AskDefine | Define hearts

Dictionary Definition

hearts n : a form of whist in which players avoid winning tricks containing hearts of the queen of spades [syn: Black Maria]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. In the context of "plural noun}} Plural of heart

Extensive Definition

Hearts (also Black Lady, Chase the Lady and Black Maria) is a trick-taking playing card game for four players (although versions for other numbers are possible). A standard deck of 52 playing cards is used. The objective of the game is to have the fewest points at the completion of the game. Tricks containing any heart and the queen of spades give points to the winner of the trick. There are no trumps.



Thirteen cards are dealt singly in turn to each of the four players.
  • When there are only three players, the 2
Simplified scoring with chips is possible: all players contribute one chip to a central pool of chips and the pool is divided equally between those players taking no penalty cards on a deal; if all players take penalty cards, the pool remains on the table and is added to the next pool; once one player has won all available chips, or once another player has run out, the game ends.
There are many scoring variants including:
  • The 10 or J is a "bonus" card, subtracting 10 penalty points from the player who captures it.
  • A player reaching exactly 50 or 100 points subtracts 50 points from his score.
  • Different points are allocated to each penalty card.
  • The A can also be a penalty card, and sometimes also the K and 10.
  • Higher penalties for the high hearts (e.g. A=5, K=4, Q=3, J=2).

Shooting the moon

Shooting the moon is a very common scoring variant. If one player takes all the penalty cards on one deal, that player subtracts the total number of penalty points available (normally 26) from their previous total score. Alternatively, 26 penalty points can be added to each of the other three players' scores.
Attempting to shoot the moon is often a risky strategy, as failure to capture even one of the penalty cards will result in the remaining penalty points (as many as 25) being added to one's score. This element of risk, along with the aspect of reaping success through a spectacular failure, has led to a number of cultural uses of the phrase "shoot the moon."


Hearts strategy starts with the passing stage. The pass can be used to void a suit but this may not be the best strategy as the void may be filled with (higher) cards passed in; this is especially dangerous with spades and hearts. Passing high clubs and diamonds, even voiding these suits is perceived by many to be the best passing strategy.
During the play, strategy will vary from hand to hand but, where a player seems destined to take some tricks, it is often best to take tricks early before others have become void in the suit concerned.
Teamwork may be required to prevent one player shooting the moon or hitting 50 or 100 points exactly. It is also considered good play to attack the leading player by saving penalty cards to damage that player, especially when this can be done fairly safely.
Deciding to shoot the moon is a critical decision that can be "make or break," as success is worth 26 good points whereas failure risks up to 25 bad points.


wikibooks Hearts
  • Hearts (Windows) - the PC version of the game
  • Complex hearts - scoring uses complex numbers, while trying to keep the absolute value of your score less than 100.
  • Double Deck Cancellation Hearts – good for six or more players.
  • Chinese Hearts (拱猪) (Pinyin-gŏng zhū, literally "chase the pig") – scoring works slightly differently as the queen of spades and the hearts are worth different amounts of penalty points. In addition, the ten of clubs and jack of diamonds both have functions. Shooting the moon now takes into consideration these two additional cards.
  • Booster Nines – if a nine is played then an extra round in the suit is played.
  • Joker Hearts – adding the joker cards, which can be played any time and count for zero points.
  • Shooting the Sun – taking all the tricks, not just all the points, gives all other players 52 points.


External links

hearts in Catalan: Cors (joc)
hearts in Danish: Hjerterfri
hearts in German: Hearts
hearts in Spanish: Corazones (juego)
hearts in Esperanto: Keroj
hearts in French: Dame de Pique
hearts in Italian: Peppa
hearts in Hebrew: לבבות (משחק קלפים)
hearts in Dutch: Hartenjagen
hearts in Japanese: ハーツ
hearts in Polish: Kierki
hearts in Portuguese: Copas
hearts in Russian: Червы
hearts in Swedish: Hjärter
hearts in Chinese: 傷心小棧
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