5.3 Rules and Advice for Ramsch

Sometimes the cards are so well distributed that none of the players has a good hand for playing a game. In this case, all of the players pass. Under the official rules, the cards are thrown in, shuffled again, and re-dealt by the next dealer. Many people play Ramsch ("Junk" = poor hand) in this case, however. The two Skat cards remain face down and the individual players play for themselves without partners. The goal is to capture the fewest card points. Whoever takes the most card points is also credited with the points in the Skat and the total is subtracted from his or her score.

The card ranks in Ramsch are the same as they are in Grand. Only the Jacks are trump. Which card should one lead? The best choice is to lead a card from a suit where only one of the suit is held. With the suit then blank, one can then throw off a high counting card when the missing suit is led again by another player.

Suppose that the Heart 9 is led. How should the other players react? Playing a 7 or 8 keeps the leader in the lead but can have negative consequences later since higher cards remain in the hand. The more times a suit is led, the higher the probablity that someone will be out of a suit and can throw off a high counting card such as an Ace or 10. One can easily lose in the flash of an eye.

As mentioned before, there are no direct partnerships in Ramsch. How should one treat the Jacks? Commonly it happens that one or even two jacks are in the Skat since no one felt confident bidding on the hand they were dealt. Thus, one can't count on losing an Ace or 10 to a trump at the end of the game on the last trick or two.

Holding the Club Jack, one should lead it as quickly as possible before the opponents have thrown off their Jacks. If the others must follow with a Jack then the result is only six points for the player who takes the trick.

In general one must try to limit the ability of the opponents to throw off cards from their short suits. Otherwise, one may end up with many points even on leads of low cards when opponents throw off cards when they cannot follow.

Scoring:

Once all ten tricks have been played, each player counts up his or her card points. Whoever has the most loses and is credited with the points in the Skat as well. This value is subtracted from his or her score (Two players with the same highest score each lose this value). If a player succeeds in taking no tricks, then the negative score of the loser is doubled. On the other hand, if someone can take all of the tricks, this is called a "forced march" and counts 120 positive points for the player who succeeds in doing it.

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