Tapp (card game)

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Tapp
Jass-Tapp card pack.jpg
Typical Tapp card pack
OriginGermany
TypeTrick-taking
Players3 - 4
Cards36
DeckFrench
PlayAnti-clockwise
Card rank (highest first)A, 10, K, D, B, 9 - 6
Related games
Bauerntarock, Bavarian Tarock, Dobbm

Tapp or Württemberg Tarock (German: Württembergischer Tarock)[1] is a card game that bears some similarity to Bavarian Tarock and even to the very well known game of Skat and is played with a French deck of 36 cards. The game of Tapp is only really a local pastime played in the German state of Württemberg. It is not related to the tarot card game of Tapp Tarock.

Tapp may be played by three or four players. At the start of a round, bidding takes place to decide who will lead. There are four possible contracts: Suit, Null, Rufer ("Caller") and Durch ("Slam"). In Suit games the aim is the win more than half the available card points i.e. at least 61 points by taking tricks. In Null, no tricks may be taken. In Rufer and Durch, all the tricks must be taken by the declarer. If no-one declares a contract, Ramsch is played, whereby there is no trump suit and the loser is the one with the most points in his trick cards.

It is usually played for money, so no scores are recorded.

Cards[edit]

The 32 cards of a skat deck (here: French playing cards with German suits) are frequently used for 4-player Tapp.

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. In addition, a number of low-value coins (e.g. 5 cent, 10 cent and 50 cent pieces) worth around one or two euros, is required. Of course, coloured chips or similar may also be used. Note: Sometimes only 32 cards are used (the sixes are removed as in Skat). This is usually for games of four players, because very often games are "gebettelt" ("beggared", i.e. played under a Null contract).

Suits of the French deck
Diamonds (Karo) Hearts (Herz) Spades (Pik) Clubs (Kreuz)
SuitDiamonds.svg SuitHearts.svg SuitSpades.svg SuitClubs.svg

Card points[edit]

Tapp traditionally consists of 9 cards in the four suits of Hearts (Herz), Diamonds (Karo), Clubs (Kreuz) and Spades (Schippen or Pik), with the following values:

Symbol A 10 K D B 9 8 7 6
Name Ace/Sow (Ass, Sau) Ten (Zehner) King (König) Queen (Dame) Jack (Bube) Nine (Neuner) Eight (Achter) Seven (Siebener) Six (Sechser)
Value 11 10 4 3 2 0 0 0 0

Card ranking[edit]

The trick-taking ability or ranking of the cards within their individual suits from Ace (highest) to Six (lowest) is shown by the sequence in the table above.

Hierarchy of card values within their suits
Clubs (Kreuz) Spades (Pik) Hearts (Herz) Diamonds (Karo)
KreuzA Kreuz10 KreuzK KreuzD KreuzB Kreuz9 Kreuz8 Kreuz7 Kreuz6 PikA Pik10 PikK PikD PikB Pik9 Pik8 Pik7 Pik6 HerzA Herz10 HerzK HerzD HerzB Herz9 Herz8 Herz7 Herz6 HerzA Herz10 HerzK HerzD HerzB Herz9 Herz8 Herz7 Herz6

Rules[edit]

Dealing and playing is anti-clockwise. The player to the right of the dealer is "in front" (vorne) and sits in the forehand (Vorhand) position, i. e., he starts by leading to the first trick of a round (except in an open Bettel contract). The next player (right of the forehand) begins the bidding (Reizen), i. e., he says "play" or "I'll play" ("ich spiele") or, if he doesn't want to lead he says "pass" ("weg"). So it goes in turn to the forehand, who announces, as before, whether he will play. Finally everyone says which contract they will bid. The contract played will be the one with the highest ranking and the player that bid it becomes the declarer. If two players bid for the same contract, the first one will become the declarer. The declarer then plays against all the other players. The opposing players or defenders may not communicate by speaking or in signs. Only in a Ramsch contract do all players play against one another.

