Skat (card game)

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Skat
Skat - typical hand of 10 cards.jpg
Typical Skat hand from a German-suited pack
Origin Germany
Type Trick-taking
Players3
Skills requiredHand evaluation, counting, cooperation
Cards32
DeckFrench, German or Tournament-suited "Skat" deck
PlayClockwise
Card rank (highest first)(J) A 10 K Q 9 8 7
A K Q J 10 9 8 7 (only for Null-Games)
Playing time3-5 minutes per hand played
Random chanceLow
Related games
Doppelkopf, Schafkopf, Sheepshead

Skat (German pronunciation: [ˈskaːt] ) is a 3-player trick-taking card game of the Ace-Ten family, devised around 1810 in Altenburg in the Duchy of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. It is the national game of Germany [1] and, along with Doppelkopf, it is the most popular card game in Germany and Silesia. It is considered one of the best and most interesting card games for 3 players. [1] [2]

Card game game using playing cards as the primary device

A card game is any game using playing cards as the primary device with which the game is played, be they traditional or game-specific. Countless card games exist, including families of related games. A small number of card games played with traditional decks have formally standardized rules, but most are folk games whose rules vary by region, culture, and person. Games using playing cards exploit the fact that cards are individually identifiable from one side only, so that each player knows only the cards he holds and not those held by anyone else. For this reason card games are often characterized as games of chance or “imperfect information”—as distinct from games of strategy or “perfect information,” where the current position is fully visible to all players throughout the game.

Altenburg Place in Thuringia, Germany

Altenburg is a city in Thuringia, Germany, located 40 kilometres south of Leipzig, 90 kilometres west of Dresden and 100 kilometres east of Erfurt. It is the capital of the Altenburger Land district and part of a polycentric old-industrial textile and metal production region between Gera, Zwickau and Chemnitz with more than 1 million inhabitants, while the city itself has a population of 33,000. Today, the city and its rural county is part of the Central German Metropolitan Region.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Contents

History

Skat was developed by the members of the Brommesche Tarok-Gesellschaft [3] between 1810 and 1817 in Altenburg, in what is now the State of Thuringia, Germany, based on the three-player game of Tarock, also known as Tarot, and the four-player game of Schafkopf (equivalent to the American game Sheepshead). [4] It has become the most loved and widely played German card game, especially in German-speaking regions. [5] In the earliest known form of the game, the player in the first seat was dealt twelve cards and the other two players ten each. He then made two discards, constituting the Skat, and announced a contract. [6] But the main innovation of this new game was that of the bidding process. [7]

Thuringia State in Germany

Thuringia, officially the Free State of Thuringia, is a state of Germany.

Schafkopf card game

Schafkopf, Schaffkopf or Schafkopfen, also called Bavarian Schafkopf to distinguish it from German Schafkopf, is a late 18th-century German trick-taking card game of the Ace-Ten family, still very popular in Bavaria, where it is their national card game, but also played in other parts of Germany as well as other German-speaking countries like Austria. It is an official cultural asset and important part of the Old Bavarian and Franconian way of life. Schafkopf is a mentally demanding game that is considered "the supreme discipline of Bavarian card games".

Bidding is the process in many card games, such as Skat, Pinochle, Binokel, Bridge, Solo Whist, Préférence, L’Hombre, Bauernschnapsen and most types of Tarock, whereby players vie to be able to specify the type of contract, the trump cards and/or to be able to pick up a set of face-down cards known variously, for example, as the talon, skat, dabb.

The first book on the rules of Skat was published in 1848 by a secondary school teacher J. F. L. Hempel. [8] Nevertheless, the rules continued to differ from one region to another until the first attempt to set them in order was made by a congress of Skat players on 7 August 1886 in Altenburg. These were the first official rules finally published in a book form in 1888 by Theodor Thomas of Leipzig. [8] The current rules, followed by both the ISPA and the German Skat Federation, date from Jan. 1, 1999. [9]

The word Skat is a Tarok term [10] derived from the Latin word scarto, scartare, which means to discard or reject, and its derivative scatola, a box or a place for safe-keeping. [11] The word scarto is still used in some other Italian card games to this day, and is not to be confused with the American game called scat [12]

Rules

Note: Because of the many variations in the rules of Skat, the rules below are necessarily general, although rules not found in official German tournament play are marked as such.

General principles

Skat is a game for three players. At the beginning of each round or 'deal', one player becomes declarer and the other two players become the defending team. The two defenders are not allowed to communicate in any way except by their choice of cards to play. The game can also be played by four players. In this case, the dealer will sit out the round that was dealt. Players may agree at the outset how many rounds/deals they will play for.

A central aspect of the game are the three coexisting varieties called "suit", "grand" and "null" games, that differ in suit order, scoring and even overall goal to achieve.

Each round of the game starts with a bidding phase to determine declarer and the required minimum game value (explained below). Then, ten tricks are played, allowing players to take trick points. Each card has a face value (except in null games) and is worth that number of points for the player winning the trick. The total face value of all cards is 120 points. Declarer's goal is to take at least 61 points in tricks in order to win that round of the game. Otherwise, the defending team wins the round. Points from tricks are not directly added to the players' overall score, they are used only to determine the outcome of the game (win or loss for declarer), although winning by certain margins may increase the score for that round.

