Translated November 1992 by Anthony Smith from the Swedish in Kartofilen 3/92, p23. Revised February 1993 after correspondence with Ali Jerremalm. Edited by John McLeod. The original article spelled the name of the game 'Brus' and this page was originally published under that name, but has been renamed 'Bräus', which seems to be the usual local spelling and avoids confusion with the related Danish card game Brus.
Bräus is unlike other card games in that the players play with unplayable cards! It is played on the Swedish island of Gotland.
A 36 card pack is used, obtained from the ordinary 52 card pack by removing the ranks 2 - 5, but in Bräus the cards are given a new ordering and in some cases new names.
18 cards are called playable cards, ranking from highest to lowest:
(Spit), (Dull), (Bräus), , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .
The sevens act as trick cards when led but are not called playable cards. There is no order of ranking among the sevens. Sevens can neither beat other cards, nor can they be beaten.
The other 14 cards in the pack (three 8s, four 10s, four queens and three kings) are unplayable cards and are unusable, except that the king of clubs is the outcome card, possession of which decides some games which would otherwise be drawn.
Bräus is a partnership game for either two teams of two with partners sitting opposite, or two teams of three with partners alternating.
The dealer shuffles and the player to dealer's right cuts. In the four-handed game each player is dealt 9 cards; in the six player game each player is dealt 6.
Forehand leads first and play then proceeds clockwise. First if forehand has any sevens he lays them on the table. As sevens cannot be beaten, each seven led counts as a trick. Forehand then leads a playable card. Each of the other players in turn must play a higher card if they can. A player who cannot beat the previous card played does not discard but passes (i.e. does not play a card to that trick). When every player has had a chance to play, whoever played the highest card wins the trick. The winner of the trick leads to the next trick, by first playing any sevens he has and claiming them as tricks and then leading a playable card. If a player on lead has no sevens or playable cards left, the turn to lead passes on to the next player in rotation. Notice that because not every player plays to every trick the total number of tricks played may be greater than the number of cards dealt to each player at the start.
Play continues until one team has six tricks, which wins them one point, unless they took the first six tricks in a row in which case they win two points for Jan. If all the playable cards are exhausted and neither team has taken six tricks then a team with five tricks and the outcome card (king of clubs) can count it as their sixth trick and win. Note that since the outcome card is an unplayable card it cannot change hands and remains in the possession of the player who was dealt it. If the game cannot be decided even in this way then there is no score and the same dealer deals again.