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xskat - Man Page

a card game for 1 to 3 players.


xskat [-display|-d display] [-geometry|-g geometry] [-font|-fn font] [-iconic|-i] [-title|-T string] [-name prog] [-fg color] [-bg color] [-bt color] [-mark color] [-3d] [-2d] [-3dtop color] [-3dbot color] [-mb button#] [-keyboard number] [-tdelay seconds] [-fastdeal] [-slowdeal] [-help|-h] [-frenchcards] [-french4cards] [-germancards] [-german4cards] [-color] [-mono] [-color1 color] .. [-color4 color] [-large] [-small] [-up] [-down] [-alt] [-seq] [-list|-l file] [-alist] [-nlist] [-tlist] [-log file] [-dolog] [-nolog] [-fmt] [-unfmt] [-game file] [-briefmsg] [-verbosemsg] [-trickl2r] [-notrickl2r] [-lang language] [-start player#] [-s1 number] [-s2 number] [-s3 number] [-ramsch] [-noramsch] [-ramschonly] [-sramsch] [-nosramsch] [-skattolast] [-skattoloser] [-kontra] [-nokontra] [-kontra18] [-bock] [-nobock] [-bockramsch] [-bockevents number] [-resumebock] [-noresumebock] [-spitze] [-spitze2] [-nospitze] [-revolution] [-norevolution] [-klopfen] [-noklopfen] [-schenken] [-noschenken] [-hint] [-nohint] [-newrules] [-oldrules] [-shortcut] [-noshortcut] [-askshortcut] [-irc] [-noirc] [-irctelnet program] [-ircserver hostname] [-ircport number] [-ircchannel name] [-ircnick name] [-ircuser name] [-ircrealname name] [-ircpos number] [-irclog file] [-irclogappend] [-irclogoverwrite] [-auto #ofgames] [-opt file] [-pk] [player@display...]


XSkat lets you play the card game Skat as defined by the official Skat Order.

Up to 3 players may be simulated by the computer.

After starting the game a mouse click or ESC/F1 will bring up a menu. Other useful keys are: Space, Return, Tab, Cursor left/right/up/down. The rest of the game controls should be fairly obvious.

An introduction to Skat can be found at


In the following descriptions, the player starting XSkat is called player1.

-display display name
-geometry geometry specification
-font font name (default: 9x15 or 10x20)
-title window title
-name application resource name
-fg foreground color
-bg background color

The usual X toolkit options.

-bt color

The color of dialog buttons.

-mark color

The color of the marks that indicate
who is forehand (during bidding),
who is the Soloist,
which card the computer would play,
or the keyboard focus
(default: red or black).


Use a 3D look for dialogs (default).


Use the old, flat style (default on monochrome screens).

-3dtop color

The color used for the lines around the top and left sides of 3D buttons (default: white).

-3dbot color

The color used for the lines around the bottom and right sides of 3D buttons (default: black).

-mb menu button

The number of the mouse button that brings up the menu (default: 0 = any button).

-keyboard number

Define how much of the user interface may be controlled by the keyboard. The number has the following meaning:

 0 : Nothing.
 1 : More (default).
 2 : Everything.
-tdelay seconds

Specifies how long the last trick will be visible. A delay of more than 10 seconds means that the trick will be removed after pressing a mouse button. In multiplayer mode the largest specified value is used (default: 0.7).


Deal the cards without any time consuming animation.


Deal the cards slowly (default).


Show a short help text.


Play with French suited cards.


Change the colors of diamond and spade to orange and green, so that the 4 suits have easily distinguishable colors (default).


Use German cards.


Change the color of acorns to brown, so that the 4 suits have easily distinguishable colors.


Use colored cards. If there are not enough colors left, the number of colors used to draw the cards will be reduced appropriately (default).


Use b&w cards.

-color1 .. -color4

Redefine the colors of the suits diamond, heart, spade and club. Selecting -french4cards overrides the colors for diamond and spade.

