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Schafskopf
Sheep's Head

Schafskopf, or 'Sheep's Head', is a game of German origin more than two hundred years old. Schafskopf comes from the Skat family. Over the years many variations have been devised, some of which are played in Bavaria and south east Germany. The common thread through all of them, however, is that all Queens and all Jacks are trumps. .

Sheep's Head is a card game for three players in which each player plays for themselves. There are no fixed partnerships, but rather two Defenders play against the Player.

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

Cards Rank

All Queens, Jacks and Diamonds are trumps. Therefore, cards in the trump suit rank:
Q♣, Q♠, Q♥, Q♦, , J♣, J♠, J♥, J♦, A♦, 10♦, K♦, 9♦, 8♦, 7♦
And in any off suit cards rank:
A, 10, K, 9, 8, 7

Objective

The Player’s objective is win at least 61 of the 120 points in play each hand. The two defenders will try to prevent him by winning tricks for themselves. Points are accumulated by capturing valuable cards in tricks. The value of the cards for the purposes of calculating their point value is:
Each Ace: 11
Each Ten: 10
Each King: 4
Each Queen: 3
Each Jack: 2
120 Points in all, and the Player wins if he/she takes 61 of them.

The Deal

Deal and play are clockwise, and the deal proceeds to the left at the end of each hand.

Each player is dealt 10 cards in batches of 3-4-3, with two to the center called the Blind. Traditionally, then, beginning with the player to his left, the dealer deals out 3 cards to each player, then 2 for the Blind, then a round of 4 to each player, and then another round of 3. Each player ends up with 10 cards, and two are in the center for the Blind.

The Blind

The player to the Dealer’s left now has the option of either passing or of picking up the Blind. If he picks it up, he becomes the Player (declarer), and plays alone against the other two Defenders, OR, if he passes, the turn passes to the next player who may either pick up the Blind, or pass it onto the Dealer who may either pick it up or likewise pass.

If all players pass without picking up the Blind, then the game is played ‘at least’, which means everyone must try not to win any tricks at all.

The player who picks up the Blind becomes the Player, and plays alone against the other two. The Player takes up the Blind to his/her hand, and then discards any two cards face down in order to restore his/her hand to ten. Once he/she discards, play begins.

The Play

Left of the Dealer leads first, and thereafter the winner of the trick leads to the next.

The Rules

Standard trick taking rules apply:

  • Players must follow suit to the Card led.
  • If you can't follow suit, you can 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.

At the end of play, each player tallies their hand, counting each Ace as 11, each 10 as 10, and each King, Queen, Jack as 4, 3, 2 respectively, as explained above.

Outcomes

If the Player wins:

  • Game – the Player takes 61 points or more in tricks: 2 pts
  • Schneider – the Player takes 91 or more pts in tricks: 4 pts
  • Schwartz – the Player wins all 10 tricks: 6 pts

If the Player is loses he is debited:

  • 2 pts for winning 60 points of less.
  • 4 pts for winning 31 points or less
  • 6 pts for winning no tricks at all

Schafskopf played at least

If the game is played at least, then, the player who wins the fewest points in tricks wins, and is awarded 2 pts – 4 points if he wins no tricks at all.
If one person takes all tricks, the he is debited 4 pts.
If two players tie for low, the one who did not get the most recent trick gets 2 pts.
And finally, if each player gets 40 points in tricks, then the player who passed last, gets the 2 pts.

Game

Schafskopf is played over an agreed number of hands, a multiple of three so that each player receives an equal number of turns at deal. The player with the highest score at the end of the agreed number of hands wins the game.



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