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 heart  club  UPPER HAND  diamond  spade 

Number of Players:      Two.

The Deck:      24 Cards (strip out 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

The Deal:      3 hands of seven cards are dealt. The remaining three are placed face-down on the table. These three cards, the upper hand, are usually for the benefit of the non-dealer, and are to be used later.

The Bidding:      Until the upper hand is claimed, either player has the option to bid any point amount to exchange their hand with the third, unseen hand, and for the right to the upper hand (1). Bids can be passed, offered and raised for as many rounds as necessary, but a bid has to be accepted for an exchange to take place. If such an exchange is made, the amount of points bidden is subtracted from the total of the successful bidder, and added to the total of the other player, or to the player who exchanged in the three player game. This process can be ignored altogether or repeated until the upper hand is taken (see below). With or without the bidding process play may continue.

The Play:      The owner of the upper hand, be it the non-dealer or the successful bidder, merges those cards with his hand. Out of the ten cards, three must be placed back (in sequence from left to right) on the table, each card either face up or face down, in order to set up the game. The stipulation of these three is as follows:

heart    club

(Face Down -
No Trumps)

diamond    spade

heart    club

(Face Down -
King is high
card in suit)

diamond    spade

heart    club

(Face Down -
Any card
may be led)

diamond    spade

The upper hand owner then leads. Other players must follow suit if possible, otherwise they may trump or discard. Highest ranking card of suit takes trick unless trumped by trump suit. Ace is low when led, high when played second (or third in the three-player version), or stipulated as high card in suit. Winner leads to next trick.

The Scoring:      Aces captured in tricks score one. Picture cards in tricks captured score ten. Tens and nines captured score face value (3). If all three cards are face up, then point values are doubled; however, double points cannot be claimed in the first deal of a rubber. The player who scored the most points deals the next hand, and play begins again until one player wins. In a tie the next hand is dealt by the player to the dealer's left.

To Win:      The highest score past 250 points wins the rubber. A standard game would be best of three rubbers. This of course can be modified for a longer or shorter game.

A three player version has also been tested with the third hand live - the only stipulation is that only the player to the dealer's left can open the bidding to exchange with the player of his choice. The game plays somewhat differently in this version (for better or worse).


  1. As a hint, the non dealer need only bid 25-30 points for a fair trade, while for the dealer, closer to 40 points would be necessary.
  2. "Beats a King" - for example, if Jack is high card in suit then the order is (A)-J-K-Q-10-9-(A). If Ace is high card in suit, then the order is A-K-Q-J-10-9.
  3. Generally, any score over 65 points is a winning score for that deal.

© Matthew Shields 2001, 2004

Matthew Shields writes:

This game has bubbled away for years now - I think I've just about got it at its best but I do welcome any feedback, comments or questions addressed to myself at

The achilles heel that I have happened upon is the double-points rule - weighted reasonably well except when it is used early to inflate an advantage. I have introduced an arbitrary restriction by insisting that it can't be played in the first deal of a rubber. Hopefully that will be the last of the revisions!

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Last updated: 22nd June 2005