-large and -small

Select the size of the main window (default: as large as possible).


Sort cards downwards (default).


Sort cards upwards.


Sort cards in alternating order.


Sort cards in sequential order (default).

-list filename

The file for saving/restoring the game list (default: $HOME/.xskat.lst or ./xskat.lst if HOME isn't set. For IRC games: .irc instead of .lst).


Alternative form of listing.


Normal form of listing (default).


Listing with tournament scoring.

-log filename

Turn on automatic logging, i.e. append logs of all games to filename (- means stdout).


Turn on automatic logging (default file: $HOME/.xskat.log or ./xskat.log).


Turn off automatic logging (default). Logs of individual games may still be saved during the game.


Write formatted log files, i.e. use backspaces for underlining and boldface.


Write unformatted log files (default).

-game filename

Read predefined games from filename (- means stdin). Not available for IRC play. See also section Files below.


Indicate who is forehand (during bidding) and who is the Soloist by displaying a small mark on the back of the cards.


Additionally print out everyones position and what is being played (default).


Put down the cards of a trick from left to right (default).


Place the cards corresponding to the players positions.

-lang language

Currently available: English and German (default: $LANG/$LANGUAGE is tried first. Then: see Imakefile/Makefile).

-start number

The player who starts dealing cards (default: 2).

-s1 number
-s2 number
-s3 number

Change the playing strenght of the computer players.
s1 corresponds to the left computer in single player mode or to the one and only computer in two player mode.
s2 corresponds to the right computer in single player mode.
s3 is only useful with -auto.
The number must be between -4 (weak) and 0 (default).


Play a game of Ramsch when all players pass.
The following rules are currently implemented:
The Skat remains face down until it goes to the winner of the last trick (or to the loser of the game, s.b.). The amount lost is the number of card points taken. If two players tie for most card points, they both lose. If all tie, the score is 0. If one player takes no tricks (a virgin) the amount lost by the loser is doubled. Someone taking all the tricks (forced march) wins 120 points.


Don't play Ramsch (default).


Play Ramsch each game.


Play Schieberamsch instead of simple Ramsch.
The rules are:
Each player in turn, starting with Forehand, may pick up the Skat and discard two cards face down. It's not allowed to pass on jacks. The score is doubled each time a player doesn't pick up the Skat.


Don't play Schieberamsch (default).


At the end of a Ramsch game the Skat is awarded to the loser(s). This will increase the loss.


The Skat goes to the winner of the last trick (default).


Allow opponents to say 'Kontra' which doubles the score of the game. The Soloist may reply 'Re' to double the score again.


Disallow Kontra (default).


Only an opponent who said at least 18 may say 'Kontra'.


Play a Bockround after some special event. The score is doubled in the next 3 games. If an event causing a new Bockround happens before the current Bockround is over or several Bockround events happen at the same time, the number of Bockrounds still to play is increased appropriately.


Don't play Bockrounds (default).


Play a round of compulsory Ramsch after each Bockround. Before a game of Ramsch begins, each player in turn, starting with Forehand, may declare to play Grand Hand instead. After a Grand Hand the same player deals again because this game does not count towards completing the Ramschround.

-bockevents number

Specify the events that cause a Bockround.

(1) A game is lost with 60 points.
(2) A successful Grand Hand.
(4) A successful Kontra (opponents win).
(8) A game with Kontra & Re.
(16) A player's score ends in 3 equal digits.
(32) A player's score is a multiple of 100.
(64) A game value of +72 or more.
(128) A game value of +96 or more.

Add up the numbers in parentheses to specify the desired events (default: 0).
A Kontra where the Soloist said Re but lost counts as one event not two (events 4 and 8).
To check a player's score, the current listing options of player1 are used (events 16 and 32). A score that is a multiple of 1000 counts as one event.
The game value (events 64 and 128) is the normal value without considering any doubling caused by Ramsch, Kontra or Bock.


Resume unfinished Bockrounds after quitting and restarting XSkat. The number of games to play is read from the game list file.


