Bester Bube

Bester Bube
Skat cards-Jacks of Diamonds and Hearts.jpg
J and J as Best Bower and Under Bower
TypePlain-trick game
FamilyRams group
DeckPiquet pack
Card rank (highest first)A K Q J 10 9 8 7
Related games
Euchre, Juckerspiel, Lanterloo, Reunion
Features: 2 Jacks as top trumps; 5-card hands

Bester Bube, Bester Bauer, Bester Buur, Beste Boeren (Holland), Fiefkarten (Holstein) or Lenter (East Frisia) is an historical German card game for 3–6 players played with a Piquet pack. It is one of the Rams group of card games characterised by allowing players to drop out of the current game if they think they will be unable to win any tricks or a minimum number of tricks.[1]


The game is recorded in the 18th and 19th centuries in German and Dutch game anthologies and dictionaries, appearing as early as 1781 in a Low German dictionary where it is equated with Lenter-Spiel.[2] In 1802 it is mentioned as a "people's card game" in a Holstein dialect dictionary, both as "Lenter" and "Besten Buur", and buuren is described as "playing the card game of besten Bauren [sic], in which the Spadenbuur or Pique Bauer ("Jack of Spades", also figuratively a foolish person) is the highest card which beats all the others."[3][4] It is also recorded in 1808 in Das neue königliche l'Hombre as "Bester Bube"[5] and Von Alvensleben includes it in his 1853 Encyclopädie der Spiele.[6] It is still current in the 1905 edition of Meyer's Großes Konversations-Lexikon, but by 1950 it appears to have dropped out of favour, being then described by Culbertson and Hoyle as "an obsolete card game similar to Loo".[7] The games scholar David Parlett includes it in his 2008 Book of Card Games, but agrees that it is "defunct".[8]

It appears to be a regional game: Parlett suggests it was played in the south and west of Germany, but it is also recorded in north Germany, for example in the area of Celle in Lower Saxony and[9] in Hamburg,[10] where it also appears to have been known as Bester Buern or Bester Buur.[2][11] Its rules are first recorded in Das neue königliche l'Hombre in 1808[5] and then appear in a book of the most common Dutch card games in 1821.[12] The game was known in the East Frisian dialect as Lenter, which also referred to the possession of five trumps in the game or to the five top trumps. Lenter was equated to the English Lanterloo or Lanteraloo and the Dutch Lanterlu or Lanturlu,[13] and Holsteinisches Idiotikon of 1800 also states that the Bower of Spades was the highest trump, indicating that in the earliest rules there was just one fixed top trump card, unlike the later rules which introduce 2 variable ones and more complex rules. In Holstein, the game was also called Fiefkaart or Fiefander.[14]

Bester Bube may be related to Juckerspiel and hence Euchre; the last was described by Parlett as "characterised by the promotion of two Jacks to topmost position as Right and Left Bowers, a feature variously represented or paralleled in late 18th-early 19th century west German games such as Réunion, Bester Bube and Kontraspiel."[15]

Bester Bube (pronounced "Boober") means "Best Jack" or "Best Bower" (the original names Bester Buur or Bester Bauer meant "best farmer") and is named after its highest card, originally the Jack of Spades,[3] but later the trump Jack.[6][8] The second highest trump is the jack of the same suit colour, the Unterbube[16] ("Under Bower" or "Under Jack") or Nebenbube ("Side Bower" or "Side Jack").[6]

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