Playing[edit]

Dealing[edit]

The first dealer is chosen by drawing cards (e. g. the first ace), then dealing passes to the next player right of the previous dealer. The cards are dealt in the following sequence:

• for three players: 11 cards per player and three in the talon, in this game called the tapp; Sequence: four – three – three in the tapp – four

• for four players: 8 cards per player and four in the tapp Sequence: three – two in the tapp – two – two in the tapp – three

Contracts[edit]

Possible contracts in ascending order of precedence:

Precedence Contract Value
1 Suit (Farbspiel): Clubs, Spades, Diamonds 5 cents
2 Suit: Hearts 10 cents
3 Bettel (a "Null" contract) 15 cents
4 Rufer: Clubs, Spades, Diamonds 15 cents
5 Rufer: Hearts 30 cents
6 Open Bettel (Aufgelegter Bettel) or Null-Ouvert 30 cents
7 Durch (a "slam" contract): Clubs, Spades, Diamonds 30 cents
8 Durch: Hearts 60 cents

If no contracts are announced: Ramsch (Swabian: an Runda), 5 cents (with Jungfer 10 cents).

In all contracts, players must follow suit (Farbzwang), i. e., a card of the same suit must be played or, failing that, a trump card. If neither is possible, any card may be discarded. There is no compulsion to win the trick (Stichzwang), i. e., it is not compulsory to beat the highest card in the trick, so a particular card may be lurking that has not been played.

The tapp is always placed face down, i. e., there is no contract in which the tapp is picked up. The cards in the tapp count as part of the tricks of the declarer. If the declarer wins, he cashes in the game value from each player. If the game is lost, the declarer must pay each defender the game value.

There is also the option as the lowest contract to play Suit with Tapp. Here Hearts are the trump suit and the tapp may be picked up.[1]

Suit[edit]

In a Suit contract (Farbspiel) the declarer announces the trump suit and must then score at least 61 card points to win the game. If the defenders amass 60 card points between them, the declarer loses. Players must follow suit (Farbzwang). Forehand begins the game.

Bettel[edit]

The declarer must not take a trick, not even with blanks (Luschen or Nintle). It is an advantage in this game if one is zweifarbig or no more than dreifarbig, which means that the Bettel declarer only has cards of two or three different suits in his hand, in order that he can discard any "sick cards" (kranke Karten), individual cards of a suit with a high value. The defenders must attempt to find the "sick card(s)". As soon as the declarer takes a trick, the game is lost. Players have to follow suit and there are no trumps. Forehand starts.

Open Bettel[edit]

In Open Bettel (Aufgelegter Bettel) the declarer starts and may play the first card from his still concealed hand. Thereafter he must place the cards face up on the table. The one who takes the first trick plays the next card. Otherwise the rules are the same as for normal Bettel.

Rufer[edit]

In Rufer ("Caller") The declarer names the trump suit and may call for a card of his choice that he doesn't have, from his opponents and swap it for a card he doesn't want. The one who has the called card must give it over and receive the discard in exchange. If the card happens to be in the tapp that is bad luck for the caller. He knows at least that none of his opponents has the missing card, but cannot discard an unwanted card. He must take all the tricks. As soon as one of the defenders wins a trick, the game is lost. Players must follow suit. Forehand starts.

Durch[edit]

Durch means "slam" in this context. The declarer names the trump suit and must win all the tricks. As soon as a defender takes a trick, the game is lost. Players must follow suit. Forehand starts.

Ramsch[edit]

In Ramsch there are no trumps, but players must follow suit. Forehand plays the first card. In Ramsch the idea is to try and score as few card points as possible in one's tricks. Even better is to take no tricks at all. The one who takes the last trick must also pick up the tapp. Whoever has the most card points must pay. Whoever has no tricks is Jungfer ("maiden") and receives 10 cent, the rest get 5 cents.

End of the game[edit]

If a player wants to end a game of Tapp, he announces "Ace of Hearts" (Herz-Ass). The player who gets the Ace of Hearts in the next round gives an ace to the last round in which a game can be played. Of course, he doesn't have to say at the start of the game that he has the Ace of Hearts. This will become apparent during the course of the game. After this last round of the game, each player then gives again to a Forced Ramsch (Zwangsramsch). After that the game of Tapp is ended and the money can be counted.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Beck, Fritz (1983). "Die Württembergische Variante" in Tarock komplett, 12th edition. Vienna: Perlen-Reihe, pp. 168/169.

References[edit]