Don't resume Bockrounds (default).


Allow the Soloist to declare Spitze. This means that the last trick must be made with the lowest trump to win the game. This will be indicated to the other players by displaying the lowest trump. The game multiplier is increased by 1. It's not allowed to say Spitze in a Grand with 4 jacks.


Declaring Spitze increases the multiplier by 2.


Don't allow Spitze (default).


Enable a special variation of Null ouvert. After the Soloist's cards are exposed the opponents can look at each other's cards and rearrange the cards between their two hands in any way they wish before the start of the play. Revolution is worth 92 points.


Don't allow Revolution (default).


During a Ramschround you may knock (klopfen) at the beginning of a game to indicate that you think you won't lose. This will double the score of the game. Klopfen is not possible if you don't pick up the Skat in Schieberamsch.


Don't allow Klopfen (default).


If the opponents decide at the start of the play that they cannot defeat the Soloist, they can give up. This is done by selecting Schenken from the main menu during the first trick when it's your turn. If the Soloist accepts, the score is as though the game was won simply. The Soloist can insist on playing on, but in that case has to make the opponents Schneider to win. The score in this case is as for an announced Schneider (the multiplier is increased by 2). If the Soloist goes on the opponents can schenken again, giving the Soloist the Schneider. The Soloist can accept Schneider or insist on playing on for Schwarz.


Don't allow Schenken (default).


Put a mark over the card the computer would play.


Don't show computer hints (default).


Use the official rules of 01/01/1999:
Lost Hand games count double.
The Grand Ouvert multiplier is 24.


Lost Hand games count simple.
The Grand Ouvert multiplier is 36.


Always finish the game when the remaining tricks will all go to one side.


Play each trick.


Ask whether a shortcut should be taken (default).


Play via Internet Relay Chat. This option will establish a connection to an IRC server where you can join other people for a game of Skat.
How it works:
Start XSkat from an xterm. Wait until the server has printed the welcome message. You are now on channel #xskat where new games should be planned. Everything you type into the xterm will be sent to everyone else on this channel. After you have found one or two other players and agreed upon the name of a new channel (say #xskat123), you should type /join #xskat123. When all players are on the new channel, exactly one player has to type /go (or /go2 if there are only 2 players) to start the game. Now you can play and talk.


Don't use IRC (default).

-irctelnet program

Specify the program that will be used to connect to the IRC server. If you are sitting behind a firewall, a program like rtelnet must be used and you may have to set $SOCKS_SERVER to the name of your firewall host (default: telnet).

-ircserver host-name

Select an IRC server near you! (default: $IRCSERVER or irc.fu-berlin.de, if not changed in the Imakefile/Makefile)

-ircport number

The port of the IRC server to connect to (default: $IRCPORT or 6667).

-ircchannel name

The channel to join initially (default: #xskat).

-ircnick name

Your IRC nickname. If your nick is already used by someone else, a different nick will be generated automatically. Some servers allow a nick length of 30, others limit it to 9 characters. (default: $IRCNICK or $IRCUSER or $LOGNAME or xskatNNNN).

-ircuser name

Your user/login name. Note: most servers don't like faked user names (default: $IRCUSER or $LOGNAME).

-ircrealname name

Your real name (default: $IRCNAME or the entry from the passwd file or 'XSkat player').

-ircpos number

Select your position relative to the other players. Positions are numbered clockwise 1, 2 and 3. Player 2 will start dealing if not specified otherwise with -start or /start. If you don't specify your position or there is a conflict with someone else's choice or you give an invalid number (3 in a 2 player game), this will be fixed automatically. Choosing the right positions is important if you want to continue with a saved game list (default: 0 = I don't care).

-irclog file

Everything sent to or received from the IRC server is saved to this file (- means stdout). It may be useful for debugging (default: $HOME/.xskat.ilg or ./xskat.ilg).


Append output to the log file.


Overwrite existing log file (default).

