Card Games: Schafkopf Group

What distinguishes the Schafkopf group of trick-taking games is that the all the jacks, or all the the queens, or sometimes both queens and jacks are permanent trumps, placed at the head of the trump suit, making it much longer than the other suits. Many of these games were or still are played with German suited cards, so that the highest trumps are in fact the over-jacks (Ober), under-jacks (Unter) or both. In all these games the jacks rank in order from high to low: clubs (acorns), spades (leaves), hearts (hearts), diamonds (bells).

Most games of this group are Ace-Ten games, but there are also some plain-trick games. The oldest game of this group is probably Scharwenzel, which dates back at least to the early 18th century and is still played on the island of Fehmarn in North Germany and as Skærvindsel in Denmark.

  • Schafkopf - popular in Bavaria, and played in other versions in some other parts of Germany.
  • Skat - the German national card game.
  • Doppelkopf - a popular north German game played with a double deck.
  • Sheepshead - a version of Schafkopf taken to North America by 19th century emigrants from Germany.
  • Avinas - a Lithuanian agme.
  • Sjavs - from the Faroe islands.
  • Spitzer - a game now played in Michigan, USA.
  • Kloepper - a game from Illinois, USA.
  • Kop and Baśka - games played in Poland with just 16 cards.

This group cointains a few negative games, in which the object is to avoid winning tricks containing high-scoring cards.