Mus, a perfect game between friends

Mus is one of the most popular card games and with deep-rooted tradition between the young and elder in Spain. Originated in the Basque Country, it’s a game that doesn’t distinguish between age, sex or social status. Any person who wants to enjoy a hilarious moment in good company, only has to sit down at a table with another three people and let himself go.

Mus is not an easy game, watching isn’t enough. Is a shrewdness game with fixed rules where tricky art handles the game’s rhythm as pleased.  In spite of its simple appearance, four cards and speaking, you need to pay attention to become a huge  “musolari” (mus player). Once you let mus enter your home, it’ll make room to stay forever.

Mus, as we know, was sown in our lands since 1837 and germinated in taverns, bars, universities, homes and in its last modality: the internet.

Mus has been a fantastic channel to get together with old friends or to meet new people who are in love with this way of enriching your leisure time. At XIX century, many people would have met their beautiful wives making the 31 sign (winking an eye), and today, the Internet has opened unimaginable paths to spend a fun time with cyber mats.

Usumus offers the possibility to take mus not only to your livingroom, to the comfort of your sofa, but also every place you go with your smartphone. You can play in pyjamas, with curlers on your hair, or just after waking up, because every time or everywhere is a good time to play mus. Progress has arrived to our days and bar buzz has turned into endless mobile or laptop keyboarding. Because if you want to play mus, you´ll have to communicate, also through a screen. And then, from time to time, you forget the inclemency of life during some time, and a colored rainbow shows up at your grey day.
Mus was created for that reason, so that a group of boastings and impudent insolences would make your rivals cry of laughter over their terrible card play. 

You don’t play mus for money, in contrast to other international games. Drinking beers in good company is enough to rush into “envidar” (bet). At Usumus you can bet your rivals a virtual beer, to encourage them. When the money rules the world, its nice to think that there is a game which remains impassive to this maxim. And this is its mysterious charm: the passion for fair play.

Mus and its history

Mus beginnings can be traced back to the latest XV century, when two players (Alonso de Tudela and Tomás del Pinranillo) tried to have fun dealing all the cards and whoever had more kings (highest card in Spanish pack of cards) won the game. At the end, this game became repetitive so they gave half the pack of cards to the poor to make the game more interesting because they didn’t know which cards they had left. When the game ended they threw out the pack of cards, because they weren´t brave enough to ask the poor for the cards back.

It is related, commented, gone by history, that the Basque was in a hurry to meet his lover. Because of that he wanted to finish the game as soon as possible. And the “órdago” (all in) of this day made Xanti a married man with an “all in woman” (mujer de órdago), which means in Spanish a very temperamental woman. This expression has travelled from this moment to our days.

Poor people managed to obtain one huge pack of cards to play. In their game not only the kings matter, but also the aces (and then the “chica” was born)

Mus became popular between common people, and they used taverns to practice this brilliant game.  At latest XVII century, mus had been reduced to four cards. So the third move was invented:  the pairs (sp. Pares), because they considered exceptional to match two similar cards between four given. And then came the trio (sp. Medias), getting three similar cards. But the “very best” was the two pairs (sp. Dúplex), or getting two pairs or four of a kind, something nearly impossible.

At 1742 they added a word to mus language that has reached Spanish common language in our times: “órdago” (all in). The new word came from Basque Country and means “there it is” and was taken to mus tables by Xanti Murrikaechandizolategui, when he put all over the table, the maximum bet.

The last incorporation to the game was the fourth move, also called “game” (sp. Juego), which was created by cannon Sixto Zabaneta, who sentenced that the best “game” had to add up 31, followed by 32, then by 40, 37 and the others. And of course, at the second half of XVII, with Inquisition alive in their memories, no one wanted to discuss the cannon’s word.

The last touch for the game was the “punto” (the point), and, as “all in”, it was invented thanks to love. This time, to prolong the game which would end if there wasn’t “game” or juego, the Count of Pinto Collado, in order to take avantage of his cards (he had two pair of horses-five), decided to add “the point” and share more time playing mus with his lover.
After all this additional items, touches, improvements and other tours around history, we can baptism the baby named mus at the year 1837.

¿How is it played?

Mus is a game ruled by challenge, complicity, cheat and why not, competitiveness. It is the game of “four”: four players, four cards and four moves. Mus is a game where the pig (also named king) is the king, the hand rules and the “postre” (English translation dessert) is the last person talking. There are eight kings or pigs, formed by four kings and four threes, which are the more valuable or highest cards. In other hand, there are eight “pitos” or aces, formed by four aces and four twos. In other regions of Spain, like Basque Country or Navarra, it’s played only with four kings and four aces.