After each round a score is awarded in accordance with the game value. If declarer wins he is awarded a positive score, if he loses the score is doubled and subtracted from the declarer's tally (i.e. a negative score).

Deck

Skat deck with tournament face Skatblatt Turnierbild.jpg
Skat deck with tournament face

The deck consists of 32 cards. Many modern decks use the French deck consisting of an ace (As), king (König), queen (Dame), jack (Bauer), 10, 9, 8 and 7 in all four suits (clubs , spades , hearts and diamonds ). Some players in Eastern and Southern Germany and Austria prefer traditional German decks with suits of acorns Bay eichel.png , leaves Bay gras.png , hearts Bay herz.png and bells Bay schelle.png , and card values of deuce (Daus), king (König), Ober, Unter, 10, 9, 8, and 7 in all four suits. [13] Until recently in Saxony and Thuringia, for example, German-suited decks were used almost exclusively. By contrast, regions of the former West Germany had adopted a French-suited deck.

Ace playing card

An ace is a playing card, die or domino with a single pip. In the standard French deck, an ace has a single suit symbol located in the middle of the card, sometimes large and decorated, especially in the case of the ace of spades. This embellishment on the ace of spades started when King James VI of Scotland and I of England required an insignia of the printing house to be printed on the ace of spades. This insignia was necessary for identifying the printing house and stamping it as having paid the new stamp tax. Although this requirement was abolished in 1960, the tradition has been kept by many card makers. In other countries the stamp and embellishments are usually found on ace cards; clubs in France, diamonds in Russia, and hearts in Genoa because they have the most blank space.

King (playing card) playing card

The king is a playing card with a picture of a king on it. The king is usually the highest-ranking face card. In French playing cards and tarot decks, the king immediately outranks the queen. In Italian and Spanish playing cards, the king immediately outranks the knight. In German and Swiss playing cards, the king immediately outranks the Ober. In some games, the king is the highest-ranked card; in others, the ace is higher. Aces began outranking kings around 1500 with Trappola being the earliest known game in which the aces were highest in all four suits. In the Ace-Ten family of games such as pinochle and schnapsen, both the ace and the 10 rank higher than the king.

Queen (playing card) playing card

The queen is a playing card with a picture of a woman on it. In many European languages, the king and queen begin with the same letter so the latter is often called dame (lady) or variations thereof. In French playing cards, the usual rank of a queen is between the king and the jack. In tarot decks, it outranks the knight which in turn outranks the jack.

Since German reunification, a compromise Turnierbild deck is used in tournaments that uses the shapes of the French suits but with corresponding German suit colors, green spades imitating leaves and gold diamonds imitating bells. [14] The choice of deck does not affect the rules.

German reunification process in 1990 in which East and West Germany once again became one country

The German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic became part of the Federal Republic of Germany to form the reunited nation of Germany, and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz (constitution) Article 23. The end of the unification process is officially referred to as German unity, celebrated on 3 October. Following German reunification, Berlin was once again designated as the capital of united Germany.

Dealing

At the beginning of each round each player is dealt ten cards, with the two remaining cards (the so-called Skat) being put face down in the middle of the table. Dealing follows this pattern: deal three cards each, then deal the Skat, then four cards each, then three cards again ("three–Skat–four–three"). In four-player rounds, the dealer does not receive any cards and skips actual play of the round. He or she may peek into the hand of one other player (if allowed to do so) but never into the Skat.

Dealing rotates clockwise around the table, so that the player sitting to the left of the dealer will be dealer for the next round.

Bidding

After the cards have been dealt, and before the deal is played out, a bidding or auction (German : Reizen) is held to decide:

The goal for each player during the bidding is to bid a game value as high as their card holding would allow, but never higher than necessary to win the auction. How the actual game value is determined is explained in detail below and is necessary to understand in order to know how high one can safely bid.

It is possible for a player to overbid, which leads to an automatic loss of the game in question. Often this does not become obvious before the player picks up the Skat, or even not before the end of the game in question (in case of a hand game, when the Skat is not picked up). Players have therefore to exercise careful scrutiny during bidding, as not to incur an unnecessary loss.

The bidding may also give away some information about what cards a player may or may not hold. Experienced players will be able to use this to their advantage.

Game value

The game value (also called hand value, German : Spielwert) is what the game will be worth after all tricks have been played. It is determined not only by the 10 cards held, but also by the two-card Skat. The Skat always belongs to the declarer, and if it contains certain high cards this may change the game value. It is therefore not possible in general to determine the exact game value before knowing the Skat.

The game value is determined by the type of the game and the game level as explained below for the suit, grand and null games.

Suit game

In a suit game (German : Farbspiel), one of the four suits is the trump suit.