IRC commands:

/nick name, /nick - change or display your nickname.
/who - is on the current channel ?
/list, /list string - show all channels that match the word xskat or the specified string. This will take some time on networks with a large number of channels. Trying to stop the listing will terminate the program.
/pos number - see -ircpos.
/bell - toggle the alarm bell. When on, the bell will ring each time someone joins your channel or sends a message to you. The bell is off initially.
/quit - terminate XSkat.
/sync - if messages get lost due to a net-split (or because someone left the channel during play), XSkat will detect this and in most cases should be able to synchronize automatically (within 30 seconds) after the connection is reestablished. Typing /sync will try this immediately.
/quote command args - for those who know what they are doing.
The following commands are only useful for the player who will start the game by typing /go because that player will determine the rules of the game.
/default - set the official rules.
/ramsch, /sramsch, /skattoloser, /kontra, /bock, /resumebock, /spitze, /revolution, /klopfen, /schenken, /oldrules, /bockevents, /alist, /tlist, /start, /s1 - change the rules of the game. All of these require an argument (a number or True/False) just like the resources with the same name.
/rules - show the current rules to everyone on your channel.


The version numbers of all participating programs must be equal.
Most options cannot be changed during the game. Options that can be changed are not saved to a file.
The game list can only be cleared during bidding or when it's your turn to play a card. There is a different default game list for IRC games (see -list).
It's possible to type into the xterm or the game window (which is recommended), but changing input sources in the middle of a line won't work.
If you want better input line editing and a split screen try the program ssfe. It is used like this: ssfe -raw xskat -irc
You can omit -irc when you specify any of the other IRC options.

-auto #ofgames

Three computers play the specified number of games without human interaction. The resulting scores are printed.
With this option, no resources are read, and the game list is saved only if -list is specified.

-opt filename

The file for saving/restoring all interactively changeable options of all players (default: $HOME/.xskat.opt or ./xskat.opt). Command line options take precedence over options specified in this file which in turn override resource specifications. This may be changed with the useoptfile resource.


If you want the computer to deal a Good Hand every time. (as requested by Petra K.) Alternatively, pressing F6 three times will result in a Good Hand for the next game. Does not work in multiplayer mode.


Specifies the display of the second and third player (but is ignored for IRC games). The player@ part may be omitted if the alias resource is set on display.


Command line options take precedence over resource specifications for player1.

geometry, font, title, foreground, background

The usual X11 resources.


(see -mark).


(used for 2D buttons, see -bt).


(used for 3D buttons, see -bt, default: a shade of gray).


(used for 3D dialogs, see -bg, default: a different shade of gray).


True or False (see -3d and -2d).


(see -3dtop).


(see -3dbot).


(see -mb).


(see -keyboard).


(see -tdelay).


True or False (see -fastdeal and -slowdeal).(#)


0, 1, 2 or 3 (see -frenchcards, -french4cards, -germancards and -german4cards).


True or False (see -color and -mono).

color1 .. color4

(see -color1 .. -color4).


True or False (see -large and -small).


True or False (see -down and -up).


True or False (see -alt and -seq).


(see -list).(#)


True or False (see -alist and -nlist).


True or False (see -tlist and -nlist).


(see -log).(#)


True or False (see -dolog and -nolog).(#)


True or False (see -fmt and -unfmt).(#)


(see -game).(#)


True or False (see -briefmsg and -verbosemsg).


True or False (see -trickl2r and -notrickl2r).


(see -lang).


(see -start).(#)

s1, s2

(see -s1, -s2).(#)


0, 1 or 2 (see -noramsch, -ramsch and -ramschonly).(#)


True or False (see -sramsch and -nosramsch).(#)


True or False (see -skattoloser and -skattolast).(#)


0, 1 or 2 (see -nokontra, -kontra and -kontra18).(#)


0, 1 or 2 (see -nobock, -bock and -bockramsch).(#)


(see -bockevents).(#)


True or False (see -resumebock and -noresumebock).(#)


0, 1 or 2 (see -nospitze, -spitze and -spitze2).(#)


True or False (see -revolution and -norevolution).(#)


True or False (see -klopfen and -noklopfen).(#)


True or False (see -schenken and -noschenken).(#)


True or False (see -hint and -nohint).


