Spanish Culture Games

By Patricia Rose Lynn
Card games, Txintxon, Spain
cards image by Aleksandr Lobanov from

Spanish is the official language of 21 countries in North, Central and South America, Africa and Europe. The common language and historical ties to Spain help strengthen bonds between many diverse cultures. In addition to the Spanish language, several games that originated in Spain are now played throughout the Spanish-speaking world.


Loteria, or Lottery, is a board game similar to bingo that came to Mexico in the 18th century by way of Spain. Each player uses a board with 16 kitschy images of fruit, objects, animals, symbols or archetypes. The deck consists of 36 or 54 cards. The caller draws a card at random and announces it by name or by reciting a traditional refrain or short riddle. For example, if the caller draws the hand card, he or she could announce, "The hand of a criminal." Other cards include the watermelon, the umbrella and the skull. Players mark matching pictures on their boards as cards are called. To win, a player must mark a diagonal, horizontal or vertical row or complete his or her entire card.


Truco, or Trick, originated in Spain and today is played in several South American countries including Paraguay, Argentina and Chile. Truco is played with a Spanish deck of cards, and the objective is to win 30 points. Each player is dealt three cards and everyone plays one card per trick. The highest card wins the trick and taking two of the three tricks wins the round and a point. Additional points are awarded for having three cards of the same suit (flor) or the highest combination of two cards of the same suit (envido). Players can also raise the stakes of each round by calling "truco," "retruco" or "vale cuatro." Calling truco doubles the points from one to two, retruco increases the points to three and vale cuatro to four. In Truco, it is common to distract an opponent with conversation or humor.


Txintxon, or Chinchon, is a Spanish card game also played in Uruguay and Cape Verde. Txintxon is similar to gin rummy but is played with a Spanish deck of 40 or 48 cards. Each player is dealt seven cards and the rest of the deck is placed on the table. The top card is drawn and placed face up next to the deck to be used as the discard pile. Each player draws a card from either the discard pile or the deck and tries to make a set by collecting three cards of the same rank or suit. The player's turn ends when he or she removes a card from his or her hand and places it in the discard pile. When a player has accumulated enough sets, he or she can end the round by laying the hand on the table. Penalty points are awarded for the face value of the unmatched cards in each hand. A player with no unmatched cards in his or her hand is awarded -10 points. A player can win automatically by collecting a txintxon---a sequence of seven cards. Otherwise, the game ends when a player accumulates 100 points or another score to which the players agreed prior to the game. The winner is the player with the lowest overall score.

About the Author

Patricia Rose Lynn completed her Ph.D. in Spanish language and literature in 2009 and holds several information-technology and teaching certifications. In addition to her teaching and work in academic technology, Lynn works as a freelance writer and has authored many articles on such topics as the college selection process and animal rights.