A Christmas Fun Card Game for all non-bridge players.

Almost every home can find a pack of cards tucked away in a drawer somewhere. Portable and cheap they can be a life line for making new friends anywhere in the world whether in a tent or a cruise ship. 

Getting Started – Essentials -  Time – 20 minutes.

Four happy, smiley faces ages 8+ to 100+

Partners sit opposite each other – Declarers versus Defenders known as North/South or East/West

1 pack of 52 playing cards – 4 suits, clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades.

Honour cards are given a point value: 

Ace/4, King/3, Queen/2 and Jack/1. (10 points) x four suits = total 40pts

 Starting to play:

All cards are dealt face downwards, clockwise by the dealer. Each player picks up 13 cards and counts their points, putting their cards into suits, black, red, black, red. Starting with the Dealer each player ‘announces out loud’  how many high card points they hold.  The partnership with the most points over 20 are called the Declarers.  Redeal if each partnership has an equal 20-20 high card points

 Aim of the game: To score 1 – nil the Declarers must win the number of tricks laid

down in the Target Trick Table otherwise the Defenders score 1 – nil. Best of 3 Games.    

21/22 points = 7 tricks, 23/24 points = 8 tricks, 25 = 9 tricks 26/28 = 10 tricks, 29/34 = 11 tricks  35+ = 12 tricks (a trick is explained below)

 The Declarers.  Declarer is the partner with the highest number of points and his/her partner is called ‘Dummy’. Dummy now places his/her cards on the table in four vertical lines, in suits, black, red, black, red and in rank order AKQJ1098765432. Declarer says ‘Thank You Partner’.  Dummy now moves around the table to sit with and assist Declarer in announcing ’the contract’, i.e. how many tricks they must win according to the Target Trick Table above to score 1 – nil.

The Declarers together, check their combined hands to see if there are 8 or more cards in one of the four suits. eg.4 cards in one hand and 4 in the other or, splits 5/3, 6/2, 7/1 or more. If there is, they announce as the contract that particular ‘trump’ suit. So, for example, if they have 8 (or more) clubs in the combined hands and 23 points, they would announce the contract as 8 tricks in clubs. Without an 8 or more combined card fit, Declarers announce the contract as being played in ‘no trumps’.  

 The Defenders now announce how many tricks they must win to beat the contract for them to score

1 – nil. There are 13 tricks available each game. For example, if Declarers have 23 combined points they must make 8 tricks. Defenders, therefore, announce they must win 6 tricks to beat the contract and for them to score 1 – nil.  If Defenders only win five tricks they have not beaten the contract.

 What is a trick in no trumps?  Example. Cards are played clockwise. Say the 4 of clubs is led, 2nd player plays the 8 of clubs, 3rd player plays the king of clubs and the 4th player plays the winning ace of clubs, capturing all four cards for their partnership. Winning all four cards is known as winning one trick. Players must always follow suit if they can. The winner of each trick plays the next trick. If the trick is won in Dummy, the next card played is led from Dummy. Declarers stretch over the table to play the card from Dummy.

 What is a trick in a trump suit?

Example: Say, Declarers have designated spades as the ‘trump’ suit because they have found an 8 (or more) card fit in spades. The magic powers of ‘ruffing’ now come into play. Say, an ace of clubs has been played by the Defenders. If Dummy or Declarer have none of the suit led, they can capture the trick with a card from the trump suit, however small, for example, 2 spades. Both the Declaring partnership and the Defenders can ruff. Remember it’s a partnership game – don’t ruff partner’s winning trick.

Three Tips for Defenders

The focus for Defenders is beating the contract. So what are the Defenders doing whilst Declarers are whispering together? The Defender to the left of Declarers will be the first to lead a card after looking at Dummy’s cards on the table. The ‘good’ players use this first card to ‘signal’ to partner.

 Tip 1. Signal - Opening Lead in No Trumps

In a no trumps contract it is usual for the Defender to lead 4th highest from longest suit because long suits are good news in no trump contracts. Defender’s partner, if possible, should win this trick and lead a card from the same suit back to partner as soon as they can. Whoever wins the trick leads the next card.

Tip 2. Signal - Opening Lead in a Trump Suit Leading ‘low for like’ either 2,3,4,5, or 6 of a suit ‘signals’ to partner that the Defender has an honour (AKQJ) in this suit. Partner must win this trick if possible and lead this suit back as quickly as possible. However if Defender on lead plays either of 7,8,9 or 10 ‘high for hate’ he/she is signalling they have no points in this suit and also saying ‘Partner look at Dummy and if there are two/three small cards in Dummy maybe that’s where my points are.’

Tip 3.Signal - Discards:  The first time a Defender can’t follow suit, they have to ‘throw’ a card. This signal is made only on the first discard. Partner is waiting for this signal. Use the same formula ‘low for like’ and ‘high for hate’ to delight partner. Already Defenders are working to become an awesome partnership!

 Three Tips for Declarers:

1  Planning the play: Example of Counting Winners. Contract 9 tricks No Trumps = 25pts

Defender’s Opening lead 2 hearts ‘low for like’ promising partner an honour in hearts.

Dummy:     spades  AQ54     hearts J107      diamonds 9876    clubs AJ        Total 12 pts

Declarer:   spades   K7          hearts 9865      diamonds AJ10     clubs KQ96   Total  13 pts

Spades AKQ/3, hearts/nil, diamonds A/1, clubs AKQJ/4 total 8. Drat! one short! But not to worry! - If Defenders take the first three hearts ie AKQ, Declarers 9 hearts will be the 9th winner. Contract made!

If you can count enough immediate winners for your contract – no heroics just play them out and high fives all round.

Tip 2. If playing in a Trump Suit draw Trumps immediately unless you can set up ‘ruffing’ opportunities in Dummy.

Tip 3. Second player plays low. After the opening lead, it is usual to play low from Dummy with third player playing high. Example – in no trumps it is not unknown for a lowly card to be won by Declarers.

 The Game is on!

The head-to-head battle for tricks has commenced.  Have fun! Good luck everyone!