Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Doppelkopf Night

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Apart from Stammtisch Night (regular meeting over the table for drinks and chat) with the girls every month, we meet up for Doppelkopf game every last Thursday of the month too. My first time was at Silvia, with Arianna tuturing me. Anna, a friend of Sandra whom were visiting from Ireland were in town and helped me a lot in understanding some the game´s rule by translating them. That night, we played for 2 hours and I won about 50 cents! Beginner´s luck it seems.

Last week, we had another session at Arianna´s. It was suppose to be at Dotty´s but Arianna had to stay in to be with her kids for no ones home. Anna was not around, but thankfully, I was paired with Arianna. There´s 4 team for each game, and I was given a choice to play alone but I was simply not ready. Arianna tough me well, but luck was really not on our side for our cards were simply bad. Silvia on the other hand, had all the great cards. Simone, whom came all the way from Staedlohn joined us too but too bad that she will be transfered to Dusseldorf next month for her medic duties.

Anyway, anyway .. the reason why I´m blogging this is, I wanna find out if any of you is familiar with this game. If yes, please clue me IN! Coz I don´t like loosing money, you know BUT again, its also fun to be with the girls and while playing, we will be usually served bubbly, wine and all sort!

Here´s a little something I came across in Wikipedia.

Doppelkopf (German, lit. double-head), also abbreviated to "Doko," is a trick-taking card game for four players. The origins of this game are not well known; it is assumed that it originated from the game Schafkopf.

In Germany, Doppelkopf is nearly as popular as Skat, especially in Northern Germany and the Rhein-Main Region. Unlike in Skat, there are numerous variants. The variants use the same basic rules, but still require players to agree on a specific set of rules before their first game. Schafkopf however is still the preferred trick-tracking variant in Bavaria.

Game rules
In the following section, the common rules will be described. The more popular variants will be described afterwards.

General principles
Doppelkopf is a team game where each team normally consists of two players. The most distinguishing feature of the game is that the actual pairing is not known from the start, which is what makes the game interesting for most players.
The deck of cards consists of either 48 or 40 cards, with...
8 Nines worth 0 points each
8 Tens worth 10 points each
8 Jacks worth 2 points each
8 Queens worth 3 points each
8 Kings worth 4 points each, and
8 Aces worth 11 points each

... and with each group of 8 cards consisting of 2 cards from each suit: Diamonds, Hearts, Spades and Clubs. Each card exists twice in the deck (which leads to the name Doppelkopf) resulting in a total number of 240 points. In the following explanation, the more common 48-card version is assumed. The rules for the 40-card variant are the same, the only difference is that the Nines are missing.

In every game, there exist two parties, called Re and Kontra. To win, the Re-party must make 121 points or more; Kontra wins when Re fails to do so.

Preparation
Each player is dealt twelve cards, or ten in the 40-card variant. After the cards are dealt, the kind of game is determined. In non-tournament play, it is assumed that a normal game will be played and any player desiring a different game simply says so. In tournament games, a more complicated method is used to prevent players from gaining information about foreign hands.
The kinds of games that can be played only differ in what cards are considered trumps. When a player declares a game different from the normal game, he alone is Re and has to play against the other three players who form Kontra. These non-standard games are, therefore, called solo games.

In the standard game, the players who hold the Queen of Clubs ("Die Alten" ("The Elders")) constitute Re, while the other two are Kontra. In these games, the actual teams are not known from the start. In case a player has both Queens of Clubs, he declares Hochzeit (marriage).

Playing the cards
The player to the left of the dealer leads first; the other players follow in a clockwise direction. Each player must follow suit, that is, play a card in the same suit as the first-played card in the trick. If he cannot follow suit, he can play a trump or any other card. The player playing the highest trump or the highest card in the current suit wins the trick and plays the first card of the next trick. Since each card exists twice, there is the possibility of a tie; in that case, the first-played card wins the trick. For example, when the trick consists of ♠10 ♠A ♠9 ♠A, the player who played the first Ace of Spades wins the trick. When a trump card is played first, each player must play any trump card if possible, regardless of suit.

