There are four players. There are no formal partnerships, though there are times when players will find it in their interest to help each other.
A standard 52 card pack is used. The cards in each suit rank from highest to lowest: A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2. There is no trump suit.
The object is to avoid scoring points. The game is ended by someone reaching or going over 100 points, and the winner is the player with the lowest score at this point. Each heart is worth one penalty point and the Queen of Spades is worth 13 penalty points. The other cards have no value.
Deal and play are clockwise. All the cards are dealt out one at a time, so that everyone has 13.
On the first hand, after the deal, each player passes any three cards face-down to the player to their left. When passing cards, a player must first select the cards to be passed and place them face-down, ready to be picked up by the receiving player; only then may he pick up the cards passed to him, look at them and add them to his hand.
On the second hand each player passes three cards to the player to their right, in the same way. On the third hand each player passes three cards to the player sitting opposite. On the fourth hand no cards are passed at all. The cycle then repeats until the end of the game.
Each turn starts with a player playing a card, called the lead card. The other players, in clockwise order, must play a card of the suit which was led if possible. If they do not have a card of that suit, they may play any card. The player who played the highest card of the suit led wins the trick and leads to the next trick.
It is illegal to lead a heart until after a heart has been played (as a discard) to another trick. Discarding a heart, thus allowing hearts to be led in future, is called breaking hearts. Although it is illegal to lead hearts until they are broken, a player is permitted to lead spades. In fact it is a normal tactic to lead lower spades to try to drive out the queen. This is sometimes known as smoking out the queen.
The player who holds the 2 of clubs must lead it to the first trick and you may not play a heart or Queen of Spades on the first trick even if you have no clubs.
Note: Cards that may not be played in the trick will be shown in darker color making it easy to see valid cards to play. If there is only one valid card, it will automatically be played. This option (Auto Play One) can be switched off in Preferences.
Normally, each player scores penalty points for cards in the tricks which they won. Each heart scores one point, and the queen of spades scores 13 points.
However, if a player manages to win all the scoring cards (which is known as a slam or shooting the moon), he scores zero and all other players' scores increase by 26 points.
The game continues until one player has reached or exceeded 100 points at the conclusion of a hand. The person with the lowest score is then the winner.