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Watten – What is that?

by Daniel Schwarz there are 32 cards in the deck,
each player only gets 5 cards, and
Watten is a German trick the remaining cards are not used
taking card game played for that hand. Therefore, there are
primarily in Bavaria, Switzerland, only 5 tricks played for each hand.
south Tyrol, and southern parts of The partners that take 3 or more
Austria. The game is mostly tricks win that hand. Sounds sim-
played by four players, however, ple, doesn’t it! It is, but what the
there are variations for different players can do and their gestures
regions and for 2 and 3 players. will surprise you!
With 4 players, opposite seated
players are partners, and the game Since the game is trick taking,
is played like no other card game – there is a hierarchy of cards as
even bridge! Signaling and gestur- follows: top 3 cards are called
ing to you partner using facial ex- Criticals (Kritische) which are the
pressions and hand gestures is Herz King (called “Maxi”), Shel-
permitted, called Deuten, and con- len 7 (called “Belli”), and Eichel 7
sidered part of playing this unique (called “Spitz”) in that order.
card game! Then come Strikers (Schläger)
The game is played with a Ger- which are 4 cards of any number
man card deck of 32 cards with the such as all 10s, or 4 face cards
4 suits called: Acorns (Eichel); such as Ober’s established after
Leaves (Grass); Hearts (Herz); dealing.
and Bells (Schellen), as opposed to
the French suits of Clubs, Spades, The highest Schlager is
Hearts, and Diamonds. Although Hauptschlager which is the card
belonging to both the trump suit

and trump rank. The remaining A deck of playing cards from Altenburg, Thuringia, Germany. This
Schläge of the same rank are the the so called Saxonian deck.
blind cards (Blinde). The trump
(Trumpf) suit also established after 5 tricks wins that hand, and gets to 20 of the 32 cards in the deck have
dealing is in the following rank: score 2 points. The game is usually been dealt.
Ace (Ass, or Sau), King (Koenig), played to 15 or for a faster game
Officer (Ober). Soldier (Unter), 10 11 points. Now you have the basics of
(Bahner), 9 (Brotzeit), 8 (Fenster- playing Watten, so find some play-
steck), and the lowest is the 7 The following are some of the ers and enjoy the game. Don’t be
(Notttschrei – means cry for signals that partners can use to surprised if the scorekeeper keeps
help!). The non-trump suits also convey their hand and high cards the score on his beer coaster!
rank from high to low. to their partner:
Any questions, comments, or if
Some of the basic rules of the Maxi – form lips into a kiss you’d like to play, please contact
game after dealing the cards in- Belli – wink right eye Dan at
clude: Announcing the Strikers Spritz – wink left eye
and Trumps. Strikers are declared Hauptschlag – wrinkle the nose
by the first player to the left of the Blinde – briefly extend a finger
dealer, and Trump declared by the to indicate the number of Blinde
dealer. There is even a re-deal per- held
mitted at this point. After these are Trumpfe – tap with middle fin-
declared, the remaining players ger to show number of Trumps
may pick up their cards. held, and looking up means has no
Play starts by player to left of Note that some of these cards
dealer and goes clockwise. High- may not even be in play since only
est card for each trick wins that
trick. The first team to take 3 of the
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