These strategies are suggestions for improving your play and enjoyment of the game. They are not rules. Sometimes they make so much sense that they're almost like rules, except that not following them is legal, but suicidal.

A term used a lot in the strategies below is Bok. This means a card that cannot be taken. Boks are relative. If only one team has trump left and one partner has an Ace, it is a Bok. If a member of the team without trump has an Ace, it is not a Bok, since it can be taken by a trump. If the Ace in a suit has been played, then the King is Bok, and so on.

Also notice that there is an emphasis on suit trumps in the strategies. That's because they are more complicated. All of these strategies can be applied to the no-trump variations without the complication of the trump suit. A lot of these strategies will also show the pros and cons of a situation, rather than list rules. That's because there are so many factors which affect the decision. These strategies are to jump-start your Jass play, but most of them become self-evident after you play the game enough.

Please pardon the switch to second tense, it's just easier for these examples.


Choosing a trump

A player whose turn it is to make trump has different standards than a player to whom trump has been passed.

If it is your turn to make trump, follow these rules:

  1. Make trump if you can win at least 4 hands. If you are making a trump suit, this usually means you have the Jack, 9, and at least one other trump. You should also have at least an Ace, so you can play something after you play all the trumps (see strategies:play out the trumps). If you are making no-trump (normal or reverse), you should have the strongest cards in 1 or more suits. These rules are flexible, though. If you have the Jack, Ace, 10, 8, 7 of trump and one or more Aces in other suits besides, that's a fine trump suit. If you have the Ace, King, 10, 9, 8, 7 of hearts, that's a fine no-trump (Oben-abe), since the odds of someone having the Queen with 2 other hearts and being able to hold on to it are slim. If you have Boks in many suits and a long non-Bok suit, but not 4 guaranteed hands, you can still make a trump (see strategies: play backwards).
  2. Try not to make a red trump (hearts or diamonds). These trumps only count once and will hurt your team if your partner has a good no-trump (Oben-abe), which counts triple. If you think you can make all of the hands, then your team gets 257 and the other team gets none, which is good, because it's really the point-differential which matters. A red trump may also make sense if your team has 20 points left to make and the other team has 300. You'll easily make 20 points (with only the Jack, actually), and you lessen the likelihood that a strong combination on the other team will win the game for them.
  3. If you have only 3 suits, be careful about passing the trump. It opens you up to your partner choosing a trump in the suit you don't have. If you are missing Hearts or Diamonds, not much damage is done since a Red trump only counts single anyway.

If your partner passed the trump choice to you, follow these rules:

  1. Choose a trump in which you are strongest, even if you can't make 4 hands. Remember you have to choose something. Rules for choosing a trump suit are relaxed somewhat here too.
  2. If you really think you have nothing, then choose a Red trump. That will minimize the damage. When you first start to play, you will choose a lot of Red trumps. As you gain experience and see the potential in each hand, you will find you get more good hands than you thought.

Play out the trump suit

If you are playing a trump suit hand, it's never to your advantage for the other team to have trump cards. You will need to count* the trumps as they are played to determine whether the other team has any trumps left. If it is your turn to start the first hand of the game, play your highest trump. Always. This accomplishes several things:

  1. Your partner knows the strength of your trump.
  2. If a member of the other team has only one trump, like the 9, but you played the Jack, they have to play it and you win it. If you played a different trump, or played an Ace in another suit, for example, the other team could win the hand with the 9 of trump.
  3. If you play the Ace as your highest trump and you win the hand, you can assume your partner has the Jack and 9, else { the other team would have used those cards to win the hand, } themselves.

Rules for when to lead trump/stop leading trump:

  1. If both members of the other team are out of trump, stop leading trump
  2. You can get a hint that a member of the other team is out of trump if they play a strong card on your stronger card. For example, if you play the Jack, and they play the 9 on it, you can assume they have no trump left, or they wouldn't have wasted such a strong card.
  3. If you can account for all 9 trump cards through deduction, stop leading trump. For example, you have 3 trumps. You play one hand and everyone throws a trump card. Your partner declared a combination from King, Queen, Jack in trump, but threw the 8 of trump. 4 cards player + 2 cards in your hand + 3 cards declared in your partner's hand = all trumps accounted for. You may now play an Ace without fear that the other team will trump it. If you don't have an Ace, see Strategies:Signalling your strong suit.
  4. If you can only account for 8 of the trump, and there is a possibility that your partner has one (see rules 1 and 2 above), you should assume your partner has it. If your partner does have it, then you don't waste 2 trumps finding that out. If your partner doesn't have it, then you lose an Ace (presuming the other team uses their trump to take your hand), but still have one trump left. If you have a lot of Boks and don't want to take that risk (if you think you can win everything even with the wasted trump), then play the trump.

