Karnoeffel, a German game, is the oldest documented card game dating from 1426 and uses a a King, Over, and Under as the face cards. When playing with a modern deck, the Queen can be used as the Over and the Jack as the Under. In this game, players opposite each other are partners, and attempt to win the most tricks. The game is played with all the face cards, and the deuce through the ten card – the Ace is not used.


  • Players ante into the pot.
  • Five cards are dealt to each player, with the first card face up.
  • The lowest face up card establishes quasi-trump suit. In event of a tie, the first dealt card shall be used to determine trump.
  • Play beings with the eldest player (the one on the dealers left).
  • The first player leads by playing a card, and each player follows by playing a card.
  • After all cards are played, the trick is taken by the player who played the highest card following the rules of trick taking below.

Rules of Trick Taking

  • The highest card of the trump suit wins the trick. Refer to the Trump Chart below to determine which card is highest in trump.
  • If no high trump card is played, the highest card of the suit led wins the trick. Ranking is normal from King down to deuce.

Trump Chart

Card Name Rank
trump Under Karnoeffel beats any other cards
7 of trumps the Devil beats any cards, except the Karnoeffel, but only if led
6 of trumps the Pope beats all plain suit cards
2 of trumps the Emperor beats all plain suit cards
3 of trumps the Over-taker beats all plain suit cards except Kings
4 of trumps the Under-taker beats all plain suit cards except Kings and Overs
5 of trumps the Suit-taker beats all plain suit cards except face cards

Cards not listed above hold normal value. The seven of trumps, the Devil, is only trump if it is the card the first player led with. For easy reference, the order of trump is:

U, (7), 6, 2, K, 3, O, 4, 5, 10, 9, 8, (7)

Winning the game

The game is over when one team collects three tricks. The winning team collects the pot and a new deal begins.


Singman, J. L., & McLean, W. (1995). Daily Life in Chaucer’s England. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

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