Who invented the game

Where does the Mau Mau game come from? Who invented it? Where and when was it played first? Who wrote the rules and how did they spread?

These seem simple questions - and yet they are difficult to answer. If you try to trace the history of the Mau Mau game into the darkness of the past and uncover its origins, you may not find the answers to the actual questions, but you will find a lot of amusing and interesting information. Unlike the story of Skat, the Mau Mau story still leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

Assumptions and documented certainties

The urge to play is just as basic a human need as the urge to eat, drink, sleep and so on. Friedrich Schiller wrote very nicely:

"Man only plays where he is, in the full meaning of the word, and is only fully human where he plays."

Playing means rest and relaxation, socializing and - if you will - training social skills. That is why play is particularly important for children - but we adults also benefit, and perhaps especially, from taking a break from the seriousness of life!

Playing reflects the character of the human being: some cheat, others don't. Some are ambitious in the game and want to win, others enjoy losing themselves. Then again there are those who love risk and those who tend to exercise caution. Very quick-tempered natures go so far as to create true dramas at the gaming table.

Cultural imports from the east - the silk road is to blame!

But back to the cards - where do they come from? Anyone who plays Mau-Mau at their home card table will surely be surprised to learn that the playing cards actually come from China, Korea or India. They reached Europe about 800 years ago via the Silk Road.

The Middle Ages were more global than we often think today: There were crusades into the Promised Land and in the middle of the 13th century the Mongol storms raged from the east. The Arab caliphate stretched from the Euphrates to Spain. Warriors, missionaries, traders and of course the traveling people ensured the exchange of goods, inventions and ideas. Including, of course, game ideas ...

One of the most widespread card games in the Arabs was called "Naib". This gave rise to the word "Naipes", as the playing cards are still called in Spanish today.

Devil stuff and den of sin

Early Middle Ages Europe went through dark times in those centuries. The plague epidemics spread fear and terror. The inquisition grew stronger. The church authorities quickly regarded playing cards and card games as vicious. Maybe because the cards tempted you to gamble? Or because the hated magic came into play with the popular tarot game? Or because the church was afraid that its little sheep might forget their duty and humility and prayer while playing cards? In any case, there is evidence that a Bernese court in 1367 qualified a set of cards circulating in the region as the “devil's prayer book” and banned it.

But what use are bans? Often they achieve the opposite, because every advertisement is good advertisement. In any case, the dissemination of the playing cards did not detract from their demonization on the part of the Church.

The invention of the French paper

Before the invention of printing, playing cards were often unique items made by artists, but thanks to the printing presses, they could soon be mass-produced and brought to the general public.

A good 400 years ago, Lyon in France was one of the centers of playing card production. The card games enjoyed great popularity at the king's court and in the salons of his noble subjects. The king, queen and jack are a reference and reminder of the absolutist era.

Opinions differ as to which monarch and his family are meant by them. It is likely that the artists who designed the cards each had their own preferences. The four kings - trèfle (club - cross), pique (spade - lance), coeur (heart) and carreau (square - diamond) are assigned the following historical personalities: Alexander the Great, David (King of Israel), Charlemagne and Julius Caesar. As ladies, the queens as such, but also Athena, Judith and Rahel were brought into play. The boys are linked to the legends of the knight Lancelot, Holger (Ogier) Danske (an adversary of Charlemagne), La Hire (loyal soldier on the side of Jeanne d'Arcs) and the Trojan hero Hector.

Rules of the game - put down, put on, collect ...

Where there are cards, there is also play - and that of course requires rules! Most games follow very similar basic principles: discarding, placing and collecting points, stinging and robbing is also allowed at the card table!

One can assume that new rules have been invented and tried out again and again until the optimal one is finally found Combination of gambling and strategy game found that a certain group of players liked.

This is how the classic card games such as skat, whist and bridge, which are still widely used today, came into being in the 19th century. Rummy was added at the end of the 19th century. In comparison, the Mau-Mau game cannot point to such an impressive vita - it is only mentioned from the 1930s onwards.

Luck or strategy? The Mau Mau game in court

But there is one thing the Mau-Mau game has to offer and that is a proper legal process! That may be surprising - because who should complain against whom? - but yes, there was a plaintiff and thus also a judge. It had to be clarified whether the Mau-Mau is a game of chance - and is therefore subject to the relevant legislation on the regulation of games of chance.

Those interested in law are welcome to enjoy the relevant verdict in full, the card game friends only have to be told: Yes, the Mau-Mau is a game of chance!

In any case, the administrative court in Düsseldorf argued in a judicial decision on April 29, 2011: The game certainly shows “moments of skill”, but these are compared to the “moments of chance - distribution of cards to the players, the order of the cards in the pile, determination of the first open card that has to be served ”etc. - of less importance for the outcome of the game.

Now that the gambling character of the Mau-Mau has now been officially clarified by a German administrative court, we card game fans can sit back and relax: Yes, that's wonderful! There are enough complex strategy games, but you don't want to worry about skat announcements and bridge combinations every day. Sometimes playing cards should just be relaxing and fun and then it's just: Mau-Mau!