True or False (see -oldrules and -newrules).(#)


0, 1 or 2 (see -noshortcut, -askshortcut and -shortcut).


True or False (see -irc and -noirc).(#)


(see -irctelnet).(#)


(see -ircserver).(#)


(see -ircport).(#)


(see -ircchannel).(#)


(see -ircnick).(#)


(see -ircuser).(#)


(see -ircrealname).(#)


(see -ircpos).(#)


(see -list).(#)


(see -irclog).(#)


True or False (see -irclogappend and -irclogoverwrite).(#)


(see -opt).(#)


True or False (default: False). This is a resource for multiplayer mode (but not for IRC). It is ignored for player1. If set to True, the contents of the option file, which is owned by player1, are used. This means that you may end up with someone else's preferred settings if player1 used this file in a different multiplayer game.


The player's real name (max. 2 words of 9 characters, default: $LOGNAME).

Only player1 may specify the resources marked with (#).

Filenames starting with ~/ are interpreted correctly if HOME is set.


An example of a file specifying predefined games:

# The following block specifies the distribution
# of cards for player1, 2, 3 and Skat(0).
# A 10  K  Q  J  9  8  7
  2  2  2  2  2  0  3  3  # Diamond
  2  2  2  2  2  3  3  3  # Heart
  1  1  1  1  1  3  3  3  # Spade
  1  1  1  1  1  0  3  3  # Club

# The following is not the same game !
# Player numbers rotate 3 -> 2 -> 1 -> 3
# (and depend on the start option).
  2  2  2  2  2  0  3  3
  2  2  2  2  2  3  3  3
  1  1  1  1  1  3  3  3
  1  1  1  1  1  0  3  3

# Repeat the above games forever.
# The following lines take effect only
# when you delete the 'repeat'.

random_seed 123456 0 2
# Specifies the random number which determines
# card distribution for all following games.
# The second number lets you skip that many
# games in the sequence.
# The third (optional) number defines
# who will start dealing cards (see -start).
# An additional L or R following this number will
# rotate the cards left or right.

# The random_seed will be shown in game logs
# to allow easy replay. Just type:
# echo random_seed 123456 0 2 | xskat -game -


There are no official rules for the variations Ramsch, Kontra, Bock, Spitze, Revolution, Klopfen and Schenken.

If executing xskat player@otherhost:0 on yourhost gives an error message you could try the command xhost yourhost on otherhost to grant yourhost access to otherhost's display.

If you replay a game with your own cards, it doesn't matter whether 'Forehand changes' is set to 'yes' or 'no'.

Some versions of telnet have a bug, that prevents them from reading input from a pipe correctly. See README.IRC for a fix or put this into your ~/.telnetrc:

 set echo off
 set escape off
 set rlogin off
 set flushoutput off
 set interrupt off
 set quit off
 set eof off
 set erase off
 set kill off
 set lnext off
 set susp off
 set reprint off
 set worderase off
 set start off
 set stop off
 set forw1 off
 set forw2 off
 set ayt off

Leading blanks are important! Change the irc server line appropriately.


Gunter Gerhardt

The latest version is always available at

This program is free software; you can redistribute it freely.
Use it at your own risk; there is NO WARRANTY.

Redistribution of modified versions is permitted
provided that the following conditions are met:
1. All copyright & permission notices are preserved.
2.a) Only changes required for packaging or porting are made.
2.b) It is clearly stated who last changed the program.
     The program is renamed or
     the version number is of the form x.y.z,
     where x.y is the version of the original program
     and z is an arbitrary suffix.

Card images used with permission by
Spielkartenfabrik Altenburg GmbH, Marke ASS Altenburger
Leipziger Strasse 7, 04600 Altenburg, Germany


May 2004