Rules of Spite & Malice Card Game

By Alan Kirk
Spite and Malice is a competitive game of Solitaire similar to Skip-Bo.

The original version of the Spite and Malice Card Game was designed for two players. The players compete to play all of their cards from their individual pay-off opponents before their opponent can do them same. The first player to play all of his cards from his pay-off pile is the winner. These cards are played using additional cards from the player's hand, side stacks and the stock.

The Deal

Dealing the cards for a two player game of Spite and Malice begins with shuffling two standard 52-card decks together. Each player has a deck of 20 cards dealt to her, face down. This is referred to as the pay-off pile. Five cards are then dealt to each player to form his hand. The remaining cards form the stock and are stored in the center of the table where both players can reach them.

The Piles and Hands

The goal of Spite and Malice is to play all 20 cards in your pay-off pile before your opponent does the same thing. The top card of a player's pay-off pile is turned face up and the rest are face down. Up to three piles known as center stacks are shared by the two players and placed in the center of the table. These stacks start with an ace, and can be built upwards one at a time in numeric rank of the cards followed by the Jack, Queen, and King. Suits are not a factor in Spite and Malice. Each player also can have up to four side stacks in front of her. These stacks are not shared with the opposing player.

Starting Your Turn

On a player's turn, he must first draw enough cards from the stock pile to return his hand to five cards. Then he can play any card from his hand, face up pay-off card, or side stacks to any of the three center piles. When he plays a card from his pay-off pile he turns the next card from the pay-off pile face up. He can play any cards from his side stacks to the center piles but cannot play a side stack card onto another side stack pile, or his pay-off pile.

When a center pile has a King played on it, the pile is removed and a new one can be started with an Ace. Remember that only three center piles can be in play at any time. A player continues to play until she can not play any additional cards to the center piles. She ends her turn by playing one card from her hand onto her side stack. She can not play a card from her pay-off pile to her stack.

Winning Spite and Malice

Players alternate turns, with the end of the turn signified by the placement of a card from the hand to the side stack. The first player to play all of his cards from his pay-off pile to the center piles wins the game.

Additional players

More than two players can play Spite and Malice. For each player, an additional deck of cards must be added. A partnership version can be played where you sit across from your partner and either of you can play off each other's pay-off pile but you must maintain your own hands and side stack piles.

About the Author

Alan Kirk has been writing for online publications since 2006. He has more than 15 years' experience in catering, management and government relations. Kirk has a bachelor's degree in business management from the University of Maryland.