The Pinnacolo Game

Translated by Alexandra Igna (2020)


Pinnacolo [the 20th century; from the English “pinocle”, modeled on pinnacle (architecture and geology)]. Card game, known in numerous variations. Perhaps of German origin, although it was ignored in Germany and widely spread in the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century, probably imported by German-speaking Central European immigrants.

The game is played by two or three people with a deck of 48 cards (obtained by drawing aces, kings, queens, jacks, 10s and 9s from two decks of cards for each suit).

For the two-player version of the game, each player is dealt 12 cards and the next one is revealed to determine the dominant suit, which is the trump. The aim of the game is to form combinations consisting of the highest number of points, which are placed on the table. The mechanism is as follows: a card is drawn in turn from the deck and played until the deck is exhausted, in order to always have the same number of cards in front of it. At this point, the players withdraw their combinations from the table and play them again with these rules: the trump wins; the first game wins between two cards of equal value. The winner is the player who scores the first thousand points calculated as follows: 11 points for the ace; 10 points for 10; 9 for 9; 4 points for the king; 3 for the queen; 2 for the infantryman; 10 points for the last trick.

In the Italian variant of the game, the pinnacle approaches, in its simplest form, the forty scale. It is played by three or more people with a complete deck of cards (52 cards + 2 jokers); 9 cards are dealt to each player and the trump card is revealed. The aim of the game is to form three-of-a-kind and quadrille sequences by drawing a card from the deck and discarding one (so that the number of cards remains unchanged), or by taking the last card discarded by an opponent, provided that this serves to complete a sequence which will then be discovered on the table. The two and the jokers (also called pinnacles) serve as matte, they can, therefore, buy any value and, if discarded, they cannot be withdrawn, thus forcing the opponent to draw from the deck. A player "closes" when, having discarded a card, he has completed the sequences of three of a kind and quadrilles with the nine cards. A game usually consists of multiple hands until the established score is reached.