During the first tricks, each player may make some announcements which increase the value of the game.

After all the cards have been played, the point-values of the tricks are counted and each player in the winning party gets the game-value added to his score, while the losing players get the value subtracted.

Type of games

In the normal game, all Diamonds are trumps, as are all Queens and all Jacks. Therefore, there are as many trump cards as non-trump cards; this fact is mainly responsible for the specific Doppelkopf "feel" of play, noticeably different from other games of tricks, where there are usually far more non-trump cards than trump cards. In this game, the players holding the ♣Q form the Re party.

Hochzeit
When a player has both Queens of Clubs, he usually declares Hochzeit (lit. "marriage") and will form the Re party with the first foreign player to win a trick (most variants allow the player to announce a specific kind of trick that must be taken, e.g. the first non-trump trick). Apart from this, the game is played like the normal game.
The player can also decide not to announce Hochzeit, in which case he plays a "stilles Solo" (silent solo). This is played like a normal Diamonds solo; the only difference being that the other players do not know from the start they are playing against a solo. Apart from this, the game is scored like a normal solo (times 3 for solo player, normal for all others).

Solo games
A player can, if he wants to, announce a solo game. These games change the status of trump cards; the player also must play against the other three players. He will get thrice game value added (or subtracted) from his scoreboard in case of a win (or a loss).
The kinds of solo games that can be played vary wildly, the most common being "Bubensolo" (Jack solo), which only makes the Jacks trump cards; "Damensolo" (Queen solo) with only Queens as trumps; and "Fleischlos" (fleshless) where no trumps exist. Another possibility is the "Farbensolo" (color solo) which makes the announced suit along with Jacks and Queens trump cards. A "Diamond solo", therefore, has the same trumps as in a normal game.

Bids
During play, a player may make announcements claiming that his party will succeed in achieving a specific goal. These announcements increase the game value regardless of whether they are fulfilled. If a party fails to accomplish the self-given goal, it has automatically lost.
Apart from increasing the game value, the bids fulfill the secondary role of clarifying which side a player who makes them belongs to. Bids are often made more for this purpose than for the increased game value.

The bids that are possible are:

Re (or Kontra), announcing that the player is part of the Re (Kontra) party and his party will score more than 120 points. This announcement also tells all players if they play against or with the announcer.

Each of the following announcements can only be made after Re or Kontra. If Re was said and a player of the Kontra party wants to make an announcement, he also has to announce Kontra.

Keine 90 (no 90), often abbreviated to keine 9, meaning that the opponents will get less than 90 points.
Keine 60, or keine 6, announces the opposing party will not make 60 points
Keine 30 / keine 3

Schwarz (black), meaning the opponents will not get a single trick, not even a trick worth 0 points

Each announcement implies any previous announcements, for example, "keine 60" implies "keine 90" and "Re"/"Kontra", increasing the game-value by 4 (for the standard rules) points. Every bid may be countered by "Kontra" resp. "Re" when the opponents think the goal will not be met. For example, if the Re-Party announces "Re, keine 60", a reply of "Kontra" simply claims Kontra will score 60 points.

To be able to make a bid, the player must still hold a specific number of cards in his hands, the official rules state:

A Re or Kontra can be made with 11 cards left (that is, before the player plays his second card; it does not require the announcement to be made before the first card of the second trick is played). A Kontra/Re in response to a bid of the opposing party (for example, Re or "keine 90") may be made before the player wanting to say it plays his next card.

For keine 90, 10 cards must be held.
keine 60: 9 cards
keine 30: 8 cards
schwarz: 7 cards

A player that has, for example, announced "Re", but not "keine 90", may not announce keine 60 with 9 cards left, because the implied "keine 90" would not be legal.

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