins.
In some regions of Calabria (especially near Cosenza), a point is awarded for the seven of cups in addition to the seven of coins.
In this variation, the played card does not take a card or set of cards that sum to the value of the card played. Rather, it takes any set of cards including itself that add to 15. If the table is A, 3, 5, 7, playing a 2 would take itself plus the A, 5 and 7 (A + 2 + 5 + 7 = 15).
This Genoese variation is highly popular in Liguria and bordering zones; it is basically a mixture of traditional scopa, "Scopa di quindici" and "Scopa d'assi", plus it awards additional points for the "Grande" (Big One; 5 points go to the player able to take all three figure cards of coins), "Piccola" (Small Ones; 1 point awarded for each consecutive card of coins after the ace). It is possible for a player to get the "most coins" point but neither the Big One nor Small One bonus, due to the opponent securing vital cards in the sequence.
Cirulla players whose hand of three cards adds up to less than 9 have to put all of them down on the table and mark three points as if they scored that many "scopa". In such calculations, the seven of cups (hearts in Genoese-types) counts as matta ("joker"): the player decides its value. With such a high degree of point-awarding combinations and the possibility of scoring dozens of points in a single hand, Cirulla games are tense affairs, where seemingly desperate situations can be reversed in a matter of minutes and where the ultimate goal can be set at 51 points.
Scopa is very popular in Libya and is usually played as mentioned above, but some local variations are often added, such as:
A number of variant point systems are used for calculating the prime, most of which produce the same order of hands. One notable variant that does not produce the same order is to count 0 points for each face card.
Some play to 16 or 21 points, or even to an arbitrary score agreed to at the beginning of the game.
Brought by Italian and Sicilian immigrants, the game is known in Tunisia as Shkobba and is played with decks similar in appearance to Sicilian cards. Shkobba is played with the same rules, the same score but played main with two players or two duos. Shkobba is popular in Tunisia, especially during Ramadan.
There is a playable version of Scopa within the Nancy Drew game The Phantom of Venice .
There are apps for Android smartphones and the Nokia internet tablet running the Maemo operating system, as well as for iOS iPads and iPhones.
All Fours is a traditional English card game, once popular in pubs and taverns as well as among the gentry, that flourished as a gambling game until the end of the 19th century. It is a trick-taking card game that was originally designed for two players, but developed variants for more players. According to Cotton, the game originated in Kent, but spread to the whole of England and eventually abroad. It is the eponymous and earliest recorded game of a family that flourished most in 19th century North America and whose progeny include Pitch, Pedro and Cinch, games that even competed with Poker and Euchre. Nowadays the original game is especially popular in Trinidad and Tobago, but regional variants have also survived in England. The game's "great mark of distinction" is that it gave the name 'Jack' to the card previously known as the Knave.
Euchre or eucre is a trick-taking card game commonly played in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Great Britain, and the United States. It is played with a deck of 24, 28, or 32 standard playing cards. Normally there are four players, two on each team, although there are variations that range from two to nine players.
Rook is a trick-taking game, usually played with a specialized deck of cards. Sometimes referred to as Christian cards or missionary cards, Rook playing cards were introduced by Parker Brothers in 1906 to provide an alternative to standard playing cards for those in the Puritan tradition, and those in Mennonite culture who considered the face cards in a regular deck inappropriate because of their association with gambling and cartomancy.
Escoba is a variant of the Italian fishing card game Scopa, which means "broom", a name that refers to the situation in the game where all of the cards from the board are "swept" in one turn. The game is usually played with a deck of traditional Spanish playing cards, called naipes.
Cassino (US) or Casino (Europe), is a fishing card game, often said without substantiation to be of Italian origin, for two, three, four, or even theoretically five players. It is the only fishing game to have penetrated the English-speaking world. It is mostly played by two with a standard deck of playing cards, the object of the game being to score 21 points by fishing up cards displayed on the table. It is very similar to the later Italian game Scopa.
Pedreaux is an American trick-taking card game of the All Fours family based on Auction Pitch. Its most popular variant is known as Cinch, Double Pedro or High Five. Developed in Denver, Colorado, in the 1880s, it was soon regarded as the most important member of the All Fours family. Although it went out of fashion with the rise of Auction Bridge, it is still widely played on the western coast of the United States and in its southern states, being the dominant game in some locations in Louisiana. Forms of the game have been reported from Nicaragua, the Azores, Italy and Finland. The game is primarily played by four players in fixed partnerships, but can also be played by 2–6 individual players.
