Sinco, the Christmas game invented in Naples more than 35 years ago

by Dario Romaniello

How many Neapolitans have played the game of Sinco without knowing its history and origin?

For many young Neapolitans it is now the norm to find the game on the table during Christmas holidays, between a merchant at the fair and a bingo. After more than 35 years from the first release, it can be said that the game has become one Christmas tradition already consolidated. Find the game on tables of the Neapolitans it's as easy as finding struffoli, i Roccoco and the panettone.

In reality, the Neapolitan game has no ancient origins at all: it was invented just 37 years ago. Already from the cover image of the game, between huge glasses and backcombed hair, we should imagine the years in which it was launched: undoubtedly the 80s, precisely in 1983.

The inventor of this imaginative and creative game is the Neapolitan Salvatore Emilio, owner of a historic haberdashery in the historic center of Naples, al Corso Vittorio Emanuele, in whose showcase it is possible to admire the Sinco preserved as a relic.

Sinco game
The Sinco presents tables, pawns and "glasses" in which to store the prizes

The birth of Sinco

The idea that led to the birth of the Neapolitan game came immediately after experiencing a family vacation on cruise ship. Among the various entertainments, typical of cruises, he was particularly struck by the game of Bingo. During one of his games, the inventor of Sinco had the intuition that the Bingo, a game of American tradition, had its roots in Neapolitan bingo. Right here he got the idea of join the two games to invent one that would revolutionize the Neapolitan tradition of Christmas games.

In fact, the Sinco has the characters of both games; the latter presents as components of the game the boards with the above depicted ten Neapolitan cards, pawns and glasses in which to put the winnings. To accumulate the prizes it is possible to achieve five game combinations, hence the name "Sinco" whose translation into spanish is just right "five".

Sinco folder
The tables used in Sinco with the depiction of Neapolitan cards

How do you play Sinco?

The first move of the game is to choose from among the participants the one who will have the role of leading the entire game and collecting the money for the prizes. He will then have to read from time to time the card drawn randomly from the deck: each card he has on the board will be marked with pointers.

We said that for win at Sinco it is possible to realize five different game combinations:

  1. CENTER : the player who covers the center first wins the "center" prize
  2. CORNER: the winner is whoever covers the four corners of the board first
  3. POKER: the player who covers the top four cards first
  4. RHOMBUS: prize won by the one who covers the cards surrounding the center
  5. SINCO: ends the game when the player covers one of the four lines of the outer square or one of the two diagonals.
Sinco, the Christmas game invented in Naples more than 35 years ago
What the Sinco game looks like

Family and tradition

It was initially the Christmas game between friends and relatives of Mr. Emilio. But then liked it so much that he decided to market the game, bringing the few boxes produced directly to some toy stores with little pretense and no real agreements. Was a great success, so much so that in the following years the family also received various offers from board game production houses to market it on a large scale and also abroad, but Mr. Emilio he always refused every offer for his game.

A game that for the creator has a considerable value, and the famous photo on the game box immortalized in the 80s, which portrays a family playing amused around a table, is proof of this.

The one on the cover, in fact, is right there family of Mr. Emilio, now known to every good Neapolitan who plays Sinco every Christmas with his family.

Sinco, the Christmas game invented in Naples more than 35 years ago
The cover of the Sinco in which the inventor's family is present

Sinco in 2020

Even though the Sinco trademark was promptly registered by Emilio Salvatore, the game has been copied several times, both in the rules and in the graphics. A heavy price to pay when success knocks on the door.

Today the production, after the 35th anniversary, is being updated to not allow the game to be forgotten over time.

Finally the game is also available on Amazon!

-Dario Romaniello and Chiara Sarracino


official site of the game

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