Spar is a fun and strategic trick-taking card game that originated in Ghana. It is typically played by 2-7 players using a 35-card deck. The game has multiple local and regional variations on the African continent.
What is Needed
- 2-7 players
- Standard 52-card deck with the Ace of Spades removed (35 cards total)
The goal is to win the last trick of each round in order to score points.
To begin, the dealer shuffles the cards and deals each player 3 cards, followed by 2 cards so that everyone has 5 cards total.
Spar Rules and Gameplay
The player to the left of the dealer starts off the gameplay by leading the first trick. They will lead by playing any card from their hand face up in the center.
The other players must then play a card of the same suit if they have one in their hand. If a player doesn’t have a card of the led suit, they can play any card from their hand.
Once everyone has played one card to the trick, the trick is complete. The player who played the highest ranking card of the led suit wins the trick. The cards are left face up and are not gathered.
The winner of the trick then leads the next trick by playing any card from their hand face up on top of the pile. The other players once again must follow suit if possible, otherwise, they can play any card.
This continues until all 5 tricks have been played.
Specific Rules to Keep in Mind
- The winner of each round deals the cards for the next round.
- If no one is able to follow the led suit, the trick is won by the highest card played.
Card Rankings and Scoring
The cards rank from high to low, meaning: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6.
Scoring is as follows:
- If the last trick is won with a 6, the player scores 3 points
- If the last trick is won with a 7, the player scores 2 points
- If the last trick is won with an 8 or higher, the player scores 1 point
The game can be played until a player reaches a preset point total, often 10-30 points. The first player to reach the target point total wins the overall game.
Alternatively, the game can be played for a set number of rounds. In the end, the player with the most points accumulated wins.
There are a few variations that can be played:
- Seven Card Spar – Some players in Ghana deal 7 cards to each player instead of 5.
- Ace of Spades Included – Some Ghanaian players include the Ace of Spades, using all 36 cards.
- Show Bottom Card – Some Ghanaian players allow a player to ask for the bottom card of the undealt pack to be shown during the second to last trick.
- Jeu de Carte (Benin) – A version played in Benin uses 31 cards (no Ace of Spades) and has minor scoring differences.
- Sipa (Togo) – The Togolese game Sipa plays very similar to Spar. Scoring is up to 6 points and uses 31 cards.
- Agram (Mali/Niger) – A nearly identical version to Spar played in Mali and Niger under the names Agram and Jeu de Carte.