The game began dealing four cards and the player named hand (sp. Mano) started talking, He decided if there was mus or not. The player sited on the right hand continues talking, anticlockwise. “There is mus” means that the player wants to discard, that he doesn’t like his cards, or that is what he wants the rivals to think. “There is not mus” is that there won’t be discarding and it will begin the moves.

First move is the “big one” (sp. la grande). For this move the winning cards are the kings, most valuable cards. The player who said “there is no mus” can pass or bet (sp. envidar) and the rival couple can call (if considering they would win with their cards), pass (if they consider they can loose) or raise (if they have very good cards or they want to bluff). In case that the rival couple doesn´t want the bet, the begging couple wins a “stone” (sp. piedra), also called “why not”. It’s a name for one point.

The next move is the “little one” (sp. la chica) where aces or “pitos” win.  The way of playing this hand is the same as the “big one”.

Third move is the “pairs”. At this point all the players have to say if they have pairs or not. Once checked, the main player or hand bets and the same as previous moves could happen.  The best hand is the two pairs (sp. duplex), formed by two pairs or four of a kind and they win 3 stones or points. It’s followed by trio (sp. medias), three of a kind, which wins 2 stones or points. And the last one is a single pair which only wins one stone.

Fourth move would be the “game” (sp. juego). Both couples have to say if there is “game” or not and then act in a similar way as previous moves. Best “game” is 31, followed by 32, 40, 37, being the worst game 33. In another modalities exist Royal 31 (one figure –king, horse and jack- and three sevens), which even wins the main player or hand.  To add this sum, we have to know that every figure and threes (same worth than kings) of the pack are worth 10.

When there is no “game”, the point is played, being the best point 30. You can bet like the other moves and if the rivals don’t want the bet, the winner couple picks up two stones (two points) called point and fear.

Being mus a game of braves, one of the biggest daring is “all in” (sp. órdago), the maximum bet. Órdago is risking everything in that bet. If the rivals call, the game is over. It’s victory or death.

When the previous phases are over, the recount starts. It is made out loud and in the order of moves. One player of each couple keeps the stones (single points) and the other keeps the “amarracos” (five points). The couple who reaches 30 or 40 stones wins, according to what is decided at the beginning of the game.

Mus language
Many are the phrases who have reached our days thanks to this peculiar game. Words which helps to encourage your partner and intimidate your rivals. There are sayings that, why not, have enriched our language, or have given a touch of humor, and added more fun to a mus game. Some examples are:
“To the hand with a pepper”: to say that there is no mus, when you are the last player to talk.
“To the enemy not even water”:  the same meaning as the previous sentence.
“The perete”: when you have the worst cards in mus 5, 6 y 7 (sp. Cinco, seis y siete rhyme whith perete)
“Shotgun and dog”:  to indicate your partner that you have a king and a horse.

Mus signs
Even if they are not always used, you can do signs in mus. A group of gestures to let your partner know your cards. Moved by picaresque, it generates massive adrenaline because signs can be noticed by your rivals.

The sign which may have given name to this game is “solomillo” (three kings and one ace). This is a sign that is represented by a kiss, musu in Basque, very similar to the word mus.

Other signs are: winking an eye is made for letting your couple know that you have 31, raising your eyebrows to say that you have two pairs, twisting your lips to tell that you have trio, bitting your lips would be two kings, sticking out your tongue for two aces and shaking your shoulders would indicate that you have 30 for point.

Usumus is a net platform to play mus without frontiers. All you need is a internet connection and you will be able to enjoy playing an endless game with a group of good people who will open the doors of their cyberspace, so you can seat at their table to share a fantastic time. Once you try, you will always want to enter one of Usumus lounges to “play a game”

Also, if you have a computer and you are going to leave the house for a while, it’s no problem! You are able to enjoy Usumus on your cellphone, the successful application for smartphones created by Usujuegos.

Usumus organices competitions awarded with virtual and real prizes, which gives you an extra incentive to enter this fun game platform.  Everyday their thinking minds are updating and renewing mus with different tournaments and contests, like in real life.

Usumus has become a huge family and, although you can’t see their faces, player nicknames will be familiar as much as your friends’ names. It is the inn virtual joint where meet your friends, acquaintances and rivals.


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