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"A simpler and jollier version of Cassino"
A pack of Zwicker cards with its 6 Jokers
Origin Germany
Alternative namesZwickern, Zwickeln
Type Fishing game
DeckFrench + 6 jokers, Zwicker pack
Card rank (highest first)K, Q, J, A, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
Playing time12 minutes/hand
Related games
Cassino, Scopa, Skwitz, Escoba

Zwickern (also Zwicker or Zwickeln) is a German fishing card game for two to eight players played in Schleswig-Holstein in North Germany. It is an old game whose rules first appeared in 1930. [1] The rules vary slightly in their details depending on the region, but the basics are identical in each variation. [2] It has been described as "a simpler and jollier version of Cassino, [3] which is "exciting and entertaining" and easy to learn. [4] Fallada calls it "a rather cunning farmer's game from Holstein." [5]



The earliest set of rules appeared in 1930 in Robert Hülsemann's Das Buch der Spiele where the game is much as described below but without any Jokers. [1] Originally, it was played with just a standard 52-card pack [6] but now it is commonly played with 3 or even 6 jokers. [3] [7] 58-card packs have been in production since at least the 1950s. [8] In 1935 it was described as popular in Schleswig-Holstein, especially in the Holstein villages of Krempermarsch, Wilstermarsch and Dithmarschen as well as Eiderstedt and North Frisia in Schleswig. [9]

In recent times, it has been played in North Frisia – for example, in Neukirchen, [10] Leck [11] and on the island of Sylt [12] – as well as further east in the county of Schleswig-Flensburg at Sieverstedt [13] and Schafflund. [14] It is still recorded in Holstein at Tappendorf. [15]


The following rules are based on Danyliuk and Parlett. [4] [3]

Card values


The Ten of Diamonds brings in the most points in Zwicker Carte francaise carreau 10.png
The Ten of Diamonds brings in the most points in Zwicker

The aim of Zwicker is to capture Aces and Honours (Honneurs i.e. SuitDiamonds.svg 7, SuitSpades.svg 7, SuitDiamonds.svg 10) [4] and to make 'sweeps' known as zwicks or zwickers. [3]


Each player receives four cards and four are dealt face up to the table, henceforth referred to as the tableau (Bild). [16] The rest form the stock which is placed face down on the table. The aim is to collect cards, especially the point-scoring ones, from the tableau in turn. Each player plays a card from his hand to the table and may (or may not) use it to capture cards from the tableau. A player make capture either by 'pairing', if the value of a card in his hand is equal to one in the tableau, or by "summing" if the value of his card equals that of two or more cards in the tableau. For example, a King (card value 14) may capture a 9 and a 5 (together worth 14). A played card may make as many captures as possible. So a Queen can be used to take two Queens from the tableau and, if the two remaining cards together add up to 13 (the card value of the Queen), they may also be collected. If a player clears all the cards in the tableau, as in the last example, it is a "sweep", [3] zwick [2] [4] or zwicker [7] and counts more when it comes to scoring. When a player's hand cards are used up, he receives four new cards. If a player cannot capture a card or cards from the tableau, he must "trail", by adding a hand card to the tableau, or 'build', by placing it half over one in the tableau. The values laid on top of each other must not exceed 14. Cards placed one on top of the other can only be taken using their combined value. [3]


Jokers were not originally used in this game, but it is now one of few games that is played with up to six in a single pack, special Zwicker packs being manufacturered for this purpose. Depending on the rules agreed for them, Jokers can play a major or minor role in the game. The normal rule is that, whether in the tableau or played from the hand, they are wild and represent any card chosen by the player. Optional rules to limit these powers include: if a Joker is the only card in the tableau, it may only be taken by another Joker; if a Joker is used in sweeping all cards from the table, it does not count as a zwicker; or even that Jokers may never be picked up from the tableau, which effectively prevents any more zwickers being made. [17] Danyliuk recommends leaving out the Jokers if there are more than 4 players. [4]


Once all the cards have been used up, the round ends. The winner is the player who has the most points or reached the previously agreed total of points. Points are awarded for the capture of certain cards or method of capture. Scoring is as follows: [3] [4]


There are two, more complex, variants recorded by John McLeod and known to be actually played. In both cases cards may be built up or down e.g. a player may play a 3 onto a 7 and say "4" or "10" . Otherwise the 2 variants have the following differences in matching values and scoring: [2]

Dithmarschen variant

Matching values

Großenwiehe variant

In this variant, which is also recorded as played in Sillerup and Großenwiehe, the dealer gives 2 cards to each player, then 5 face up to the table; then 2 more to each player and finally 5 more to the table, so that the game starts with ten cards in the tableau.

Matching values


  1. The matching values of these Jokers are handwritten at the top of each card; their scoring values are written at the bottom of the card.

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  2. 1 2 3 McLeod, John. Zwickern at Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Parlett, David (2008). The Penguin Book of Card Games (3rd ed.). London: Penguin Books. pp. 405–406.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Zwicker" in 1x1 der Kartenspiele by Rita Danyliuk. Retrieved 11 Jun 2018.
  5. Fallada 2013.
  6. Zwicker at NSV. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  7. 1 2 Zwickern at NSV. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  8. "Playing Cards Currently in Popular Use in Germany". Chicago Playing Card Collectors, Inc. 7 (Christmas Special): 11. 1960.
  9. Mensing 1935.
  10. Gemeinsamer Lebensweg war schnell beschlossen at Retrieved 9 Feb 2020.
  11. Die wollen doch nur spielen at Retrieved 9 Feb 2020
  12. Am Sonntag gab es frische Wäsche at Retrieved 9 Feb 2020.
  13. "Gelungener Auftakt für SpieleNachmittag in der ATS" in Treenespiegel, Oct 2008, p. 26. Retrieved 9 Feb 2020.
  14. Spielen in geselliger Runde at Retrieved 9 Feb 2020.
  15. Zwickern mit dem Mädels at Retrieved 23 Feb 2020.
  16. calls it the "Picture", which is a literal translation of Bild, and Parlett simply calls them "table cards", but 'tableau' is the English card game term e.g. in Patience.
  17. Grupp 1975, pp. 149/150.