Appendix A: Official Rules

This program operates under the Official Skat Rules, the most important of which are cited below.

A1 General

A1.1 Concept of Skat

Skat is a card game that can be played by three or more people. Each game is undertaken by a Soloist and two opponents.

Skat was invented in Altenburg (Thuringia, Germany) at the beginning of the 19th century and was developed out of older card games. In its current form it is the most popular and most wide-spread of all German card games and is played throughout the world.

Two selected cards, called the Skat, are laid face down and give the game its name.

A1.2 Names and Values of the Cards

The Skat card pack consists of 32 cards arranged in four suits each containing 8 cards. The names of the suits given according to their ranking are

Clubs, Spades, Hearts, Diamonds

Each of these suits contain the following cards:

A1.3 Game Types

The various game possibilities can be arranges as follows:

In all cases, the contents of the Skat belong to the Soloist. In games using the Skat, the Soloist picks up the Skat cards (See, A2.2), discards any two cards face-down, and announces the Game to be played.

In games played "Hand," the Skat remains face down untouched during the game. Only the 10 cards dealt are available to the Soloist. Independent of whether the Skat is used or not, the Soloist may name a suit trump, or declare a Grand or Null game.

In Grand or Suit games, the Soloist must capture at least 61 card points in order to win. In Null Game no tricks may be taken. A trick consists of of three cards, one each played by Fore-, Middle-, and Rearhand in that order. It is complete when all three cards are on the table. The trick is won by the person who playes the highest card of the suit led. If a trump is played (according to the conditions under which trump may be played, See A3.2), then the trick is won by the highest trump card played. [Trumps also beat other non-trump cards played to the trick]. If trump is led, then the trick belongs to the player playing the highest trump card.

When playing "ouvert," the Soloist must lay all of his or her cards face up on the table before the first card of the first trick is played. All cards must be fully visible and arranged according to suit and rank within suit. If this is not done, the opponents may arrange the cards to fit this pattern.

Suit games and Grand played "ouvert" implicitly announce "Schwarz." The Soloist loses the hand, if even one trick is lost.

A1.4 Meaning of the Cards

In Suit games, one suit is trump and the others rank equally below it.

The highest trump cards in Suit and Grand games are the Jacks in the order of their suits. In Grand, only the Jacks are trump. In Suit games, the Jacks are followed by the other 7 cards of the trump suit in order of the point value. (A1.2).

In Null games, the Jacks are considered to be part of each suit. The card order is: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7.

A2 Beginning of the Game

Dealing of the cards is handled automatically by the program.

A2.1 Bidding

After the cards have been dealt, the bidding process is used to determine who will be the Soloist.

In Skat, bidding is done by Game Values (points). Forehand (the person who first received cards) first receives bids from Middlehand (sitting to Forehand's left). That is, Middlehand begins naming values of games that he or she is willing to play. Beginning normally begins with 18 (Diamonds with or without one) since this is the lowest game value possible.

If Forehand can't play a game equal in value or higher than the amount bid, he or she must pass and Middlehand then receives bids from Rearhand (the third player).

If Middlehand is unwilling to venture a game or if Forehand accepts the highest bid that Middlehand is willing to make, then Middlehand passes. Rearhand then directs bids to Forehand.

The player who has made or accepted the highest bid at the end of the bidding becomes the Soloist. He or she must then announce a game with an equal or higher value than the amount bid. This rule is the same whether one uses the Skat or plays "Hand."

If no one is willing to bid for a game, then the cards are shuffled again and re-dealt.

A2.2 Taking Sides

The 3 players divide themselves into two sides: Soloist (A2.1) and Defenders (Partners). Whoever names the game at the end of the bidding is the Soloist. The other two are the Defenders who play together and share the tricks that they win.

A3 The Mechanics of the Game

A3.1 Leading

The actual game begins when Forehand leads the first card. After that, the winner of each trick leads to the next one. A card legally played may never be taken back into the hand. (What's played is played).

A3.2 Following

After a card is led, one is first played by the person to the leader's left, then by the person to the right. In so far as it is possible, one must always play a (higher or lower) card from the suit led. A lead of a Jack calls for another Jack or a card from the trump suit.

A player holding no cards of the suit led, may either play a trump or throw off a card from another suit. If a trump lead cannot be followed, one may play any other card in the hand.

A3.3 Shortened Game

If the Soloist thinks that he or she can take all of the remaining tricks, then he or she makes this announcement and lays his or her remaining cards face up on the table. If the Defenders agree, then the Soloist receives all remaining cards. In the event that the Defenders believe that they can capture at least one of the remaining tricks, the Soloist picks up his or her cards again and the hand continues. Taking even one of the remaining tricks entitles the Defenders to all of the cards (and points) outstanding at the time the original announcement was made by the Soloist.

A4 Valuing the Games

A4.1 Base Values

Each game type, except for the 4 Null games, has a specific base value as follows:

Diamonds 9
Hearts 10
Spades 11
Clubs 12
Grand 24

Grand ouvert 36
(no longer the case after 1/1/99; "Grand ouvert" now has the same base
value as Grand. Only an additional multiplier is counted for open play.)

For the Null games:

Null 23
Null Hand 35
Null ouvert 46
Null ouvert Hand 59

A4.2 Multipliers

Again except for Null, there are additional multipliers added to the with/without count:

A side is played "Schneider" when it captures 30 or fewer card points.
A side is played "Schwarz" when it captures no tricks. Taking one trick, even one with no card points, results only in Schneider.

In all games except for Null, the Soloist may announce "Schneider" or "Schwarz." This must be done before the first card is played and adds a multiplier for the announcement as well as for achieving Schneider or Schwarz. Failing to make Schneider or Schwarz after announcing it results in a loss the value of which exludes the multiplier for the declaration. If a player wins or loses a game with a higher value than the one declared (winning or losing Schneider when this was not announced, for example), the game is scored according to the actual result won or lost (A4.4)

The multipliers for announcing Schneider or Schwarz are scored only when Schneider or Schwarz is actually achieved.

A4.3 With/Without Combinations

Trump held or missing in unbroken sequence are the basic determinants of the multiplier. Holding the top (Club) Jack, one plays, "with." Lacking it, one plays, "without." In a suit game, one can be at most with or without 11 (4 Jacks and 7 trump cards in the suit). In Grand, with or without 4 is the highest number possible.

The multiplier is the same whether one is with or without a given number of trump.

A4.4 Game Values

The individual game values are scored as points which depend on the class and type of the game, on the unalterable game values, and on the with/without structure of the hand of the Soloist (including the Skat).

The base value which depends on the class and type of game, is multiplied by the sum of the with/without count and other relevant multipliers to determine the game value. All Null games have game values with are fixed and independent of the structure of the hand.

Example: You want to have Diamonds trump and hold the Club, Spade, and Diamond Jacks. --> You are with 2 (Club and Spade Jacks, the Diamond Jack doesn't count because the Heart Jack is missing) and have a multiplier of 3 (2 + 1, for a simple game). This multiplier is multiplied by the base value of Diamonds (9), to give a game value of 27.

Games that are lost when the Skat has been used, count double against the Soloist. When playing "Hand," the loss is not doubled.

A4.5 Performance Rating

The performance of the players can also be calculated by using the following relationship:

For each player, the game values and the number of games played are summarized together in the scoring. For each game won, the Soloist receives 50 points in addition to the value of the game. For each game lost, an additional 50 is subtracted. The defensive partners each receive 40 points for each game lost by the Soloist. The sum of all of these points determines the overall winner.

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