heart  club  JAM  diamond  spade 

Number of Players: Two.

The Deck: The standard deck of 52 cards.

Object: To score game points by taking tricks with a higher ranked card.

The Deal: The red cards (diamonds, hearts) are dealt to one player, the black cards (clubs, spades) are dealt to the other. These piles are shuffled separately, and five cards from each pile are dealt to each player. The remainder of each pile forms a face down stock pile; one for each player.

The Play: The non dealer leads to a trick a card from her hand. The dealer must either take the trick with a higher ranked card (aces are high; suits are irrelevant) or discard with an equally ranked or lower ranked card. Ties are resolved in favour of the player who led. Each player then replenishes her hand with two cards, either from the stock pile or from her own discard pile. She must then discard one card face up, so that she is left with a hand of five cards. The discard may be a card she just picked up or one of the four cards remaining in her hand after playing to the trick. The winner of the trick then leads to the next trick. Once both the stock pile and the discard pile are exhausted, then the final five tricks are played out of the hand without replenishing.

Scoring Game Points: There are three levels of scoring, worth one, two or three points. Each player may claim only one level of scoring. Both players may claim one, two or three points, and may accumulate combinations of these points.

If a player takes four consecutive tricks, otherwise known as a baby slam she banks one game point and may play on for a grand slam. If she takes a fifth consecutive trick she claims the grand slam and three game points (instead of one).

At the end of the deal one player may claim two game points if she captures fourteen tricks (i.e. a majority) or three game points if she captures fifteen tricks (a significant majority). These may be combined with any baby slams claimed.

A player may claim more than one one-point play (for example, if she can capture two baby slams in a deal, she may claim two points), or combinations of different scoring levels (e.g. a grand slam and a fourteen could be claimed for five points). However a player may not claim two three-point plays. For example, she cannot claim both a fifteen and a grand slam, but she could instead claim a fourteen and a grand slam for five points. She cannot claim two grand slams, but she could claim a baby slam and a grand slam for four points.

If none of these conditions are met then no game points are scored for that deal.

To Win: A rubber is played to five game points, and a tie needs to be resolved in subsequent deals. Matches can be best of three rubbers if desired.

Hint: Keep an eye on the second trick in a possible sequence - that is what rank your opponent leads with after she captures a trick.

© Matthew Shields 2006