Original Card Games by David Parlett
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Players 4   Cards 52   Type Plain tricks
Most trick-taking games have restrictive rules like "You must follow suit if you can". Some even go so far as to add "And you must play the highest of that suit if you can, and if you can't follow suit you must play a trump if you can". This game is for freedom-lovers. You can play what you like. But, of course, there's a catch...
Four players sitting crosswise in partnerships receive 13 cards each from a 52-card pack ranking AKQJ1098765432 in each suit.
Whoever cuts the lower card deals first and the turn to deal then alternates. Deal 13 cards each, in ones.
To win tricks containing cards of different suits from the one led. In each trick, any card of the suit led is a 'dead' card and scores against you, while any card of a different suit is a 'live' card and scores in your favour.
Dealer's left-hand opponent leads to the first trick. Any card may be led and any card played to a trick - there is never any requirement to follow suit.
The trick is taken by the highest card of the suit led. The winner of the trick separates dead cards from live ones (if any), and places them in the appropriate pile. One member of the partnership stores dead cards in front of himself, face down, and the other stores live cards in front of herself, face up. (Or vice versa.)
The winner of the trick usually leads to the next, but there is one exception to this, namely: If nobody follows suit to the card led, the lead to the following trick is made by the trick-winner's right-hand opponent. (The trick-winner therefore plays second to the next trick).
At end of play, each side scores the total face value of all its live cards (numerals count face value, J-Q-K count 10 each, Ace counts 15), minus 1 point for each of its dead cards.
Play up to any agreed target, such as 500 points.
Notes on play
If your partner is winning the trick, you'll want to play a high card of a live suit.
If an opponent is winning the trick, you'll want to play a middling card of the dead suit. (Not high, because you want to conserve high cards to throw to your partner's tricks, and not low, because you will want to save them to throw to your opponents' tricks.)
If you're playing second or third to a trick, and can't tell who's likely to win it, it's often best to play a low card of a live suit. Bear in mind that a trick consisting entirely of dead cards loses you 4 points for no gain.