Hearts is an trick-taking playing card game for four players. It was first recorded in America in the 1880s and has many variants. The game is a member of the Whist family of trick-taking games (which also includes Bridge and Spades), but the game is unusual among Whist variants in that it is a trick-avoidance game; players avoid winning certain penalty cards in tricks, usually by avoiding winning tricks altogether. The original game of Hearts has been almost entirely superseded by Black Lady, as this version is.
Black Lady appeared in 1909, at which time it was also called Discard Hearts, and has since become the most popular variant in the United States, overtaking Hearts itself to become a game in its own right. It is frequently, and confusingly, also called Hearts, not least in computer gaming versions. However its distinguishing feature is that the Queen of Spades, the Black Lady, is an additional penalty card worth 13 points. The first description of the game already included the feature of discarding cards to one’s neighbor after the deal. Over time, the game has developed elaborations such as ‘shooting the moon’ and passing cards in different directions with each deal.