All about Hungary: Hungarian playing card

Hungarian playing card

Posted on Apr 12, 2010| | | No comments:

The cards of Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovakia, Western Romania, Transcarpathia in Ukraine, Vojvodina in Serbia and South Tyrol use the same suits (Hearts, Bells, Leaves and Acorns) as the cards of Southern and Eastern Germany. They usually have a deck of 32 or 36 cards. The numbering includes VII, VIII, IX, X, Under, Over, King and Ace. Some variations with 36 cards have also the number VI. The VI in bells also has the function like a joker in some games and it is named Welli or Weli.
These cards are illustrated with a special picture series that was born in the times before the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, when revolutionary movements were awakening all over in Europe. The Aces show the four seasons: the Ace of Hearts is Spring, the Ace of Bells is Summer, the Ace of Leaves is Autumn and the Ace of Acorns is Winter. The characters of the Under and Over cards were taken from the drama William Tell, the legendary Swiss freedom fighter, written by Friedrich Schiller in 1804, which was shown at Kolozsvár in 1827. It was long believed that the card was invented in Vienna at the Card Painting Workshop of Ferdinand Piatnik, however in 1974 the very first deck was found in an English private collection, and it has shown the name of the inventor and creator of deck as József Schneider, a Master Card Painter at Pest, and the date of its creation as 1837. Had he not chosen the Swiss characters of Schiller's play, had he chosen Hungarian heroes or freedom fighters, his deck of cards would never have made it into distribution, due to the heavy censorship of the government at the time. Interestingly, although the characters on the cards are Swiss, these cards are unknown in Switzerland.
Games that are played with this deck in Hungary include Skat, Ulti, Snapszer (or 66), Zsír aka Víg a hetes (Grease or Sevens wild), Fire, Preferansz, Makaó, Lórum, Piros pacsi (Red paw) and Piros papucs (Red slipper). This set of cards is also used very often in the game of Preferans. In Croatia and Slovenia these cards are also commonly used for a game called Belot (also popular in Bulgaria and Armenia). Explanations of these games can be found at The Card Games Website.
In Czech republic these cards are called mariášky or mariášové karty (both means cards for mariáš), or sometimes pikety. The cards are used for almost all common card games in Czech lands, including the most famous mariáš, and very popular games like prší or Oko bere (slightly different Czech version of Blackjack).
The most common game played in Western Romania (Transylvania and Banat) is Cruce, a variation of Snapszer, most commonly played in 2 pairs, with team members facing each other, hence the name (Cruce = Romanian for Cross).

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