PLAYERS: Four, in two partnerships. (For two-hand version, see below.)
CARDS: The pack of 52. The cards rank A (high), K, and so on. Spades are always trumps.
THE DEAL: Each player gets thirteen cards, dealt one by one.
BIDDING: Beginning with the dealer, each player successively bids the number of tricks he anticipates to win, out of the total possible of thirteen. His bid, and his partner’s, establishes the contract of the partnership. The total doesn’t have to equal thirteen tricks.
A player could choose to bid Nil, signaling the intention not to win any tricks. After a player has bid Nil, he puts down three cards from his hand, face down, in the center of the table. If his partner has already bid, his partner then passes him three cards from his hand and picks up the three discards; otherwise, partner should wait until after he has bid to exchange.
Prior to looking at his hand, a player may bid Double Nil, thereby doubling up bonuses or penalties, and substitute three cards with his partner as in bidding Nil. If both partners bid Nil (or Double Nil), there is no exchange.
THE PLAY: Eldest hand heads first and may lead whatever suit aside from spades, which may not be led till the suit has been “broken” by a spade discard on a previous trick (unless the player has no other suit to lead). Players should follow suit when possible. A trick is won by the highest trump or by the highest card of the suit led. Every trick is kept by the player winning it.
SCORING: The object of the game is to accomplish the contract bid by the partnership. When one partner has bid Nil, his contract and his partner’s are scored individually, and then the scores are combined.
Tricks count 10 points each for a partnership when the contract is made, 10 against if it is set. (Minus scores are possible.) Tricks won in surplus of the contract count 1 each. A bid of Nil scores a bonus of 100 points if made or a penalty of that quantity if set Double Nil scores 200 points bonus or penalty.
When both partners bid Nil (or Double Nil) the partnership receives 200 points if both attain their contracts, but there is no score if either or both are set.
GAME comprises of 500 points. If both sides go over 500 points in the same hand, the side with the larger total score is the winner.
Spades for Two
There is no deal. The cards are shuffled and cut and set face down in the center of the table to form the stock. One player gets the top card from the stock. (Turn to start interchanges between the players.) If he prefers to keep it, he then looks at the second card of the stock and puts it face down to start the discard pile; if not, he discards his first card prior to looking at the second, and then draws and keeps the second card. Both players in turn discard one card and hold on to one card in this manner till the whole stock has been depleted, at which point each would have a hand of thirteen cards. The discard is then put aside and not used in subsequent play.
Double Nil should be bid before a player has drawn any cards. In all other respects, bidding, play, and scoring are as in Spades.