(The instructions to playing Briscas are in the second paragraph. You will miss a sweet story, though if you rush.)
Briscas, is an old Spanish card game, played in Puerto Rico and I used to play it with my grandmother. I can still remember all those afternoons when Abuelita was alone and I was asked to go over and spend a little time with her. Now that I look back, I wish I could thank that person who insisted on it. Having spent most of my childhood and youth, traveling around the United States and Panama, my relationship with my Grandmother up to then had been very happenstance and shallow. I hardly knew her, except as a background figure that lived with Titi Georgina and Evie. So those Grannysitting times, as I call them now were my opportunity to get to know, Abuelita, doña Tinita, or Catalina as she was baptized, better. She shared her wisdom with me while giving me a very tight knuckle crunching grip just to show me who was in charge. As we played she also told me stories, and never enough of them, as I think back now, about how she first saw her husband to be, riding into her life, on a white stallion, almost like a prince charming. He in fact was a very handsome blonde headed blue eyed Criollo, from Spanish roots, her second to third cousin. She was Morales Morales and he was Morales Acosta. These Morales liked keeping it in the family. Abuelo, who was so attractive, while Abuelita was precious and simple, had a big family in el campo. They had ten children together and he had some on the side. I can always remember in disbelief how Abuelita told me that she had allowed Don Pepe to bring a little boy, who was his to spend time with her own children, because it wasn't the little boy's fault that he was the product of a... well I can't remember if she ever said affair, but I knew he was his son. I always thought she was a saint... she was so humble. So different to me. How I loved and admired her for it. So among all the stories and the lessons, and the conversations, we played cards. That is when Abuelita and I played the complicated game of Briscas. I could never count the cards, though I knew which ones were valuable. In fact I would always lay down my cards for others to count and dang did they do it fast. Math wasn't my thing, but on Monday at the airport in Isla Verde, the mystery was broken. I even started counting these cards fast, too!
Okay, to play Briscas. You have to have Spanish cards or it is not Briscas or Medieval, because the Spanish cards, look like Medieval royalty while American cards look like starched people run over by an asphalt pressing tractor. So get your cards right. The Aces, are worth 11 points, the threes are worth 10 points, the kings are worth 4 points, the 11s are worth 3 points, and the 10s are worth 2 points. Notice that the 11s are not queens, but a knight on horseback and the 10 card is someone from the gentry. There are four suites. The clubs are calles Bastos or Bastago, The cups are called Copas, the Swords are Espadas, and the Golden Coins, I can't remember if they are just Oro, but you get the idea that they are sources of power. That Copa, looks like something from the Church. Each game is different in a sense since you deal 3 cards per person and then you put a card face up and the deck slightly on it, so you can see the suite that is going to be dominant throughout that game. You throw down a card,and everyone around you follows suit, so to say. So let's say the espada is face up, the weakest of all espadas can beat the strongest of any other suite. So a two of swords in that game will beat a king of Bastos, or Oro, or Copas. So you want to play carefully, so you can win the cards that have most points. A point average of 60 to 60 is a tie, and if you make more than 60 points you won that particular hand. So there you have it. I learned to count the points, and now I can play again! What I liked about playing with these people at the airport was that the game wasn't used to "win," but to have a good time. If someone made more than 60 points you didn't have to count to the last card to show them how many more you made than them or vice a versa. Que linda es mi gente, y que corazones bonitos tienen. I guess it was that sweetness that reminded me so much of my Abuelita.
For all the readers who will read this later and the comments, originally I had written that the tie was 80 to 80 and I have been corrected and revised the article with the correct amount of 60 to 60 as a tie.