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Card games in Switzerland

This short survey of Swiss games is at present arranged according to the type of cards used.

The characteristic Swiss suited cards (suits of shields (Schilten), bells (Schellen), acorns (Eichel) and flowers or roses (Rosen) - known in Switzerland as deutsche Karten (German cards). They are prevalent in the German speaking cantons of the north-east, and normally come as a 36 card pack. 24 and 48 card packs with fewer or more pip cards are also made.

French suited cards (hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades) are used in a 36-card form in the French cantons to the west and as far east as Bern; also in canton Graubünden in the south-west. In the Italian speaking region of the south a 40-card French-suited pack is used. The 52-card international pack is also available, as in all countries, for foreign games.

Italian suited Tarot cards are used in the western valleys of Graubünden and in some places in Wallis. French suited Tarot cards are found near the French border.

36 cards with Swiss suits

Each suit has Ace (As or Sau), King (König), Over (Ober), Under (Under), Banner (Banner), 9, 8, 7, 6.

These are used for many kinds of Jass, for example Schieber-Jass, Handjass, Steiger-Jass, Coiffeur, Differenzler, Mittlere. These cards are in common use throughout the German speaking cantons. Rules for dozens of Jass games can be found in "Puur Näll As" by Göpf Egg (in German) (published by A.G.Müller). Rules in English of 3 Jass games are in David Parlett's The Oxford Guide to Card Games (Oxford University Press, 1990).

Other types of game are also played with Jass cards. For example Tschau Sepp is the Swiss version of Crazy Eights, played with the 36-card pack and using the Under rather than the Eight as the suit-changing wild card.

24 cards with Swiss suits

A K O U B 9 in each suit

These are used for Pandur-Jass - see either of the references given above for Jass. Also with two of these packs shuffled together you can play Bolschewik-Jass (rules in Egg: Puur Näll As).

48 cards with Swiss suits

These are known as Kaiserkarten and have K O U B 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 in each suit. The 2 is in fact the same card as the ace from the 36 card pack.

These cards are used for the ancient Kaiserspiel, a descendent of Karnöffel, now popularly known as Kaiserjass. The modern game, as played in canton Nidwalden, requires only 40 cards - the 9s and 8s are not used. A few people in cantons Uri, Obwalden and Luzern play versions requiring all 48 cards. Rules of the Nidwalden game (in German) are published by the Historische Verein Nidwalden, 6370 Stans.

36 cards with French suits

Each suit has ace, king, queen, jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6.

These cards are often labelled "Piquet" though the game of Piquet is more or less obsolete in Switzerland, and the cards are nowadays normally used for Jass games similar to those played with the Swiss suited pack. For example Chibre is Schieber.

There are also games using only 32 cards, without the sixes. For example there is Le Brouc, which is played at L'Etivaz.

40 cards with French suits

Each suit has ace, king, queen, jack, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.

These are used in the Italian cantons for games similar to those played in Italy, notably Tressette, Briscola and Scopa.

78 card Italian suited tarot pack

These are of the Tarot de Besançon type with Juno and Jupiter replacing the Pope and Popess. Troccas is played with these cards in canton Graubünden. The Italian suited tarot pack is also used in Wallis. The game is called Troggu and is played in a few places in and around Visp with a pack reduced to 62 cards by removing the I, II, III, IV of swords and batons and the VII, VIII, IX and X of coins and cups.

78 card French suited tarot pack

These cards, similar to the Tarot cards found in France, are used near the French border, perhaps for a version of French Tarot.

52 cards with French suits

International cards are available in Switzerland as elsewhere for games such as Bridge.

The World Casino Directory includes a listing of Casinos in Switzerland.