– traditional Ligurian card games

Auction Biscambiggia
a Ligurian card game for 5 players

Auction Biscambiggia is a variant of biscambiggia for five players in two teams. The peculiarity of this game is that, at the beginning, the exact composition of the teams is not known to the players.



A 40-card Genoese deck is used to play, consisting of 1 (or ace), 2, …, 7, jack (J), queen (Q), king (K) in the four suits of hearts , diamonds , clubs ♣ and spades ♠.

The card values, from highest to lowest, are:[1]


Hands and tokens

A game of Auction Biscambiggia consists of a number of hands, which are the stages of play between one deal and the next. Players will agree upon how many hands to play at the start of the game. Depending on how each hand goes, players will receive a number of tokens, which can be either numbers written on a piece of paper, or physical objects such as pine nuts or hazelnuts. Once the agreed number of hands has been played, the player with the most tokens wins the game.


The dealer for the first hand is chosen at random. For subsequent hands, the deal passes to the other players in a counter-clockwise direction.

The dealer shuffles the deck and gives it to the opponent on their left to cut. The dealer then deals 8 cards per player, four at a time, so that after two rounds all cards have been dealt.


Right after the deal, the auction begins. In this phase, players compete for the right to choose a partner to team up with and to pick the trump suit. Cards of this suit, called trumps, beat all other cards for the duration of the hand.

The auction begins with the player to the right of the dealer, who makes their bid by declaring the number of points they pledge to win (together with their partner) in this hand. The first bid must be at least 61 points, i.e. one point more than half the total points. The other players, one after the other in a counter-clockwise direction, may either pass or make a better bid, pledging to win a greater number of points. The auction ends when all players except one have passed.


The player who wins the auction is known as the caller. Once the auction is over, the caller calls a card. The player holding this card becomes their partner, and the suit of this card becomes the trump suit. The other players form the other team. The caller may also decide to call a card that is in their own hand. In this case the caller plays alone, without partner, and all the other players play together.


The caller's partner is known as the traitor, because they secretly play with the caller. The other players cannot be sure who the traitor is until the called card is played.

Example auction

An example auction could be as follows:

Player A – 61 points
Player B – 62 points
Player C – pass
Player D – 65 points
Player A – 66 points
Player B – 70 points
Player D – pass
Player A – pass
Player B – seven of hearts
In this case, player B wins the auction. They call the seven of hearts, therefore the player holding this card becomes the traitor. The caller pledges to score, along with their partner, at least 70 points. The trump suit is hearts.



The hands of the game are made up of a number of tricks, which involve one player playing (leading) a card face up to the middle of the table and the others responding with another card each in a counter-clockwise direction.

The player leading to a trick is free to do so with any card they wish. Similarly, the other players are free to respond to this card with any of the cards in their possession.

At the start of a hand, the player to the dealer’s right leads to the first trick. The winner of this trick then leads to the next trick, and the game continues in this way until all the cards have been played.

Winning a trick

The trick is won by the player who played the highest trump. If no trumps were played, the winner is the player who played the highest card of the suit that was led. The winner of the trick captures the two cards on the table and places them face down in their capture pile.

The game proceeds in this manner (attack-reply-capture) until the players have depleted the cards in their hands.


A team’s score is given by the sum of the cards in the capture piles of its players, according to the values in the table above.


Tokens are used to keep track of wins and losses. They can be either numbers written on a sheet of paper, or physical objects such as pine nuts or hazelnuts. At the end of the hand, if the caller’s team has scored the points pledged during the auction, each of their opponents pays one token, so that the caller receives two and the traitor one. If they scored fewer points, the caller pays two tokens to the opponents, and the traitor one, so that each opponent receives one token. If the caller plays alone, in case of victory they get one token from each opponent, and if they lose they pay one token to each opponent.