Game Rules

Spades was invented in the late 1930s in the Midwest of the United States and is mainly played there. The game is derived from whist and is closely related to bridge, pinochle and euchre.

OBJECT: Each player tries to predict how many tricks he will get and tries to get them. The player who gets exactly his predicted tricks wins the game.
MATERIAL: Card deck of 52 cards (2 to 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace of all 4 playing card colours)


Spades is played with four players, with two players (sitting opposite each other) always forming a team. So two teams (Team 1 is called Team Gold, Team 2 Team Blue) play against each other. The game is played with a conventional 52 card hand (diamonds, hearts, spades and clubs; 2 to aces each), with spades as the trump suit. First and foremost, the same rules apply as in Skat. Serving is compulsory and players must declare their card value. So each player has 13 cards and now comes the estimation of the possible tricks.

Despite the simple basic rules, Spades is a deep game, because you cannot only rely on your own tricks, but should also observe your fellow players and opponents in order to recognise a certain tendency and steer the game in a certain direction.

Four players sit together, staggered at 90 degrees, with the players sitting opposite each other always forming a team. Team 1 is called "Gold", team 2 "Blue". A 52-card hand (simple rummy hand without joker) is distributed evenly to each player. So each player gets 13 cards each. As in Skat, the game of suits applies and thus the duty to serve (also called admitting or showing one's colours). Spades are always trumps (i.e. the 2 of spades is higher than the ace of diamonds). The ranking is: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace. Spades may only be played when the suit thrown by the first player is no longer available in his own hand. Likewise, spades may only be thrown as the first card by the player if spades have already been played.


Each player tries to announce the tricks to be achieved as accurately as possible according to his hand: a good hand brings in many tricks, a weak hand few, e.g. only one or even none (the latter is then called "zero" - just as in Skat, no trick may be taken after its announcement). When all players have announced their tricks, the player to the left of the dealer plays the first card.


Now both teams try to reach the tricks they have announced together exactly. As a rule, a total of eleven tricks are announced, leaving two tricks (with 13 playable cards). If, for example, Team Gold has announced six tricks together (Player 1: two tricks, Player 3: four tricks), it is irrelevant who wins these six tricks. So player 1 can have five tricks, but player 3 can only have one trick (in total six again). If a team has its tricks, it must decide whether to "discard" (i.e. deliberately not take any more tricks) or to try to "break" the opponent, i.e. deliberately take more tricks so that the opposing team does not get its announced tricks (which results in penalty points - more under Points). If you have 12 or even 13 tricks (which is rare for experienced players), you always try to break your opponent (with 13 tricks, one more trick is enough for the opponent not to get his tricks).


Point System:
The basic value is always the number of tricks × 10 given by the team. This means: If Team Gold has given seven tricks together and has reached seven, this team gets seven tricks × 10 points = 70 points. If one more stitch was made than announced, an extra point is awarded, but also directly a penalty point (see penalty points/"bags") for this "unnecessary" extra stitch (Team Gold announced seven stitches but made eight: seven stitches announced [70 points], eight stitches made [one extra stitch = one point] = 71 points). Should Team Gold have scored only six stitches (or less) with seven announced stitches, the "70 points" are considered a minus, meaning: -70 points. These will be deducted from the score (even if there is not yet a 70-point credit). So if Team Gold had 30 points, 70 points are deducted, equal to -40 points. A zero (see "zero") is rewarded with 100 points won (if the player did not take a trick) or penalised with -100 points if he did take a trick (double zero has a value of 200). The first team to score 500 points (or more) wins (if both teams score more than 500 points, the higher score wins). A team loses if it has -200 or less points.

The Zero (or Double Zero):
Spades is also very interesting because of the "zero game". As in Skat, no trick may be taken. A zero with the ace of spades would therefore be pointless, as you always make a trick with this card. A zero is suitable if you have "few" and small spades in your hand and possibly do not have a suit, in order to get rid of your other high cards. Of course, the opponents try to destroy the zero of the opposing team with small cards. But the own team has a teammate who tries to help his teammate and plays high cards, because the "zero" should usually have higher priority than the tricks given by the teammate (a zero counts 100). If, for example, the other player has three tricks but does not get his tricks, the possible zero (100 less the 30 minus points = 70 points) still counts for the team. As a special feature, there is also the "double zero" with a value of 200 points. This is played like a zero, but the person playing it is not allowed to look at his cards beforehand (then only a normal zero would be possible). This "blind" approach usually has two causes: Either the score is hopeless and you are trying to get close to your opponent, or you are the last to bid and a lot of tricks have already been bid, so that your hand has little chance of "many" tricks. The double zero, however, is limited in percentage and is rarely crowned with success. A lost double zero is valued at -200 points.

Penalty Points (Bags):
Excess stitches mean one extra point per stitch, but also one penalty point. The name "bag" means that this excess stitch is put into a kind of "penalty bag". If a team has made 10 penalty stitches, 100 points are deducted. Bags should not be underestimated. Most of the time these bags can decide the game. Fewer tricks are usually given (ten) and therefore three tricks are always three "bags". Cautious play therefore also means a high probability of bags and the associated penalty points.

End of game

The player who gets exactly his predicted tricks wins the game.

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