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Schwimmen or Einunddreißig (in Germany also Knack, Schnauz, Wutz and Bull; in Austria as Hosen runter, Hosn obe, Hosn obi and Hosn owi; in Switzerland as Hosenabe) is a social card game for two to nine players, played with a 32-card Piquet pack, that is popular in Austria and Germany. Although it is also called Einunddreißig (Thirty-one or French : Trente-et-un), this should not be confused with a predecessor of Siebzehn und Vier (Twenty-One), also called Einunddreißig. Schwimmen is German for "swimming" which refers to the last chance that a player gets before they drop out.


Variants or similar games in the United States and Great Britain go under the names of Thirty-One, Blitz and Scat, but are played with a 52-card pack. Schwimmen is also played in tournament form.


According to Kastner, the game is not well recorded in the literature, but appears to go back to a French ancestor, Commerce, that was first mentioned in 1718 in the Academie des Jeux. [1]

The game was included in the list of games prohibited in Austria-Hungary by the Ministry of Justice under the names Trente-un and Feuer – but whilst the former name can also refer to the aforementioned Siebzehn und vier ancestor, the name Feuer clearly refers to this game, because in the most common variation a hand of three Aces (Feuer) has special significance (see below).



Schwimmen is played in clockwise order with a pack of 32 French, Double German or German playing cards (Skat pack). A second pack may be used if there are more than 6 players. When on lead, each player aims to form a certain combination of cards in his hand by exchanging. The aim of the game is to avoid having the combination with the lowest point value.

Examples of scoring
Queen of Hearts
Ten of Hearts
Jack of Diamonds
This combination scores 10 + 10 = 20 points, because only the Queen and Ten belong to the same suit
Ace of Clubs
King of Clubs
9 of Clubs
This combination scores
11 + 10 + 9 = 30 points
7 of Diamonds
7 of Hearts
7 of Spades
This combination scores 30½ points (if two have 30½ the higher ranking hand wins)
Ace of Diamonds
King of Diamonds
10 of Diamonds
This combination scores
31 points


There are two ways in which combinations can be formed. The first is where a player either collects cards of the same suit and adds their point values (c.f. the game of Einundvierzig), whereby:

The highest possible number of points is thus thirty-one (Einunddreißig): a hand consisting of an Ace and 2 courts or an Ace, a court and a Ten of the same suit.

The second option is for a player to collect cards of the same rank, e.g. three 7s, three Queens, etc. (obviously of different suits). This combination always scores 30 ½ points.


In an 'open game' (offenes Spiel) the dealer deals three cards, face down and individually, to each player and then 2 packets of three cards to himself. He looks at the cards from one packet and decides whether or not to play with them. If he is happy to play with the cards from this first packet, he must lay the second packet face up in the middle of the table. If he does not want to play with the first packet, he lays these three cards face up in the middle of the table and must play with the cards in the second packet. The remaining cards are put to one side.

The player left of the dealer begins. He may either swap one card or all three from his hand with the cards in the middle – but not two cards. If he doesn't want to exchange, he may either say "I'll shove" ("Ich schiebe") or close the game by 'knocking', usually by rapping his knuckles on the table. In some areas players may say "I'm closing" ("Ich mache zu.") instead of knocking.

End of the deal

A deal may be ended in two ways:


Players only score for pairs or prials of the same suit or for 3 of a kind (see illustration examples).


If several deals are played, each player is symbolically given three 'lives'. These may be indicated by counters such as chips, matches or coins. Players have to give up a 'life' each time they lose, by placing one of the counters in the middle of the table.

If a player loses all three lives, he may continue to play but he is now 'swimming' (schwimmt) or a 'cow rider' (Kuhreiter), hence the name of the game. If he loses again, he 'goes under' (geht er unter) and drops out. So 'swimming' is effectively a fourth life and the player's last chance to avoid dropping out.

In this way, there is a form of tournament in which the individual players drop out one by one and eventually only one player is left, the overall winner. If the game is played for stakes, the winner wins the stakes of the losers (or their lives).

Variants and special rules

Schwimmen or Einunddreißig are played in many variations which differ in detail from the basic rules above. The rules given here are in no wise binding like the rules of chess, for example – before the start of a session, players should ascertain which rules are being used. The most important variations relate to:

Ace of Clubs
Ace of Diamonds
Aces of Hearts
Example of a Feuer or Blitz


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Glossary of card game terms List of definitions of terms and jargon used in card games

The following is a glossary of terms used in card games. Besides the terms listed here, there are thousands of common and uncommon slang terms. Terms in this glossary should not be game-specific, but apply to a wide range of card games. For glossaries that relate primarily to one game or family of similar games, see Game-specific glossaries.


Triomphe, once known as French Ruff, is a card game dating from the late 15th century. It most likely originated in France or Spain and later spread to the rest of Europe. When the game arrived in Italy, it shared a similar name with the pre-existing game and deck known as trionfi; probably resulting in the latter becoming renamed as Tarocchi (tarot). While trionfi has a fifth suit that acts as permanent trumps, triomphe randomly selects one of the existing four suits as trumps. Another common feature of this game is the robbing of the stock. Triomphe became so popular that during the 16th century the earlier game of trionfi was gradually renamed tarocchi, tarot, or tarock. This game is the origin of the English word "trump" and is the ancestor of many trick-taking games like Euchre and Whist.

