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Partnership Blackout

Contributed by Scott Mayes

Players

4 players in partnerships of 2, partners sitting opposite.

Cards

Standard 52 card deck with jokers removed. Cards rank from high to low A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2. Spades are trump.

Deal

Deal out the entire deck (13 cards each). Turn to deal passes clockwise.

Bidding

Starting to the dealer's left, players get to bid once unless their partner bid 'board' or 'nil' before them (see 2 & 3 below). The possible bids are: a number bid (1-12), board, and nil. There is no requirement for each bid to be higher than the previous one.

  1. Number Bidding: If both members of a team bid a number, those numbers are added together and the team's aim is to win at least that many tricks. So, if the members of a team bid 1 and 4, they must try to win 5 or more tricks between them. The highest number bid is 12. If a team's totaled number bids exceed that amount, the total is reset to 12.
  2. Bidding Board: Players who bid board commit their team to winning every trick that hand. A player is skipped during bidding (i.e., doesn't get to bid) if his or her partner bid board earlier in the same hand. Conversely, a player's earlier number bid is cancelled/voided if his or her partner bids board.
  3. Bidding Nil: Players who bid nil are committed to winning no tricks themselves. Only the tricks they take count against their bid (i.e., their partner can win any number of tricks without consequence). Thus, players should always collect the tricks they win individually to aid in scoring. A player is skipped during bidding (i.e., doesn't get to bid) if his or her partner bid nil earlier in the same hand. Conversely, a player's earlier number bid is cancelled/voided if his or her partner bids nil.

Play

Turn to play starts left of the dealer and passes clockwise. Players must follow the suit of the card that led if possible. If unable to follow suit, they may play any card. The trick is won by the highest trump played, or, if no trumps were played, by the highest card of the suit that led that trick. The winner of a trick leads to the next. Trumps can lead at any time and need not be 'broken' first.

Scoring

If both members of a team bid a number: If the number of tricks they win TOGETHER equals their TOTALED bids, they score 10 points plus 1 point per trick BID. If not, they score (and lose) no points that hand.

Teams which bid board: If the partners succeed in winning all of the tricks that hand between them, they score 40 points. If they fail, they lose 10 points.

Teams which bid nil: If the partner who bid nil (see Bidding Nil above) wins no tricks that hand, his or her team scores 40 points. If the partner who bid nil wins even a single trick, his or her team loses 10 points.

Note: when a bid of board or nil is made by either member of a partnership, only that bid counts toward that partnership's score for that hand.

Ending the Game

Games can last until one team reaches 100, 150, 200, or 200+ points or after 10, 15, 20, or 20+ hands with the highest scoring team winning. You can also do a combination. Whoever reaches 100 points first or the highest scoring team after 15 hands, for example.


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Last updated 3rd May 2004