9-5-2 (952) is basically simplified bridge for three players, with a forced card-switching twist thrown in. 952 is a social game and not suitable for gambling since there is a degree of trust required in a couple of elements of the game.
Number of Players Three, all playing alone.
A regular 52-card deck is used. Cards rank as follows: Ace (high), King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 (low).
Cut for deal; high card deals first. For each hand, the dealer has an automatic contract to make 9 tricks. The player to the dealer's left must make 5 tricks and the player to the dealer's right must make 2 tricks. Deal rotates in a clockwise fashion.
Shuffle and Deal
Any player may shuffle, with dealer shuffling last. Dealer deals 16 cards to each player, one by one. In addition, a "kitty" of 4 cards are dealt aside.
Settlement of Cards from Previous Round
Except on the first hand and in subsequent hands in which every player exactly made their contract, cards must be traded between players depending on the results of the previous hand. If a player made x more tricks than their contract, then they give x cards to the player or players who made x less tricks than their contract. The player receiving a card must give the player who passed him the card the highest card of that suit in his hand. If the given card is the highest, then the card is returned. Should two players be "up", that is to say they made more tricks on the previous round than was their contract, then the player who has the contract to make more tricks on the current round gets to receive cards from the third player first. Should two players be "down", then the player who is "up" gives cards to both of them simultaneously, in other words, he cannot see what he receives from one of the players before he gives cards to the other player.
For example: Player A (the dealer) must make 9, Player B must make 5, player C must make 2. Player A made 11 tricks ("up 2", since he only had to make 9) and Player C made 3 tricks ("up 1", since he only had to make 2) last round, leaving Player B with 2 tricks ("down 3", since he had to make 5). First of all, A gives B two cards, and then B gives A the two highest cards of the corresponding suits in his hand. Then, C gives B one card, and B gives C the corresponding high card. A gets to receive cards first because he must make 9 tricks this hand, whereas C must only make 2.
Declaration of Trump Suit
After all switching of cards is done, the dealer, who must make 9 tricks, declares the trump suit, which can be hearts, spades, clubs, or diamonds. A call of No Trump is permitted, in which case there is no trump suit. After declaring trump, the dealer picks up the kitty, so he now has 20 cards. He may then discard any 4 cards. After these 4 cards are discarded play begins. The cards are not part of the play and are not revealed to the other two players.
Optional Rule: if the dealer made 0 or 1 tricks on the previous hand (when he was required to make 5), he may look at the kitty before he calls trump.
Optional Rule: if the dealer picks up in the kitty a higher card in a suit that he previously exchanged cards in, then he must reveal this card to the player that he exchanged cards with. This applies only if the dealer received the exchanged card (i.e. was "down" on the previous round).
Player to the left of the dealer (i.e. the player who must make 5 tricks on this hand) leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit to the card led. If suit cannot be followed, then any other card may be played. A trick consists of one card from each player, played in a clockwise direction. If any trump cards are played, then the winner of the trick is the player who played the highest trump card. If no trump cards are played, then the winner of the trick is the player who played the highest card of the suit led. The winner of a trick leads to the next trick. Note that the tplay works the same way that bridge, euchre, 500 and virtually every other card game with trumps.
A player scores +1 for every trick made in excess of his contract. If a player has to make 9, and makes 11, then he is +2. A player scores -1 for every trick less than his contract. If a player has to make 5 and makes only 2, then he is -3. Scoring is cumulative and the first player to reach +13 (or other suitable number that is agreed upon before the game) is declared the winner.
Thoughts on Strategy