Bastra

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Bastra
Origin Greece
Alternative names Basra, Pastra
Type Fishing
Players 2-4
Cards 52
Deck Anglo-American
Play Clockwise
Card rank (highest to lowest) A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Related games
Cassino

Bastra is a popular fishing card game similar to Cassino very popular in Cyprus. The game is also popular in Egypt, Lebanon, and other Middle Eastern countries. The name, Bastra, is a Greek borrowing from the Arabic word Basra.In Turkey, the game is known as Pişti or Paşta.[1]

History[edit]

The game originated in Greece and is known via different variations such as Diloti and Kseri. The game has been exported by both the Cypriot and Turkish diasporas and is played in Cypriot communities in Australia, Canada, England and the United States, usually passed on by the first generation of immigrants to their children and grandchildren. Despite this, the game is virtually unknown in these countries outside of the Cypriot and Greek communities. In Turkey the game is still very popular.[citation needed]

The game[edit]

The game is played with a 52 card deck and can involve two, three or four players, although the game is most interesting in the two or four player versions. In the four player version, the players can play for themselves or in two player teams. The first team or player to score 100 points is the winner.

The play[edit]

The dealer starts by dealing 1 card to each player, starting with the player on the dealer's left, until each player has 4 cards. The dealer then places 4 cards in the middle of the table, called the board. If 1 or more of the 4 cards is a jack, the dealer returns the jack(s) to the bottom of the deck and replaces it or them with the next card(s) from the top of the deck. The play begins with the player to the dealer's left until all cards are played out. The players either collect (fish) cards from the board or add a card to the board if they cannot fish any cards. After the cards are exhausted, the dealer then deals each player 4 more cards from the remaining deck. The dealer, however, does not deal 4 cards onto the board as done for the opening hand. The hands are played out until there are no remaining cards to be dealt.

In the two player version, each round has six hands, in the three player version, each round has four hands, and in the four player version, each round consists of three hands.

Scoring[edit]

The scoring is as follows:

  1. The aces, which have a numeral value of 1, are worth 1 point each.
  2. The jacks are worth 1 point each.
  3. The two of clubs is worth 2 points.
  4. The ten of diamonds is worth 3 points.
  5. The player or team that collects the most cards in a given hand receives 3 points. In the event of a tie, each player or team receives 3 points.
  6. The player or team that collects all the cards in play without benefit of a jack receives 10 points, or a bastra.

Collecting cards[edit]

The object of the game is to collect total cards and cards that are worth various points. Cards are collected as follows:

  • Pairing: Any card may be used to take another card or cards of the same denomination, i.e. a 7 takes a 7, a king takes a king, a 6 takes two 6s, etc.
  • Combining: Multiple cards may be collected through adding the numeral value of the cards together. For example, the board shows 2, an ace, 5 and 4. A player with a 3 could take 2 and the ace (2+1=3), or a player holding a 9 could take 5 and 4 (5+4=9), or a player holding a 7 could take 2, the ace and 4 (2+1+4=7).
    • A player may also collect combinations of the same sum. For example, if the board shows 5, 4, 2 and 7, a 9 would take all 4 cards, i.e. 5+4 and 2+7=9 (this would also be a Bastra).
  • Pairing and combining: Taking cards through pairing and combining can occur on the same play. For example, if the board showed 3 6 5 4 and 9, a 9 would take all the cards, i.e. 3+6 and 5+4=9, plus the 9 would be paired with the 9 (this would also be a Bastra).

On the last hand, there are often uncollected cards left on the board. These cards are awarded to the last player or team to collect a card.

Jack[edit]

The jack is the most powerful card because it can collect all the cards on the board. However, if a jack is played onto an empty board, it is lost and remains in play until one of the players can collect it, usually with another jack.

Bastra[edit]

The bastra is the most important scoring play of the game since it is worth 10 points. A bastra occurs when a player succeeds in clearing the board without benefit of a jack. For example, if the board shows just a 7 and a player collects it with another 7, that player or team receives 10 points. In another scenario, if the board shows 3 and 2 and a player collects them with a 5, that player or team also receives 10 points. In the rare event that a jack takes a solitary jack, no bastra is awarded

Placement of collected cards[edit]

The players place the collected cards close to their position at the table. To record bastras, the player places the bastra card face up, sticking out of the player's pile of collected cards. The dealer should be careful to place his or her collected cards away from the deck, so as to avoid confusion. Players are not allowed to look at their collected cards until the end of the hand. At the end of the hand, the players count their total cards and points.

