The founding of the Skat Club in Ottawa goes back 39 years to 1969. It was at a Saturday dance in the “Hofbräuhaus” clubhouse, where a lively discussion was in progress about a lost hand in a Skat game. Of course, everyone knows this game of games, for not to know the game of Skat is, for a German, considered a serious educational gap. Turns out that Skat was being played pretty well in and around Ottawa. What could be more logical than to try to organize a Skat Club? On a Sunday afternoon, Oswald Bulau, Rainer Henn, Walter Henn, Henry Keitel, Elfi Ridder, Richard Ridder, Hartmut Rosenberg, Herbert Rosenberg and Rainer Triebe met as a group, at the Hofbräuhaus and the Skat Club was born. It became a subgroup of the Maple Leaf – Almrausch Club. Originally, Thursday evening was the designated playing evening.
As could be expected the newly established Skat Club suffered the usual “labour pains.” In the almost 200 years that Skat has been played, many rules have developed in local pubs and at homes. There were many deviating “rules and evils” of the game that causing many disputes. The Skat Club eventually decided to play by the rules of the German Skat Association (Deutscher Skatverband (DSkV)). Richard Ridder obtained some official score sheets and since then play has been strictly by official Tournament Skat rules. In the beginning, prizes were sausages and ham from Walter Henn’s Bearbrook Farm and various other prizes. Eventually these prizes were replaced by cash prizes.
Our first outing took us to a “Prize Skat” in Kitchener, Ontario, part of the 1970 Kitchener-Waterloo Summer Festival. Second prize that year was won by Henry Keitel. Soon annual trips with school busses went to Huberdeau in the Laurentians where, with Skat Montreal, a “Prize Skat” took place on weekends. This ended once ISPA Canada came into being and regular skat tournaments in various cities were initiated.
Seven of Ottawa’s players participated in the week-long “Skat World Cup” 1982, in Kitchener, Ontario, with skat players from Germany and some other nations. We, the “Canadians,” considered ourselves amateurs at the time, played against German professional skat players from the “Bundesliga” for the first time and achieved remarkable placing. Richard Ridder placed 11th out of approximately 200 players in the “World Cup,” while Henry Keitel won second place in the Grand Prix of Kitchener. With this we brought home the first big prizes to Ottawa.
The International Skat Players Association (ISPA World) was founded in 1972 in Paris, France, with its headquarters located in Berlin. ISPA World is the umbrella organization for all skat clubs outside of Germany. The ML-A Skat Club is a member of ISPA Canada (founded 1985), which in turn is one of 21 national sections of ISPA World. The German Skat Association (DSkV), founded in 1899, represents the skat clubs within Germany. Uniform skat rules were instituted in 1929. Nevertheless, that did not stop individual and private “Skat Rules” (wild, bastardized rules) that, however, were and are not now recognized in organized skat clubs or tournaments. An Executive Workshop of the DSkV and the ISPA World harmonized the general rules of skat and on 1.1.1999 both organizations instituted the International Skat Order (ISkO) [PDF; 122KB].
Since Canada has been a member of ISPA, the Ottawa Club has participated in many national and international tournaments. We can boast of some exceptional players—for example, Richard Ridder, who placed 10th in the 1986 World Championships in the Republic of South Africa. The Canadian Skat Championship, held yearly in the Laurentians and sponsored by the Rolf C. Hagen Corporation, is very popular and the largest outside of Germany. This championship has been won by some of our members as well. Richard Ridder and George Oesterhues have claimed this coveted title not just once but twice. The Men’s Canadian Championship has also been claimed by two other players from Ottawa, Scott McCormick and Frank Heuvelmans. Three of our ladies have taken home the Canadian Championship in the Ladies Division: Liz Kardolus (6), Elfi Ridder (1), Marion Ledger (1).
In 2003, Dolly Erbrecht won the Ladies North American Title.
Team Canada, one of whose members was our own Scott McCormick, won the Team Title at the 2007 World Championship in the Bermudas.
See the “Our Champions’ Hall of Fame” page for an extended Honours Roll. We are very proud to have such exceptional players in our midst.