Two-Handed Pinochle is a trick-taking card game played by two people using a 48-card Pinochle deck. Here's how to play:

Number of players: Two

Object: To score the most points by melding and by taking tricks. A game is won when one or both players reach or pass 1,000 points, with the highest score declared the winner.

The Cards: A 48-card Pinochle deck. The deck can be made up from two standard packs by removing all twos through eights. Remember to use decks that look the same on the back. Cards are ranked from Ace (high)-10-K-Q-J-9 (low).

Dealing: Spread the deck facedown, and draw a card. The highest ranked card determines the dealer. If both players draw the same ranked card, draw again until the dealer is determined.

Cards are dealt in groups of three or four cards until each player has 12 cards. The remaining cards form the stock.

After the deal, the dealer turns the top card from the stock faceup; this upcard designates the trump suit. It is then placed half exposed at the bottom of the stock. If this card is a 9, the dealer immediately scores 10 points.

After each trick, both players are allowed to draw one card from stock, with the dealer drawing last.

Playing: Each deal has two phases, beginning with trick-taking and melding, followed by the endgame.

After the nondealer leads, the dealer can play any card; you don't have to follow suit. High card wins the trick unless it is trumped. If two identical cards are played, the first card played wins the trick. Henceforth, the winner of a trick leads to the next trick.

Until the final card is drawn from the stock, players do not have to follow suit.

Melding: Melds may be made only one at a time during a player's turn if that player has won the trick but before drawing a card from the stock; the exception is the 9 of trumps, which can be scored with any or no meld. You must use at least one card from your hand to form a meld.

Points are recorded when each meld is built. Melds are left faceup on the table until the final card is drawn from the stock. They then are picked up and kept in hand. Until the final draw, you may play these cards anytime during play instead of a card from your hand.

Cards played in a trick, however, are out of play for the rest of the hand. A melded card may be used again in a different meld but not for the same kind of meld. Thus, if one
K has been used in a marriage with one Q, that K cannot later be used in a marriage with a different Q, but it can be used again for a flush or four Ks in different suits.

The Dix (pronounced "deece"): If you turn up the first 9 of trumps (or Dix), you score 10 points. The first player who is dealt the Dix or draws the Dix from the stock exchanges it for the upcard at the bottom of the stock. The player with the second 9 of trumps simply shows the card and receives 10 points.

Endgame: When only the upcard and a single stock card are left, the winner of the previous trick takes the stock card, and the loser takes the upcard, which will be the Dix. At this point no further melds can be made.

Players place all melded cards on the table back into their hands. The winner of the previous trick then leads. Henceforth, players must follow suit if possible. When a trump is led, you must take with a higher trump if possible. If a nontrump suit is led and you are void in that suit, you must trump if able.