End of game[edit]

The game ends when one player or team reaches 100 points. In the rare event of a tie (2 players or teams finish even beyond the 100 point mark) there are various tie-breaking options, determined by the players by mutual consent. The game can be declared a draw, or an extra hand or hands can be played until the tie is broken. Or the players can extend the game to a fixed number of points (20, 30 or 50).

Strategy[edit]

Although the rules and play of the game are relatively simple, the strategy is much more complex. The bastra is the most crucial element of the game, as a 20 or 30 point lead or deficit can be quickly frittered away or overturned by conceding or taking bastras.

Remembering which cards have been played[edit]

The most important element of the game is remembering which cards have been played. This way, if you are forced to play into an open board, you have an idea of the probability of which cards remain. For example, if you know that two 6s have been played and you hold a 6 in your hand, there is a good chance your opponent may not hold a 6 (as there is only one 6 remaining). It is also important to remember which point cards have been played. For example, if you are holding two 10s (one of which happens to be the 10 of diamonds, worth 3 points) and you know that the other 10s have been played, you could throw down the other 10 and have a good chance of collecting it with the 10 of diamonds later in the hand.

When to play point cards[edit]

The rule of thumb is to hold the point cards to the end, especially if you are in position to play the last card, since your opponents will in all likelihood hold on to their point cards as well. An ace played early in the hand will almost always be lost, usually through combining. The same applies to the 2 of clubs.

Use of the jacks[edit]

The jacks are very powerful cards. Although they are worth only 1 point each, they can lead to more points elsewhere. It is generally considered good strategy to hold the jacks to the end of the hand. This serves 2 purposes. On the one hand, if your opponents are holding point cards, you will collect them. On the other hand, you clear the board and increase your chances of getting a bastra by forcing your opponent to play into an open board at the start of the next hand, when you will have 4 fresh cards in your hands. You may, however, play the jack earlier in the hand, especially if there are points sitting on the board. You may also play the jack if there are a lot of cards on the board (even if there are no point cards), in order to enhance your chances of winning the 3 bonus points for most cards (if you feel you have enough cards to do so). If you have 2 jacks in your hand, you should play one at the beginning of the hand. There is no point playing them back-to-back at the end. For the last hand, you have to be careful to play your jack early enough so as not to lose it. If you play the jack onto an open board at the end, your opponent will get it if he or she was the last player to collect cards.

Use of the face cards[edit]

The face cards appear to have little value, since they do not bring points. But they can be used as a tactic to prevent bastras. For example, if you are faced with a board that has just a 3, and your numeral cards risk giving a bastra (you have 4,6 and a king for example), it would be a safe play to drop the king, thus preventing your opponent from having a bastra opportunity (playing one of the numeral cards would set up a bastra if your opponent has 9 or 7). It is also wise to drop the face cards in order to conserve numeral cards for later in the hand, in the event that your opponent plays a point card.

Using low cards to set up bastras[edit]

Sometimes it is good strategy to play a low card when facing an empty board if you are not sure of which cards have been played. For example, if you are holding 2, 6 and 8, you may want to drop the 2, forcing your opponent to set you up for a bastra himself if he does not have a 9, jack or a face card.

Order of playing cards[edit]

It is generally wise to build the hand by playing lower numeral cards ahead of the higher ones since combining is used to collect cards. For example, if you have 3, 4, 7 and 9, it would be wiser to start with the 3 and 4 and work your way up. Otherwise, it will be harder to collect cards if you start with the 9 and 7. As well, the higher cards can be used to collect aces in combination with other cards. In any scenario where you have the 2 of clubs and another 2, or the 10 of diamonds and another ten, never play the card with the point value first – if you lose the other 10, at least you are not losing any points!

Defensive strategies[edit]

As a general rule, a board with high cards and face cards will yield fewer opportunities for bastras. A very conservative tactic to prevent bastras is to play a jack into an open board (since a jack that takes a jack does not get the 10 points). Although this is considered an unusual tactic, it can be justified near the end of a close game, where a bastra could change the balance of the scores. It is usually unwise to play point cards into an open board because the bastra conceded will be doubly painful (10 points plus the point value of the card). Winning the race to collect the most cards (worth 3 points) is not that crucial, since the game is almost always decided by the number of bastras taken and conceded. It is more important to collect point cards and bastras than total cards.

