Black Lady is a card game which is familiar to many computer users as a solo game called Hearts but it is much more fun when played with some friends and a deck of cards. (For some other variations of Black Lady see, Hearts, Black Bess and Black Maria.) Players try to avoid winning tricks which contain penalty cards, with Aces High.
Age: Adults and older children
No. of players: 3-7
Equipment: One standard deck of cards (remove the jokers)
Time: 20 minutes+
Aim: To be the player with the least number of points at the end of the game.
(See Glossary if you are confused about any card game terms. The Glossary will open in a new window.) Depending on the number of players you may need to remove some cards from the deck.
1. The dealer is chosen by cutting the deck. Lowest card becomes dealer. All cards are dealt, one at a time, face down in a clockwise direction starting with the player on the dealer's left.
2. Player One (to the dealer's left) leads the first trick by putting any card from their hand face up in the middle of the table. Player Two must follow suit (if possible) but can play offsuit if necessary. Other players also play their cards to complete the trick.
3. The player with the highest card of the suit which was led wins the trick. If the trick contains any penalty cards, they are placed face up in front of the player who won the trick. The penalty cards in Black Lady are all the hearts and the Queen of Spades (Q♠, known as the Black Lady). All other cards are placed in a pile at the side of the table, ready for the next hand.
4. The player who won the trick leads the second trick, and so on. Players must follow suit if they can, but it is good strategy to play their highest heart (e.g. A♥) if they offsuit (since they cannot win that trick with an offsuit card). Likewise, if you must lead a heart make it small (e.g. 3♥), hoping that another player will win the trick with a larger card.
5. Once the hand is finished, each player adds up their score, depending on the penalty cards in the hands they won. Each heart is worth one point, so you can score from zero (if you won no hearts) to thirteen (if you won every heart) in each hand. The Queen of Spades (Q♠) is worth 13 points. However, if a player wins all the hearts and the Black Lady, they score zero and all other players score 26 points each. Players who renege (play off suit when they should have followed suit) score ten points extra.
6. The player to the left of the dealer becomes the new dealer for the next hand. Play continues for either;
7. The overall winner is the player with the lowest score at the end of the game.
After the cards are dealt but before play starts, each player chooses a number of cards to pass to the player on their left. The number of cards passed depends on the number of players.
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