Schnapsen rules
for two players

Learning Schnapsen rules for two players is easy and shouldn't take you more than 20 minutes, just read through this page and try it with a friend to make sure you got it. The details might be a little tricky dough, but you can always check back here for a little reminder.

The deal

Schnapsen is played with a 20 card deck, Ace to Ten. Each player gets 5 cards and one card is turned over and tucked under the deck. The suit of the card tucked under the deck represents the trumps for that particular game. This card is also a part of the deck and is the last drawn card.
In a time-line it usually goes like this... the dealer gives each player three cards, then the trump card is turned over and then each player gets another two cards. This is not really important since cards are random anyway, but it goes faster than dealing cards one-by-one and I think it also makes it harder to cheat (not sure... you know... since I'm not a cheater).

Goal of the game

The goal of the game is to win... obviously. You can win in two ways. First way is to take the last trick, second way is to get 66 or more points and announce it. If you announce that you have 66 points, but you don't, you lose, if you are right, you win. When someone announces 66 the game ends. Scoring is different for winning in different ways and is discussed below under Scoring.

Card values and strength

In game the strength of cards goes, from strongest to weakest: A, T, K, Q, J. Trumps are always the strongest and take the trick even if they are of lower value than the other players card.
The value of cards in points (counting towards the 66 points needed to win) are:
A=11
T=10
K=4
Q=3
J=2
So card strength and their value goes hand in hand.

How the game runs

Game begins with the non-dealer leading out with a card from his hand and then the dealer putting down (playing) a card from his hand. The player with the »strongest« card wins the trick and puts the two cards face down in his pile (this pile has to reach the 66 point value). Now each player takes a card from the deck (the winner of the previous trick draws first) and both players repeat the process, except now the winner of the previous trick is the first to play a card. Play goes on like this until the last trick, when players run out of cards.
There is also another important Schnapsen rule. Until the deck runs out players can play any card from their hand not regarding the suit. So if the first player plays the Q-of-hearts the other player can play the K-of-spades, but the leading player always decides the dominating suit in that trick (in this example the Q would take the trick even dough it's weaker). But remember, trumps are always the strongest card even if they ware not lead out.
After the deck runs out suits start to matter more. The player that is second to act must play a card of the same suits as the leading players card. In case he doesn't have a card of that suit he has to play a trump. If he doesn't even have a trump, then he can play any card.

Special schnapsen rules(Marriages, the Trump Jack and Closing)

Marriages

Marriages are a King and Queen put together. You can play a marriage if you are the leading player and you have the King and the Queen of the same suit. All you have to do is announce it, show both cards and leave one on as the card you want to play in this trick. Normal marriages are worth 20 points and trump marriage is worth 40 points. These are the points that count towards the 66 needed to win the game.

Trump Jack

Trump Jack is special, because you can exchange it at anytime (as long as you are the leading player) for the trump tucked under the deck. The only time you are not allowed to exchange it is when there are only two cards left in the deck (the trump and one other card).

Closing

At anytime during the game a player can close the deck, if he is the leading player. That means that the players can not draw any more cards from the deck and the player who closed has to reach 66 points before they run out of cards, otherwise he loses. The scoring criteria described below applies like in a normal game, but as if the game was finished when the deck was closed.

Scoring

If a player announces 66 and is wrong:

  • the opponent gets 2 points.
  • and the opponent hasn't taken any tricks, the opponent gets 3 points.

If a player announces 66 and is right:

  • he gets 1 point if the opponent has 33 or more points.
  • he gets 2 points if the opponent has 0-32 card points.
  • he gets 3 points if the opponent won no tricks at all

If a player wins by taking the last trick he gets 1 point.

Last trick different rule

I always played with the schnapsen rule, that whoever takes the last trick wins the game, but there is another way to play... According to a different version of schnapsen rules, you can count points after the last trick and whoever has the highest value wins and also the player that takes the last trick gets 10 extra points.


Don't have anyone to play with? Don't worry, you can play schnapsen online at Skill7, just register an account and start improving your schnapsen skills. But be sure to check out cardgamesplanet.com schnapsen strategy section before playing for real!


Enjoy!



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