Be alert if your opponent drops a 2 or a 10, or tries to build combinations adding to 10 – your opponent may be trying to fish them out with the 2 of clubs or the 10 of diamonds. If you cannot fish these cards out yourself, you may want to collect other cards that will force your opponent to leave you with a bastra opportunity if your opponent decides to go ahead and collect the point card. For example, let's say your opponent plays the 10 of hearts and the board now shows 3, 8 and 10. If you had an 8, it would be wise to fish out the 8, that way, if your opponent did indeed have the 10 of diamonds, this would leave you a potential bastra with the 3 should your opponent decide to go ahead and fish out the 10. You could also solve this problem by clearing the board with a jack. In the same vein, try to avoid playing combinations that add up to 10, if the 10 of diamonds remains to be played.

Related games[edit]

Egyptian Basra[edit]

The Egyptian fishing game, Basra, has the same rules of Bastra with the following differences:-

(1) Scoring

The player or team that collects the most cards in a given hand receives 30 points. In the event of a tie, each having 26 cards, bonus points are cancelled and the initial 30 points are held in abeyance and added to the 30 points of the next round, this is repeated for each tie until the tie is broken.

(2) Powerful card

The 7 of diamonds is the second most powerful card because it can collect all the cards on the board. If the cards on the floor are all numerals, and their values add up to 10 or less, this counts as a Basra, and scores the 10 point bonus. If the floor adds up to more than ten, or includes picture cards, the 7 of diamonds still takes all the cards but it does not count as a Basra. However, if a 7 of diamonds is played onto an empty board, it is lost and remains in play until one of the players can collect it, usually with another 7

(3) Basra

A double Basra is awarded (20 points) when a jack takes a solitary jack. In some variations, a double Basra is awarded (30 points).

(4) End of game

The game ends when one player or team reaches 101 or 121 points depending on agreement between players. If both players reach 101 or 121 in the same round, the player with the higher score wins. In case of a tie, additional rounds are played until the tie is broken.

Yemeni Basra[edit]

The Yemeni Basra has the same rules of the Egyptian Basra with the following differences

(1) Powerful card

The 7 of diamonds is the second most powerful card because it can collect all the cards on the board.

When the seven of diamonds is played, it counts as a basra in the following cases:

a- The total value of the cards on the floor is less than 10 (not if it is equal to 10)

b- The only card(s) on the floor are tens, queens and kings

c- The cards on the floor can be divided into two or more groups which score an equal number of points, less than 10. For example, capturing A-2-7-8 with the diamond7 would be a basra, because (1+8)=(2+7)=9.

However, if a 7 of diamonds is played onto an empty board, it is lost and remains in play until one of the players can collect it, usually with another 7.

(2) Basra A double Basra is awarded (20 points) when a jack takes a solitary jack.

(3) End of game

The game ends when one player or team reaches 101 points.If both players reach 101 in the same round, the player with the higher score wins. In case of a tie, additional rounds are played until the tie is broken.

Sab'a Alkoomi[edit]

Sab’a Alkoomi (7 diamonds) has the same rules of the Egyptian Basra with the following differences

(1) Scoring

The player or team that collects the most cards in a given hand receives 3 points. In the event of a tie where each team has 26 cards, no one gets 3 points.The game continues until the tie is broken.

(2) Powerful card

The 7 of diamonds is the second most powerful card because it can collect all the cards on the board, but it does not count as a Basra. However, if a 7 of diamonds is played onto an empty board, it is lost and remains in play until one of the players can collect it, usually with another 7.

(3) End of game

The game ends when one player or team reaches 101 points or 121 depending on the agreement between players.If both players reach 101 or 121 in the same round, the player with the higher score wins. In case of a tie, additional rounds are played until the tie is broken.

Ethiopian[edit]

Ethiopian Basra has the same rules as Egyptian Basra with the following differences

(1) Scoring

The player or team that collects the most cards in a given hand receives 3 points. In the event of a tie where each team has 26 cards, no one gets 3 points. The game continues until the tie is broken.

(2) Basra

In the case of numerals equal to or below 10, numeral combining (grouping) is allowed as long as picture cards are not in the floor.For example capturing 10-4-6 OR A-2-7-8 with the 7 diamonds would be a Basra since (10)=(4+6)=10 or (1+8)=(2+7)=9

The Prince/Jack card is impossible to Basra, (and also a Jack can not do Basra on another Jack).

If the Komai (seven of diamonds) is left alone in the table, then any card, except the Jack can do on it Basra.

(3) End of game

The game ends when one player or team reaches 52. If both players reach 52 in the same round, the player with the higher score wins. In case of a tie, additional rounds are played until the tie is broken.

Lebanese Basra[edit]

The Lebanese Basra card game has two variants. It has the same rules of Bastra with the following differences

Lebanese Basra variant (A)

(1) The Play

Six cards are usually dealt to each player.