Officers Skat

Officers' Skat (Offiziersskat), is a trick-taking card game for two players which is based on the rules of Skat. It may be played with a German or French pack of 32 cards which, from the outset of the game, are laid out in rows both face down and face up. As in Skat, tricks are taken and card points counted to determine the winner of a round; game points are then awarded to decide the winner of a game. It is also called Two-hand Skat, Sailors' Skat (Seemannsskat), Farmers' Skat (Bauernskat), Robbers' Skat (Räuberskat) or Coachmen's Skat (Kutscherskat)


Gaigel is a card game from the Württemberg region of Germany and is traditionally played with Württemberg suited cards. It is a Swabian variant of Sechsundsechzig and may be played with 2, 3, 4 or 6 players. However, a significant difference from Sechsundsechzig and other related games like Bauernschnapsen is the use of a double card deck. The four-player game is usually called Kreuzgaigel. The game emerged in the early 19th century.


The card game of Bauernschnapsen is an expanded form of the popular Austrian card game of Schnapsen, played by four players. This variant of Schnapsen is played throughout the whole of Austria.

Bavarian Tarock

Bavarian Tarock, Haferltarock or, often, just Tarock, is a card game played in Bavaria and several regions of Austria as well as in Berlin. The name is a clue to its origin as an attempt to design a game resembling Tapp Tarock but without using a Tarock pack. The original form of Bavarian Tarock thus incorporated several elements of the true Tarock games, whilst being played with a 36-card German deck. However, during the last century, it has evolved into "quite a fine game" that, however, has less in common with its Tarock progenitor. It is descended from Tapp Tarock via the very similar game of Tapp, played in Württemberg, and is thus related to Bauerntarock, Frog and Dobbm. It should not be confused with Königrufen, also known as Austrian Tarock or just Tarock.


Dreierschnapsen, Talonschnapsen or Staperlschnapsen is a three-hand variant of the popular Austrian card game, Bauernschnapsen. The rules are very similar to those for Bauernschnapsen except that, instead of two teams of two players, one player bids to become the soloist against the other two who form a temporary alliance. Another difference is that the game makes use of a talon with which the soloist may exchange cards to improve his hand, hence its alternative name of Talonschnapsen. The game is usually played with William Tell cards.

Wendish Schafkopf

Wendish Schafkopf, Wendisch or Wendsch is a card game for four players that uses a Schafkopf pack of German-suited cards or a Skat pack of French playing cards.

Illustrated Tarock Austrian card game

Illustrated Tarock or Illustrated Dreiertarock is an Austrian card game that has been described as the "queen" of all three-handed Tarock games played with the 54-card pack. It was thought by Mayr and Sedlaczek to be extinct but, in 2009 when the two Tarock authors were guests on an ORF radio programme, players from Vienna called in who confirmed they still played the game. It is sometimes called Point Tarock which, however, is a different, probably extinct, game, albeit a close cousin. Although it has "a reputation for being a little more convoluted than the others", Furr maintains that this is not so, but recommends that players become familiar with Tapp Tarock before attempting this game.


Binokel is a card game for two to eight players that originated in Switzerland as Binocle, but spread to the German state of Württemberg where it is typically played with a Württemberg pattern pack. It is still popular in Württemberg, where it is usually played in groups of three or four as a family game rather than in the pubs. In three-hand games, each player competes for himself, while in four-hand games, known as Cross Binokel (Kreuzbinokel), two teams are formed with partners sitting opposite one another. The game was introduced to America by German immigrants in the first half of the 20th century, where it developed into the similar game of Pinochle. Binocle was still played in Switzerland in 1994. In south Germany, the game is sometimes called by its Swabian name, Benoggl.

Quodlibet (card game)

Quodlibet is a traditional card game associated with central European student fraternities that is played with William Tell pattern cards and in which the dealer is known as the 'beer king'. It is a compendium, trick-taking game for 4 players using a 32-card pack of double German playing cards.

Mistigri (card game) german card game

Mistigri, historically Pamphile, is an old, French, trick-taking card game for three or four players that has elements reminiscent of poker. It is a member of the Rams family of games and, although it is a gambling game, often played for small stakes, it is also suitable as a party game or as a family game with children from the age of 12 upwards.

Mulatschak Austrian card game

Mulatschak or Fuchzenawa is an Austrian card game for two to five players that comes from the Salzburg area and is considered the quintessential game of the region. Although Mulatschak has been called the national card game of Salzburg, its rules were almost certainly unpublished before 2004. Mulatschak is a member of the Rams family in which the key feature is that players may choose to drop out of the game if they believe their hand is not strong enough to take a minimum number of tricks. There is a variant known as Murln or Murlen, which is played in Vienna and the Styria.


Ramscheln, also called Ramsch, is a German card game for three to five players, which is usually played for small stakes. It is a variant of Mönch and a member of the Rams group of card games characterised by allowing players to drop out of the current game if they think they will be unable to win any tricks or a minimum number of tricks. It should not be confused with Ramsch, an unofficial contract in Skat, played when everyone passes, in which the aim is not to score the most card points.

Zwanzig ab, 20 ab or simply Zwanzig is card game for four players. It is a member of the Rams family in which the key feature is that players may choose to drop out of the game if they believe their hand is not strong enough to take a minimum number of tricks. It appears to be a recent, internet-propagated variant of Schnalzen or Bohemian Watten. However, the latter has a natural card ranking, is played with double German cards and a Weli, has no exchanging and has a different scoring system. It is suitable for children from 8 upwards. It may be related from Fünf dazu! which is a simpler game described by Gööck in 1967 that has neither trumps nor the option to drop out.


  1. Kastner 2010, p. 39.