Tapp (card game)
Typical Tapp card pack
|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|
Tapp is an old 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 Württemberg Tarock (German: Württembergischer Tarock) or Sans Prendre and probably 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 (with the tapp) and Solo (without the tapp).[a] The game was probably played with Württemberg pattern cards[b] and there may also have a Pagat-like bonus, as in Bauerntarock. Dummett refers to this as Württembergischer Tarock.
However, as early as 1889, Anton describes the game of Tapp with a third contract. The original bid of Solo became 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.
Today, another game is being called Tapp by Nuremberg playing card makers, NSV, that appears to have imported terminology and contracts from Skat and deviates markedly from the original. It has eight Skat-like contracts, two corresponding to the Herzsolo and Solo, but there is no equivalent of Frage and the tapp is never used. According to Dummett it is highly likely that the original versions of Tapp are still played in Swabia.
In 1889, 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.[c] 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.
|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 7||D 10 K O U 9 8 7 6|
|Permanent trumps - Hearts (except in Suit Solo)|
|A 10 K Q J 9 8 7 7|
|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 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.
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.
As mentioned above the NSV have published rules for a game they call Tapp which is very different from the traditional Württemberg game. The main differences are as follows:
- Dealing and playing are anti-clockwise.
- There is no equivalent of Frage and the tapp is never used.
- There is provision for four players.
- In addition to the traditional Heart Solo (Farbspiel: Herz) and Suit Solo (Farbspiel), there are the following new contracts:
- Rufer, where the declarer calls for a card he does not have.
- Hearts Rufer, as Rufer but the stakes are doubled
- Bettel, where the declarer undertakes to lose every trick.
- Durch, a slam contract, akin to the Tout or Schwarz of original Tapp
- Hearts Durch, as Durch but the stakes are doubled
- Ramsch, where players aim to score as few points as possible
The full rules for NSV Tapp are here for comparison.
- 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 no longer possible as Württemberg cards are now only available as shortened packs of 2 x 24 cards marketed for the games of Gaigel and Binokel.
- Interestingly, in 1855, Vanderheid states that Tapp Tarock with just 42 cards was especially popular in Bohemia and Moravia. See www.tarock.info
- Anton, Friedrich (1889). Encyclopädie der Spiele, 5th 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.