When Romansh Trumps It All – Troccas

Troccas is an old card game from Graubünden. It dates back even further than Graubünden itself: Troccas was played as early as the time when Graubünden was not yet part of Switzerland but an independent state by the name of “Free State of the Three Leagues”. This free state came into being in the early 16th century and lasted until 1798.

Troccas is predominantly played in Graubünden’s so-called highlands, the Surselva. And this has certainly been the case since 1725. At that time, the community of Trun prohibited the game of Troccas, to avoid “noise and scandal”. The game was played nevertheless, of course – most commonly by four players in teams of two, either in silence or with the players speaking out loud, but in the latter case always in Rhae-to-Romansh. By means of speaking, which is called “tschintschar”, the partners mutually inform each other about their cards. To ensure that the opponents do not understand what the players are saying or are even deceived by it, coded Romansh terms are used.

And what does a game of Troccas look like? Perhaps like poker? No, the game is an old variant of Tarot. A deck consists of 78 cards: four suits with ten numbered cards and four court cards each, plus 21 trumps, the actual Troccas, and a fool. The goal is to score more points than the opponents with valuable court cards such as the queen or otherwise with trumps. And this is working well: as of today, Troccas is still the most popular card game in the region located between Chur and the Oberalp Pass.

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