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THE BIRIBA GAME
Extreme Combat
with Playing Cards

Copyright 2002 - 2006, by Basil E. Gala, Ph.D. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. 

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Design by New Vistas Media
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Gala, Basil, E.
The Biriba Game
1. Card Games
2. Games of Skill
Title
ISBN 0-9720142-1-7

 


THE GAME OF BIRIBA
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   "The Biriba Game," born in Greece and flourishing there for the last twenty years, is a playing card passion that is bound to capture the world with its fascinating conflicts and excitements.

   I am offering a complete manual with many examples and exercises illustrating rules, tactics and strategies for the nave as well as the more advanced gamester. The Biriba game will test and train your memory, reasoning, judgment, decision making, manners, and patience.

   Once the Biriba habit has entered your spirit, you will separate your life as BB and AB (Before Biriba and After Biriba.)


THE BIRIBA GAME
Extreme Combat with Playing Cards

     The Biriba game is played with two standard decks of 52 cards each, plus four jokers; that is a total of 108 cards.

     Cards are dealt to each player one at a time and the game is played in several sessions or innings until the winner is declared with a large enough point score. Typically, the game will require six or seven sessions to conclude. No time limit is set for the game; it may last half an hour with good and fast players; or three hours, if your Aunt Penny is in the game.

     Each card has a point value that contributes to each player’s total score. Your objective in the game is to reach or exceed a total score of 3,050 points before your opponent does. If both of you exceed 3,050 in the final session of the game, the highest score determines the winner.

     Even if a party is way behind in points, in a hopeless situation, resignation of the game is not allowed. The loser must patiently play the game to the end.


CHAPTER I 

 THE GAME OF BIRIBA 
_______________________

 PART 1. The Duel: 
Basic Rules for Two Players

The Biriba game is played with two standard decks of 52 cards each, plus four jokers; that is a total of 108 cards.

Cards are dealt to each player one at a time and the game is played in several sessions or innings until the winner is declared with a large enough point score. Typically, the game will require six or seven sessions to conclude. No time limit is set for the game; it may last half an hour with good and fast players; or three hours, if your Aunt Penny is in the game.

Each card has a point value that contributes to each player’s total score. Your objective in the game is to reach or exceed a total score of 3,050 points before your opponent does. If both of you exceed 3,050 in the final session of the game, the highest score determines the winner.

Even if a party is way behind in points, in a hopeless situation, resignation of the game is not allowed. The loser must patiently play the game to the end.

You may be bored, or even distressed, locked into a hopeless game. That is Biriba--and life! You are supposed to learn patience and to profit from your mistakes. The game is lost, but the lessons you learn from being patient and playing to the end, can be useful in the next game, or life.

The table below gives the rank and value of each card.

Card Name Symbol Point Value

Joker Jkr 20

Ace A 15

King K 10

Queen Q 10

Jack J 10

Ten 10 10

Nine 9 10

Eight 8 10

Seven 7 5

Six 6 5

Five 5 5

Four 4 5

Three 3 5

Two 2 10

Cards that you put face up in front of you on the table in acceptable sequences, called "meld sets" or simply "melds" have positive values. Cards still held in your hand at the end of the session or inning yield negative values.

For example, a meld group of 3 Kings (K, K, K), with each King worth 10 points, has a total value of 30. A meld of eight, seven and six (8, 7, 6) all from the same suit, say diamonds, is worth 20 points. Three Aces (A, A, A) adds up to 45 points. The Queen, Joker and a 10, as in (Q, Jkr, 10), where Jkr is used as a wild card in place of J, the values add up to 40 points.

A legal meld set is a group of at least three cards of the same rank, or a sequence of three or more cards of the same suit in proper order.

Let us specify the suits Hearts, Spades, Diamonds and Clubs with symbols , ♠, and ♣ respectively. Then a 5 of diamonds is 5, a Queen of Spades is Q♠ and an Ace of Clubs is A♣. If we choose to put down a meld of 8, 9, 10, we have a legal meld sequence worth 30 points.

One of the objectives of the game is to put together a meld of at least SEVEN cards, starting with three cards or more. That kind of meld is called a biriba, and lends its name to the game of Biriba. Jokers are wild and one may be used in your sequence in lieu of the proper card.

