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In the 19th century, jass became the most popular card game in Switzerland. Many Swiss families still engage in this traditional pastime.

DIY

Activity

La pomme, a variation on jass

It requires practice, rather than theory, to play jass well and fully understand the technicalities of the game. We suggest starting with ‘La pomme’, which is a version of jass involving 2 players. La pomme is more accessible than the multi-player version, but just as much fun!

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La pomme, a variation on jass
La pomme, a variation on jass

What you’ll need

1 deck of cards

Optional: 1 slate and 1 piece of chalk to keep score

Object of the game:
The object of the game is to achieve as many points as possible and, above all, not to score less than 21!
1.
The dealer (chosen at random) shuffles all the cards and deals 3 x 3, i.e. 9 cards, + 3 extra cards to each player. Players cannot look at their additional cards yet (they should remain face down).
2.
The dealer then turns over the top card of the deck, i.e. the remaining cards. The suit of this card will be the trump suit for the game – clubs in this case.
The trump suit is basically stronger than any of the other suits for this game. Any trump card beats cards from the other three suits.
3.
Each player looks at their 9 cards.
4.
Having checked their hand of cards, each player may swap 3 of their cards for the 3 extra cards they were dealt which remain face down. Players wanting to swap have to exchange 3 cards, or keep their original hand.
The 6 cards not used by the 2 players are placed at the bottom of the deck.
In this case, the player decides to discard 3 cards of no value and swap them for the 3 extra cards dealt.
5.
If one of the players holds the 6 of trump, they can, if they want, swap it for the trump card that is on top of the deck.
In this case, the trump suit is clubs. The player swaps their 6 of clubs for the Jack of clubs.
6.
The game starts when the player opposite the dealer puts down their first card. They can choose which card to play. The other player then puts down a card. They must follow suit (6a) (if they have any) or play a trump card (6c) (in this case, the player wins the trick). If the player does not have a card (6b) in the same suit they can play a card of any suit.

If there is no trump card in play, the player who has laid down the highest card (in the suit laid down by the 1st player) wins the trick and plays the next card.
If a trump card is in play, the player who laid down the trump with the highest value wins the trick and plays the next card. See card values below.

In our examples, the trump suit is clubs. I am the second to play:
6a.
If I have a card in the same suit as the first card played, I have to play a card in the same suit.
In this case, player 1 has put down the Jack of spades. Player 2 plays a card in the same suit – the 7 of spades.
As the Jack ranks higher, player 1 wins the trick.
6b.
If I don't have a card in the same suit, I can play a card of my choice.

In this case, player 1 has put down a Queen of diamonds. Player 2 has no diamonds in their hand, so they put down a card in another suit – spades. Player 1 wins the trick.

NB: if player 2 had played a stronger card than player 1, but not in the suit of diamonds (e.g. Ace of spades), player 1 still wins the trick because player 2 did not play a card in the same suit.
6c.
I can play a trump card at any time, even if I have a card in the same suit to play. This is known as cutting. The winner of the trick gets to play next.

In this picture, player 1 has laid down an Ace of hearts. Player 2 plays a trump and wins the trick.
In this picture, the 9 of clubs (trump) wins the trick.
7.
The card values are identical to those in jass:
Ace: 11 points
King: 4 points
Queen: 3 points
Jack: 2 points
10: 10 points
The other cards (6, 7, 8 and 9) are worth zero points.

Only the Jack of trump and the 9 of trump have different values (in our example clubs is the trump suit): Jack of trump: 21 points and the 9 of trump: 14 points
Once all the cards have been played, each player adds up their score based on the values above + 5 points for the final trick.

The player with the higher score gets 1 point. If either player scores less than 21 points, they get an apple ('la pomme'), i.e. minus 1 point.

The first player to score 7 points wins the game.
In an alternative version of the game, the first player to total 3 apples loses.
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