Briscola is one of Italy's most popular games, together with Scopa and Tressette. A little-changed descendant of Brusquembille, the ancestor of Briscan and Bezique, Briscola is a Mediterranean trick-taking, Ace-Ten card game for two to six players played with a standard Italian 40-card deck. The game can also be played with a modern Anglo-French deck, without the eight, nine and ten cards. With three or six players, twos are removed from the deck to ensure the number of cards in the deck is a multiple of the number of players; a single two for three players and all four twos for six players. The four- and six-player versions of the game are played as a partnership game of two teams, with players seated such that every player is adjacent to two opponents.
Playing cards have been in Italy since the late 14th century. Until the mid 19th century, Italy was composed of many smaller independent states which led to the development of various regional patterns of playing cards; "Italian suited cards" normally only refer to cards originating from northeastern Italy around the former Republic of Venice, which are largely confined to northern Italy, parts of Switzerland, Dalmatia and southern Montenegro. Other parts of Italy traditionally use traditional local variants of Spanish suits, French suits or German suits.
Pitch is an American trick-taking card game derived from the English game of All Fours. Historically, Pitch started as "Blind All Fours", a very simple All Fours variant that is still played in England as a pub game. The modern game involving a bidding phase and setting back a party's score if the bid is not reached came up in the middle of the 19th century and is more precisely known as Auction Pitch or Setback. Whereas All Fours started as a two-player game, Pitch is most popular for three to five players. Four can play individually or in fixed partnerships, depending in part on regional preferences. Auction Pitch is played in numerous variations that vary the deck used, provide methods for improving players hands, or expand the scoring system. Some of these variants gave rise to a new game known as Pedro or Cinch.
Jass is a trick taking, Ace-Ten card game and a distinctive branch of the Marriage family. It is popular throughout the Alemannic German-speaking area of Europe (German-speaking Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Alsace part of France, Vorarlberg province of Austria, southwestern Germany, as well as in Romansh-speaking Graubünden and the French-speaking area of Switzerland, German-speaking South Tyrol in Italy, and in a couple of places in Wisconsin, USA and Tuscarawas County, Ohio, USA.
Sueca is a 4 player-partnership point trick-taking card game of the Ace-Ten family, and a popular variant of the Bisca card game. The game is played in Portugal, Brazil, Angola and other Portuguese communities. Its closest relative is the very similar German game Einwerfen.
Tressette or Tresette is a 40-card, trick-taking card game. It is one of Italy's major national card games, together with Scopa and Briscola. It is also popular in the regions that were once controlled by the Italian predecessor states, such as Albania, Montenegro, coastal Slovenia and coastal Croatia. The Austrian game Trischettn as historically played in South Tyrol is also a derivative, albeit played with a 32-card German-suited deck.
Pasur is a fishing card game of Persian origin. Played widely in Iran, it is played similarly to the Italian games of Cassino or Scopa and even more similarly to the Egyptian game of Bastra. Pasur is also known by the names Chahâr Barg, Haft Khâj or Haft Va Chahâr, Yâzdah.
Brisca is a popular Spanish card game played by two teams of four with a 40-card Spanish-suited pack or two teams of six using a 48-card pack.
Basra is a popular fishing card game, similar to cassino, and very popular in Cyprus. The game is also popular in Egypt, Lebanon, and other Middle Eastern countries. The name is Greek borrowing from the Arabic word Basra. In Turkey, the game is known as pişti or pişpirik.
Tute is a trick-taking card game of the Ace-Ten family for two to four players. Originating in Italy, where it was known as Tutti, during the 19th century the game spread in Spain, becoming one of the most popular card games in the country. The name of the game was later modified by Spanish speakers, who started calling the game Tute. The game is played with a deck of traditional Spanish playing cards, or naipes, that is very similar to the Italian 40-card deck.
Tablanette, Tablanet, Tabinet or Tablić is a popular fishing-style card game usually played by two players or two teams of two that is popular in a wide area of the Balkans. It is similar to the English game of Cassino.
Bisca is a card game based on the Italian deck.
Marafon, Maraffa or Beccaccino is a trick-taking card game for four players from the Italian province of Romagna that is similar to Tressette, but features trumps.
Cicera bigia or simply Cicera, also spelled Ciccera biccera, is an Italian card game closely related to Scopa and mainly played in the province of Province of Brescia, using a 52-card deck of Bresciane playing cards. Most of the technical terms used in the game originate in the local Bresciano dialect of the Lombard language.