By Joe Andrews, author of "The Complete Win At Hearts"
Other columns by Joe Andrews: Spades * Euchre
Duplicate Hearts - A New Concept for a Great Game
Duplicate Hearts is the logical solution to the frustration of repeated bad hands. The standard game of Hearts is dealt fresh and randomly and, whether you are playing online or live, you are at the mercy of the card "Gods!" This is especially true in those close, end-game situations where all it takes is one killer hand where you eat 20 or more points, and a whole hour of effort is gone! In the Duplicate format, the element of luck is eliminated. Each hand is its own entity and not part of a 100 point game. A typical Match might consist of 20 - 24 hands.
This is a comparison contest where everyone who sits facing the same direction at multiple tables receives the SAME hand. This system has been used by Bridge players (American Contract Bridge League) for decades. Thus, the best players usually win. All of their local, regional and national events are played as Duplicate. The Duplicate Hearts movement would be identical to an individual's or Howell Bridge movement.
This format can de adapted for on line play. And on line play would be ideal, as the Match Pointing and scoring is completed instantly after each hand has been played by all of the contestants.
Cancellation Hearts - A Fun Variation
Here is a nice change of pace which is ideal for those times when you have more than five players and want to play a lively version of Hearts. Cancellation Hearts was created in the 1940s, and is still quite popular.
Number of Players: Seven to ten people can play.
The Pack: Two standard packs of 52 cards are shuffled together.
The Deal: The cards are dealt around as far as they will go evenly. Any remaining odd cards are placed face down for a widow, or “kitty."
The Play: No cards are passed before the play. The player to the dealer's left makes the opening lead, and the rules of play are the same as in Four-Hand Hearts with the following additions:
1) The widow is added to the first trick.
2) Cancellation: Two cards of the same rank in the same trick cancel each other and neither can win the trick. If all cards played to a trick are paired, the trick goes to the winner of the next trick.
Some really neat plays occur. For example, the lead of the deuce of spades can fetch both spade Queens, if other cards are all paired or matched. It is possible to shoot a "double" Moon, if the right combination of cancellation circumstances occur.
Finally, it is risky to play defense, especially if the spade Queens are at large....
Try this game - you will like it!