Deuces are also wild. But no more than one wild card may be used in a single meld. Of course, if a deuce is used in its normal position and suit in a meld, a second deuce or a Joker may also be employed.

As an example, consider, 2♠, 3♠, 4♠, 2, 6♠, which may be perfected into a biriba sequence by later adding A♠ and 7♠ (or 7♠ and 8♠) to the meld.

Thus you have achieved a biriba and you can figure that you have added another 100 points to your total score. With this accomplishment, you scream with excitement or sigh with relief, depending on your temperament.

And, if your biriba sequence had not employed a wild card, the 2, but had a 5♠ instead, it would have been worth 200 points. This is called a "pure" biriba, not adulterated by a wild card.

A biriba sequence is worth more than points.

In order to finish a session of the game and "go out," or "close" by laying down all of your cards, it is required that you first lay down at least one biriba meld. When you "go out" or "close," the session or inning is over and you gain 100 points for winning it.

Moreover, your opponent has to deduct from his or her total score the values of any cards in hand and not in melds. You gloat and the opponent is crestfallen.

One of the players, who can be trusted to be reasonably good with numbers and not to cheat much, is assigned the job of being the Scribe. The Scribe maintains a running record of scores and other details of the game.

These rules will do as a start. Let us begin the game.

You are playing against Lucy, a knowledgeable and tough opponent. You begin with each one of you drawing a card from the deck to decide who is to deal first and who is to play first.

The player who draws the high card deals and the one who draws the low card plays first. The Ace is the highest card and the Joker is the lowest.

Let us say you have drawn from the deck a King (K) and Lucy a 10 card. You shuffle the cards well. Six shuffles are said to mix the cards as well as they can be mixed. Lucy cuts the deck and keeps the top stack.

The dealer deals 11 cards to each player one card at a time and turns one card face up, which is placed in the middle of the table. The suit of this card is the trump suit. A biriba meld made up with trump suit cards is worth twice as many points as one made in another suit.

If this first face up card is a Joker, there is no trump suit in this particular session or inning.

You deal the hands and turn up a card. This time the trump card is a 5 of Hearts (5). Biriba melds in the trump suit are worth twice as much as from the other suits or ranks. The rest of your deck of cards you put in the middle of the table.

The other player, Lucy in this game, will deal two more sets of 11 cards one card at a time from the stack cut from the top of the original deck. These are the reserve packets to be used later in the session.

Lucy uses her cut of cards to deal two separate piles of 11 cards one at a time. She forms neat packets; puts them at right angles to each other so that they do not get mixed up and places them in a corner of the table away from the action. The remaining cards in her stack go under the deck in the middle of the table. This is the "stock" of cards from which people will be drawing fresh chances.

Lucy is now ready to play. She has to choose a card from the top of the unknown deck in the middle of the table, or the trump card 5 that has been turned up. If she has other trump cards close to the one on the table, she ought to pick it up. Otherwise, she may draw from the unknown deck to better her hand.

A good defensive play is for her to pick up the trump card in any case, so you will not get it. It may fit your cards just fine, especially if she does not have any Hearts.

The objective in this stage of the session is to discard or lay down all the cards in your hand by forming melds, proper sequences of least three cards. When this is accomplished, you are allowed to pick up your reserve packet and play that when it is your turn again.

Lucy happens to have a strong hand. She holds A, K, Q, 9♠, 8♠, 2♠, J, 9 , 5♣, 4♣, and 3♣. She can form three melds as follows:

A 9♠ 5♣

K 8♠ 4♣

Q 2♠ 3♣

If you add up the values of these cards, you come up with a total of 80 points.

In the beginning of the game, when a player’s running score is between 0 and 1000, there is not a total point minimum required before the melds may be placed on the table. When your score is between 1000 and 1995 points, the minimum is 75, and when the score is 2000 and over, the minimum number of points you are allowed to put down is 100!

However, if you can lay down all the cards in your hands in legal melds, you can do so, even though the points do not add up to the required minimum. As an added bonus, you can pick up your packet and play right away.

Lucy decides to get a card from the stock deck hoping to get a wild card or a 10, so she lays down a meld with J and 9. With all her cards laid down, she can then pick up her reserve packet to play it right away.

