How to Play Spite and Malice

Example Initial Layout for Spite and Malice Spite and Malice is a two player card game popular in the Western Hemisphere. It has some similarities to double solitaire and other similar foundation building games. Although the playing rules are relatively simple, the game is considered by many players to require great skill to play well.

The game is played using two decks of cards. Both decks should have differing back designs to facilitate the ease of rejoining the packs after each game. The first deck consists of one standard 52 card deck. The second deck should consist of one standard 52 card deck with the addition of four Jokers. The ranking of the standard cards in both packs are as follows (from high to low); King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace. The decks should each be independently shuffled and kept in two distinct pile before the game begins.

Any method can be used to determine the dealer for the first game, with cutting for high card a common method. Thereafter, for each subsequent game the deal alternates between the two players.

Once the dealer is determined, he should thoroughly shuffle both decks and offer them to his opponent for the cut. After the cut, the dealer begins dealing the cards from the first (52 card) deck alternately between the two players, such that each player ends with a pile of 26 cards (called the pay-off pile). The player may not pick up or look at this pile. Meanwhile, the dealer's opponent takes the other deck (56 card deck) and deals each player a five card face down hand, placing the remainder of the deck in a face-down pile in the center of the table, as the stock pile. After the dealing procedures have been completed, each player then turns exposes the top card of his pay pile, placing it face-up on top of his pile. The player who shows a higher ranked card on the top of his pay pile has the first turn, with the turn then alternating between the two players. If both players expose a card of the same rank, both piles are reshuffled together and the piles redealt, and each player again exposes the top card of his pile. If again the cards are of the same denomination the procedure is repeated until non tying cards are shown.

The object of the game is to be the first player to play the last card from his payoff pile to a center foundation pile thus winning the game. As in many solitaire games, the game consists of a central layout to which the players play their cards. This layout consists of foundation piles that are built from Ace to King. The suit of the cards is irrelevant so a card of any eight for instance could be played on any nine. A player may play cards from his five card hand, pay pile and side stacks (described below) to the center foundations. Any Aces and twos in the player's hand must be played to the center foundation piles on that player's turn. on a player's turn when the opportunity arises. The player may continue playing cards to the center foundations as able until he has no further plays. If he manages to play all five cards from his current hand to the foundation piles, he draws a new hand consisting of five more cards from the stock and may continue his turn with the addition of these new cards. Once he no longer has any valid player (or elects to end his turn) he may play one card from his hand to one of his side stacks (see below) which immediately ends his turn. If unable to make a legal play to his side stacks or choosing not to, he simply says Go, ending his turn as well. At the beginning of his next turn, the player draws cards from the stock to replenish his hand to five cards. If a player end his turn by playing the last card from his five card hand to a side-stack, he draws a new five card hand at the beginning of his next turn. The turn then moves to his opponent who has the same play options.

There may only be a maximum of four foundation piles in the center at any time. However, once a King is played to any of these piles (completing the pile) the pile is set-aside out of play, freeing the space for an Ace to start a new such pile. A Joker may be used to replace any other card in the deck save an Ace.

Spite and Malice game in progress Side Stacks: In addition to his pay pile and hand, a player also has four personal side-stacks. These are four special piles of cards owned by that player. At the end of each turn, if able, a player plays a card to one of his side stacks. To begin the game, the side stacks are empty, but as the game progress, the side stacks are built. Side stacks are only added to by a player at the end of his turn. However, during his turn, a player may always play the top card of any side stack to the central layout when able. A card can only be played, at the end of a player's turn, to the top of a side stack if it fulfills several criteria. As mentioned previously, a player may have a maximum of four side stacks. If he clears one of his side stacks (with plays to the foundation piles during his turn), he may start a new side stack with any card from his hand.

Since only the top card of each players pay pile is visible at a time, at any time either player, on his turn may request a count of the number of cards are in both players' pay piles. When this is requested each player must count the number of cards in the pile (without looking at them) and provide an accurate total to his opponent.

The first player to play the last card from his center stack to the foundation piles is declared the winner of the game. If the center stock runs out before either player has won the game, all the completed foundation piles which have been set aside are then reshuffled to create a new stock. If there has not yet been any completed foundations, the players can shuffle all but the top cards of the existing foundation piles to create a new stock pile. If there are not enough cards to create a viable stock, the game ends with the player having the fewest cards in his pay pile declared the winner. If the players each have the same number of cards in his pay pile, in this event, the game ends in a tie.


Variations and Optional Rules

Three Deck Spite and Malice: Another popular version of the same game is played with a number of key differences. These differences are as follows: In all other aspects the game is played identically to the version of Spite and Malice described above.

Sometimes, this alternate version is played with only two decks. The rules are the same, however only 20 cards are dealt to each players pay pile and a maximum of three center piles are allowed at any time during the game.

Spite and Malice for 3 or 4 Players: Although widely known as a two-player game, Spite and Malice can be also be played by 3 or 4 players. The rules are the same with the following differences: In all other aspects the rules for three and four players are identical to the standard version.

Unlimited Center Layout Piles: In some variants of Spite and Malice, there is no limit to the number of center stacks that are allowed. Completed stacks should still be set-aside however to unclutter the play area.

Cat and Mouse: Cat and Mouse is a card game very similar to Spite and Malice, and many times the games are synonyms for each other. However, in most cases, there are a number of differences between the two games. When played under the name Cat and Mouse this game is played identically to Spite and Malice with the following notable differences: In all other respects this game is played identically to the standard variant of Spite and Malice.

