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German Solo

German Solo is a trick taking game for four players. It is a card game of the Solo Family. In German Solo, there are no fixed partnerships, though temporary partnerships may arise in the course of play. Ultimately, however, each player plays for themselves. The Declarer, called the ‘Soloist’, plays against the other three players.

The Cards

Take a standard deck of playing cards and strip out all the cards 6 and down. That will give you a deck of 32 cards, A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7 in each suit.

Cards Rank

The Black Queens are permanent trumps, the Q♣ being Spadilla – the highest trump, and Q♠ being Basta – the third highest trump. The second highest trump is the Manilla, being the 7 of trumps.
Thus in the trump suit, cards rank:
Q♣, 7, Q♠, A, K, [Q], J, 10, 9, 8
And in any off-suit, cards rank:
A, K, [Q], J, 10, 9, 8, 7

Objective

The objective of the game is to win at least 5 of the 8 tricks playing either alone or with the aid of another player. In German Solo, Clubs take precedence as trumps, and can be used to overcall any previous bid.

The basic game objectives are as follows:

Request – The Soloist calls trumps and must get 5 tricks. He calls an Ace that he does not hold himself and which is not in trumps. The Soloist and his partner undertake to win 5 tricks between them. 2 points

Grand – The Soloist calls clubs as trumps and must get 5 tricks. He must call an Ace not in trump when play begins, and the Soloist and his partner undertake to win 5 tricks between them. 4 points

Kicker – The Soloist plays to win absolutely no tricks. There are no trumps, Aces are high, 7s are low.

Grossfrage – Having the Ladies – The bidder must have both black Queens in his hand to make this bid. The bidder sets both Queens on the table and calls an Ace that he doesn’t have. Whoever has that Ace declares themselves and names the trump. The Soloist and partner must win 5 tricks between them. 8 points

Solo – the Soloist calls trumps and must win 5 tricks alone 4 points, 8 points in Clubs. Can be overcalled by a call to win 6 tricks in Solo. 4 points, 8 points in Clubs

Bronco – Soloist undertakes to lose all tricks. He lays his cards face up for everyone to see. There is no trump. Aces are high, Sevens low. 12 points

Bull Solo – Soloist undertakes to win all 8 tricks. Nothing is trumps. 14 points

Solo 2 – Soloist undertakes to win all 8 tricks and calls a suit for trumps. 8 points, 16 in Clubs.

The Deal

Deal and play are clockwise and the deal proceeds to the left at the end of each hand. Each player is dealt 8 cards in batches of three and two.

The Auction

Beginning with the player to the dealer’s left, each player takes it in turn to bid by naming a game. Left of the dealer speaks first and must be overcalled by the next in rotation for the player to stay in the game. If the player overcalls the previous bid, left of the dealer can just say “Hold”, which means he can match his bid or, if not, he may pass. If left of the dealer answers “Hold”, then the player must either make a higher bid or pass. Eventually, one of these two will pass, and the survivor will then bid with the next in rotation, and so on until all but one have passed. The standing player then becomes the Soloist. He is committed to playing a game as high as his bid, but may still raise his bid even further after all other players have passed. He announces the trump suit, calls for a partner if his bid requires it, by naming an Ace which is not in his own hand and not that of the trump suit. The partner does not declare himself, but rather his/her identity only becomes apparent in the course of play.

If any player happens to be holding the two black Queens, Spadilla and Basta, then he is obliged to play Grossfrage. If the player just so happens to have the two black Queens and all four Aces, he/she is obliged to play solo.

The Play

The Soloist leads to the first trick and thereafter the winner of the trick leads to the next.

The Rules

These strict trick-taking rules apply:

  • You must follow suit to the card led, and you must try to win the trick by playing a higher card
  • If you can’t follow suit, then you must trump in, and you must play a higher trump than any previously played
  • If unable to follow suit and unable to trump in, only then may the player play any card
  • The trick is won by the highest trump played to it
  • If no trumps are played, the trick is won by the highest card of the suit led

Outcome

As soon as the Soloist, and their partner as the case may be, have taken 5 tricks the game is won, the cards are faced and settlement takes place unless, of course, the bid requires 8 tricks to be won, in which case the game continues.

Settlement

If the Soloist’s side wins the hand by achieving their objective, then each opposing player pays the said amount which is shared equally between the Soloist and his/her partner if he/she has one.

On the other hand, if the Soloist’s side fails to achieve their objective, the Soloist pays each opposing player 2 units. The partner in this case neither gains nor loses anything and is not required to pay.

Game

German Solo is played over an agreed number of hands, that being a multiple of the number of players so that each player gets an equal number of turns to deal. Thus, in a four player game, the agreed number of hands would be 4, 8 or 12. The player with the highest number of points after the agreed number of hands has been played is declared the winner.

Variations

Variations to German Solo include the four player game, Spanish Solo which employs standard trick taking rules, and a very famous three player variation called L'Hombre.



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