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.

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

Pack: A reduced tarot pack of 62 cards is used consisting of four regular suits of 10 cards, a suit of 21 trumps, and The Fool.

Ranking: Standard ranking is used...

Pips rank in suits from high to low:
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, Ace

Empty Cards: These are cards that have values of 1 point or less.

Honours: There are Four Honours in the Tarocchino family of games, they are The Magician, The World, The Angel, and The Fool. They are always among the highest scoring cards.

The Quartet: The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, and The Heirophant are called The Quartet and while numbered, they are treated as being of equal rank in these games.

Card Points are:
5 points
5 points
4 points
3 points
2 points
All others
1 point

Counting Card Points: The card points are counted in pairs of cards, subtracting 1 point for every pair. There is then an additional 6 points awarded for winning the last trick bringing the total to 93 points.

Combinations: Points may be won for possessing combinations of cards. These are...

36 points for
4 cards
18 points for
3 cards
34 points for
4 cards
17 points for
3 cards
28 points for
4 cards
14 points for
3 cards
26 points for
4 cards
13 points for
3 cards
24 points for
4 cards
12 points for
3 cards

If three or more combinations are scored at the same time, then their value is doubled.

Patterns: Scoring for these is a little more involved as The Fool and The Magician have the privilege of acting like wild cards, used to either complete or even extend them.

Each wild card may only be used once within a single pattern but may be used in more than one pattern at a time. If the pattern is naturally complete (that is to say that the pattern is completed without wild cards), then they may be added to the end to extend it and increase the score.

Because of this, The two wild cards are easily the most important cards in the pack and while having The Fool in your hand is a matter of luck, winning or protecting The Magician is a strategic priority.
  • Trumps: A pattern of trumps must be three or more starting with The World down. To use a wild card, the pattern must also contain at least one of The World, The Sun, or The Moon. Wild cards may not replace two consecutive cards in the pattern. For example – a trumps pattern may run The World, The Fool, The Sun, The Star.
  • Suits: A pattern of suits must be three or more cards of the same suit starting with The King down. To use a wild card, the pattern must also contain The King and at least one other court card.
  • A Quartet: A collection of three or more of the Quartet trumps. It must contain at least two of these trumps before a wild card is added. Note that because these are treated as being of equal rank, they require no staring point or order to score a pattern.
  • Aces: A collection of three or more Aces. This must include at least two Aces before a wild card can be added.
  • Pattern Scores: Each pattern scores 10 points for three cards and a further 5 points for each additional card. If three or more patterns are scored at the same time, their value are doubled. The maximum score for most of them is therefore 40 points. In theory, a pattern of trumps could score as much as 220 points.

Deal: First Dealer is chosen at random or by consent with the role moving to the player on the left after each hand with a game consisting of three hands.

Each player is dealt two packets of six cards, then a final packet of seven. The last five cards are set aside as the stock.

Auction: Their follows a quick bidding round to determine who will play alone as Declarer against the other two who shall play together as Defenders. Each player, starting with Eldest (Dealer’s right), has the opportunity to pass or bid either “I’ll Play” or “Solo”. Bidding ends if Solo is bid (as it wins) and if all pass, then the hand is thrown in and deal moves to the next player.
  • I Play: If the auction was won with “I’ll Play”, then Declarer takes the stock into his/her hand and must discard three cards back to the stock. These will count toward Declarer’s tricks at the end unless no tricks were won, in which case they are forfeit to the Defenders.
  • Solo: If the auction was won with “Solo”, then the stock is set aside unseen until the end of the hand, when they shall count toward Declarer’s tricks. However, if Declarer takes no tricks, then the cards are forfeit to the Defenders.

Declarations: Staring with Declarer and moving to the right, players take turns to declare and score for any Combinations or Patterns they have in their own hand, laying out the cards for the other to see. There is no obligation to do this and players do not have to declare for maximum scores (for example, they may have 4 Kings and The Fool and choose to declare and score for a sequence of 3 by showing two Kings and The Fool).

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.
If the three cards of the trick contain either a Combination or a Pattern, then the player that wins the trick immediately scores for 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.

If more than one card of the Quintet is played to the trick, then the last one played to it is treated as having trumped the others – unless a trump of VI or above is also played.

Scores: After a hand has been played, scores are then calculated for card points won in tricks and then for any Combinations and Patterns that can be formed from cards in the trick pile. The job of doing this is shared between the two teams.

Declarer counts his/her card points and the difference from 93 will also tell them their opponent’s total.

The Defenders, meanwhile, pulls out from their trick pile all of their trumps, court cards, aces, and any wild cards. They then lay these out in rows, leaving gaps where they are missing cards.

On the top row, they will set out the trumps starting the the World, then below them, they lay out four rows of suit cards, each starting with the King, then Queen, Cavalier, Jack, and Ace. From this arrangement, they can see right away what Combinations and Patterns they can score – and from the gaps, they can also tell what their opponents can score.

The highest score at the end wins. The winning side then rounds their score to the nearest multiple of 50 (if they are within four points of rounding up, they do so, otherwise, they round down), then divide by fifty. If Solo was bid, then they double their score and if all the tricks were won, then they win a bonus of 40 on top of that. If Declarer has won, then this is total is won from each of the Defenders, if Declarer has lost, then this is what Declarer loses to each Defender.

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