Each suit has a base value (German : Grundwert), as follows:

suit (French deck)suit (German deck)value
Clubs (German: Kreuz) ()Acorns (German: Eichel) ( Bay eichel.png )12
Spades (German: Pik) ()Leaves (German: Blatt / Grün) ( Bay gras.png )11
Hearts (German: Herz) ()Hearts (German: Herz / Rot) ( Bay herz.png )10
Diamonds (German: Karo) ()Bells (German: Schellen) ( Bay schelle.png )9

This base value is then multiplied by the multiplier game level (German : Spielstufe or Gewinngrad) to determine the game value, so:

game value = base value × game level.

The multiplier game level of 1 (for becoming declarer) is always assumed. It is then increased by one for each of the following:

  1. The matador's jack straight length (German: Spitzen), counting from the top, that is the J and any trumps in unbroken sequence with it.
    • If the top trump (J) is held, count the length of the straight of trumps from the top (for example having all jacks and the ace but not the 10 of the suit counts as "with 5", other trump cards are not considered).
    • If the J is missing, count the missing trumps from the top (for example owning the J but no higher jack counts as "without 3")
  2. The Hand game (when the Skat is not picked up by declarer).
  3. The Schneider (when the game is won or lost with 90 or more trick points taken by the winning side).
  4. The Schwarz (when the game is won or lost with all tricks taken by the winning side).

In case of a Hand game (declarer does not pick up the Skat), the following special cases are allowed. Each one increases the multiplier game level by another point:

  1. Schneider is announced by declarer after the bidding (declarer has to take 90 or more trick points to win the game)
  2. Schwarz is announced by declarer after the bidding (declarer has to take all tricks to win)
  3. Ouvert (declarer plays with open cards and takes all tricks; that is Schwarz has to be announced in order to declare Ouvert in a suit game)

To summarize in tabular form:

Ordinary Skat gameHand game
Matador's jack straight (with or without)1 each1 each
Game (for becoming declarer)11
Hand (the Skat is not picked up)N/A1
Schneider (win with 90 or more points)11
Schneider announcedN/A1
Schwarz (win all tricks)11
Schwarz announcedN/A1
Ouvert (declarer plays with open hand)N/A1

Cards in the trump suit are ordered as follows (this is important to know when counting the length of the matador's jack straight):

  1. Jack of clubs, J or B or U Bay eichel.png (German deck: Unter of acorns/Acorn Unter)
  2. Jack of spades, J or B or U Bay gras.png (German deck: Unter of leaves/Green Unter)
  3. Jack of hearts, J or B or U Bay herz.png (German deck: Unter of hearts/Red Unter)
  4. Jack of diamonds, J or B or U Bay schelle.png (German deck: Unter of bells/Bell Unter)
  5. Ace of trumps
  6. 10 of trumps
  7. King of trumps
  8. Queen of trumps (German Deck: Ober)
  9. 9 of trumps
  10. 8 of trumps
  11. 7 of trumps

J is the highest-ranking card in a suit game and is called in German der Alte ("the old man").

The non-trump suit cards are ranked A-10-K-Q-9-8-7 (or A-10-K-O-9-8-7 for the German deck respectively).

As mentioned above, the cards in the Skat are to be included when determining the multiplier game level (also in case of the Hand game, where the Skat is unknown until after the deal has been played out). During bidding, each player therefore has incomplete information regarding the true game value. The final game value is calculated by multiplying the base value for the suit by the multiplier game level:

Grand game

Grand game is a special case of suit game, in which only the Jacks are trumps in the same order as in the suit game:

  1. Jack of clubs, J or B or U Bay eichel.png
  2. Jack of spades, J or B or U Bay gras.png
  3. Jack of hearts, J or B or U Bay herz.png
  4. Jack of diamonds, J or B or U Bay schelle.png

All other cards are ranked the same as in a suit game: A-10-K-Q-9-8-7.

The base value for the grand game is 24 in the official rules. It used to be 20 until 1932, and many hobbyists continued to use 20 well into the postwar era.

All other rules for determining game value are as in a suit game, that is, the base value of 24 is multiplied by the multiplier game level.

Null game

In the null game, declarer promises not to take any tricks at all. There is no trump suit and jacks are treated as normal suit cards sorted between 10 and queen. Thus the cards are ordered: A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7. The game values of null games are fixed, as follows:

  • 23 for a simple null game
  • 35 for a Null Hand game (the Skat is not picked up by declarer)
  • 46 for a Null Ouvert game (declarer plays with open cards)
  • 59 for a Null Ouvert Hand game (combination of the above two)
Examples

The following examples give a player's holding and the contents of the Skat (which will be unknown to all players during the auction) and explain how to derive the game value.

Example 1

Holding: J J A 10 K 8 7 9 8 7
Skat: A Q

The length of matador's jack straight will be 1 (J is present, J is missing). The multiplier game level will be 2 (1 for matador's jack straight plus 1 for becoming declarer).

The possible game value now depends on which game is declared, for example:

  • With hearts as trumps (base value is 10), the game value is 20 (10 × 2).
    • If the Skat is not picked up, the game value is 30 (the multiplier game level increases from 2 to 3 for declaring Hand).
    • If declarer manages to win with at least 90 trick points, the game value will be 30 as well (the multiplier game level increases from 2 to 3 for achieving Schneider).
  • In the grand game (base value is 24), the game value will be 48 (24 × 2).