Nuts: Nuts (also known as Peanuts, Two-Handed Solitaire or Team Solitaire) is another game which bears a striking resemblance to a solitaire game but is designed for multiple players. This game is designed for four players, playing in two partnerships. The game requires the use of two standard 52 card decks. Each deck should have a different back design to allow the decks to be reconstituted after each hand and for easy recognition in scoring of the hand.

Determination of partnerships and seating positions can be done in a variety of ways with drawing of cards from a shuffled deck a common method. As opposed to many other partnership type games, the two partnerships usually sit alongside each other at the table rather than across the table from each other.

One of the players from each partnership then shuffles one deck thoroughly and then counts off the top 11 cards from the deck in a face down pile on the table (the cards in this pile are called the Nut cards). He then lays the remainder of that deck next to this pile, also face down (this pile is called the Cards pile. This player then passes both piles to the opposing players, across the table, such that each partnership is using the piles shuffled and dealt by the opposing team. The player in the partnership for the hand then picks up the Nuts pile of cards and his partner picks up the Cards pile. Neither player should yet look at the faces of these cards. The player who shuffles on each hand should alternate between the two players in each partnership.

The player who has the Cards pile then creates a tableau in front of themselves. Similar to various forms of solitaire, this consists of several columns of cards, with the top card of each row face up and all cards under this card dealt face down. Thus, he first deals a row of five cards on the table in four distinct columns, four cards face down and the fifth card face up. He then deals another row on top of the last row, this time consisting of four rows. No additional card is added to the row consisting of the face up card. The last card of this second row is also dealt face up. He then deals a row of three cards, one card on each row in which each card has previously been dealt face down, with the last card in the row dealt face up. He continues until he has completed the five columns of cards, with the top card of each row face-up. This tableau is said to consist of the table cards. He then sets the remaining cards in a pile beside the Table cards, face down. That players partner then turns over the Cards pile, face up in a pile, such that only the top card of the pile is visible and playable at a time.

Once both partnerships have arranged his hand in this way, a designed player then announces "Start" which begins play of the hand. There are no actual turns in this game with all players making moves when and as able. The object of the game is to be the first partnership to successfully play his entire Nuts card pile to his own center layout, while at the same time attempting to maximize cards played in the center layout for scoring potential (see below).

The legal plays a player can make are as follows: While either player of the partnership can move cards amongst that teams tableau, only the player who originally was given the Nuts card pile may play from the Nuts card pile (top card) and the player who was dealt the Cards pile is the only player who may play cards from the Waste pile, once exposed. At any time during his choosing, the player of the Cards pile deals three cards from his own team's Cards pile (called the Stock) and lays them in a pile next to the face-down remainder of the Cards pile, face-up and with the top card exposed. The top card of this exposed pile (called the waste pile) may then be used in plays to that teams tableau or the Center piles as appropriate. He may continue playing cards from this pile as able. When unable to play, that player may then deal three more cards from the top of the Stock and lay them on the top of the exposed waste pile and play these in a similar manner. He continues doing this until he reaches the end of this deck (the last batch turned over may be fewer than three cards). He may then, when unable to make further plays from the exposed pile turn this entire pile over and begin the process again, dealing in batches of three cards at a time.

Once the Nuts player has played the last card from his Nuts card pile, he shouts Nuts which immediately terminates the hand. At this time, this hand is then scored. One player gathers all the cards played to the Center and divides these cards into piles played by each team (distinguished by the back design of the deck). The players who were in charge of the Nuts cards during the hand then count the number of cards remaining in their Nuts card piles (if any). The final score for each partnership is the total number of cards played to the center subtracted by two times the number of Nuts cards remaining in his own teams Nuts cards pile. Negative scores are possible and should be recorded as such.

After scores are tallyed for the hand, the decks are reformed, reshuffled and a new hand is dealt. The first team to reach or exceed 250 points at the end of a hand is declared the winner of the game.

Double Solitaire, hand in progress Double Solitaire - Simplified Version: Another two-player game which is played similar to Spite and Malice is this version of Double Solitaire. This game should not be confused with another somewhat more complex game called Double Solitaire in which more elaborate center foundations are used. The rules for that version of Double Solitaire are described on another page.

This variant uses one standard deck with no Jokers added. The ranking of the cards used in the deck is as follows (from high to low); King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace.

Determination of first dealer can be done in any of the standard methods, with drawing for high card probably the most common. After the first dealer is determined, he thoroughly shuffles the deck and offers it to his opponent to cut. After the cut, he then deals four cards face up on the table to begin the foundation piles. After doing this he then deals out the remainder of the cards alternating between his opponent and himself. These are dealt in a face down stack in front of each player. Before the start of the game (and before any cards in the piles are seen by either player) the dealer's opponent may ask to exchange his pile for the dealers, which the dealer must honor if requested.

The dealer's opponent then has the first turn. To begin his turn he picks up the top card of his stock pile. He may then make any available plays using this card and any other cards on the board. The following are the legal plays a player can make on his turn: A player may continue to make moves on his turn until no more legal moves can be found. He then places his current card drawn from his stock pile next to his own stock pile. If there are already cards in the discard pile, he lays it on top of the current pile.

If on a player's turn he finds that his stock pile has been depleted (but he still has a discard pile), he simply turns his entire discard pile over (without shuffling) to start a new stock pile.

The game continues until one player is able to play all cards from his discard and stock pile, at which time he is declared the winner of the game.

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