Rules of Setback

Play Setback here!


Four players, conventionally named West, North, East, and South. West and East are on one team, North and South are on the other.


A regular 52-card deck. Aces are high.


Each player receives a hand of six cards. Thus, 24 cards are dealt in all, and the rest are unused. South deals first, and the deal rotates clockwise on every subsequent hand.


There are two phases of play on each deal: first an auction, then cards are played.


Each player bids once, beginning with the player to the dealer's left and proceding clockwise. Possible bids, from lowest to highest, are:

The player who makes the highest bid wins the auction. Each player must either pass, or make a bid higher than the previous bids. However, the dealer can always "steal" a four bid. If all four players pass, all hands are discarded and the deal moves clockwise. The player who makes the highest bid is known as the "high bidder", and her team is committed to making the number of points bid.


Each player plays one card per trick. Thus, there are six tricks in each hand.

The high bidder leads on the first trick. The first card played on the first trick establishes the trump suit for that hand.

Any card may be played first on a trick. Players must then either follow the suit led, or play a trump. If a player cannot follow suit, she may play any card in her hand. The highest trump played takes the trick. If no trump was played on the trick, the highest card of the suit led takes the trick. The winner of the trick then leads on the next trick.


At the end of playout, the tricks taken by both players on a team are combined for scoring. There are four possible points available in each deal:

Whichever team takes the High, Low, or Jack is awarded that point. Whichever team takes the most "game points" (little 'g') is awarded the Game point (big 'G').

Game points

Game points are counted as follows:

Game points are awarded for all captured cards, not just those of the trump suit. If both teams take the same number of game points, no Game point is awarded on that deal.


Each team is awarded a single point for High, Low, Jack, or Game. However, if the high bidder's team takes fails to take at least the contracted number of points, they are instead "set back" the number of points that they bid.


Whichever team takes 11 (or more) points first wins the game. If the teams are tied, the game continues for at least one more deal.

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