Of course, many other possibilities exist.

Note that game value is dependent not only on the cards held (including the Skat) but also on which game is being declared and the outcome of the play. Each holding can thus be evaluated differently by different players. A risk-taking player might be willing to declare Hand on a holding on which another player might not — these two players will therefore give different valuations to the same holding. However, after all tricks have been played, it is always possible to determine the exact game value by combining the actual holding with the type of game and outcome of the play. Only then it becomes apparent if declarer has won or lost (if he overbid).

Example 2

Holding: J J J A 10 K 8 7 10 7
Skat: J Q

Assuming a trump suit of hearts in a suit game, this holding will have a different valuation before and after the Skat has been examined.

Without knowledge of the Skat (assuming Hand is not declared)

  • the multiplier game level is 4 (3 for the J J J straight, plus 1 for becoming declarer)
  • the base value is 10 (for Hearts being the trump suit)

This holding can be safely valuated at 40 (10 × 4), regardless of the Skat. With Hearts as trump, the game value will always be at least that much.

Now, assuming declarer wins by taking 95 points in tricks, after having declared Hand and Schneider, the actual game value will be as follows:

  • The base value is 10 (for Hearts being the trump suit)
  • The multiplier game level is 11
    • 1 for becoming declarer
    • 7 for the straight of J J J J A 10 K
    • 1 for declaring Hand
    • 1 for declaring Schneider
    • 1 for achieving Schneider (at least 90 points in tricks taken)
  • The actual game value will be 110 (10 × 11)

The player could have bid up to that value (110) during the auction. In practice this would have been too risky because only J in the Skat increased the length of matador's jack straight to 7.

Note: Most players will declare a grand game with the above hand, as it will be much more lucrative than a suit game in Hearts (declarer will concede at most two club tricks, probably achieving Schneider for a game value of at least 144 (24 × 6).

More examples
  • J J: with 2, plus 1 is 3.
  • J J: with 1 (counting interrupted by the missing J), plus 1 is 2.
  • J J J J with 4, plus 1 is 5.
  • J J: Without 2, plus 1 is 3.
  • J alone: This is also without 2 (counting is interrupted by the present J), plus 1 is 3.

Now for the special cases: if you think you can do more than just win, you can add points for the special cases.

  • J J: With 2, plus 1 (game) plus 1 (for Hand) is 4.
  • J J: With 2, plus 1 (game) plus 1 (for Schneider) is 4.
  • J J: With 2, plus 1 (game) plus 1 (for Hand) plus 1 (for Schneider) plus 1 (for Schwarz) is 6.
  • J J: With 2, game 3, Hand 4, Schneider 5, pre-declared Schneider 6, Schwarz 7, pre-declared Schwarz 8, Ouvert 9.

The highest possible multiplier game level is 18: that is with (or without) four jacks and all seven cards of trump suit (including those in the Skat, if any) 11, plus the maximum of 7 for becoming declarer, Hand, Schneider, declaring Schneider, Schwarz, declaring Schwarz and Ouvert. The lowest possible multiplier game level is 2: either with J, or without J and with J 1, plus 1 for becoming declarer.

Bidding mechanics

Order of bidding

The order of bidding is determined by the seating order. Starting from the left of the dealer players are numbered clockwise: the first seat (German : Vorhand), the second seat (German : Mittelhand) and the third seat (German : Hinterhand). In a three-player game, the dealer will be the third seat. In a four-player game the third seat will be to the right of the dealer.

Bidding starts by the player in second seat making a call to the player in first seat on which the latter can hold or pass. If the first seat player holds, the second seat player can make a higher call or pass himself. This continues until either of the two players passes. The player in third seat is then allowed to continue making calls to the player who has not yet passed. Bidding ends as soon as at least two players have passed. It is also possible for all three players to pass.

The starting order can be memorized as “deal–respond–bid–continue” (German : "geben–hören–sagen–weitersagen"). The player who continues in this mnemonic is either the dealer (in a three-player game) or the player in third seat. The mnemonic is commonly used among casual players.

Example: Alice, Bob and Carole are playing, and seated in that order around the table. Alice deals the cards. Carole makes the first call to Bob, who passes right away. Alice then makes two more calls to Carole, who accepts both bids. Alice then passes as well. The bidding ends, with Carole being the declarer for this round.

Possible calls

The calling player (i.e. the player currently calling the bids) may either

  • “pass”, leaving the bidding and forfeiting the chance to become declarer in this round, or
  • bid any possible game value that is higher than the highest bid made so far in this round.

The responding player (i.e. the player currently responding to the bidder) may either

  • “pass”, leaving the bidding and forfeiting the chance to become declarer in this round, or
  • “accept”, staying in the bidding and waiting for further calls.

Responder must wait for caller to bid or pass before passing herself.

Except for "pass", only the possible game values are legal calls. Therefore, the lowest possible call is 18, which is the lowest possible game value in Skat. Players are free to skip intermediate values, although it is common to always pick the lowest available call while bidding.