If it isn't your trump, but you won a hand anyway, you still want to get rid of the trump. If you know the other team still has trump, throw out your trump and draw it out. Only the Jack can be held back (see standard trump), and, more often than not, it is played in the first hand. Make the other team play their trumps out.

*see Strategies:Counting cards

When to throw trump suit

If trump is not the established suit, you obviously don't have to throw trump. However, there are times when you will want to take that hand and you don't have a stronger card in the established suit.

First of all, you should almost never trump a hand that your partner will win. However, if you have a lot of Boks and can finish out the game, by all means, trump it.

If you have a handful of Boks, you should trump the hand and play your own Boks. It is almost always better to be in charge of the game. If you don't have a lot of Boks (or only one, or none at all), you may have to bide your time to see when a good time to play the trump is. Remember, though, you have a partner, and they may have Boks to play if you would only trump, take control and play their suit for them.

If you have no trump

If have to pass the choice of trump to a partner and they choose a trump suit in a suit that you don't have*, you will have to play a non-trump card to start the hand. In this case, since there are 9 trumps left in the game and you don't know which ones you partner has, you shouldn't play a Bok card. Bok cards at the start of a game are generally high-value cards (see Card point values) and you may lose it needlessly. Instead choose a card according to Strategies:Signalling your strong suit.

If your team cannot win the hand, throw a card according to Strategies:Throwing Away.

*See point 3 in Strategies:choosing trump

Cornered the trumps, but no Boks

You and your partner have taken all of the trump from the other team. You took the last hand and have control (the lead) of the next hand. You don't have a Bok. If both you and your partner have trump, you still have a shot at winning all of the hands. Follow the rules in Strategies: Signalling your strong suit:leading. If your partner does not have the Ace, they can use a trump to maintain control. Perhaps, a member of the other team will be forced to throw the Ace (if it's the only card in the established suit they have left) and then your partner can play that suit back and let you take it.

If you have enough trump, you should continue to do this until your team can win some hands without using trump. Even if the hand has no points in it, the other partner should use trump to maintain control of the game. At that point, you are still trying to win all of the hands and get the 100 point bonus (see Scoring:Calculating the score). If you know your team doesn't have enough trump (or has no chance at getting Boks), then be more frugal with the trump and use them only when there are a lot of points in the hand. In general, this will be when there are at least 10 points in the hand. Sometimes you'll get 30, but don't count on it. Many a trump has been thrown onto a 3 point hand because the big point hand never came.

Throwing away

If you don't have a card in the established suit, and don't want to throw a trump, you'll have to throw away a card. If the other team is going to win that hand, throw a weak, low-valued card*. If your partner is going to win the hand, then throw a weak high-valued card*. You can also give your partner a signal (see Strategies:Signalling your strong suit).

If you can win the hand, consider using a weaker card to do so, to maximize your Boks. For example, it is a no-trump and the other 3 players have played their cards, which are the 8, 9, Jack. You have the Queen and the Ace. The King has not yet been played. You should play the Queen to win the hand, then play the Ace to win the next hand.

*See Card values

Signalling your strong suit


If you won the last hand, you have to lead the first card in the next hand. If you can't or don't want to lead trump, and don't have any Bok cards, you can still do something useful. If you have a card that is almost a Bok and have another weak card in that suit, play the weak card as your lead card. This accomplishes 2 things:

  1. If you play this card, more often than not, the strongest card in that suit will be played to win the hand. Now your near-Bok is a Bok! If you play too weak a card, however, then the hand may be won without using the strongest card in that suit. More often than not, though, this isn't the case.
  2. It signals to your partner which suit you are strong in, and, given the opportunity, which suit you would like played back to you. If your partner has the strongest card in that suit, they will win that hand, play all of their Boks, then play a card in that suit (if possible) to let you play the Bok you now have.

