Schwimmen

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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.

Contents

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.

History

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).

Rules

General

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
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Queen of Hearts
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Ten of Hearts
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Jack of Diamonds
This combination scores 10 + 10 = 20 points, because only the Queen and Ten belong to the same suit
Poker-sm-241-Ac.png
Ace of Clubs
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King of Clubs
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9 of Clubs
This combination scores
11 + 10 + 9 = 30 points
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7 of Diamonds
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7 of Hearts
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7 of Spades
This combination scores 30½ points (if two have 30½ the higher ranking hand wins)
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Ace of Diamonds
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King of Diamonds
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10 of Diamonds
This combination scores
31 points

Aim

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.

Playing

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:

Scoring

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

Swimming

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:

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

Literature

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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

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Officers Skat

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Gaigel

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Bauernschnapsen

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Wendish Schafkopf

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Illustrated Tarock Austrian card game

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Binokel

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Quodlibet (card game)

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Mistigri (card game) german card game

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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

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.

References

  1. Kastner 2010, p. 39.