# Slim Tricks

A card game for two!

You need a 32 card deck; eight cards each of four suits, for example seven through ace.

While the cards are being dealt, there’s gonna be an auction (details below), and it’ll end with both players having thirteen cards each in hand plus three more cards each face down, and one player (the “declarer”) having committed to winning a number of tricks and a trump suit picked, and the other (the “defender”) trying to prevent that.

## Tricks

### The first six tricks

Players take turns playing one card each to the middle until there are four cards there. You’ve got to “follow suit” if you can; for example, if the first card is a heart, you’ve got to play a heart card if you have one. If you’re all out of heart cards then you can play whatever you want.

Then the highest “trump card” wins, or if there are no trump cards, the highest card of the original suit wins. Uh, I’d better give examples!

Let’s say spades are the trump suit and the four cards are ♥J, ♥8, ♦K and ♠9. The player who played the ♠9 would win that trick since it’s the highest trump suit card.

Or if the four cards are ♥J, ♥8, ♦K and ♣9. The player who played the ♥J would win since there were no trump cards and the hearts were the suit that was “led”.

The “trump suit” is the same throughout the hand, determined by the declarer, while the “lead suit” resets for each trick which is why it’s sometimes a fight to get to lead the trick: the defender leads the first trick, and then whoever wins a trick gets to lead the next trick.

### The last four tricks

Since players have thirteen cards in hand, the seventh trick can’t be a four-card trick. Both players just play one card each to that trick, making it a two-card trick. Then they pick up the three face down cards they each have and play three more two-card tricks. That’s how there are ten tricks total.

## Scoring

If the declarer won as many tricks as they promised, they get ten points per promised trick + one point per extra trick, minus fifty. So if they promised seven and got eight, that’s 21 points. Seven times ten minus fifty plus one extra.

If the declarer did not make their promise, the defender gets points instead: five points per every missing trick. So if the declarer promised seven tricks and only got four, the defender gets fifteen points (three missing tricks, times five).

Whomever has the most points total after four hands wins the game.

## The Auction a.k.a. The Promise

Here is how each hand is dealt! It’s a little fiddly and I wanted to explain the actual goal of the game first but here we go:

Shuffle and deal ten cards each.

Then each player starting with the dealer bids one number from six through ten, or passes. If you don’t pass, you’ve got to bid a higher number than what’s been already said.

Then everyone gets two more cards (up to twelve). If no-one passed before, both players now can bid again.

And then you get two more cards (so you have fourteen cards now). If no-one has passed before, now both players can keep bidding until someone passes. Remember, ten is the highest possible bid.

The person who passed is the defender and the other person is the declarer, having promised to try to win that many tricks.

They get to choose a trump suit (see below) and then you get the last two cards from the deck, so players now have sixteen cards.

Since the entire deck has been dealt, they now can figure out exactly what cards the other person is holding! But now here’s the fun part!

You choose three cards from your hand and place them face down. Those are gonna be your cards for the last three tricks so this is a super important choice!

### The re-deal rule

If both players pass at the start (when they have ten cards each), just reshuffle and redeal the cards. It was a bad hand I guess!

## The six choices for trump suits

You can choose ♠, ♥, ♦ or ♣, and then that suit will be the trump suit.

You can also choose “sang” (an old word for “blood”), which means there is no trump suit! Only the lead suit in each trick will matter! Very old school.

The sixth possible choice is “misère” (an old word for “destitution”) which first of all plays out the same as “sang” above, but also the tricks are flipped: you’re trying to lose tricks, so give the tricks you win to your opponent instead and vice versa.

## History

In 1951 Sid Sackson came up with “Slam!” (which in turn is based on Bridge which in turn is based on Whist and so on) and this “Slim Tricks” variant is just a stripped down version of that much richer and more interesting game that has different point values for different suits, “vulnerability” where different bids mean different things at different times, “over and under the line scoring” and “slam bids” and so much more richness and variability and joy.

If you’ve learned “Slim Tricks” and want an upgraded version, Slam! is the place to go.

I came up with this “Slim Tricks” variant because Slam! is so difficult & complicated and hard to teach. It’s fun but I also like easy things.