Trumps is a cross between Spades and Bridge, combining the best elements of both games. Trumps is played with a full deck of 52 playing cards and four players. The initial seating of the players is determined by drawing cards. The highest draw is the initial dealer, with the lower draws seated clockwise (in order) from the dealer (break ties by suit—spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs). Players sitting across from each other are on the same team.
Each of the four players is dealt 13 cards (face down) for each hand that is played. Starting with the dealer (which rotates clockwise after each hand), each player either bids a number from 1 to 13 or a suit (spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs) instead of a number (a player could also just pass). The dealer must bid at least 1 to start the bidding (they cannot pass or bid a suit on their first bid). Each successive number bid must be higher than any previous number bid.
Once a player bids a suit or passes, they can no longer make bids (they automatically pass). Bidding continues until all four players have bid a suit and/or passed. Note that the suit bids do not determine which suit is trump—they just allow a player to communicate which suit is their best or which suit they want their partner to lead.
The player with the highest number bid gets to “play” the hand, while their partner is the “dummy”. The player to the winning bidder’s left plays a card first and can declare “double” at the same time if they wish. Then the dummy lays out their hand face-up for all to see (sorted by suit and number). The winning bidder then declares which suit is “trump” (or that there is no trump) and plays a card from the dummy’s hand (the dummy sits out the rest of the hand—the bid winner plays their cards for they instead). This is followed by the player on their right, who can also declare “double” as they plays (although there is no reason to if their partner already doubled). The winning bidder plays their own card last, and can declare “redouble” if either of their opponents declared “double”. Doubling and redoubling just increases the stakes for that hand (see below).
Each play of a card must be of the same suit as the first card played for a given trick, if possible. The highest card of the first suit played wins the trick, unless a card that belongs to the trump suit (if there is one) was played. If a trump is played, the highest trump wins the trick, regardless of what other cards were played. Play continues, with the winner of the last trick playing the first card of the next trick. Once all cards have been played, the hand is over and the score is determined.
If the team that won the bidding gets a number of tricks equal to or greater than the number of their bid, they have won the hand and both players on that team score the following points:
Bids played with no trumps score as if the bid was one higher than it actually is (or 150 points for a bid of 13 with no trumps). Each trick taken beyond those needed for the bid scores an additional point.
If the bid fails, the team that won the bid gets nothing, while their opponents get 5 points for each trick the bid failed by. If the hand is doubled, the resulting score is doubled (or quadrupled if it is redoubled).
A game is played to 50 points. A match is made up of three games, but for the second game, the original dealer’s partner and the player to the original dealer’s left switch places (thereby changing the teams). For the third game, the original dealer’s new partner and the player to the original dealer’s right switch places. Note that same player is the initial dealer for each game. The player with the highest total score from all three games wins the match.