The card she gets from the deck is 2, another wild card. She lays down her diamond meld (J, 2, 9) together with her other melds and picks up her packet. Her best wish is to get several Hearts in the packet of 11 cards to connect to her Hearts sequence (A, K, Q) and make a biriba in the trump suit.

A biriba in the trump suit is worth 300 points, if made with the help of a wild card; but it is worth 600 points if it is pure, without a wild card. If a deuce is not used as a wild card, it can serve to make a pure biriba.

Lucy now picks up her reserve packet and continues playing. Lucy’s packet disappoints her. It is 7, 5 4, 7♠, 5, 3, A, J♣, 10♣, 8♣, 2♣.

These cards do not get her very close to a biriba sequence, which is necessary in order for her to "close" or "go out" and finish the session after playing all but one of her cards, which she must discard.

Lucy’s best bet now is to worry you by holding on to her cards, not revealing what they are by tacking them on her melds. She is allowed to add cards that fit her melds throughout the session. Since you don’t have your packet, she decides to play secretively. Lucy must discard a card before her turn is up and she tosses 3 on the discard pile.

You hold in your hand 9, 8, 2, J♠, 8♠, 7♠, 4♠, J, 6, J♣, 9♣. You are under the gun, because Lucy could do a biriba and "go out" at any time; and you would end up racking up negative points from the cards you hold in your hand.

Moreover, there is a penalty (negative points) of 100 imposed against the player who has not played his or her reserve packet when the opponent has come out.

Your urgent problem is to put down cards to avoid negative points, while accumulating positive ones; and to pick up your packet and lay down as much of it as you can before the session is up.

You are at a disadvantage because you don’t know what Lucy is holding. The four-Heart sequence is a possible biriba and so are the spades, because they are middle level cards that can be tacked on at both ends.

You have no use for the 5 and 3 in the discard pile. You draw from the deck and get a Joker (Jkr). At this point, it is advisable to put down in front of you:

9 J♠ 8♠

8 J 7♠

2 J♣ Jkr

Thus you have earned 95 points and avoided 95 negative ones, should Lucy "close out" the session. Moreover, you have put to your own use 7♠, 9, and 8 which might be useful to Lucy should you be forced to discard them to get your packet. Instead you discard 6.

You are left with 4♠, and 9♣. It is very possible to lay down a meld and get a packet with two cards in hand, if you draw a connecting card. Moreover, this has the advantage that you can play your packet of cards right away; but, obviously, you are not going to do it with these two!

Biriba rules state that if you are left with three or fewer cards, you are to announce this fact to your opponents and partners. Three or fewer cards in the hand may result in you getting rid of all your cards next turn you play. This will allow you to pick up your packet; or "go out" of the game, provided that you have at least one biriba.

You announce: "Holding two for the packet!" It will worry Lucy somewhat, but not enough to cause her to reveal her cards by putting down melds. She should worry, because with your next turn to play, you may get your packet, play it, make a biriba and go out, leaving her with many negative points in hand.

Lucy is interested in the 6 you have discarded, because she also has the 5; but she also needs 8 and 7 for a biriba sequence in Diamonds. She knows you cannot afford to pick up discards while trying for you packet with two cards, so she draws from the deck and gets a 7♣. She now has a good possibility for a biriba in Clubs, as she only needs 9♣ or 6♣ to link up to her 10♣ and J♣.

She tosses 3 on the discard pile.

You draw 2 from the deck and discard 4♠. You are left with 9♣ and the wild card. When your turn comes again to draw, if Lucy does not go out, you may get 10H, 7H, 6H, 9S, 6S, 5S, or any Jack. You can then tack your draw and the 2 on your layout, discard 9 and pick up your packet. But you cannot play it until your turn comes again.

Lucy draws again from the deck and gets 6♠. She discards A. You draw and get J, which you tack on to your Jack meld together with the 2 and discard 9♣. You pick up your packet, but you have to wait for your next turn to play.

Lucy has to pick up the discard pile to make her biriba in clubs: J♣, 10♣, 9♣, 8♣, 7♣, 2♣, 5♣, 4♣ and 3♣. There are more than enough cards now in this sequence for a biriba. Unfortunately for her, she has picked up some trash cards from the discard pile, which make her "going out" more difficult.

