Tapp (card game)
|Alternative names||Württemberg Tarock, Solo, Sans Prendre, Tappen, Dappen|
|Deck||French (originally German)|
|Card rank (highest first)||D 10 K O U 9 - 6 or|
A 10 K Q J 9 - 6
|Bauerntarock, Bavarian Tarock, Dobbm, Frog|
|Contracts: Frage, Solo & Heart Solo (classic);|
plus Bettel, Rufer and Tout (modern Tapp)
Tapp is a trick-taking, card game for 3 or 4 players using 36 French-suited cards that originates from the south German state of Württemberg. It is probably very old. Earlier versions were also known as German Tarock, Württemberg Tarock (German: Württembergischer Tarock), Solo or Sans Prendre and may have originated from an attempt to play Tapp Tarock with a standard pack of, initially, Württemberg pattern cards. It is one of a family of similar games that include Bavarian Tarock, the Austrian games of Bauerntarock and Dobbm, and the American game of Frog. Although probably first played in the early nineteenth century, the game of Tapp is still a local pastime in its native Württemberg.
According to Dummett, like its relative Bauerntarock, Tapp is probably of "considerable antiquity", originating in the "first two decades of the nineteenth century" and one of a family of games that began as a means of playing Tapp Tarock with a German-suited pack. However, Tapp has a number of variants. Dummett surmises that the earliest rules reflect those of Beck, corroborated by Braun, where Hearts form the permanent trump suit, emulating the tarocks in Tapp Tarock, and there were only two contracts: Frage[a] (with the tapp) and Solo (without the tapp).[b] The game was probably played with Württemberg pattern cards[c] and there may also have a Pagat-like bonus, as in Bauerntarock. Dummett refers to this as Württembergischer Tarock.
However, as early as 1879, Anton describes the game of Tapp with a third contract. The original bid of Solo became Coeursolo or Herzsolo ("Heart Solo") and Solo became, in effect, a Suit Solo where the declarer could nominate another suit as trumps and, as in Herzsolo does not use the tapp. This variant Dummett calls Tapp. Since Beck described the earlier version in the 1980s, it would appear that the two variants co-existed for over a century.
The modern version of Tapp appears to be an elaboration of the original game in which the contracts of Frage, Solo and Heart Solo - together with the bonuses for a slam (Tout) have been supplemented by Rufer, Bettel and Ramsch. However, according to Dummett, it is highly likely that the original versions of Tapp were still being played in Swabia in the 1970s and there is also evidence that an early variant, simply called Tarock, has survived in Bavaria.
Related Swiss games played today include Zuger Tapp and Schellen Tapp; both are designed, however, for four players. They are played with Swiss cards.
In 1879, Anton refers to the 3-contract game as Tapp, but cites other names as Württembergischer Tarok, Solo and Sans Prendre. In 1947 it is recorded in Bohemia as Sans Prendre, the name being a reference to play without picking up the talon.[d] In 1951, Schlager knows the game as Tapp, Tappen or Dappen and records that it is extensively played in the Swabian region of Württemberg with either German- or French-suited cards. In 1983, Beck just refers to the 2-contract game as the Württembergische Variante.
Card packs marketed as Jass/ Tapp cards are sold specifically for the game, but a shortened French pack of 36 cards may also be used. If German-suited cards are used, a Schafkopf/Tarock pack will be needed. All are now easily obtainable online. The originally 36-card Württemberg pattern packs with German-suit symbols ceased production in the 1980s and only 2x24 card packs are now obtainable (used for Binokel and Gaigel).
|Ranks and card-point values of cards|
The trick-taking ability or ranking of the cards within their individual suits from Ace / Deuce (highest) to Six (lowest) is shown by the sequence in the table below.
|Permanent trumps - Hearts (except in Suit Solo)|
|D 10 K O U 9 8 7 6|
|D 10 K O U 9 8 7 6||D 10 K O U 9 8 7 6||D 10 K O U 9 8 7 6|
|Permanent trumps - Hearts (except in Suit Solo)|
|A 10 K Q J 9 8 7 6|
|A 10 K Q J 9 8 7 6||A 10K Q J 9 8 7 6||A 10 K Q J 9 8 7 6|
The two original variants will be described:
- Württemberg Tarock (Württembergischer Tarock), the original, two-contract version based on Dummett and Beck.
- Tapp, the three-contract variant described by Anton and summarised by Dummett.
