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Origin Italian
Alternative names Réversi
Family Trick-taking
Players 2-6
Skills required Strategy
Cards 48
Deck Anglo-American
Play Clockwise
Playing time 30 min.
Random chance Difficult
Related games

Reversis, or more rarely, Réversi, is a very old trick-taking card game of the Hearts group whose origin is supposed to be Italian, transformed into Spain and then in France. It is considered one of the two probable ancestor of Hearts and Black Maria, the other being Conquimbert, or Losing Lodam. It was very popular with the French aristocracy in the 17th and 18th centuries, and much played elsewhere, except in Britain. The game involved vast quantities of counters and a complex system of pools and side-payments. Its name may have possibly come from the reverse order and construction of the game itself, or even from an exceptional slam bid which, like “shooting the moon” in the game of Hearts, reverses the whole normal practice of the game.


The game of Reversis was first mentioned in France in 1601, under the name Reversin, played with a 52-card pack. Jean-Baptiste Bullet suggested it was invented in the Court of Francis I. Reversis is a subtle game which knew important additions, in particular towards the end of the 18th century in the form of options. At the 19th century the game, the increasingly popular game of Reversis saw its rules becoming more and more complex with the exclusive use of preceding options making it a high-tension kind of game. It was long thought to be a game of Spanish origin, once a 48-card pack was used, besides its counter-clockwise rotation and the words Quinola, name of a 17th-century Spanish admiral, and Espagnolette, but it more probably originated in Italy where a negative variety of Tressette called Rovescino is still played.

The highest cards were best in the usual method of play, but in this the lowest had the preference. The Jack was a better card than the King, and one of them, the Jack of Hearts, was called the quinola, just like at Primero. The strange incongruity of this inverted order of things made the Spaniards, when this game became known to them, give it the appropriate denomination of La Gana pierde, that is, the winner loses.

The game

The game of Reversis is a trick-avoidance game where each player attempts to avoid taking tricks with certain cards in them (similar to Hearts). It is played by four players with a 52-card pack lacking 10s, making 48 cards in total, ranking A K Q J 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2, being Aces high. Each player starts with a box containing 36 units called "fish" (Fr. Fiches), 24 "counters" worth 6 fish each, and 6 "contracts" worth 8 counters each, making a total equivalent to 468 fish; likewise with two pools, called the great and the little quinolla pools (the great one to be placed under the little), which are always to be placed on the dealer's right hand.

Game playing


The espagnolette is either simply four Aces, or three Aces and one quinola, or two Aces and two quinolas. The player having one of these combinations has the right to renounce in every suit, during the whole game, and if he can avoid winning any trick, once there is no reversis, he wins the “party” in preference to the player who is better positioned in the game. But if he is forced to win a trick, he then pays the “party” to the other, and returns the stake he may have received for Aces or quinolas. And if he has a quinola, he must pay the stake to the pool, instead of receiving it. The player having the espagnolette can call for his privilege, and play his game as a common one, but renounces this privilege the moment he has renounced playing in suit. The player of the espagnolette receives the stake in any part of the game, if another player forces the quinola.


A player who wins the first nine tricks is deemed to have undertaken the reversis. This obliges him to win the other two or lose the game. If no reversis or espagnolette, was undertaken, each player totals the value of counting cards contained in the tricks he won. The player with fewest wins, the player with most loses.

Game rules

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