(2) Scoring

If there is a tie, each team having 26 cards, no one gets 3 points.

(3) Basra

In this variant, a Basra occurs only when

a- a single card is left alone on the table - either because all the other cards were captured, or because the table was cleared (perhaps with a jack), forcing the next player to play a single card. If the following player can match this single card (thereby capturing it), this counts as a Basra and scores 10 points. Capturing a lone card other than a jack by playing a jack does not count as a Basra; capturing a lone jack with another jack counts as an ordinary single Basra, not a double one.

b- There is a single card alone on the table, the next player plays a card that does not capture it, and the following player is able to clear the table by playing a card equal to the sum of these two cards. For example, the table contains a lone 3. The next player plays a 4 (perhaps having no other card). If the following player can play a 7, capturing the 3 + 4, this is a Basra, worth 10 points.

(4) End of game

Whichever team reaches a score of 101 points first wins the game.If both players reach 101 in the same round, the player with the higher score wins. In case of a tie, additional rounds are played until the tie is broken.

Lebanese Basra variant (B)

This Lebanese variant is called, "Ashush"

(1) The Play

Six or four cards are usually dealt to each player depending on agreement between players.

(2) Scoring

If there is a tie, each team having 26 cards, no one gets 3 points.

(3) Basra

In this variation, a Basra occurs only when a single card is left alone on the table - either because all the other cards were captured, or because the table was cleared (perhaps with a jack), forcing the next player to play a single card. If the following player can match this single card (thereby capturing it), this counts as a Basra and scores 10 points. Capturing a lone card other than a jack by playing a jack does not count as a Basra; capturing a lone jack with another jack counts as an ordinary single Basra, not a double one

(4) End of game

Whichever team reaches a score of 101 points first wins the game. If both players reach 101 in the same round, the player with the higher score wins. In case of a tie, additional rounds are played until the tie is broken.

Saudi Basra[edit]

Saudi Basra has the same rules of Bastra with the following differences.

(1)The Play

In a tie, no player or team receives 3 points.

(2) Scoring

Capturing a lone Jack with a Jack is a double Basra, that is 20 points.

Palestinian Basra[edit]

The version of Basra card game is played in Palestine and Jordan. It has the same rules of Bastra with these differences

(1)The Play

There are only 44 cards in the card deck. Kings and Queens cards are usually thrown out. 4 cards are usually dealt to each player although there is a variation where 5 cards are dealt

(2) Scoring

If there is a tie, each team having 26 cards, no one gets 3 points.

(3) Basra

In this version of Basra, the score for a Basra is twice the face value of the card used to make the capture. For example, a Basra with a 7 scores 14 points in the case of capturing a 7 Spades with a 7 Diamonds. If you capture a Jack with a lone Jack, there is no Basra.

(4) End of game

The game ends when one player or team reaches 101 or 151 depending on agreement between players.

Jordanian Basra[edit]

In Jordan, there are two variants of Basra.

Jordanian Basra variant (A)

This Basra variant is the same as Palestinian Basra. It should be born in mind that the Palestinian Basra is the most dominant Basra variant in Jordan.

Jordanian Basra variant (B)

This version of Basra card game is reported by Muthana Haddad. This variant of Jordanian Basra is the same as Palestinian Basra except that the picture cards, Queens and Kings, are used and the value of these cards differs as well. If the picture cards, Queens and Kings are used, they count as 10 for this purpose, so if a Queen captures a lone Queen from the table the score will be 20 points.

Syrian Basra[edit]

In Syria, there is more than one variant of Basra

Syrian Basra variant (A)

This Basra variant is similar to the Palestinian Basra with the following differences:-

(1)The Play

There are only 52 cards in the card deck. Kings and Queens cards are not thrown out. 4 or 6 cards are usually dealt to each player.

(2) Basra

The value of a Queen is 3 points, so if you capture a queen with another queen, you acquire the double point, that is 6 points. The value of a King is 4 points, so if you capture a king with another king, you acquire the double point, that is 8 points. Capturing a Jack with a Jack is as scored follows:- The value of a Jack is 12.5, so if you capture a Jack with another Jack, you acquire 25 points.

Syrian Basra variant (B)

This Basra variant is called Homsi Basra. It is similar to the Palestinian Basra with the following difference:-

Basra

The value of a Jack is 12.5, so if you capture a Jack with another Jack, you acquire 25 points.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ David Parlett, The Oxford guide to card games pg. 138 Oxford University Press (1990) ISBN 0-19-214165-1

External links[edit]