hist-games: Re: hist-games digest, Vol 1 #102 - 2 msgs

Thierry Depaulis thierry.depaulis at freesbee.fr
Sat Apr 26 01:06:31 PDT 2003

Cris Jolliff, of Pastyme Games, wrote:

>Sounds like a Primero deck to me...I know there are more knowledgeable card
>players here, but I'm pretty sure about this one.

Sorry! I'm pretty sure you're wrong!
Why a 40 Latin-suited card pack should be for Primero?
You could play Primero either with 40, or with 48 or even 52 cards!

>Forty cards, four face cards, 8-10 removed, uses an Italian set of suits

No: Spanish. Or "Latin" if you prefer. Or better: South-European.

Alan Winston commented:
>"The most popular Spanish card games with the 40-card pack include:
>Tute and its variants such as Tute Subastado
>Brisca (which is almost idantical to the Italian game Briscola).

Correct. But the most popular Moroccan game is Ronda, a simple fishing game
for two or four players (in partnership), reminiscent of Cuarenta but very
much simplified. (See the Pagat website, under Morocco.)

It seems playing cards in Morocco came from Spain, perhaps in the 18th
century. Moroccan Arabic has many Spanish loan-words. For example, 'sota'
(Spanish for "jack") is also used in Morocco, and is also the name of
another card game.

>Primero is more commonly played with Italian suited decks.

Not exactly. Primero (English name) was widespread in large parts of Europe
in the 16th and 17th centuries. In Italy it was called 'primiera'
(Cardano's Latin 'primaria'), meaning "first". In France it was 'prime' and
in Spain, 'primera'. All these names are feminine in the Romanic languages.
Why was it 'primero' (in the masculine) in English is still a mystery.

Of course English and French players used French-suited cards, Spaniards
used the Spanish version of the Latin-suited cards, whereas the Italians
used either French- or Italian/Latin-suited cards, depending on the region
they lived in.

David Parish-Whittaker added:
>Gerolamo Cardano actually indicates that Primero can be played with a
>French, Italian Spanish or German deck with the 8s, 9s, and 10s removed. Ch
>16 "On Card Games" from Liber de Ludo Aleae.

"chartae enim apud Gallos, Hispanos, Germanos, atque Italos sunt quatuor
differentiarum et sunt tredecim omnes igitur quinquaginta duae, sunt autem
ab uno ad decem iuxta numerorum seriem. Inde rex cum pedite, Galli reginam,
Itali equitem habent. "

Although I very much doubt it was played "apud Germanos" since, strangely
enough, Primero is hardly mentioned in German sources. I've found only two
Austrian references to 'primieren' whereas there are tens of references to
the game in Spanish, Italian, French, and English.


Thierry Depaulis

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