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reviewed by JOHN WEBLEY

This is one that nearly got away. Looking through the Adam catalogue in search of a small filler for an order, I saw a description of a card game ``Ligretto'', fast and fun it said so I sent off for it. Then on holiday I got it out, a little unsure whether it would go down very well. We played it once, and that was it. We played virtually nothing else for the next three nights.

The game consists of four packs of 40 cards, identical except for different designs on their backs. Each pack consists of four suits, each with numbers 1 - 10. In play, it can best be described as four person speed patience.

You deal out ten cards into one deck which you place face up in front of you. This is your Ligretto deck, and the basic aim of the game is to be the first to discard these ten cards. Then you deal out a further three cards in a row next to the Ligretto deck. Now play can begin. Any 1 card that is visible can be placed out in the middle of the table immediately.

If you have a 2 in the same colour you can put it on any available 1 card and so on. If you don't have any card that can go, then you turn over three cards from your hand as one block, patience style, and try to play the top one. If that doesn't work, turn over three more and so on. If you manage to play one of the three cards from your row then you can move the top card from your Ligretto deck into the row, revealing of course the next card from your Ligretto deck.

Play continues until one player has exhausted their Ligretto deck. They call stop, and cards are counted. For every card that you have played out in the middle you get one point. For every card that is left in your Ligretto deck you lose 2 points. We usually play 5 rounds, or you can play to a set limit.

This is not a complex game. In fact it is so easy that an eight year old child comfortably managed to beat her mother. But it's a lot of fun. Speed really counts, but then sometimes it's an advantage to hold back for a second or two to let someone else open up a pack for your top Ligretto card. It can be played by the whole family, and the only drawback I have found is that the cards tend not to last very long, as they get bent while being slammed down onto the table a split second before an opponent's.

It costs 11-12 marks from German mail order firms, probably a bit more if available in Britain.

John Webley

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Stuart Dagger