German Solo

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German Solo
Deckblatt.jpg
German-suited deck
Origin Germany
Alternative names Deutsches Solo
Type Trick-taking
Players 4
Cards 32 cards
Deck Piquet or German pack
Play Counter-clockwise
Related games
Quadrille, Ombre

German Solo is a German 8-card plain-trick game for four individual players using a 32-card Skat pack. It is essentially a simplification of Quadrille, itself a four-player adaptation of Ombre.[1] 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.[2]

Rules[edit]

Hierarchy
Trump ♣Q 7 ♠Q A K (Q) J 10 9 8
Other A K (Q) J 10 9 8 7

Each player receives 8 cards in batches of 3–2–3.[1][3] The declarer is determined by a bidding process described below. Declarer decides which suit will be trumps, and plays either with a partner or as a soloist.

Aces rank high and tens rank low. The queen of clubs or spadille is always the highest trump, and the queen of spades or baste is always the third highest trump. Both do not count as members of their natural suits. The trump seven or manille is elevated to the rank of second highest trump. Below that the cards rank normally, except for omitting the queen if it is black. Thus depending on whether the trump suit is black or red, it contains 10 or 9 cards. Black plain suits contain 7 cards, and red plain suits contain 8 cards.[1][3][4]

Trick-play is as in Whist. Eldest hand leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit if possible; if not they can play anything. Whoever played the highest trump, or the highest card of the suit led, wins the trick and leads to the next trick.[3][4]

Declarer's party, i.e. declarer as a soloist or together with his or her partner, must win 5 of the 8 tricks. If declarer's party wins the first 5 tricks they can stop the game and get a bonus for prime. If they continue playing at that point they cannot score prime, but may be able to score slam for winning all tricks.[1][3][4]

Bidding[edit]

The following bids can be made in ascending order.

Beg
Declarer chooses the trump suit and names a specific plain-suit ace. (If the player holds that ace himself or herself, the game is automatically lost.[1]) Whoever holds that ace will be declarer's partner. The identity of declarer's partner will be revealed during trick-play.[1][4]
Big beg
Declarer names a plain-suit ace. Whoever holds that ace will be declarer's partner.[1][4] The partner must reveal themselves and choose the trump suit.[1]
Solo
Declarer chooses the trump suit and plays alone.[1][4]

A player who has spadille and baste (the two black Queens) is not allowed to play beg, but can play big beg.[1][4]

The bidding procedure is as follows. First eldest hand bids "beg" or passes. If eldest hand did not pass, the next player can either pass or bid a higher game. Eldest hand will then either pass, confirm that he or she can also play this, or name an even higher game. The other player can pass, confirm or bid even higher, etc. As soon as one of the two players has passed, the third player will either pass or make an even higher bid. Finally, the fourth player bids, and after another player has passed the remaining player declares at least the mode of play which he or she bid.[1][4]

In the event that all four players pass, the player who holds the spadille (Queen of clubs) must play small beg. Small beg is played like big beg, but is scored cheaper than beg.[1][4]

Scoring[edit]

Scoring rules were relatively complicated and not uniform. The following simpler rules are from an anthology that appeared in the late 20th century, when the game had already largely fallen out of use. In this version only declarer's party scores (positively or negatively).[4]

The base value of a declaration is 1 point for small beg, 2 for beg or solo, 3 for big beg and 6 for solo. There is a bonus of 2 points for prime, 4 points for slam, and 6 points for slam if it was announced along with the declaration. There is also a bonus of 2 points in case the three highest trumps were all dealt to the same party.[4]

The bonus for slam accrues if declarer's party continues playing after winning the first five tricks, whether they make it or not, and the bonus for slam also accrues whenever it is declared. The bonus for prime only applies if declarer's party stops after the fifth trick. The base value plus any scores is added or subtracted to the scores of declarer and declarer's partner (if any), provided they achieve their objective, which is winning five or all tricks. If they do not meet their goal, it is subtracted from their scores.[4]

Variations[edit]

  • There is a preferred suit, e.g. clubs[4] or the suit of the first contract that was satisfied.[1] A contract in the preferred suit ranks higher than the same contract in a different suit but lower than the next higher contract in a different suit. A declarer who at some point during the auction bid the preferred suit, must in every case play in the preferred suit. Games in the preferred suit score double.[1]
  • Mediateur is a contract that ranks between big beg and solo. Declarer demands the ace of a specific suit and receives it from the opponent who holds it. Declarer returns any other card face down.[1]
  • There are numerous relatively complicated scoring variants that involve a pot and side-payments.
  • The three matadors spadille, manille and baste may be reneged under when a lower trump is led. More precisely, if a player holds no other trumps than matadors and the card led to the current trick is a trump which is not a matador or lower than the matadors held by the player, then the player may discard a non-trump instead of following suit.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Neuestes Spielbuch (in German), Wien: Haas, 1834, pp. 116–128 .
  2. ^ Hoffmann, Detlef; Dietrich, Margot (1982), Das Skatspiel: Geschichte – Bilder – Regeln, Luzern: Bucher, ISBN 978-3-7658-0392-5 .
  3. ^ a b c d e "Solo" Pierer's Universal-Lexikon, Vol. 16. Altenburg 1863, pp. 263f.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Erweitertes Spielregelbüchlein aus Altenburg (in German) (8th ed.), Altenburg: Altenburger Spielkartenfabrik, 1988 .