OBJECTIVE OF BASRA: Earn points by capturing cards.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 or 4 players (fixed partnerships)
NUMBER OF CARDS: 52 card deck
RANK OF CARDS: K (high), Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A
TYPE OF GAME: Fishing
INTRODUCTION TO BASRA
Basra is a fishing game from the Middle East and bears some similarities to Casino, a Western fishing game. The game has been accounted for under the names Assaba-al’-Komi and Ashush. The game has been reported by Westerners to be played widely throughout Middle Eastern coffee shops.
The game can be played with 2 players or 4 players in partnerships.
THE DEAL & THE PLAY
A dealer is chosen at random and thereafter the role of dealer passes to the right. The cards are shuffled and the player to the right of the dealer cuts the deck. The dealer can look at the card at the bottom of the pack once it has been cut.
The dealer deals each player four cards per player, starting with their opponent on the right and ending with themselves. The next four cards dealt are dealt face-up to the middle of the table. The area on the table of face-up cards is called “the floor.” If there are any jacks or the seven of diamonds amongst the cards on the floor the dealer will bury them in the undealt deck and replace them with fresh cards.
The player to the right of the dealer takes the first turn and play passes counterclockwise. Every turn consists of playing a single card, face-up, to the floor and potentially capturing cards on the floor as well. Cards that are captured are kept in front of the player that has captured them. Once players have played all four cards in hand, the dealer deals out four more cards and play resumes. This continues until the deck has been exhausted and then players score themselves.
CAPTURING & THE BASRA
If you play a card form hand which is of the same rank of a card on the floor, you may capture it and place it in your capture pile.
Number cards which are equal to the sum of other cards on the floor can be used to capture a group of cards. For example, if you have a 3 in hand you may capture an ace and a two on the floor.
You may make multiple captures in a single play. However, if the card played cannot capture anything on the floor it is simply added to the floor.
You are not required to capture cards just because you can, you may add another card to the floor. However, if you play a card that can capture one or more cards on the floor, you must capture them.
Specific Rules of Play
Queens and kings carry no numerical value. Number cards cannot be used, then, in the capturing of kings or queens. Or kings can capture kings and queens can capture queens.
A basra may occur if a player is able to capture all the cards on the floor. That player scores a 10 point bonus and puts the cards face-up in their capture pile in order to remember to add the bonus to their final score.
Jacks have a unique characteristic in Basra. If a jack is played while there are cards on the floor it captures them all. They do not earn the Basra bonus. Jacks played when the floor is empty do not capture anything, they are simply added to the floor.
The 7 of Diamonds act similarly to jacks in that they capture everything on the floor. If all the cards on the floor are number cards that add to 10 or less, this is counted as a basra. However, if the cards exceed the value of 10 it is not counted as a basra and they do not earn the 10 bonus points.
Once every card has been played, players count their cards. Partners add their scores together. The team with the most cards (27+) scores 30 points. In the event of a tie, in which player have both 26 cards, these points are carried into the next game and that winner takes the 30 points from the tie.
Each jack and ace in the capture pile is worth 1 point. The 2 is worth 2 points and the 10 is worth 3 points.
The first player or team to reach 101 points wins the game. If both players reach 101 points in the same hand, the player with the higher score wins. If it is a pure tie, more hands are played until it is broken.