Wednesday, February 22, 2006

So how do you play Briscas?

(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.

21 comments:

Rosangela Canino-Koning said...

Oh, Mami, this is exactly why you should have a blog. Thank you for sharing that story with me.

Elba said...

Thank you sweetheart for appreciating it! Sometime you and I can play Briscas,too and have some quiet conversations about our lives. I promise not to squeeze your hand too tight!

Anonymous said...

¿Qué boricua no ha jugado briscas en su vida? ¡Qué recuerdos!

Anonymous said...

Brings memories to me also. I used to play with my granpa and my aunt(tonita, donde estaras ?)
He used to call the A's of oro 'VITORIA' because it reads voictoria on it.
By the way, the tie is 60/60. There are only 120 points in the deck.

Sean said...

its 60 60 not 80 80

Elba said...

Thank you for reading and you are absolutely right. It is 60 60.

Wense said...

GRACIAS que recuerdos tan bonitos dios te los bendiga, a la verdad que nosotros los boricuas tenemos un gran corazon que orgullo de ser jibaro, nacido en NY criado en CHICAGO pero durante dos anos y medio vivi en PR primero en Lares {piletas} y luego en Toa Baja {villa calma} mis mejores y mas querido recuerdos son de ese tiempo {82-84} la primera ves que juge briscas fue en el barrio Piletas en la escuelita imaginate un mundo nuevo gente nueva pero a la hora de almuerso y recreo una muchacha me llamo y junta con sus dos amigas comensaron a enseniarme como jugar briscas Cristina como mi pareja contra Olga Y Maribel y que pela les dimo {jajaja} nunca habia visto una carta de brisca pero el juego en base es como el juego de spades lo unico que la carta bocariba es el spade osea la del poder que chevere esos juegos de brisca que jugabamos todos los dias almenos que no estuvieramos estudiando para un exam hasta mis grados mejoraron gracias a mis tres amigitas que eran estudiantes cuatro punto recibiendo becas desde muy pequenas aprendi mucho mas que briscas en esos mis mejores recuerdos gracias despues de tantos anos sin jugar me encontre una caja de briscas y al buscar como se juega encontre tu blog y claro como se me habra podido olvidar {jajajaj} gracias a lo mejor algun dia nos encontramos en el Luis Munoz marin y jugamos el gran juego de briscas Gracias Wenseslao conocido como wense y mas como papo cuidate mi hermanita boricua que papa dios te bendiga

Elba said...

Que lindo comentario. Ya no vivo en Puerto Rico, pero dejame saber cuando vas a estar por alla y si claro jugamos un juego de briscas alla en el Munoz Marin o el Munoz Rivera cerca del mar. Encantada de conocerlo y gracias por compartir sus anecdota de Briscas en Lares.

Anonymous said...

Gracias, encantado en conoserte, sus cuadros y arte son muy presiosos iqual a sus escrituras, al leerlas me envuelvo tanto que veo a tus tias Sarita Y Juanita en la cocina con el pote de cafe, la tapita de aluminion hecha en casa, es como pensar en una mano de briscas en el viejo San Juan, con esas brisas tan rica con olor al mar, hasen dos anos que no visito nuestra Isla querida, pero si papa chuchu lo desa pronto podre planiar un viaje, a ver si no me quedo de una ves por todas, la ultima ves no queria regresar, es que la isla tiene esa magia ese encanto que se me hace dificil regresar a Chicago, con el frio que hace ahora ganas no me quedan de mudarme pero todo a su debido tiempo, una ves mas gracias y quien sabe talves algun dia nos encontremos los dos en PR jugando briscas frente al mar. Wense.

Anonymous said...

Hola,
Soy una estudiante de español y gracias de este blog, ahora sabe como jugar Briscas. Lo hago en internet pero sabe alguien donde puede comprar estos cartes en Belgica?
Gracias,
Iris

Elba said...

Hola, Iris cuanto te felicito por aprender español. Yo soy nacida en Puerto Rico y criada en parte en los Estados Unidos y en la zona del canal de Panama, y hablo ingles y español. Te agradezco tus comentarios y creo que si haces un google de Briscas o barajas españolas , quizas aparezca un sitio donde las puedas encontrar. Dejame saber como te va, bien? Hasta pronto,

Elba

playbriscas.com said...

www.playbriscas.com
- Juego de briscas gratis online, desarrollado por grupo Pordiversion de Puerto Rico.

Elba said...

Thanks for the information. Actually this entry is read everyday by someone wanting to play Briscas which is a lot of fun to play. I am thrilled that I am keeping the game alive. Never thought of it that way.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I used to play it with friends and family in Puerto Rico but had forgotten the point system. After wanted to teach it to a friend, I searched for instructions online and found your blog.

Thanks!!

Elba said...

I am so glad I wrote this entry. So many people have been able to reconnect to play Briscas because of it. Thank you for your comments, too.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful memories. A joy to read. A side note for anyone interested in the history of the game. This game is huge in the "Arco Latino" of the Mediterranean (i.e. the old Latin nations of Europe: Spain, Portugal, France, Italy that derive their languages, cultures and identity from the Ancient Romans and their Latin language). Apparently Briscas started in France in the 1600 and then spread to Italy, Spain, Portugal. Another interesting historical note: the cards the Italians use in their version of the game (they call it Briscola) are usually from the region of Italy called Napole, an area which was dominated by the Spanish Empire for much or the 1600-1800, so the figures on the Neapolitan Briscola cards are actually influenced by the dominant Spanish political, military, and social system of their time. Just a little known fact that while we all know that Spain at that time was HUGE in the Americas, people often forget that she also dominated Europe at that time. And you can see that fact even in the playing cards Italians use today! Hope somebody finds all that of some interest. It just popped in my head and I felt like sharing it for the heck of it. Didn't mean to put anybody to sleep with boredom! :)

Elba said...

Thank you for sharing that! It confirms what I had long suspected that each deck represented sources of power in Spanish society. What I didn't know was how influential Spain had been in the Mediterranean. Again thank you for sharing. I'm still wide awake.=)

Anonymous said...

Gracias. I am in Mexico (rural Hidago) with a dear friend. The kids all play Brisca, and I asked my friend who speaks English to teach me so I can play with the kids. It is such a fun game ... and very challenging if you want to take it seriously and play in a clever manner. How great to share the game, and the stories. Gracias. Sue from the USA

Anonymous said...

Thank you!! I wish I was as lucky as you to meet my grandparents let alone play card's!!!!!

Elba said...

Yes, and to have been able to spend time with her. Even if your granfs are npt around their are still elderly people you can love and who can share their lives with you. Wish you the best.

Elba said...

*meant to say grands are not