Württemberg Tarock is described by Beck as a south German variant of 'German Tarock'. It is a game for three players, played with 36 German-suited (Dummett) or French-suited (Beck) cards. Deal and play are clockwise and Hearts are permanently trumps. Cards follow the Deuce/Ace - Ten ranking and card values described above.
Dealing and bidding
Dealer shuffles, offers the cut to his right, and then places 3 cards as a talon or tapp on the table. He then deals 11 cards to each player in packets (4 – 3 – 4). A pot may be used as in Bavarian Tarock.
There are two bid options: Frage and Solo. Frage is a bid to score 61 or more points against the two defenders with the aid of the tapp, i.e. the winning bidder may pick up the tapp and exchange up to 3 cards with it, laying his discards to one side. Solo is identical, but the talon is not picked up. In either case, the tapp and any discards belong to the declarer. Bidding starts with forehand who says "pass", "Frage" or "Solo". A player who bid Frage' earlier may "hold" a higher bid of Solo.
Before the first trick is played, the declarer may announce a Tout, also called a Schwarz, Durchmarsch or Valat, the last term being the same as that used in true Tarock games. This is a contract to take all the tricks. If all pass, the cards are thrown in and the next dealer takes over.
Forehand leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit (Farbzwang) or trump if unable to follow (Trumpfzwang) but there is no compulsion to head the trick (i.e. no Stichzwang). The trick is won by the highest card of the led suit or highest trump if trumps are played. The two defenders keep their tricks in a single pile.
The declarer must score 61 points to win. If both sides score 60, the game is drawn and no-one scores. The winner(s) score 1 game point for every point above 60. This is doubled for a Solo. A Tout is worth double (Anton) or triple (Beck) the normal score. If a pot is used, the dealer antes two to the pot at the start of the deal. If a Frage is lost, the declarer pays the same amount to the pot as to each defender. If a Solo is won, the declarer claims the pot; if lost, he doubles it.
The rules for classic Tapp as described by Anton are the same as those for Württemberg Tarock above except that now we see the introduction of the French-suited pack and an additional bid. Essentially Solo becomes Herzsolo or Coeursolo (Heart Solo) and the new bid of Solo is a Suit Solo with the declarer choosing a suit other than Hearts as trumps. Frage is referred to by Meyer as Coeurfrage, emphasising that Hearts remained trumps for that contract.
|Contracts in classic Tapp|
|Frage||Frage||1||Declarer exchanges with tapp; Hearts are trumps||x 1/4|
|Solo||Solo||2||Declarer plays without tapp and nominates any suit except Hearts||x 1/2|
|Heart Solo||Coeursolo||3||Declarer plays without tapp and Hearts are trumps||x 1|
The scoring is also slightly different. In Frage. the winner(s) earn a game point for every four card points (or part thereof) scored. In Solo this is effectively doubled i.e. the winner(s) earn a game point for every two card points scored. A pot may be used as described above.
By the time of the post-war period, Tapp had been elaborated well beyond its original rules. It is recorded that during this period it was a popular game with Swabian farmers and was played by three players with 36 cards or 4 with 32 cards. Contracts included: suit games, Bettel, Rufer, Durch and Ramsch.
NSV have published rules online that appear to reflect this new version of the traditional Württemberg game. The Ace-Ten ranking and point system are retained. The full rule set is here and its main features are:
Dealing and bidding
Deal and play are anti-clockwise. This is the same as Tarock games from which the Tapp family is derived. The first dealer is chosen by lot e.g. the first to draw an Ace. If three play, 11 cards each are dealt and 3 to the tapp (4-3-tapp-4). If four play, 8 cards each are dealt and 2 packets of 2 to the tapp (3-tapp-2-tapp-3). Sometimes a 32-card Skat pack is used. The player to the right of forehand starts the bidding by saying "play" (ich spiele) or "pass" (weg). After the first round of bidding, there is a second round where those who want to play state their contract and the highest contract wins. The contracts and their values are:
|Contracts in modern Tapp|
|Frage (Hearts with Pickup)||Farbspiel Herz mit Aufnehmen||1||Declarer exchanges with tapp; Hearts are trumps||not stated[e]|
|Suit Solo||Farbspiel: Kreuz, Schippen, Karo||2||Declarer plays without tapp and nominates any suit except Hearts||5¢|
|Heart Solo||Farbspiel Herz||3||Declarer plays without tapp and Hearts are trumps||10¢|
|Bettel (null game)||Bettel (Null-Spiel)||4||Declarer undertakes to lose every trick||15¢|
|Suit Rufer||Rufer: Kreuz, Schippen, Karo||5||As Suit Solo Tout, but declarer calls for a card he does not hold and give a card of his choice in return.||15¢|
|Heart Rufer||Rufer: Herz||6||As Suit Rufer but Hearts are trumps.||30¢|
|Bettel Ouvert||Aufgelegter Bettel (Null-Ouvert)||7||As Bettel, but the declarer must lay down his cards face up at the start||30¢|
|Solo Tout||Durch: Kreuz, Schippen, Karo||8||Declarer nominates any suit except Hearts as trumps and must then win every trick||30¢|
|Heart Solo Tout||Durch: Herz||9||As Solo Tout, but Hearts are trumps||60¢|
If all pass, a Ramsch is played, whereby players aim to score as few points as possible. Winner of last trick takes the tapp. The player with the most points pays the others 5¢ or 10¢ if they have no tricks (Jungfer).
