– traditional Ligurian card games

a Ligurian card game for 2-6 giocatori


The original version of biscambiggia is for two players. At the bottom of the page we will also describe the variants for three, four and six players. The more strategic variants mariagio (for two players) and auction biscambiggia (for five players) are described on their own pages.


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]



A game of biscambiggia consists of a number of hands, which are the stages of play between one deal and the next. The goal is to be the first to win two hands.[2]


For the first hand, the dealer is chosen at random. For subsequent hands, the players alternate as the dealer. The dealer shuffles the cards and hands them to the opponent to cut them. Then the dealer deals three cards per player, one at a time. Once the deal is over, the dealer places a card face up on the table, and covers half of it by placing the rest of the deck (called the talon) on top of it, face down.

The suit of the half-exposed card is called the trump suit. The cards of this suit, called trumps, beat the other cards for the entire hand.


To win a hand a player must score at least 61 points. Each player’s points are the sum of the values of the cards they have captured, according to the table above.


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 opponent responding with another card. Players are free to lead any card they wish, and they are similarly free to respond with whichever card.

At the start of a hand, the dealer’s opponent 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 are used up.

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.

Drawing from the talon

Then, if there are still cards left in the talon, each player, starting with the one who won the trick, takes a card from the well and adds it to their hand. The half-exposed trump is considered to be part of the talon, and will be the last card to be drawn.

The game proceeds in this manner (attack-reply-capture-draw) until the talon is exhausted, including the half-exposed card. At this point, the players play for three more tricks with the cards remaining in their hands. When these too are finished, the hand ends and the score is tallied.


A player’s score is given by the sum of the cards in their capture pile, according to the values in the table above. The whole deck has 120 points, so 61 are sufficient to win the hand. If the players each get 60 points, the hand is considered void.


Three-handed Biscambiggia

Three-handed biscambiggia is almost identical to the two-handed version.

Discard Before the deal, one of the twos (usually the two of spades) must be discarded so that the deck is divisible by three.

Direction of play The first dealer is chosen at random. For subsequent hands, the deal passes to the other players in a counter-clockwise direction. For the first trick, the player to the dealer’s right leads. Subsequently, the player who wins a trick leads to the next. During each trick, players play their own cards in a counter-clockwise direction, starting with the player who leads. The rules to determine who wins a trick as the same as for two-handed Biscambiggia. Then, players draw cards from the talon starting from the player who won the trick, and then in a counter-clockwise direction.

Aim The aim is to be the first to win three hands.[2] A player wins a hand if they score more points than the opponents. In cases where there is no single player who has scored the most points (i.e. if the three players all score 40 points, or if the first two players have the same number of points), the hand is considered void.

Four-handed Biscambiggia

Four-handed biscambiggia is similar to the three-handed version, but it is played in pairs. The entire 40-card deck is used, as it is divisible by four. The players sitting opposite are part of the same team. There is only one capture pile per team, held by one of the two players. Usually an even number of hands are played per game. It is forbidden to tell one’s partner what cards one has, or which card to play.

Six-handed Biscambiggia

The six-handed game is the same as the four-handed game. There are two teams of three players, sitting alternately so that there are no teammates sitting next to each other. To make the deck divisible by six, all twos must be discarded before the cards are dealt.