Justin Case
United States
Greensboro
North Carolina
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When I was at the Air Force Academy in the early 70's, we played this game a LOT! The game was so popular that if you walked into a dorm room and some guys were playing cards, you didn't even ask "Hey, what are you guys playing?", because you already knew from the look of the game, and nearly everyone would have seen games going, if not actually participating. Heck, sometimes games would even be going in the hallways, at the intersections where there is more open space.

Of course, our rules were a bit different, since we played with a standard 52-card deck, and we knew the game by another name, but it was the same game. Here's a summary of our play:

The name of the game is "High Hearts". It is played to either 11 points for a short game, or 21 points for a long game (though of course may be played to any score). The game is played in a series of rounds, with each round starting with a 7-card hand and everyone in. When a player wins every trick in a hand, he wins the round and scores the number of points equal to the number of cards dealt to each player to start that hand. If that player has not reached the finish line with his score, the next round starts.

To start the game, cut for dealer, who deals 7 cards to each player and leads to the first trick. For the first hand of every round, high cards beat low cards, and hearts are trumps -- hence the name of the game, "High Hearts". When the hand is completed, everyone who has won a trick moves into the next hand, and the player who won the most tricks deals, with a cut for cards to resolve ties (I once played in a 5-player game where we all won one trick in the 5-card hand, and had to do a 5-way cut for dealer to the next hand!). For the second hand in the round, the dealer deals 6 cards to each active player, looks at his cards, and calls either high or low, indicating whether high or low cards win for that hand, and a trump suit. So the first hand of a round is always "high hearts", but the subsequent hands might be called as "low diamonds", "high clubs", whatever the dealer chooses.

Play continues in that fashion, dealing one less card each hand to the players who are still in, until someone wins every trick. At that point, his score is tallied, all players are back in, and the call for the next hand is again "high hearts", to start the next round.

With a standard deck, there can be a maximum of 7 players, but the game can be played very well with any number below that. In fact, it becomes a rather clever exercise as a game for two, and I have played it that way more times than I can count.

I've often wondered in the years since then if the game is still being played at the Academy, and it always struck me as surprising that I've only run across one other person in the years since who knew the same game, and even that guy told me that while he learned the game in his frat house in college, one of the frat brothers senior to him might just have transferred to that college from the Air Force Academy.

regards to all,

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