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Official Skat Card Game Rules

Skat is a traditional German card game for three players that involves bidding, strategy, and a mix of skill and luck. Here are the basic rules and how to play:

Objective

The objective of Skat is to win the most points by either declaring and making a contract or by defeating the declarer's contract.

Setup

1. Deck: Use a 32-card deck (A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7 in each suit).


2. Players: Three players. If four are present, one sits out each round.


3. Deal: Each player receives 10 cards, dealt in rounds of 3, 4, 3. The remaining two cards form the Skat and are placed face down in the center.

Gameplay

Bidding Process:

  1. Initial Bid: The player to the left of the dealer starts the bidding, followed by the other players.

  2. Bid Values: Players can bid based on the potential value of their hand, considering the possible game types (e.g., suit games, grand, null).

  3. Winning the Bid: The highest bidder becomes the declarer and picks up the Skat, adds it to their hand, then discards any two cards back to the Skat.

Game Types:

The declarer chooses one of the following game types:

  1. Suit Game: A specific suit (clubs, spades, hearts, diamonds) is chosen as trump. Jacks are always the highest trumps in the order: Jack of clubs, Jack of spades, Jack of hearts, Jack of diamonds, followed by the rest of the trump suit.

  2. Grand Game: Only the Jacks are trumps in the same order as above.

  3. Null Game: There are no trumps, and the declarer must lose every trick to win.

Playing the Game:

  1. Leading a Trick: The player to the left of the declarer leads the first trick by playing any card from their hand.

  2. Following Suit: Players must follow the suit led if possible. If they cannot follow suit, they can play any card, including trumps.

  3. Winning a Trick: The highest card of the suit led wins the trick unless a trump card is played, in which case the highest trump wins.

  4. Collecting Tricks: The winner of each trick leads the next trick. This continues until all cards have been played.

Scoring:

  1. Counting Points: At the end of the round, points are counted based on the cards won in tricks. The card values are as follows:

    • Ace: 11 points

    • Ten: 10 points

    • King: 4 points

    • Queen: 3 points

    • Jack: 2 points

    • 9, 8, 7: 0 points

  2. Declaring Points: The declarer needs at least 61 points to win a suit or grand game (or at least 90 points for a higher value). In a null game, the declarer must lose all tricks.

  3. Game Value: The value of the game is calculated based on the type of game, the trump suit, and multipliers for additional factors such as winning with or without the Skat, or fulfilling special conditions (e.g., Schneider, Schwarz).

Winning the Game

  • The game is typically played over several rounds. Players accumulate points based on their performance in each round. The player with the highest total score at the end of the agreed number of rounds wins the game.


Notes/Variations

  • Schneider: If the declarer or defenders win 90 or more points, they are considered "Schneider."

  • Schwarz: If the declarer or defenders win all the tricks, they are considered "Schwarz."

  • Hand Games: The declarer can choose to play without looking at the Skat for higher multipliers.


Skat is a sophisticated and strategic card game that requires careful planning, bidding, and trick-taking skills. Its rich history and complex rules make it a favorite among card game enthusiasts.


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