The sequence of possible game values through 60, beginning with 18 is 18—20—22—23—24—27—30—33—35—36—40—44—45—46—48—50—54—55—59—60 (higher bids are possible albeit rare in a competitive auction). Among German players the values representing null games, especially 23, the most common one, are often replaced by the call “null”. Also, numbers are frequently abbreviated by only calling the lower digit of a value not divisible by 10 (e.g. “two” instead of “22” or “five” instead of “45”); this is unambiguous if values are always called out in order and intermediate values never skipped, as is the custom. (As the German words for "null" and "zero" are identical, this yields the rather unintuitive sequence 18—20—2—0—4—7—30 and so on.)

Passing out

If all players pass, the hand is not played and the next dealer shuffles and deals. A dealer never deals twice in a row.

It is common in informal play to play a variant of Skat called Ramsch (junk, rummage) instead of skipping the hand and dealing for the next one. This is not part of the sanctioned rules, however.

In a pass-out game, the player in first seat will be the last one to pass. If that player intends to become declarer, however, he has to make a call of at least 18 (picking up the Skat in that situation implies the call).

Example auction

Players Alice, Bob and Carol are seated in that order, clockwise; Alice is the dealer. The auction proceeds as follows:

  1. Carol: "18"
  2. Bob: "Accept"
  3. Carol: "20"
  4. Bob: "Accept"
  5. Carol: "22"
  6. Bob: "Pass"
  7. Alice: "23"
  8. Carol: "Accept"
  9. Alice: "24"
  10. Carol: "Accept"
  11. Alice: "Pass"

On this deal, Carol will be declarer with a final bid of 24 (the highest accepted bid).

Declaring

The winner of the auction becomes declarer. He will play against the other two players. Before the hand is played, declarer either

In either case the two cards in the Skat count towards declarer's trick points.

After putting two cards back into the Skat, declarer then either declares a suit game by announcing a trump suit, declares a grand game or a null game.

If Hand has been declared, the player may make additional announcements such as Schneider, Schwarz and Ouvert.

Variants

A common variant in non-sanctioned play allows the defenders to announce "Kontra" just before the first trick is played, if they have made or held at least one call. In this case, the stakes will be doubled for the hand. Declarer, in turn, may announce “Re”, to redouble the stakes. In a less common further variation this process can be repeated twice more by announcing "Supra" and "Resupra" (or more colloquially, "Bock" [(roe) buck] and "Hirsch" [red deer], or the like, which are colloquial augments of "Reh" roe deer).

Playing

The player in the first seat sitting to the left of the dealer leads to the first trick. The other two follow in clockwise direction. Every player plays one card to the trick, which is in the middle of the table. The winner of a trick stacks the cards face down in front of him and leads to the next trick, which is again played clockwise.

Suit game

The players must play a card in the same suit as the first card of the trick, if possible (“following suit”). If a player cannot follow suit, he may play any card (including a trump card). Trumps, including all four jacks, count as a single suit. If a trump is led, every player must also play trump, if he has any.

If there are trump cards in the trick, the highest trump in it wins the trick. If there are no trumps in it, the highest card of the suit led wins the trick.

The non-trump suit cards rank in order A-10-K-Q-9-8-7. The trumps rank the same way with the four jacks on top in the order J, J, J, J.

Completed tricks are kept face down in front of the players who won them, until all the cards have been played. Examining completed tricks (except for the last one) is not allowed. The tricks of the two players who are playing together are put together, either during or after play.

Grand game

In the grand game, only the four jacks are trumps in the suit order given above for a regular suit game. All other ranks are the same as in the regular suit game (10 is ranked just below the ace). There are thus five "suits" in the grand game (if a jack is led to a trick, the other two players must play jacks too, if they have them).

Null game

In a null game there is no trump suit, and in each suit the cards are ranked A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7.

The goal of a null game is for declarer not to take any tricks. If declarer takes a trick in a null game, he immediately loses and the game is scored right away.

Conceding and claiming

Declarer may, unilaterally, concede a loss while he is holding at least nine cards (i.e. before playing to the second trick). Afterwards approval of at least one defender is required. Defenders may concede at any time, but may be requested by declarer to complete the play (e.g. if declarer thinks that Schneider or Schwarz is still possible).

Claiming of remaining tricks is possible as well, but for a defender only if she would be able to take the remaining tricks herself.

A game in which the necessary trick points have been won can not be lost, regardless of claims.

Counting and scoring

After the last trick has been played, the game is scored. Winning conditions for null game are different from suit and grand games.

Winning conditions for declarer

To win a suit or grand game, declarer needs at least 61 card points in his tricks. If declarer announced Schneider, he needs at least 90 card points in order to win. The two cards in the Skat count towards declarer's tricks. If declarer announced Schwarz, he must take all ten tricks in order to win.

Point values of cards
RankJA10KQ987
Value2111043000

The highest-ranking cards for taking the tricks (the jacks) are not the highest scoring cards. The aces and 10s combined make up almost three quarters of the total points; taking as many as possible of them is thus imperative for winning. On the other hand, taking 7s, 8s and 9s (the Luschen or blanks) doesn't help (or hurt) at all, unless Schwarz was declared.

