The “Sei” sculpture is more than just a trophy. It is a representation of what we believe in, who we are, the tradition we carry with us, and why we play the game of La Morra.
The art of Morra, a hand game, involves concentration, strategy, tactics and energy. It requires no equipment and is played in Italian communities by men and boys alike. This game can be played between two friends who meet on a street corner or in competition, two opponents face each other, sometimes as close as six inches. The Italian love of Morra goes hand in hand with the Italian love of wine.
Morra was known to the ancient Romans and is popular around the world, especially in Italy. In the Bible, it may have been known as “casting lots”. In ancient Rome, it was called micatio, and playing it was referred to as micare digitalis; literally, “to flash with fingers”. As time passed, the name became Morra, a corruption of the verb micare. The game was so common in ancient Rome that there was a proverb used to denote an honest person which made reference to it. “Dignus est quicum in tenebris mices”, literally, ” he is a man with whom you could play micatio in the dark”. Micatio became so common that it came to be used to settle disputes over the sale of merchandise in the Roman forum. This practice was later banned by Apronius, Prefect of Rome.
During the 1980’s, playing Morra was made illegal in Italy, the victim of a government crackdown on gambling. Punishment ranged from direct orders to stop playing by police officers to fines. The combination of Morra and wine sometimes led to violence when heated arguments about points and scoring erupted into fist fights. Playing the game was made legal again in July, 2003.
There are two styles of play. Northern Italians play sitting while Central and Southern Italians play standing. While there are many variations of Morra, most forms can be played with two, three or more players. In the most popular version, both 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.
If you have never watched this game of psychology, concentration and strategy, now is your chance. It is a showcase for pointing and shouting, raised to the level of sport and played by rules.