One of the matadors: the Jack of Spades
|Origin||Austria or England|
|Playing time||10-15 min.|
|Cassino, Escoba, Scopa, Zwickern|
Skwitz was a 19th-century Austrian card game of the fishing type for 2 to 8 players that was said to be of English origin.It may be a descendant of Cassino which it resembles.
The game appears as early as an 1852 Viennese 'house calendar' where it is describe as a "social game" that is relaxing and entertaining to play.It is also published in a number of Viennese games compendia around that time, including the 1866 edition of the Neuestes Universal Spielbuch which carries an identical account of the rules. Despite its supposed English origin, possibly in a game called Quits, there appears to be no record of it being played there.
The game is played with a French-suited Whist pack of 52 cards and no Jokers. Aces are low. There are 3 matadors which earn bonuses: the Jack, Ten and Two of Spades.
The game was played for points and money. Each player needed a dish for their own chips or coins ('pool') and a larger dish for the pot was recommended. A basic stake of 1-5 chips or ¼ kreuzers was suggested.
The game is described for two to eight players, however, the number of cards dealt to the players and the table at the start and the number of cards drawn by each player during each deal varies depending on the number playing. Four players could play in two teams of two, each sharing a common pool.
The following rules are summarised from the Vanderheid / house calendar account and assume four players and a stake of 4 chips.
Deal and play are anticlockwise. Each player antes 4 chips to the pot. The dealer shuffles until the cutter is satisfied, indicating this by cutting the pack or saying "it's good" (gut ist's). The dealer looks at the bottom card; if it is a matador, the cards are reshuffled.
The dealer then places 4 cards, in line and face up, on the table before handing the remaining stock to forehand, the player on his right. Each player in turn now draws the top four cards from the stock into his hand.
Once all the players have drawn their cards, the players, in turn and beginning with forehand, try to capture the table cards by matching or summing in accordance with the following rules:
Captured cards are placed face down in a pile next to the player who captured them. Each skwitz is recorded by turning one of the captured cards face up.
Once all the cards have been played, the dealer clears any remaining cards from the table and announces "these are the last" (dies sind die Letzten).
Payments are made during the game as follows:
The rules also list numerous instances of breaches for which the penalty is invariably the payment of half the stake (2 chips) to each of the other players.
One point is scored for each of the following:
As soon as a player reaches the agreed number of points (usually 7) he may declare "Out!" (Aus!) when it is his turn to play, whereupon everyone else pays 4 to the pot and 4 to the winner.In addition, any player with no points is 'in the mud' ( matsch ) and pays 4 to the pot and 4 to the winner. However, a player on 7 points may opt to play on to try and earn more through capturing matadors and making skwitzes.
Once the payments for the "out" and matsch have been made, the current dealer passes the pot to the winner who places it beside him without emptying it and becomes the next dealer (this overrides the normal sequence in which the dealer rotates to the right if no-one has scored 7 points). If the same player wins again, he collects the contents of the pot after the payments for "out" and matsch have been made.
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