The game of Hearts plays a central role in The Nightingale Moon. There are many variations on the great game, but if you want to learn to play the Sweedo way, read on!

What you need:

4 players

1 standard deck of 52 cards


1. After all cards are dealt, each player looks at their hand and decides to pass 3 of them to another player. You must pass your cards before looking to see what you've been passed.

  • 1st hand - pass three cards to the left

  • 2nd hand - pass three cards to the right

  • 3rd hand - pass three cards across

  • 4th hand - no pass. Another fun option instead of the no-pass is the "funky pass," which is passing one card to each player.

  • After the 4th hand, you repeat the pattern.

2. The player with the 2 of Clubs leads.

3. Play continues in a clockwise direction until each player has played a card. You must play a card of the suit that was led. If you don't have any cards of that suit, you can play whatever you want. A few caveats:

  • You can't play Hearts or the Queen of Spades on the first trick

  • You can't lead Hearts until either Hearts have been played (or "broken") on the lead of another suit or until the Queen of Spades has been played.

4. The highest card of the suit that was led wins the trick. Aces are high, followed by King, Queen, Jack, 10, and so on.

5. Whoever wins the trick gets to lead the next trick.

6. After all the cards have been played (13 tricks in all), you count up the points.

7. Have fun! No whining or complaining about how you were wronged by someone else's play!


1. Points are bad.

2. Each heart is worth 1 point.

3. The Queen of Spades is worth 13 points.

4. The Jack of Diamonds is worth minus 10 points.

5. Taking no tricks is worth minus 5 points.

6. In order to shoot the moon, you need the Queen of Spades, the Jack of Diamonds, and all the Hearts. If you shoot, you have two choices:

  • minus 36 points

  • minus 10 points and adding 26 points to everyone else's score

A minus 5 for no tricks is not awarded when someone shoots the moon.

7. Play to a predetermined score. I like 70 for a shorter game and 100 for a longer game. Once someone gets enough points that they exceed the score, then the person with the lowest score wins the game (ties are possible).