Forehand leads to the first trick, players must follow suit if able. If unable to follow suit, they must play a trump; lacking either they may discard. There is no requirement to head the trick. Highest trump wins or, if none are played, the highest card of the led suit. Trick winner leads to the next trick. The tapp belongs to the declarer except in a Ramsch.
In a Frage or Solo, the game is lost if the declarer fails to score at least 61 points. In other games the declarer must achieve the aim of losing or winning every trick. If the declarer wins, each defender pays him the game value; if he loses, he pays each defender the game value.
- The Frage contract gave its name to the American game of Frog which was almost certainly derived from Tapp. Frage is pronounced "Frah-ger".
- Of course, Frage, Solo and Sans Prendre are all contracts from the game of Ombre, an old game of Spanish origin which, for decades, was very popular throughout Europe.
- This is Dummett's view, but unlikely as Württemberg pattern cards were not invented until 1865. Moreover, it is no longer possible to use them to play Tapp as they are only available as shortened packs of 2 x 24 cards marketed for the games of Gaigel and Binokel, the 36-card packs being last produced in the 1980s.
- Interestingly, in 1855, Vanderheid states that Tapp Tarock with just 42 cards was especially popular in Bohemia and Moravia. See www.tarock.info
- NSV state that this is the lowest contract; thus a possible scoring scheme might be: Frage 5¢, Solo 10¢, Heart Solo 15¢, Bettel and Suit Rufer 20¢, and all others as per the table.
- Entry in Meyers Großem Konversations-Lexikon, Vol. 19. Leipzig, 1909, p. 319.
- Anton 1879, p. 528. sfn error: no target: CITEREFAnton1879 (help)
- Dummett 1980, p. 557-561. sfn error: no target: CITEREFDummett1980 (help)
- Beck 1983, pp. 168/169. sfn error: no target: CITEREFBeck1983 (help)
- Braun 1966. sfn error: no target: CITEREFBraun1966 (help)
- Anton 1879, pp. 528/529. sfn error: no target: CITEREFAnton1879 (help)
- Tapp-Spielanleitung at nsv.de. Retrieved 2 Mar 2019.
- Sirch 2008, pp. 47/47. sfn error: no target: CITEREFSirch2008 (help)
- Honl 1947, p. 21. sfn error: no target: CITEREFHonl1947 (help)
- Schlager 1951, pp. 293–307. sfn error: no target: CITEREFSchlager1951 (help)
- Meyer 1889, p. 518. sfn error: no target: CITEREFMeyer1889 (help)
- Was ist ein Kirchlesdabbr? at stuttgarter-nachrichten.de. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
- Anton, Friedrich (1879). Encyclopädie der Spiele, 3rd edition, Wigand, Leipzig.
- Beck, Fritz (1983). "Die Württembergische Variante" in Tarock komplett, 12th edition. Vienna: Perlen-Reihe, pp. 168/169.
- Braun, Franz (1966). Spielkarten und Kartenspiele. Hanover.
- Dummett, Michael (1980). The Game of Tarot, Duckworth, London.
- Honl, Ivan (1947). Z Minulosti Karetni Hry v Cechach, Prague.
- Meyer (1889). Meyers Konversationslexikon, Vol. 15, 4th edn. Verlag des Bibliographischen Instituts, Leipzig and Vienna.
- Schlager, Friedrich (1951). "Das badische Nationalspiel 'Zego' und die andern in Baden und an Badens Grenzen volksüblichen Kartenspiele" in Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft und Volkskunde: Festschrift für Ernst Ochs, ed. Karl Friedrich Müller, Lahr.