Since you now have your packet to play, she is the one at risk. She produces her biriba in Clubs. She also puts down the meld 5, 5, and 5 and she tacks 7♠ on her Spades column. Then she discards A♦. The Ace could cost her 15 negative points. Moreover, it is not a key card useful to you as indicated by your layout on the table.

Let us now look at your packet. You have, J, 10, 6, 6♠, 5♠, 4♠, 2♠, A, A♣, K♣, and J. You could make a meld of six Hearts by tacking J, 10 and 6 on your Hearts sequence and wait to pick up the last Q or one of the 7 later on. But the two 5’s are seized up in Lucy’s layout. Moreover, she has a biriba now and could beat you to "coming out." You remember she picked up the discards 3, 4♠ and 6, which she is holding. If one of her other cards were wild, she could "close out" next time she draws a card.

Therefore, you decide to pick up the discarded A to form the meld A, A♦, A♣. You make a biriba in Spades with the meld 8♠, 7♠, 6♠, 5♠, 4♠, Jkr, 2♠, where the last card is not employed as a wild one. Finally, you tack on your J♣ on the Jacks column and discard K♣. You have "gone out," and you gain 100 points for doing so. The session is over!

On occasion, but very seldom, the session is terminated as follows: Players have taken all cards from the deck in the middle of the table, and all players "pass" on picking up the discard pile. No one has "gone out." In this case no party gets the 100-point award for going out.

It should be clear to you from the preceding story of this session that in a game of two-player biriba, it pays to delay revealing your cards. Do not lay down melds until it is imperative to do so.

Lucy was initially in a much stronger position than you. She played well, but random events turned against her. Biriba is a fine mixture of chance and skill. A duel between two players, it is exciting, fast and taut. You need to estimate or sense your opponent’s relative strengths and weaknesses and employ fitting tactics and a strategy to win the session and the game.

Play very secretively. Your opponent can use to advantage anything you say. Your gestures, your posture and your tone of voice can betray the strength or weakness of your hand. Do not go for your packet with short or weak melds. A weak meld is usually one with cards of the same rank, often called a "male" meld, and very high or low cards. Same suit melds, for example 9♠, 8♠, 7♠, called "female," are more promising as they can grow to a biriba more easily.

Let us now look at the score each player has achieved in this session of the game.

Lucy made 185 points from her layout cards, plus 100 for her biriba, minus 30 points for the cards in her hand at the end of the session. Total score: 255 points.

Your points were 200 from your layout card values, 100 for your biriba and 100 for coming out of the session. Total score: 400points.

Here is the score table with entries from The Scribe:

Session Trump Lucy You Dealer

1 Hearts 100 200 You

200

___________

Running score 220 495

 

EXERCISES

1. You begin the game by drawing cards to decide who is to deal and who is to play first.

You draw a King of Hearts (K) and Lucy draws a King of Spades (K♠). Who is to deal the cards? Who is to make up the packets and play first?

Your score is 1980. You hold these cards:

J, 10, 9, 7♠, 6♠, 5♠, 4♠, 7, 5, 2, 7♣, 6♣, 5♣

Are you allowed to lay down your cards?

Your first 11 cards are:

7, 6, 5, J♠, 5♠, 4♠, 3♠, J, 7, 4, 3, 2

You draw the Jack of Clubs (J♣). Should you lay down your melds, discard 7 and go for your packet?

Your opponent has just laid down her hand and picked up her packet, but it is not her turn to play because she discarded the Ace of Diamonds (A). Her layout is as follows:

A 7♠ K♠ 4♣

K 2♠ K 3♣

Q 5♠ K♣ 2♣

4♠

The discards are 10, J♠, A♣, and A. The trump suit is Spades. It is your turn to play. You hold all your cards in your hand, nothing on the table. You have:

8 8♠ 9 Q♣

7 6♠ 8 J♣

2 4♠ 7

How should you play? Should you pick up the discard pile?

Your opponent has taken her packet, made a biriba and holds one card to "come out." You have taken your packet and your layout is:

A 3 Jkr 10

K 3♠ 9 10♠

2 3 8♦ 10♣

J 3♣ 7 10

Q10♥ 3♣

You still hold in your hands A, A♠, A, K, and draw the Ace of Spades (A♠) from the deck. You correctly estimate that your opponent is about to go out and to avoid negative points, you lay down three Aces and toss K.

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2002-2008 - Basil Gala. All rights reserved.