How To Play Hearts For Two Players
I looked at several two-player versions of Hearts. One on Pagat.com's Hearts Variations page, 'Huse Hearts for Two', uses a dummy hand with all of the cards face-up. I liked this version, and decided to create a similar version, also with a dummy hand.
In my new version, the two players alternate playing cards from the dummy hand to tricks.
Rules of the Game
Each player cuts the cards, and the player with the highest card is the first dealer. The dealer shuffles the cards, and then deals them one at a time around the table, including a dummy hand, until each hand has 17 cards and there is just one card left. That card goes to the dummy hand.
If the players wish to, each player can pass three cards face-down to the other player. After you have passed cards, you can look at the cards passed to you.
Split the dummy hand into two half dummy hands, each with nine cards. Each player takes one of these half dummy hands, looks at it, and lays it face-down near him or her at the table. Each player's hand and half dummy hand must be kept separate.
A Joker is used during the game to indicate which player plays a card from her or his half dummy hand to each trick.
If the Two of Clubs is in a half dummy hand, that player takes the Joker for the first hand. Otherwise, the non-dealer takes the Joker.
Trick-taking basically follows regular Hearts rules.
The Two of Clubs is lead to the first trick. After that, the winner of a trick leads the first card to the next trick.
You must follow suit if you can. Otherwise you can play any card.
You cannot lead with a scoring card until a scoring card has been played to a trick.
The only trick-taking changes involve the half dummy hand.
The dummy hand can win tricks. When the dummy hand wins a trick, the trick cards are placed in a dummy hand trick pile.
The player with the Joker plays a regular card and a half dummy hand card to a trick.
When a player leads to a trick, the second card is played from the half dummy hand, and the third card is played by the other player.
When a half dummy hand card is lead to a trick, the second card is played by the player with the Joker, and the third card is played by other player.
Between tricks, the Joker is passed from one player to the other.
End of the Hand
Continue playing until the players run out of cards. Add the one card left in the dummy hand to the dummy hand tricks.
Score as in regular Hearts, 1 point for each Heart, 13 points for the Queen of Spades, and minus 10 points for the Ten of Diamonds. This is true unless one player has taken all of the Hearts plus the Queen of Spades. If a player 'Shoots the Moon', that player scores minus 26 points.
Be sure to score for the dummy hand, too.
If nobody has scored 100 points, the deal passes to the previous non-dealer and the next hand starts. Otherwise, the player with the lowest score wins the game.
Does this sound like an interesting variation? There is always a chance that the dummy hand could win.