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  • That's A Morra

    By Anthony Parente


    Peter Agostini, playing Morra with Italo Dal Santo at the Venetian Club in Rockford, Illinois 1958.
    Have you ever been to a picnic or social gathering and seen a group of men yelling and throwing fingers at each other? Did you ever wonder what exactly they were doing? Believe it or not they were enjoying a game of morra, which just so happens to be a game that can be traced back to Roman times.

    Morra is a hand game that dates back thousands of years to ancient Roman and Greek times. It was once called Micatio, and playing it was referred to as Micare Digits; literally "to flash with the fingers". As time passed, the name became Morra.  It can be played to decide issues, much as two people might toss a coin or for entertainment.

    While there are many variations of Morra, most forms can be played with two, three or more players.  In the most popular version, all players throw out a single hand, each showing zero to five fingers, and call out loud their guess at what the sum of all fingers shown will be. If one player guesses the sum, that player earns one point.1

    When I first watched my Dad play I thought wow, my Dad is playing Rock Paper Scissors. I know how to play this game, but the more I watched the more I realized that the game they were playing was not quite as easy as Rock Paper Scissors. In my game I just had three choices. In the game my Dad played he had more than three choices. The more I watched the more I learned how to play and quickly I too was able to participate in a game of morra.

    Object of the Game:

    • Guess the total number of fingers extended by you and your opponent.
    How to Play:
    • Determine how many rounds a person must guess correctly in order to win the match.
    • Start the game by having the two players face each other.
    • The hand that you are using generally remains visible to your opponent and the other hand is usually placed to the side or behind your back.
    • Either at the count of three or some sort of predetermined signal the players extend their fingers and shout out a number from zero to ten.
    • The fingers are counted to see if anyone guessed correctly.
    • If one of the players guessed correctly they win the round.
    • If no one guessed the right number then neither player wins that round. If they both guessed the correct answer than it is a draw and neither gets credit for winning the round.
    • Play continues until one of the players reaches the number needed to win the match.
    Morra an Italian Tradition T-Shirts & Novelties
    Morra an
    Italian Tradition
    T-shirts & Novelties
    Note:
    • Zero is represented by extending your hand and making a fist.

    The rules for this game are not that difficult. All you need is to find someone to play against and you are ready to go. The next time you are at a family gathering you won't have to sit and watch. You will be able to join in on the fun and show them just how good you are.

    For many of us morra was more than just a game. It was an opportunity to learn yet another Italian tradition from our Father, Grandfather or another family member. By taking an interest and learning how to play we help to keep the traditions of our family and our heritage from being forgotten.

    1 Text provided by Lori Agostini.

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