August 19, 2013

  • Remembering Schafskopf

    Back in 1939 to 1941 we lived in DePere, Wisconsin. Mom and Dad, for fun, played a card game called “Sheepshead” or “Schafskopf” almost every Friday evening with two other couples in our small apartment building (5 various sized apartments) located above Mr VanGimert’s tombstone/monument making company. Sheepshead often was played in the many small taverns in town, over a dozen in a two block area. Farmers would come in town every weekend to play and drink beer. They were sort of like the poker halls in other American towns.

    Sometimes after moving back to Indiana, Dad’s Wisconsin brothers would visit and play this popular card game, so I was taught how to play it as a teenager….since sometimes they needed another player. It really is a very complex and difficult game with lots of strategy….harder than Contract Bridge in many ways. After so many years, I’d forgotten how to play it so googled it to read the rules again. Yes it is extremely complicated….one of the things about it I had remembered!

    They say some Wisconsin farmers would gamble their livestock or even the farm away when playing this game! I remember some of the terms: picker, the blind, the fail cards, schmearing, and going for “least”, etc. Outside of Wisconsin, not many people have even heard of this fascinating….and often addicting game! 






Comments (4)

  • It looks complicated. I’m not very good at card games. We used to play Rook in Africa (also known as Baptist poker), and I never could keep my mind on the game. I play a mean Old Maid game though.

  • I remember you talking about it… Always wondered why you never taught us how to play… I guess between Bridge and Pinochle and Cribbage there was never any time! hehe!

  • @murisopsis - Oh, this was one of the hardest games to play…a form of “Skat” and originally from Germany….sort of a safe way to stick it to the Kaiser/King by making the Queens and Jacks and even a ten higher than any of the 4 kings! the Germans who emigrated and settled in Wisconsin in the 1800′s brought the game with them.

  • @ata_grandma - I used to play “Old Maid” with my Irish Grandpa Jim….who would have preferred to play pinochle or some other game with his Cigar Store buddies. Love that “Irish Poker” for “Rook” reference. G’ma Bessie didn’t want regular playing cards in her house, so G’pa and Mom and Dad would play their card games using a Rook deck. G’pa was dying of cancer but looked forward to mom and dad coming home from work to play cards with him in the evenings. G’ma got a lot more liberal about such things as she grew older.

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