Sixty-six, two-player card game, ancestral to bezique and pinochle, that was first recorded in 1718 under the name Mariagen-Spiel (German: “the marriage game”). It is still popular in Germany, even more so in Austria under the name Schnapsen (“booze”).
What Is It About
The game uses a deck of 24 cards, ranked (scored) as follows: aces (11 points each), 10s (10), kings (4), queens (3), jacks (2), 9s (0). Each player is dealt six cards in batches of three-three, a card is turned faceup to establish the trump suit, and the rest of the cards are stacked facedown, partly covering the turned-up trump, to form the stock.
The aim is to be the first to correctly announce the attainment of 66 or more points for cards, marriages (if any), and winning the last trick (10 points if applicable). Counting must be done mentally, not orally or in writing.
The non-dealer leads first. No one is obligated to follow suit. The higher card of the suit led, or a trump played to a plain-suit lead, wins the trick. The winner of the trick draws the top card of the stock (the opponent taking the next card), and leads for the next trick.
Either player holding the nine of trumps may exchange it for a higher trump card at any time, provided he has previously won a trick, unless the nine is the last card in the stock. A “marriage” is announced by showing the appropriate king and queen and leading one of those cards. Marriages may be announced only when one of the two cards is played – unless a player by showing a marriage makes his score 66 or more. The non-dealer may announce a marriage on his first lead and score it after he wins a trick.
After the stock is exhausted or closed, the non-leader on each trick must follow suit if possible. Marriages may still be scored.
The player who first reaches 66 scores 1 game point. If he reaches 66 before the opponent gets 33 (a “schneider”), he scores 2 game points; if before the opponent gets a trick (a “schwarz”), he scores 3 game points. If neither player scores 66, or each has scored 66 or more without announcing it, no one scores in that hand and 1 game point is added to the score of the winner of the next hand.
If a player “closing” gets 66 or more, he scores the same as if the game had been played out. If the player fails, the opponent scores 2 points. If a player closes before his opponent has taken a trick, but fails to score 66, the opponent scores 3 points.
Is It Good?
The player who scores 7 game points first, wins. The main skill of the game is to know when to close. Expert players conclude more games by closing than by playing the stock out.