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Calabresella / Terziglio

Calabresella (also known as Terziglio) is an Italian game for three players. (It can be played by four with the dealer receiving no cards for the hand.) It is closely realted to the four player game Tressette. It is a point-trick game with bidding, requiring a fair amount of skill. It is notable for the slightly unusual card order (threes high) and the fact that there are never any trumps.

The Cards

A 40 card pack is used, usually with the Italian suits: swords, batons, cups and coins. In each suit the cards rank as follows: 3 (highest), 2, A, King (Re), Knight (Cavall), Jack (Fante), 7, 6, 5, 4 (lowest). It is also possible to play with French suited cards: from a 52 card pack you need to remove the 10s 9s and 8s, and the cards rank 3 2 A K Q J 7 6 5 4.

The cards have point values and the object is to take tricks containing valuable cards. There is also a score for winning the last trick. The values are as follows:

Each ace 1 whole point
Each 3, 2, re, cavall or fante 1/3 of a point
Winning the last trick 1 whole point


The deal and the play of the cards rotates counter-clockwise throughout the game. The dealer gives out twelve cards to each player in packets of four. The left-over four cards go face-down in the center of the table to form the monte.


Starting with the player to dealer's right and proceeding counter-clockwise, each player has one chance to bid. The highest bidder will play alone against the other two players in partnership and attempt to take the majority of the points. There are three possible bids; from lowest to highest they are:

Each player in turn may either pass or bid. Each bid must be higher than any preceding bid:

If all three players pass then the deal rotates and a new hand is dealt.

Exchanging Cards

Calling a Card

If the bid was Chiamo, the bidder calls for a card, naming its rank and suit. This will normally be a high card which is missing from the bidder's hand, for example a three. If one of the opponents holds the called card, that player passes it, face up, to the bidder. If the called card is in the monte (or by accident in the bidder's hand), the call is therebt satisfied and the bidder does not receive a card from the opponents.

Taking the Monte

If the bid was Chiamo or Solo, the bidder now turns the four cards of the monte face up for all to see. They are then added to the bidder's hand, which now contains either 16 or 17 cards.

If the bid was Chiamo and the called card was obtained, the bidder now chooses one (unwanted) card and gives it, face up, to the player who originally held the called card.

The bidder then discards any four cards face down to form a new monte. The value of these cards will count for the winner of the last trick. All three players should now have 12 cards.


If the bid is Solissimo, the bidder is not allowed to use the monte. In a normal Solissimo, no one sees the monte cards until they are won by the winner of the last trick at the end of the play.

However, the bidder of a Solissimo may choose to increase the stake for the game by saying dividete or scegliete. The game then becomes a Solissimo aggravato.

The Play

The player to the right of the dealer leads to the first trick, unless the bid was Solissimo, in which case the bidder leads. Play to the trick is counter-clockwise and the player playing the highest card of the suit led wins the trick and leads to the next trick. There are no trumps.


After the tricks have all been played, the winner of the last trick claims the monte, and the bidder and opponents total their points. To win the hand, the bidder must have a majority of the points, that is at least 6 whole points. In this case the bidder receives an amount from each opponent depending on the bid. If the bidder fails to take 6 points, the bidder must pay the same amount to each opponent. The amounts won or lost for the different bids are as follows:

Bid Amount
Chiamo 1
Solo 2
Solissimo 4
Solissimo - dividete 8
Solissimo - sceliete 16

The following events affect the score:


Some play that if the bid was Solissimo, the bidder leads to the first trick. Some play that the bidder always leads to the first trick, irrespective of the contract.

There is a simplified variation of Calabresella which is found in several American card game books. It apparently dates back to an article written in 1870 by Cavendish (Henry Jones) in the Westminster Chess Papers, in which he rationalised the scoring and changed the spelling of the name of the game; this 1900 American newpaper article from the Lewiston Sun, published in Maine, describes essentially the same version and gives an example deal. Presumably this version was played by some Italian immigrants to America around that time. Although the same rules have subsequently been reprinted in many books, I am not sure whether this form of the game is still played in the USA (or anywhere). The main differences are as follows:

Other Terziglio / Calabresella Web Sites

The Italian site Tretre includes rules of Terziglio.