Games played with Swiss suited cards

Cards with the Swiss suits - acorns acorn, flowers flower, shields shield and bells bell - are in general use only in Switzerland. Swiss suited cards are characteristic of the German speaking cantons in the north-east part of the country: Zürich, Appenzell, St Gallen, Schwyz, Glarus, Luzern, Unterwalden, Uri and the eastern (Catholic) part of Aargau.

Swiss suits are somewhat related to German suits, in which leaves replace flowers and hearts replace shields. In fact, what we call Swiss suited cards are referred to in Switzerland as "German cards" (Deutsche Karten) to distinguish them from the French suited cards that are used in other parts of Switzerland.

Originally, Swiss cards came in packs of 48, the cards of each suit being König (king), Ober (over), Under, Banner and numerals 9 to 2. The Banner for most purposes acts as a ten. In the 18th century onwards, the game of Jass was introduced to Switzerland and rapidly grew in popularity. This game uses a 36 card pack without the numerals 5, 4 and 3, and this steadily displaced the older 48 card pack. In fact, Jass became so popular that the word Jass came to be used for any card game played with the Swiss pack. The two, which is the highest card of a plain suit in Jass, came to be thought of an an ace, and is colloquially known as the sow. Some modern varieties of Jass use a 24 card pack lacking the numerals 3 to 8, and 24 card Jass packs can be obtained for these. On the other hand, the 48 card version of the pack is still produced in small quantities for those who continue to play the ancient Kaiserspiel - now generally known as Kaiserjass.

In North America, Swiss suited cards can be obtained from TaroBear's Lair.

See the page on card games in Switzerland for further information on games with Swiss cards.