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Black Maria

Black Maria is a variation of Hearts popular in the United Kingdom. It also goes by the name “Black Widow”, “Dirty Lady”, “Slippery Bitch”, and much worse.

Black Maria is a trick taking game where the objective is to avoid winning tricks with Hearts or the Queen of Spades in them. There are no formal partnerships. Each player plays for themselves.

Black Maria is especially suited to three players, though four or any number of players up to seven works quite well.

The Cards

Standard deck of 52 cards. Cards rank A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. There is no trump.

For three players remove the 2 of Clubs, leaving 51 cards.
For four players remove no cards
For five players remove the 2 of Clubs and 2 of Diamonds
For seven players remove all the 2s except the 2 of Hearts.

The Deal

Deal and play are clockwise, and the deal proceeds to the left. Deal out all the cards one at a time.

For three each player will receive 17 cards.
Four players will receive 13 cards each.
Five players will receive 10 cards each.
Six players, 8 cards each, and seven players, 7 cards each.

Objective

To avoid winning tricks with any Hearts in them, and to avoid winning the trick containing the Queen of Spades. Each Heart counts as 1 point against its winner, and the Queen of Spades counts for 13 points.

The Exchange

Before play commences, each player takes three cards from their own hand, and passes them face down to the player to their right, and receives three cards face down from the left.

It is important that a player, select and pass his/her cards before taking up and looking at the cards passed to them.

If there are more than four players, it is customary to pass only 2 cards.

The Play

The player to the dealer’s left leads first and thereafter, whoever wins the trick leads to the next.

The player may lead anything, there is no restriction on leading hearts, as there is in Hearts.

Rules

  • You must follow suit to the card led, if possible
  • If you can’t follow suit, you can play any card
  • The trick is won by the highest card of the suit led.

Scoring

At the end of hand, each player counts up their cards, receiving 1 penalty point for each Heart, and 13 penalty points for the Queens of Spades.

Play continues until one player reaches a total of 50 points, at which time, then, the player with the lowest total is declared the winner.



L I N K S

How to Play Hearts courtesy of "Cats at Cards".
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