# Spades

## Game rules

Spades is a popular game originating in the United States, invented around the 1930s, and is played with a standard 52 cards deck. The objective is to win at least and as exactly as possible the number of tricks announced at the beginning of the round. It is traditionally played with 4 players in teams of 2 (partnership spades), but can also be played with 3, 5 or 6 players individually.

### Dealing and bidding

At the beginning of the round, the dealer deals all cards evenly to the players. With 3 players, one of the 2s is removed so that everyone gets 17 cards (51 cards in total); with 5 players two 2s are removed (10 cards each, for a total of 50), and with 6 players all the 2s are removed (8 cards each for a total of 48).

Once the dealing is over, each player announces on their turn the number of tricks they think they will take during the round. Each bid is independent of the others, there is no need to bid more than previous bids and passing isn't allowed. Each player must announce a number between 0 and 17, 13, 10 and 8 respectively depending on the number of players. When playing in teams, the teammates' bids are summed up to make a single total bid for the team.

### Playing the hand

Playing the hand follows a classic schema: the player next to the dealer starts the first trick with the card of their choice; it is won by the player who played the highest card in the trump suit, or in the base suit if there is no trump, then the player who won the trick starts the next one. The trump suit is always spades, it never changes color (hence the name of the game).

- You have the obligation to follow, meaning play a card of the initial suit if you have the possibility to do so
- If you don't own any card of the base suit, you can discard any card of your choice, including the trump spades. In that latter case, you are said to
*cut*. - Unlike Jass, you aren't allowed to cut if you have a card of the base suit.
- You aren't allowed to start a trick with spades if no spades have been played before, except if you have no other option.

Card order has no special particularity, ace is the strongest and 2 the weakest, at trump as well as at non-trump. The winner of the trick is the player who played the highest spades card, or the highest card of the base suit if there are no spades.

### Scoring

At the end of the round, players score depending on the number of tricks announced and actually won. If playing in teams, tricks bid by the individual players of a team are summed up.

- A met contract, meaning when you win at least as many tricks as you announced, is counted for 10 times the number of tricks bid, plus one point for each additional trick. For example, if you announced 4 tricks and took 6, you get 10 times 4 + (6 -4) = 42 points.
- A failed contract, meaning when you win fewer tricks than initially announced, is counted for 10 times the number of bid tricks negative. For example, if you announced 5 tricks and failed, you lose 50 points.
- One of the characteristics of Spades is to count supplementary tricks not initially announced when a contract is met as
*sandbags*. In the previous example where you announced 4 tricks and took 6, the two additional points represent sandbags. When you reach 10 sandbags, you lose 100 points. When the twentieth bag is won, you lose another 100 points and so on. If your score is positive, the number of bags you currently have is indicated by the last digit of your score.

Voluntarily picking sandbags can be an interesting strategy short term to make your opponents fail their contracts, but can be very penalizing long term if accumulating too many! Managing your number of bags not to take too many and not too few is an essential point of strategy in the game of Spades.

A game is generally played to 500 points, sometimes 1000, 1500 or 2000 for longer ones.

### Specialties and bonuses

#### Nil or zero bid

Announcing 0 tricks is a special kind of bid. For the contract to be successful, you mustn't take any tricks, one or more mean a failure. A success gives 100 points, and a failure -100.

When playing in teams, the partner of the nil bidder is alone to make the tricks they announced themselves. Their teammate must absolutely do everything so that the nill bidder doesn't win any tricks, by adopting a cover strategy. The plus or minus 100 points are counted separately from those for the non-nil bidder, the latter being normally scored. In case the nil bidder fails their contract, the tricks they took aren't counted in favor of the partner but are still counted as bags.

Here are some examples assuming that you bid 0 and your teammate 4:

- If you manage to win no tricks but if your teammate fails to get 4, your team still wins 60 points (you were successful thus get 100 points, but your friend failed and lost 40 points, what makes a net total of 60).
- If you failed by taking one trick and if your partner took 5, you together lose a total of 58 points (41 for the success of your friend, +1 for your own bag, -100 for your failure)
- If you failed by winning one trick and your teammate also failed by taking 3 instead of 4, your team loses a total of 139 points (-100 for your nil contract failure, -40 for the failure of your teammate's, and +1 for your bag, the latter doesn't count for your friend's contract, although it would have saved it).

#### Double nil or double zero

The double nil or double 0 occurs when the two partners of the same team both bid 0 tricks. In that case, each of them independently from the other can win or lose 100 points plus the possible bags. The total gain can therefore be +200 or -200.

#### Bidding and winning exactly 1 or 2 tricks

Bidding and exactly winning one or two tricks isn't as easy as it appears to be. When playing with 3 or 4 players, successfully bidding and exactly winning 1 or 2 tricks gives 20 bonus points. A successful but non-exact contract gives no bonus and is counted as usual. Hence, bidding 2 tricks and making 3 gives 21 points.

This bonus doesn't apply when playing with 5 or 6 players, because the more players there are, the easier it is for that case to happen.

#### Bonus for difficult contract

To encourage big and risky bids, a bonus of 10 points is given per trick announced and won beyond the tenth, the seventh, the sixth and the fifth respectively depending on the number of players. For example, with 4 players, announcing 10 tricks and taking 11 gives a bonus of 40 points for a total of 141 instead of 101.

### Variants

#### No hell

In this mode, it is forbidden for the total number of tricks announced to be exactly equal to the number of tricks in a round.

At least one player or one team thus must either fail or take sandbags.

For example, with 4 players, the sum of all announcements must be different from 13. If the first three players announced 3, 4 and 3 tricks respectively, then the last player isn't allowed to bid 3 (he can bid 2 or 4 but not 3).

#### Quicksand

This variant changes how points are counted:

- An exactly met contract gives 10 points per trick, as in the normal game
- A contract met with additional tricks gives 10 points per announced trick but deducts 10 points per excess trick. For example, 9 tricks made out of 7 gives (70 -20) = 50 points. Sandbags are never counted, even for nil bids.
- A failed contract removes 10 points for each missing trick. For example, 4 tricks out of 6 bid causes losing 10 * (6 -4) = 20 points.

#### Suicide

In this variant, a player must bid at least 4 tricks while the other must go nil.

At least one player from each team must go nil. It is possible to play double nil. Points are counted as in normal game.

## Keyboard shortcuts summary

- B: make your trick bid at the beginning of the round
- C: tell the cards currently on the table
- F: tell the base suit
- V or I: information about the game (number of tricks taken/bid, current trick number)
- S: tell the scores
- T: tell who is playing