To win a null game, declarer must not take a single trick. null games are often not played through to the end, either because declarer is forced to take a trick, ending the game prematurely, or because it becomes apparent to the defenders that they will be forced to take the rest of the tricks. There are no card points in a null game.

Overbid hands

Even with the majority in card points, declarer may still lose if the game value is lower than the value he bid during the auction. This is called overbidding. An overbid hand is automatically lost, leading to a negative score for declarer.

An overbid hand is scored by determining the lowest possible game value that is a multiple of the base value of declarer's suit (or 24 in case of a grand) which is at least as high as declarer's bid. This value is then doubled and subtracted from declarer's score (negative score).

Example: Declarer bids 30, missing the two top trumps (without 2), intending to play a club suit game (game value would be 12 × 3 = 36). She then finds the J in the Skat (with 1). Her game value is now only 24 (12 × 2) — she has overbid. Unless she manages to play at least Schneider (raising the game value to 36), or makes a game other than clubs with a game value of at least 30, the game will be lost. She will receive a negative score of −72 (36 is the lowest multiple of 12, the base value of clubs, greater than the 30 she bid; 36 times two is 72). She can try to minimize her loss by declaring a game in Hearts instead of Clubs (base value 10 instead of 12). This will be worth only −60 points, unless opponents score Schneider against her.

Scoring

The score is always assigned to the declarer (positive or negative).

The score to be awarded is the actual game value. How high the player bid during the auction is immaterial, as long as the game value is at least as high as declarer's bid (see Overbid Hands above). Note that often the score will be higher than the auction value, because players typically do not bid as high as their hand would allow.

For a won game, that score is added to declarer's tally. For a lost game, the score is doubled and subtracted from declarer's tally (negative score).

Until 1998, lost Hand games did not count double, but this rule was dropped in that year. The reason was that in tournament play nearly all games played were Hand games. This increased the game level by one, but did not penalize as much as a normal game would have if lost.

In league games, a fixed number of points is added for each game that is won by the declarer to lower the chance factor and to stress the skill factor. In that situation, it becomes far more important for each player to bid his hand as high as possible.

Example 1: Declarer bids 20 and declares a grand game. He then wins with 78 points in tricks. Declarer held J J J. The game value is 24 × (2 + 1) = 72 points. These are awarded to the declarer.

Example 2: Declarer bids 30 and declares a Null Ouvert game. She, however, is forced to take the ninth trick, losing the game. The game value is 46, it will be doubled and subtracted from her total score (−92 points).

Game variants

Ramsch

Ramsch ("junk") is not part of sanctioned Skat rules, but is widely practiced in hobbyist rounds, and is the variant most often suggested to be officially sanctioned. It is played if all three players pass in the bidding. There is no declarer in Ramsch; every player plays for himself, and the goal is to achieve as low a score as possible. The idea behind Ramsch is to punish players who underbid their hands. [15]

To make Ramsch more interesting, an additional rule is often played that adds a second winning condition: the Ramsch is also won by a player if that player manages to take all tricks (German : Durchmarsch i.e. "march"). At first, this seems to be not too difficult, since the other players will initially try to take as few tricks as possible and to get rid of their high-ranking cards. Once they get suspicious, however, they may thwart the effort simply by taking one trick from the player trying for the Durchmarsch.

Suit ranks in Ramsch are the same as in the Grand game, with only the four Jacks being trumps. [8]

Hobby players often add the following rule: 10s are lower in trick taking power than Queens and Kings, but still count as ten points. Sometimes, they only count one point. There are a couple of variants to the rules concerning 10s, so this should be sorted out before starting the game. Often, the players are allowed to check and exchange cards with the skat, or decline to do so and pass the skat on to the next player, doubling the score (known as Schieberamsch ). Jacks are not allowed to be passed on in this variation. The two cards in the Skat are usually added to the tricks of the player who takes the last trick. After all ten tricks are played, the player with the highest number of card points (or alternatively, every player) has their card points amount deducted from their score as negative game points. If one player takes no tricks at all (Jungfrau, English: virgin), the points of the losing hand are doubled. Some players also give a fixed value of 15 negative points to the loser and if there are two "virgins", 20. [15]

Another variation used in smaller tournaments is the Gewinner-Ramsch (winner-rubbish). If none of the players bid a Ramsch is played. Unlike the original negative game the winner is who achieves the lowest score and is awarded 23 points, the score of a won Null. Additionally they are awarded the won game. The skat is given to the player with the highest score. If two players achieve the same lowest score they will both be awarded the 23 points and the won game. While not very widely spread this variation is a nice addition as it rewards the player who most rightfully did not bid.

Two-player skat

It is possible to play a modified version of the game with only two players. The cards that would be dealt to a third player are simply laid down as a “dummy” hand instead and not used.

A popular two-player variant is called Strohmann (strawman), in which the dummy hand is played by the player who loses bidding. After the game has been declared, the third hand is flipped and can be seen by the other players. Thus, it is possible to predict what hand the opponent has and play much more strategically. It is sometimes used to teach new players the principles of Skat.