Remember, the other team is probably using this strategy, too. If a player on the other team plays a weak Diamond, and you take it. Don't play Diamonds. They probably have the Bok.


Another opportunity for signalling comes when your partner is leading and you don't have the established suit. If you have a strong suit or a Bok, play a card in the opposite suit as your card. Your partner should note this, and when they have exhausted their own Boks, they can play a card in that suit (again, if possible) so you can take it. You use a different suit to signal the suit you want so that you don't waste cards in your strong suit. The opposite suits are:

Hearts is the opposite of Diamonds
Spades is the opposite of Clubs

If you are strong in 2 suits other than the one being played, play a card in the opposite of the established suit. For example, if you have strong Spades and Clubs, and your partner is playing Hearts, play a Diamond. They will know you don't want Hearts (you don't have any) and know you don't want Diamonds (you're throwing them away).

If you are strong in only one suit, but your partner is playing the opposite of that suit, you can throw away one card in each of the other suits (in 2 different hands, of course). For example, you have strong Clubs, but your partner is playing Spades. Throw away a Heart, then a Diamond. Your partner will know you don't want Hearts or Diamonds, so will play Clubs.

The examples above are in an ideal hand where you have the card you need to signal with and your partner picks up on the signal. Sometimes it's just not possible. Don't worry about it. Often you will simply want to give your partner points (see Card values). Often your partner will assume that a 10 is simply given as points, rather than as a signal. For this reason, only the first card you throw which doesn't follow the established suit is considered to be a signal. Therefore, the 2 card signal outlined above will only work if your partner is paying close attention.

Again, playing experience with that partner will help a lot. Playing with a partner with a radically different style will be very confusing. Even if you and your partner are experienced, there will always be times when you just throw a card and your partner interprets it as a signal. Again, don't worry about it. You just might have bad cards.

Playing backwards

If at any point (usually earlier in a hand) you find that you have the lead and have Boks in 3 suits, but only one away from a Bok in the fourth suit, you should play backwards. Play a bad card in the suit in which you don't have a Bok. Hopefully, the Bok will be played on that hand. You lost one hand, but now you have a Bok in every suit and can recapture the lead on the next hand. This is very useful for freeing up a long suit that you can't win right away.

For example, you have to make trump. You have 6 of Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades. You also have the 7, 8, Jack, Queen of Hearts. On first examination, this looks like a near-miss on an Unen-Uffe trump and you would have to pass. However, if you play the Jack of Hearts first, you will probably force the 6 to be played. Then you have 5 Boks and a probable Bok in the Queen of Hearts. That's a good trump now.

This strategy can be applied at any point in a game, but is most applicable to hands near the beginning.

Shielding near-Boks

If you have a near-Bok in the established suit, then throw a weaker card in that suit (even if it is a high point value card). That way, you now have the Bok in that suit. Likewise if the established suit is a different suit and you have a near-Bok and another card, try to keep that other card too. If you throw it away, you will be forced to play your near-Bok on the Bok card when it appears.

For example, it is a no-trump (Oben-abe), you have the King and 10 of Diamonds and no Clubs. If Clubs is played, don't throw the 10 of Diamonds if you can help it (even if it is for your partner) because then when the Ace of Diamonds is played, you will be forced to throw the King on it. Of course, these suggestions are all relative to your cards and the game. If you really need the points, throw the 10 anyway.

Counting cards

You should count cards as much as possible. If it is suit trump, then make sure you know how many trumps are left in the game. Try to keep track of the cards in suits in which you have Boks or near Boks*.

For example, if you're playing a no-trump and you have the Ace, King, 10, 8 of Hearts in your hand, keep track of whether the Queen and Jack have been played. If they have, then you can play the 10 without fear of it being taken.

*Some players feel that it is legal to announce a Bok when playing it, so that their partner may play accordingly. They also feel that one may ask if a card is a Bok and expect a straight answer. Others feel that it is more challenging to disallow announcing Boks and expect all players to count cards for themselves. Play as you like.

End game

Towards the end of the match, a team's choice of trump becomes more important and can be affected by the relative scores of the 2 teams. If both teams are close to winning, be careful about making a triple-valued trump (no-trump, normal or reverse), since then a declaration may be enough points for one team to win. Also see point 2 in Strategies:Choosing a trump.