- 32 and a Joker. Cards rank in their normal order from Ace high to Seven low, and the Joker is the lowest trump (beaten by the Seven).
- Deal 11 cards each. Everyone chooses a suit to propose as trump and places a card of that suit face down on the table in front of them. When all are ready, turn them face up.
- Partners and trumps
If all bid the same suit, that suit is trump and the partners are those who bid with the highest- and the lowest-ranking
cards of it.
If two bid the same suit, they are partners and the trump suit is the one the Hood bid.
If no two bid the same suit, the partners are those who put out the same colour, the third player is the Hood, and trumps are the suit that nobody bid.
- The partners' object is to win the same number of tricks as each other, and the Hood's is to prevent them from doing so - typically by winning an even number of tricks, but with a bonus for hoodwinking them by successfully winning an odd number or the same number as one of the partners - or, better still, both.
- Dealer's left-hand neighbour leads to the first trick and the winner of each trick leads to the next. You must follow suit if you can but may otherwise play any card. The partners keep their tricks separate from each other's (of course).
- Everybody individually scores 1 point for each trick they won. If the partners succeed in winning the same number they each add a bonus of 10. If not, the Hood adds a bonus of 10 for winning, and an additional bonus of 10 for winning with an odd number and/or winning the same number of tricks as one of the partners. Thus if the partners win respectively five tricks and one, the Hood scores the maximum possible 35 - that is, 5 for tricks, plus 10 for winning, plus 10 for odd, plus 10 for the double hoodwink.
- Partnership communication
- Given that the Hood stands to score higher than the partners, and that it isn't easy for the partners to take the same number, you may wish to allow a certain degree of communication between them. Two forms of this seem reasonable. First, after assessing their hands the partners may give each other a verbal estimate of how many tricks they think they can win individually. Obviously, if one says "Maybe one or two" and the other says "Mine's more like four or five", the second player must aim to deliberately lose some tricks to get down to the other's level. Second, either partner, when about to lead, may say "Any requests?", to which the other may reply something like "Lead a spade", or "Don't lead a heart". What they may not communicate to each other (at least, not verbally) is the holding of any specific card or the strength of any specific suit. You may also wish to develop conventional leads, such as a low card to indicate general weakness, or a weakness in that suit, and a high card for the reverse.
- Play up to a target score of 100 points.
- Try to win five tricks. If the partners win five each they get their highest possible score (15 each to the Hood's 1), while the Hood's best possible score, 35, comes from matching the five of one of the partners. The Hood's next best scores are 33 for matching three, 31 for matching one, and 29 for winning nine against two and none. Note that if the partners win no tricks they each score only 10 against the Hood's 11.
- 1: Trump selection
- The method of choosing trumps is more or less random, since you have virtually no control over which suit it will prove to be; but I think that's part of the fun. However, if you want to introduce more discipline into the selection, you can require each player to put out the highest card of their longest suit, or, if equal, the one with the highest top card or cards. This increases the amount of information you all have to start with, which may be conducive to more skilful play.
- 2: If all bid the same suit
- As a variation, you may agree that if everyone bids the same suit (which becomes trump, as usual) the partners are not predetermined. Rather, you all play as individuals, and if two win the same number they are automatically the partners, leaving the third player as Hood. If no two win the same number there are several possible scenarios: (1) no one gets a bonus, you simply score what you make; or (2) the Hood is whoever wins the middling number of tricks; or (3) the Hood is either whoever wins the last trick or (4) whoever wins the first trick, which does make it clear from the outset. You might even ascribe each of these scenarios to each of the four suits as trump.
- 3: Scoring variation
- The basic scoring system described above tends to produce a fairly even spread of results throughout, so that wins by a large majority are very rare. The following alternative scoring method produces more interesting and widely fluctuating results and you may find it more exciting than the one above. If you follow it, game should be set at a fixed number of deals, such as nine, or any other agreed multiple of three. Everybody individually scores 1 point for each trick they won. If the partners succeed in winning the same number they each add a bonus of 10 per trick - in other words, they score a total of 11 for each taking one trick, 22 for two, and so on up to 55 for five. If they take none, they score nothing. If they fail, the Hood scores 1 per trick plus 10 times the difference between the tricks taken by the partners. For example, if the partners take four and two, the Hood scores 25 (5 + 20). This bonus is doubled if the Hood wins exactly the same number as one of the partners, a feat known as "hoodwinking". For example, if the Hood and one partner win three each, the Hood scores 43 (3 + 20 x 2). The Hood's highest possible score is thus 220, which occurs in the extremely unlikely event of one partner's winning all eleven tricks.