Another variant is Oma Skat where the dummy hand is known as Oma or "Grandma".

Officers' Skat

Officers' Skat (German : Offiziersskat) is a variant for two players. Each player receives 16 cards on the table in front of him in two rows, 8 face down and 8 face up on top of them. Bidding is replaced by the non-dealer declaring a game type and trump. When a face-up card is played, the hidden card is turned over. Each deal results in a total of 16 tricks and players must agree whether a game lasts for a certain number of deals or until one player scores a certain number of game points. Scoring is similar to normal Skat.

North American skat

Skat in the United States and Canada was played for many years as an older version of the game, also known as Tournee Skat, which shares most of its rules with its modern European counterpart with the addition of a few different games and an alternate system of scoring. Tournee Skat is declining in popularity. Most tournament Skat players in North America play the modern game described above.

The games in North American (tournée) skat

Tournée
To determine trump, declarer picks up one card of the skat and looks at it. If declarer wants this card's suit as trump, the card is shown to the other players. Otherwise the hand is played as Passt mir nicht (it doesn't suit me) and the other card in the skat is turned up to determine trump. A jack gives declarer the choice of either playing grand (jacks only) or the jack's suit as trump. Once trump has been determined, both the skat cards are added to declarer's hand and then two are removed and placed face down to begin his or her pile of cards won.
Solo
The skat remains on the table and declarer names trump in any suit or grand. Grand may also be played ouvert with declarer's hand spread face up for all player to see.
Grand guckser
Declarer picks up both of the skat cards, adds them to his or her hand and discards two. Game is played with grand trumps. Grand Guckser is the only game in North American Skat where declarer picks up both skat cards at once.
Null
The skat remains untouched and declarer wagers to take no tricks. In null, cards rank A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7. If declarer takes a trick, then the hand is lost and a new deal commences. Null may also be played ouvert.
Ramsch
If middlehand (Mittelhand) and rearhand (Hinterhand) both pass, forehand (Vorhand) may not pass, but if he does not wish to bid may declare ramsch in which players each play for themselves in trying to take the fewest number of tricks with grand as trumps. The skat is not used.

Upon determining the game, declarer may also state that he or she intends to Schneider or Schwarz for extra game points or penalties.

Scoring in North American (tournée) skat

Card points are the same as in German Skat: A=11, 10=10, K=4, Q=3. J=2 and all other cards have no value. The game points, however, are a bit different. Base value for the different games are as follows:

As in German skat, game points in North American Skat are tallied by multiplying base game value by:

Note that if Schneider or Schwarz are declared but not made, then the contract is not met and declarer loses the amount that he or she would have won if successful. The above multipliers do not figure into games played null or ramsch.

Organization of players

League games are organized worldwide:

In the event of disputes, players may appeal to the International Skat Court in Altenburg.

See also

Related Research Articles

Trick-taking game type of card game

A trick-taking game is a card or tile-based game in which play of a hand centers on a series of finite rounds or units of play, called tricks, which are each evaluated to determine a winner or taker of that trick. The object of such games then may be closely tied to the number of tricks taken, as in plain-trick games such as Whist, Contract bridge, Spades, Napoleon, Euchre, Rowboat, Clubs and Spoil Five, or to the value of the cards contained in taken tricks, as in point-trick games such as Pinochle, the Tarot family, Mariage, Rook, All Fours, Manille, Briscola, and most evasion games like Hearts. The domino game Texas 42 is an example of a trick-taking game that is not a card game. Trick-and-draw games are trick-taking games in which the players can fill up their hands after each trick. In most variants, players are free to play any card into a trick in the first phase of the game, but must follow suit as soon as the stock is depleted. Trick-avoidance games like Reversis or Polignac are those in which the aim is to is avoid taking some or all tricks.

French tarot trick-taking card game for four players using the traditional 78-card tarot deck

The French game of tarot, also jeu de tarot, is a trick-taking strategy tarot card game played by three to five players using a traditional 78-card tarot deck. The game is the second most popular card game in France and is also known in French-speaking Canada.

Belote is a 32-card, trick-taking, Ace-Ten game played primarily in France and certain European countries, namely Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Moldova, North Macedonia and also in Saudi Arabia. It is one of the most popular card games in those countries, and the national card game of France, both casually and in gambling. It was invented around 1920 in France, and is a close relative of both Klaberjass and Klaverjas. Closely related games are played throughout the world. Definitive rules of the game were first published in 1921.

Pitch is an American trick-taking card game derived from the English game of All Fours. Historically, Pitch started as "Blind All Fours", a very simple All Fours variant that is still played in England as a pub game. The modern game involving a bidding phase and setting back a party's score if the bid is not reached came up in the middle of the 19th century and is more precisely known as Auction Pitch or Setback. Whereas All Fours started as a two-player game, Pitch is most popular for three to five players. Four can play individually or in fixed partnerships, depending in part on regional preferences. Auction Pitch is played in numerous variations that vary the deck used, provide methods for improving players' hands, or expand the scoring system. Some of these variants gave rise to a new game known as Pedro or Cinch.

