Sueca (card game)

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Italian Playing Cards.jpg
Origin Portugal
Type Trick taking
Players 2-8
Skill(s) required Tactics
Cards 32, 40 cards
Deck Baraja
Play Counter-Clockwise
Card rank (highest to lowest) A 7 R C F 6 5 4 3 2
Playing time 15 min
Random chance Low-Moderate
Related games
Einwerfen, Briscola

Sueca (meaning Swedish (female) in Portuguese) is a 4 player-partnership point trick-taking card game. The game is played in Portugal, Brazil and Angola. Its closest relative is the very similar German game Einwerfen.

The game[edit]

Players & deck[edit]

The game is normally played by 4 players, where a 2 person-team sits across from each other, and compete against the other team by capturing as many points as possible, ala the bridge card game. Sueca is played with 40 cards by removing 8s, 9s, and 10s, from a standard 52 card deck. The rank of the cards in each suit, from highest rank to lowest one, is: Ace, 7, King, Jack, Queen, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. The entire deck is distributed equally to the 4 players by sequentially rotating the dealer, who will turn one of his/her cards face-up to establish the trump suit. Rules of the game requires every player to follow suit, and can trump in only when void in the lead-suit. Player winning a hand then has honors to lead the next card.

The 10 cards per suit are valued at 30 points; where Ace=11 points, 7=10 points, K=4, J=3, Q=2. With 120 points at stake in every round (hand) of play, first team of 2 to reach 61 points wins the game/hand. If a team reaches more than 75% of the points (over 90 points), it scores double win. First team to four games wins the set, known in Portuguese as a "partida". Although rare, a team capturing all 120 points scores a set.

As well as the high position of the 7, known as "manilha" or "bisca" to Portuguese speaking players, notice that the jack beats the queen. This is very common in Portuguese card games, a resonance of the old Portuguese decks where the Jack was thought of as a knight and the queen corresponded to a maid (see The Baraja in Portugal). Each suit sums to 30 points, thus 120 points are at stake in every playing round.

The deal[edit]

The game is played counter-clockwise.

The first dealer is chosen at random and the turn to deal passes to the right after each hand. The player to the dealer's right shuffles the cards and the player at the dealer's left cuts. The dealer then gives 10 cards to each player, in a single batch, beginning with the player to dealer's right, going around counter-clockwise and ending with the dealer. The bottom card of the deck, which belongs to the dealer, is turned face up, and its suit becomes trumps.

Alternatively, the dealer can choose to deal the first ten cards to himself, the next ten to the player to his right, and so on counter-clockwise. In this case the dealer's first card (the original top card of the deck) is turned up and determines the trump suit.

The play[edit]

The player to the right of the dealer (the one who shuffled the cards) leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit if they can. A player who has no card of the suit led may play any card. If any cards of the trump suit are played to a trick, the highest trump wins. Otherwise, the trick is won by the highest card of the suit led. The winner of each trick leads to the next.

Being considered a "deaf-dumb persons game" in Portugal, there can be no talking between the players and no exchange of signals between partners (considered cheating in tournament play). In casual play, though, this rule is frequently overridden, with signs actually being negotiated between partners prior to playing, which adds a different level of fun to the game - as each team tries to discover the other's cheating signs so they can get the upper hand in play.


In Sueca, the aim is to win tricks containing valuable cards. The card values are:

Card Name / Value
Playing card diamond A - vertical cut.pngPlaying card club A - vertical cut.pngPlaying card heart A - vertical cut.pngPlaying card spade A.svg

Playing card diamond 7 - vertical cut.pngPlaying card club 7 - vertical cut.pngPlaying card heart 7 - vertical cut.pngPlaying card spade 7.svg

Playing card diamond K - vertical cut.pngPlaying card club K - vertical cut.pngPlaying card heart K - vertical cut.pngPlaying card spade K.svg

Playing card diamond J - vertical cut.pngPlaying card club J - vertical cut.pngPlaying card heart J - vertical cut.pngPlaying card spade J.svg

Playing card diamond Q - vertical cut.pngPlaying card club Q - vertical cut.pngPlaying card heart Q - vertical cut.pngPlaying card spade Q.svg

Playing card spade 6 - vertical cut.pngPlaying card diamond 5 - vertical cut.pngPlaying card club 4 - vertical cut.pngPlaying card heart 3 - vertical cut.pngPlaying card spade 2.svg

The rest of the cards

It is to be noted that in the Azores the 10 is worth 10 points and the sevens are removed from the deck. There are 120 points in the deck altogether.

The object of the play is to win tricks containing more than half of the card points. The team which takes more than 60 card points scores one game. The first team to score four games win the rubber.

If a team takes 91 or more card points in tricks on one deal, they score two games instead of one. If they take all the tricks they score four games and thus win the rubber immediately. Taking 120 points but losing a trick (with no counting cards in it) is not sufficient to win the rubber. In this case the winning team would just score 2 games for having more than 90. In case of tie it's considered a null game... no team gets any point.

Alternative scoring rules[edit]

There are several scoring rules that diverge from country to country and even region to region. The most common are:

  • Scoring 120 points being enough to win 4 games, as opposed to having to take all tricks. In the north of Portugal, your team has to win all the cards in the deck to be able to win 4 games. Notice most cards are worth 0 points, which allows a team to earn all the points without winning all the cards.
  • A full rubber being of 10 games and a half rubber being of 5 games (frequently played in the north of Portugal).
  • If a team scores more than 90 points, the defeated one loses 2 games - this is called "rolha" in Portuguese or "cork stopper" as a literal translation (variation often played in southern regions of Portugal as Alentejo and Algarve).
  • If there is a tie, both teams taking exactly 60 card points in tricks, no one scores, but the next hand is worth an extra game, although this rule can be often overlooked.


Sueca italiana is another game with the same rules of Sueca, but it is meant for five players, each round divided into two teams (two players versus three) through a bidding system.

See also[edit]