The Sicilian game is for four players with a bidding round structured to reveal enough information to make play interesting.
Pack: A reduced tarot of 63 cards consisting of four nation suits, a suit of 21 trumps, and The Fool.
|XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX||5 points|
|All Others||No value|
Ranking: Standard ranking is used...
Cups, Coins, and Batons rank from high to low:
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5
Swords ranks from high to low:
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, Ace
Empty Cards: These are cards have no value.
Honours: The Juggler, The World, and The Fool are called The Honours. They are always among the highest scoring cards.
A game consists of four hands.
Deal: First Dealer is chosen at random or by consent with the role moving to the player on the left after each hand.
Each player is dealt two packets of five cards before three are dealt to a stock pile. Players are then dealt a final packet of five.
Bargaining: After examining their hands, there is an opportunity for players to bargain to throw in the hand for a re-deal. Each player may speak once in this round but in no particular order. Their options are to call:
“I throw for___” citing the number of game points they will accept to throw in the hand.
“I’ll pay ___” citing the number of game points they will give to throw in the hand.
“I take” to accept an offer to throw in the hand.
“I hold” to play the hand.
If any player calls to hold, or else if nobody accepts an offer, then the hand must be played.
Auction: There is then a round of bidding in which players may bid to become declarer, playing against the others who will be the Defenders, or to play as declarer in partnership with another player.
Solo: The round begins with the players in turn – starting with Eldest and ending with Dealer – either calling Solo or Pass. The first to do so becomes declarer, showing the cards of the stock to the other players before taking them into his/her hand. Declarer must them discard three cards that will count toward his/her tricks – these may not include any cards worth five or more points, or, unless there is no option, trumps.
Prop: If no player accepts the offer to play Solo, then Dealer takes the stock and discards three cards as above that will count toward his/her tricks at the end. Players in turn – starting with Eldest and ending with Dealer – may then call “Prop” if they want a partner – however, they may only do this if they have 5 and 10 point cards totalling at least 20 points.
If all players pass, then the hand is thrown in and the deal passes to the next player. Otherwise, each player in turn – starting with Declarer’s right – may either call “Pass” or, if they have 5 and 10 point cards totalling at least 15, then they may call “Cop” to take the role as Partner to Declarer.
If all players pass, then if there is at least one King that Declarer does not hold, then he/she will call “I Rally the King of________” naming a suit. The King called must be that of their shortest suit (ie the suit with the fewest cards),excluding void suits (ie suits in which no cards are held), in which The King isn’t held. If two or more suits qualify, then the one with the best courts must be called, if two or more are still equal, then Coins must be called – unless they are either void with with the King, in which case, any suit may be called.
If all Four Kings are held, then Declarer will call “I Rally the Queen of________” under the same rules.
Whoever holds the rallied royal will then be partner but they may not announce themselves as such – their identity will be revealed through play.
Play: Declarer leads to the first trick by placing a card face up on the table. Each player in turn, moving to the left, must play a card from their hand of the suit led – this is called following suit. If they do not have any cards of the suit led, it is called being void in that suit and they must play a trump card instead. However, if they have no trumps, they may then play any other card, though it will not win. Whoever plays the highest trump to the trick wins it, or if trumps are not played, then whoever played the highest card of the suit led wins it. The winner takes the cards and places them face down in their trick pile to be counted at the end.
The player that wins the trick then leads to the next one and play continues until the hand has been played out.
If The Fool is held, then it may be played at any time instead of a card that the rules might otherwise require and although it will not win, it is seldom lost. When played, The Fool is returned to to its player who then places it face up beside them until the end of the hand when they must pay the player who won the trick with a card from their trick pile (obviously, they will choose an empty card if they can). However, if they have taken no tricks, then they must surrender The Fool instead.
Scores: Players keep their own trick piles, combining them at the end of the hand within partnerships. Card points are counted individually, adding 1 point for each trick. Along with a bonus of 5 points winning the last trick, there are 126 points in the pack. Teams win or lose against their opponents a game point for every card point over or bellow 63.