Cinch, also known as Double Pedro or High Five, is an American trick-taking card game derived from Pitch via Pedro. Developed in Denver, Colorado in the 1880s, it was soon regarded as the most important member of the All Fours family but went out of fashion with the rise of Auction Bridge. The game is primarily played by 4 players in fixed partnerships, but can also be played by 2–6 individual players.

Smear is a North-American trick-taking card game of the All Fours group, and a variant of Pitch (Setback). Several slightly different versions are played in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Minnesota, Northern and Central Iowa, Wisconsin and also in Ontario, Canada.

Glossary of card game terms

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. This list does not encompass terms that are specific to one game.

German Solo

German Solo, known locally just as Solo and, historically as German Ombre, is a German 8-card plain-trick game for four individual players using a 32-card, German- or French-suited Skat pack. It is essentially a simplification of Quadrille, itself a four-player adaptation of Ombre. As in Quadrille, players bid for the privilege of declaring trumps and deciding whether to play alone or with a partner. Along with Ombre, Tarock and Schafkopf, German Solo influenced the development of Skat.

Bauerntarock card game

Bauerntarock also called Brixentaler Bauerntarock, is a point-trick card game played in the Brixental, Austria. It may have originated in the 19th century as an adaptation of the 54-card Tapp Tarock game onto the cheaper and smaller 36-card German deck. Another possibility is that it was adapted from the 78-card Tarok-Ombre game as the ratio of trumps to non-trumps is almost the same. It uses the Skat Schedule found in popular regional games such as Jass and Schafkopf. It is closely related to Bavarian Tarock, Württemberg Tarock, and especially Dobbm. Like Bavarian Tarock and Tapp, Brixental Bauerntarock and Dobbm do not belong to the true tarot games, but have adopted rules from Tapp Tarock. The most fundamental difference between these games and true tarot games is in the use of German or French decks instead of true Tarot playing cards.

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 card deck 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)

German Schafkopf card game

German Schafkopf is an old German card game and the forerunner of the popular modern games of Skat, Doppelkopf and Bavarian Schafkopf. Today it is hardly ever played in its original form, but there are a number of regional derivations.

Bavarian Tarock card game

Bavarian Tarock, Haferltarock or, often, just Tarock, is a card game which is played in Bavaria and several regions of Austria as well as variants in Berlin. Despite the name, it is not a true Tarock game because it is not played with a Tarock pack. In fact, it is played with a 36-card German deck and is more related to Sechsundsechzig. That said, several elements of the genuine Tarock games have been incorporated, as in the game of Bavarian Schafkopf. Very similar card games include Tapp, played in Württemberg, and Brixentaler Bauerntarock. It should not be confused with Königrufen, also known as Austrian Tarock or just Tarock.

Tapp (card game) tarot game

Tapp or Württemberg Tarock is a card game that bears some similarity to Bavarian Tarock and even to the very well known game of Skat and is played with a French deck of 36 cards. The game of Tapp is only really a local pastime played in the German state of Württemberg. It is not related to the tarot card game of Tapp Tarock.

Mucken

Mucken is a variation of the popular German card game, Schafkopf. However, unlike Schafkopf, it must always be played in teams of 2 players, so there are no Solo or Rufer (Caller) contracts. Mucken is mainly found in the province of Upper Franconia in the German state of Bavaria. Mucken is often played in Franconian restaurants, as it is part of the Franconian pub culture. The details of the rules vary greatly, even from village to village.

Tausendundeins

Tausendundeins, 1001 or Russeln, is an easy-to-learn card game that enables a player to quickly become familiar with the basic concepts of trick-taking and trump-based card games. The name is taken from the score at the end of the game.

Binokel

Binokel is a regional card game for two to eight players that originates from the German state of Württemberg and 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. Binokel is also played in Switzerland, where it is also spelt Binocle.

Blattla card game

Blattla is a Bavarian card game for four players, who usually form two teams of two for each deal. It is a simplified version of Schafkopf and Bierkopf and is thus a point-trick game. Unlike those two games, in Blattla the Obers and Unters are not permanent trumps. In order to learn the rules of Schafkopf, it can be an advantage to first become familiar with Blattla. The game is traditionally played with Bavarian pattern cards.

Solo 66

Solo 66 is a trick-taking, Ace-Ten, card game for five players in which a soloist always plays against the other four. It is based on the rules of Germany's national game, Skat, and is played with a French-suited Skat pack of 32 cards. Bidding is for the trump suit. Jacks are ranked within their respective suits and do not form additional trumps over and above the cards of the trump suit. Grupp describes it as "an entertaining game for a larger group."

Glossary of Skat terms Wikimedia list article

The following is a glossary of Skat terms used in playing the card game of Skat. Although Skat has German origins, it has now become an international game, often played to official rules. This glossary includes terms which are common or regional, official or unofficial, as well as those used for special situations, starting hands, card combinations and terms relating to players. Many of the terms are also used in other trick-taking or Ace-Ten games or even in card games in general.

References

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