Each player gets five cards. If you are dealt a four of a kind, or get four of a kind during game play, those cards are removed from your hand, and you get a point.
Moving clockwise, players take turns asking a specific player for a given rank of card. If someone asks you for a rank that you have, the cards are taken from your hand. if you do not have any cards of that rank, your opponent must go fish, taking one new card from the pile of cards.
When it’s your turn, select a player you think might have a needed card. Pick one card from your hand of the desired rank. If the player has the desired card, he or she must pass it over. If not, you must go fish. If you get the card you asked for, you get to go again.
If you run out of cards and there are still cards left, you get five free cards.
Play continues until all hands are empty and there are no more cards to draw from. The winner is the player with the most points at the end of the game.
Winning at Go Fish takes luck, a decent memory, and a good sense of timing. The luck part we can’t help you with. Ditto for a decent memory (actually, you can read the strategies section in Memory Match for some mnemonic aids). Try to remember what people have asked for in previous turns. This is especially important if someone has captured two cards of a specific rank. If you have the opportunity to ask for that rank, make sure you take it— you’ll get a warm feeling when you lay down four cards.
This hand contains six points (A, J, J) and at least the minimum three cards in spades, hearts, and diamonds. If your partner bid one club, however, your hand is too weak, and you should pass.
Any suit of five or more cards is always biddable.
A bid of no-trump is best when you have 15 high-card points, and your hand’s distribution is balanced, meaning a 4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2, or 5-3-3-2 combination. You should also have all suits stopped, meaning you have the A, the K-Q, the Q-J-10, and/or the J-10-9-8 in each suit. These card combinations will prevent your opponents from taking a run of tricks in one suit. Most of the time, however, you’ll have to make do with “probable” stoppers, such as K-x, Q-J- x, Q-10-x, or even Q-x-x.
If you’re the defender and you can’t decide what to lead, here’s an old bit of Bridge lore: when in doubt, lead the fourth-best card from your longest suit. This is called leading from length. It’s considered the standard way to lead in a no-trump contract, and it’s a safe way to proceed in a suit contract.
Typically, an unbalanced hand is more suitable to play a trump contract. A balanced hand is good for a no-trump contract. Whenever a player has a balanced or an unbalanced hand, it is very common for more than one of the other hands to have a similar distribution, and it’s something to plan for in the play of the hand.