This description was written by Nick Wedd, who learned the game from Walter Strunz.
Vier-anderle is a simple trick-taking tarock game, suitable for gambling. It is played in the vicinity of Furtwangen, in the Black Forest in Germany. A similar game is played in the region around Offenburg under the name Strassenwart.
It is best with from 5 to 8 players, though it is possible to play it with any number from 2 to 13. It is a gambling game, and the players should agree on the value of the stake to be played for. In some circumstances, the sum lost on a hand can be a large multiple of the basic stake. It may be found more enjoyable when the players are drunk.
It is traditionally played with a Cego pack with the pip cards removed, leaving 38 cards. If a Cego pack is unavailable, it can be played with any tarock pack from which the pip cards have been removed. There are twenty-two tarocks, ranking with the Gstieß at the top, then the 21, 20, 19 etc., down to the 1. There are four side-suits, with the black ones ranking king-queen-knight-jack-10-9-8-7 and the red ones ranking king-queen-knight-jack-1-2-3-4 (though the pip cards 10, 9, 8, 7, 1, 2, 3, 4 are normally not used).
If more than nine players wish to play, it will be necessary to have the pip cards in the pack so that there will be enough cards to go round.
Deal and Play
The cards are dealt clockwise, with each player receiving four. Vorhand (on dealer's left) leads to the first trick; the winner of each trick leads to the next trick in the hand. Players must follow suit if they can. A player who cannot follow suit must play a tarock if he can. The trick is won by the player of the highest tarock in it; or if there is none, by the highest card of the suit lead. A player who is able to head a trick, by playing a higher card than any so far in it, must do so. After each hand, the deal rotates to the player on the previous dealer's left.
There are two types of hand. The first type is played at the start of the game, and on subsequent occasions when the pot is empty. The second type is played when there is already money in the pot.
In the hands of the first type, all the players must take part. The dealer puts four stakes in the pot, and deals. In the play, each player will try to take at least one trick. At the end of the hand, each player who failed to take a trick will pay as much money into the pot as was already in it. Example: there are six players. When play starts there are four stakes in the pool. A takes two tricks, B and C take one trick each, D, E and F take no trick. D, E and F must each pay four stakes into the pool, which then contains sixteen stakes.
In hands of the second type, the dealer adds four stakes to the pot, and deals. He then asks each player in turn, starting with Vorhand and finishing with himself, whether he wishes to take part. Those who do not wish to take part (perhaps because they have no large tarocks) discard their hands face-down on the table and take no further part in the hand: they will neither win nor lose money on the hand. The hand is then played among those who wished to take part. The winner of each trick receives for it a quarter of the money in the pot; and each player who took part but won no trick then pays into the pot as much as it originally contained. Example: continuing from the previous hand, after the deal there are twenty stakes in the pool. A and F decide not to take part. C wins one trick and D wins three tricks. C receives five stakes from the pot, and D receives fifteen. B and E, who took part but won no tricks, then pay twenty stakes each into the pot.
Notes on play:
- It is possible for suit-cards (non-tarocks) to win tricks, but they should not be expected to do so.
- The rule obliging players to head tricks is important. Example: You hold the 21 and three small tarocks, and the player on your right leads the 18. You would prefer to play a small tarock as the Gstieß is probably held by a player on your left who will use it to beat your 21. But you are obliged to play the 21.