Peatwit was invented in 1973, while Paul was a bored junior in high school. He and his buddies spent many hours in study hall and elsewhere probing its subtle qualities and devising strategies. As the years wore on, efforts to get Peatwit in the book of Hoyle have not gotten off the ground. What better use for the Internet than to spread the gospel? Play Peatwit and infect your friends!
Peatwit is best played with four people, although it works fine with three or five. More than five require two decks, and the game loses some of its magic.
The basic play of the game resembles spades, bridge or hearts, in that all the cards are dealt out, bidding takes place, and the cards are played as tricks. The chief twist is that the trumps are the twos, threes, and fours of all four of the suits. This creates a fifth suit of twelve cards, in a sense.
As in bridge, hearts, and spades, a player must always play in suit if possible, even if it means that they must play a two, three, or four. A trump card played in suit has no value as a trump, and will only take the trick if it is the highest value card in the suit led. Trump cards wasted in this way are said to have been "sucked".
As in hearts, players have the opportunity to create voids in their hands by passing three cards at the outset of the game. This makes it easier to use the trump cards to take tricks.
All the cards are dealt. Players sort their cards (usually by suit), and decide which three cards to pass. Once all players have passed and received their passes, they bid. The player to the left of the dealer bids first, and bidding continues in a clockwise direction (more about bidding later). The player with the lowest bid (or the first low bid, if more than one player bids the same number) leads the first trick, and play commences in a clockwise direction. The winner of each trick plays the leading card for the next trick, and so on. Players gather their tricks and place them face down on the table next to them. After all the tricks have been taken, the hand is scored(again, more later). The deal passes to the left, and the process is repeated until everybody has had a belly full.
Fifty two card deck, Ace is high.
Players pass three cards of their choice to the player to their left at the outset of the first deal. For the second deal, they pass the three cards to their right, next across, and next not at all. Then this same sequence is repeated. When playing with four, it is possible to play as two sets of partners. Your passing strategy changes in interesting ways when you are passing to your partner.
Each player must estimate how many tricks they think they can take with their hand. It is also possible to bid "nil", which indicates an intention to take no tricks at all. This is not always as easy as it would seem, and it is worth plenty of points to the player who can pull it off. A nil bid is a zero, and so the first player to bid nil will lead the play.
Players get ten points for each trick they bid and win. Each extra trick beyond the number bid is only worth one point. If a player fails to win as many tricks as they bid, their score is negative ten points for each of the tricks they bid. For example, if a player bids three, and wins four, they score 31. If they only win two or less, their score is -30. A sucessful nil bid is worth 50 in a game of four players, 30 in a game of five, and 70 in a game of three. A failed nil bid is worth -50, -30, or -70, with no credit for tricks earned.
Often, a trick will be trumped by more than one player. Which trump card wins? First, the numerical value of the card prevails; that is, a four will always beat a three, and a three will aways beat a two. If two trumps of the same numerical value are played, the suit must be used to decide the winner. The order of dominance, from highest to lowest (stolen from bridge), is spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs.
When playing with three, each player is dealt seventeen cards, and there is one left over. This card is placed in the middle of the table, and is played as a fourth card on top of the first trick. If it happens to be a winning card, then "the nerd gets it", and it is set aside. Even though the nerd only has one card in his hand, it could well be a trump!