Spades is a trick taking game for 4 players in fixed partnerships where you try win the number of tricks you bid combined with your partner. Spades are always trumps.
There are four players in two fixed partnerships. Partners sit facing each other. The game is played clockwise.
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.
The object of the game is to score as many points as possible. First partnership to 500 points wins the game. Points are scored by winning at least as many tricks as you bid.
The dealer deals out all the cards one at a time so that each player has 13. The turn to deal rotates clockwise.
The bidding begins with the player to dealer's left and continues clockwise around the table. Each player bids a number of tricks. The bids of the two partners are then added together and the total is the number of tricks that team must try to win in order to get a postive score. Everyone must bid a number, and in theory any number from 0 to 13 is allowed. Unlike other games with bidding, there is no requirement for each bid to be higher than the last one, and players are not allowed to pass. There is no second round of bidding.
A bid of 0 tricks is known as Nil. This is a declaration that that the player who bid Nil will not win any tricks during the play. There is an extra bonus for this if it succeeds and a penalty if it fails. The partnership also has the objective of winning the number of tricks bid by the Nil's partner. It is not possible to bid no tricks without bidding a Nil. If you don't want to go for the Nil bonus or penalty you must bid at least 1.
The player to the dealer's left leads to the first trick.
The other players, in clockwise order, each play a card to the trick.
Players must follow suit by playing a card of the same suit as the card led if they can; a player with no card of the suit led may play any card.
The trick is won by the highest card of the suit led or by the highest Spade (if one is played).
The winner of a trick leads to the next.
Spades may not be led until either some player has played a spade (on the lead of another suit, of course), or the leader has nothing but spades left in hand. Playing the first spade is known as "breaking" spades.
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.
If a team takes at least as many tricks as its bid calls for, it receives a score equal to 10 times its bid. Additional tricks (overtricks) are called "bags" and are worth an extra one point each. A side which (over several deals) accumulates ten or more bags has 100 points deducted from its score. Any bags beyond ten are carried over to the next cycle of ten overtricks (bags).
If a team does not make its bid, they lose 10 points for each trick they bid.
If a bid of Nil is successful, the Nil bidder's team receives 100 points. This is in addition to the score won (or lost) by the partner of the Nil bidder for tricks made. If a bid of Nil fails - that is, the bidder takes at least one trick - the bidder's side loses 100 points, but still receives any amount scored for the partner's bid.
The team that reaches 500 points first wins the game. If both teams reach 500 points in a single deal, the team with the higher score wins.