Jass is a Swiss trick-taking game that is played with four players in two teams and a 36-card deck. Its roots lead to the Netherlands, but these days it is considered the national card game of Switzerland.
In Jass, partners usually sit across from each other at the table. The deck consists of 36 Swiss-German playing cards, which is nine cards in the four suits Hearts, Bells, Leaves, and Acorns, which correspond with Hearts, Diamonds, Spades, and Clubs of the French suits.
The first dealer is determined randomly, and the cards are shuffled and dealt clockwise. Each player receives nine cards. Then, a trump suit is determined.
The cards in Jass rank highest to lowest as follows: Ace, King, Ober, Unter, Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six. Any card of the trump suit outranks any card of any other suit. And a higher-ranking card of the trump suit always beats any lower-ranking trump card.
After dealing, the player to the declarer’s left leads the first trick. The other players must follow suit, if possible. Otherwise, they can play any card, but they cannot win the trick unless they play a trump card. The player contributing the highest trump or, if no trumps are played, the highest card of the leading suit wins. The winner of each trick leads the next one.
Playing continues until all nine tricks are played. Then, it’s time for scoring. Points are gained based on the cards taken in tricks. The non-trump cards score as follows: Ace – 11 points, King – 4 points, Ober – 3 points, Unter – 2 points, Ten – 10 points. The rank Nine to Seven score zero points. Additional scores for certain achievements might be credited in some variants of the game.
The team that reaches the higher score wins the round. Then you repeat until an agreed-upon number of rounds is played or until an agreed-upon score is reached or passed. Each round, the dealer position rotates clockwise, and a new round begins.
Please note that the rules and scoring system may vary slightly depending on regional preferences. Jass has multiple different variations, including Schieber, Coiffeur, and Mundo, each with its own unique set of rules and objectives.
If you enjoy trick-taking in teams, you could check out our games at the Whist Palace and Pinochle Palace! Even closer to the Swiss Jass we also offer the German trick-taking classics Doppelkopf and Sheepshead (games available in English and German; websites available in German only).