Sunday, 4 September 2016

Three play for themselves to win the most card points. This should be one of your two entry points into tarot gaming but, while simple to learn, it should not be dismissed as an excellent and challenging game in its own right.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

As Scarto, this should be one of your entry points into tarot gaming and should also not be underestimated. Four play in fixed partnerships with their partners seated opposite each other with the goal of winning the most card points.


Strictly speaking, Tarocchi is the general name for Tarot games in Italy but as all the others I’m listing have their own names and ‘Tarocchi for four as played in Piedmont’ is a bit long-winded, we’ll grant it the name. It is well deserved though, as this is a classic game and along with Scarto it is the basis for some of our original games listed afterwards.

Friday, 2 September 2016

The game of Conference is a ‘dead’ game now but worth reviving, if only for learning and for those whose style of game play is hopelessly informal (yes you, Bindi, Rebecca, and Jossie).

Four play in fixed partnerships and, unusually for such games, they sit next to each other. The goal is simply to win the most card points. The Conference rule allows partners to discuss their hands and strategy.

The game of League is original and does away with this rule but implements a novel order of play from a Hungarian game, that makes for some interesting strategy.


There are two other original – and entirely optional – rules sets introduced: Allegiances and Gallowglass.  

Monday, 29 August 2016

Good two player card games are notorious for being few and far between. I cannot claim that this is anything special but it does attempt to address some of the problems these games face. It was developed on the train to Manchester Piccadilly and that seemed like a good enough name for it.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Devised on the same holiday but just after devising a new truffle at my niece’s request, hence the name. I called the truffle Tarocco, which was appropriate, it being orange, cherry, and almond.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

In France this is simply Jeu de Tarot, which just means The Game of Tarot. There may just be the one game in France now but this book is full of games of tarot and so I’ve chosen an archaic French spelling to distinguish it. The basic game is for four players but there are variants for three, five, and six players (the later will have its own chapter). This is possibly the most widely played tarot game and I have known players as far afield as Spain to Ukraine. This alone makes it worth adding to your gaming repertoire but it is also a very good game in its own right and I particularly recommend the five player version as one of the best and most fun games I have ever played.

In France there is a nationwide Tarot Federation that oversees ‘official’ rules – but really, those are just the rules official to it and the tournaments organised for its members. In fact there is a great deal of ‘unofficial’ variation in how this is played and as according to Bunbury is no more according to a Federation than it is to Hoyle, the rules given here are the ones found most – fun according to Bunbury.


Everyone plays for themselves, save for the five player version in which a Declarer calls for a partner. The goal for the Declarer is to win the number of card points required, which is dictated by the number of Honours they win in their tricks – everyone else’s job is to prevent that.

Friday, 26 August 2016

The Taroux of Six is, obviously, for six players but in a satisfying arrangement of three fixed partnerships, all seated alternately so that partners are opposite with two opponents on either side of each of them.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

In Mitigation three play for themselves to win the most card points. The game is the first that features a negotiations to determine if the hand is played or not.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Piedmontese games of Partita are probably derived from the Bolognese games of the same name that are no longer played there. They inherit the Bolognese tradition of treating The four Powers (The Female Pope, The Empress, The Emperor, and The Pope) as having equal rank. They also use a reduced pack of just 54 cards created by omitting the lowest six pip cards in each of the four nation suits.

Knock is another game for four played in fixed partnerships with partners seated opposite each other and trying to win the most card points. It allows a number of visual signals to communicate between partners.

Monday, 22 August 2016

This is a three player game where all play for themselves. It’s twist has players keep tally of their scores as they play and going out when they reach 35 card points.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Sicilian game is for four players with a bidding round structured to reveal enough information to make play interesting.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

The Tarocchini are a small family of games played with a reduced tarot pack of 62 cards that is sometimes known as The Tarocchino. What distinguishes these games from others of the tarot family from Italy is that the emphasis is less on winning card points and more on scoring points from winning combinations and patterns of cards.

Many players rate Ottocento as among the best card games in the world. Four play in fixed partnerships, with partners seated opposite each other. The number of hands in played in a game is variable because the goal is to be the first team to score 800 points. Some points are actually scored during play, so it is possible for the game to end before a hand has been fully played out. As scoring is a little more involved in these games, I have elected not to simplify it here.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Terziglio is the three player member of the Tarocchini family, this game has bidding to decide who will play alone as Declarer against the other two playing in partnership as Defenders.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

This is from the Danish game, the last surviving member of the Gro├čtarock family. Grand Tarot, as that means, seemed a little pompous, however good it is, so hence its new English name. That said, it really is rather grand!

A game for three players with a different focus from other Tarot games in that the goal players aim for is to win the last trick with either The Juggler (ie. The Sparrow) or a King.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Tap is a simple three player game that serves as a good introduction to this side of the family.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Zwanzig means twenty, which is the trump used to decide partnerships. It is a game for four players using a pack further shortened to just 40 cards by removing all but one pip card in each of the regular suits along with the first two cards of the quartet (The Female Pope and The Empress).

Monday, 15 August 2016

The title '19' simply refers to the trump that decides partnerships. The basic game is for four players but it has variations for three and two, both of which employ dummy hands. The four player game makes a good introduction to what I shall call Preference Bids – a device used in a few games and worth adding to your arsenal.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

In Rally the King, as the name suggests, under some bids a Declarer may call a King to play as Partner. This is a game principally for four players but unlike the other ‘Call’ games, there is far greater emphasis upon the bids and declarations. These are more numerous than in the previous games and are subject to regional variation, as well as innovation within smaller groups.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Point Tarock is a game for three players using the 54 card pack that has a reputation for being a little more sophisticated than most.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Tarot in Hungary is a slightly different animal than that found elsewhere, each game of the family progressing toward the eventual elimination of card points altogether whose role is usurped by that of scoring bonus points for achievements.

All the Tarokk games are for four players and they all employ The Fool as Tomfool, the highest trump in a shortened pack.

What I shall call Free Tarokk is the popular form, unregulated by any governing body. It has three main variations, Paskievics being the basic form of the game, while Palatine and Magus each provide additional tiers of bonuses.

Royal Tarokk, is a vast game that was created specifically for tournament play and is really unsuitable for the casual player as it requires an organised governing body to flourish. However, Emperor Tarokk was developed as a bridge between the two forms and so I have included a version of this for those players taken with the Hungarian game play.

As to which is the best form of the game, opinions are mixed. Some feel that the addition of more and more tiers of bonuses add to the complexity and sophistication of the game, while others find that they make play and the outcome increasingly random, pointing out that sophistication isn’t always found in complexity. Sadly, I do not have much experience with playing these games however, if only on instinct, I lean toward the later opinion. From what I can see, Paskievics is an excellent game that requires no elaboration to improve it.

Collectively, I refer to these next three games as Free Tarokk - as this form of the games has no ties to any governing body essential to tournament play - and the basic (or pure) form of the game is called Paskievics Tarokk. The other two versions are called Palatine and Magus Tarokk, each one adding an additional tier of bonuses to the game’s original six.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

There are two games bearing this name in Hungary and it is my understanding that each was developed as a bridge between Free Tarokk and the tournament game of Royal Tarokk. Sadly, I have not found any published accounts of either game in any language translatable to me. However, I have found some notes regarding the earliest of the two and have pieced together what seems to be a more or less complete account.

I have read that this game is more popular than Magus Tarokk as an expanded form of the game but then I’ve read other writers who discuss Magus Tarokk without any mention of Emperor. There are some differences in the core rules to Free Tarokk, and so I shall give the game in full. You really will need to have tried the other Hungarian games before taking on this one.