Sunny Side Up

Gratitude & Happiness

Winning at Whisking.

on April 27, 2015

W  is for Whist.

As a child, one of the first games I remember playing was Go Fish or Old Maid. It was a fun way to learn how to count and make patterns. Later on, games became fun in a more competitive way. My friends and I would try to prove our intelligence using strategy. In high – school we often spent our lunch hour playing cards. Sometimes it was crazy eights countdown, sometimes president,but the favourite seemed to be hearts, a game similar to Euchre, but that I could never quite understand. At holiday dinners, my cousins tried teaching me how to use bidding in games. Never good at math, I’d become easily confused trying to keep track of suits and tricks and plan my moves. Despite this, I still played and am considered a good sport. Perhaps Whist is the card game I can learn to enjoy.

Where did Whist come from?

The first known use of the word was 1663. Thought to be an alteration of whisk, it was referred to as early as 1520 from the idea of whisking up cards after each trick. ( It was developed in England from the 16th century game of ruff and honours. Hoyle’s rules in A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist, published in 1742 were considered the authority until 1864 when replaced by Baldwin’s rules. ( Counters which were tokens or chips would be used to record the score. Popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, it later became replaced by Bridge. Now, the game is used for social and fundraising purposes in ‘whist drives.’

How to play:

  • Four players, divided in pairs that sit opposite each other.
  • Cards are dealt until each person has 13, with the option of the remaining card being ‘trump.’
  • First ‘trick’ (round) is lead by player on dealer’s left. Play is clockwise following suit or by trump.
  • Highest card in the suit or trump, if a player has no cards in that suit played wins. Winner leads next.
  • Cards rank from high to low, A, K, Q, J, 10, down to 2.
  •  ‘Trump’ can be played using this order: hearts, diamonds, spades, clubs. The 5th round can be played without a trump card, and the pattern repeats.
  • A ‘book’ is the first 6 tricks taken by a pair. Points are scored for each additional trick.
  • 13 tricks (rounds) total are played.
  • Games may be played to either 5 (British,) 7 (American,) or 9 (long) points.
  • A ‘Rubber’ is the best of 3 games. Tournaments have a fixed number of deals.

If you would like to try the game, here is a website for hours of distracting fun:

Some variations of the game include:
Honours – where the trumps, A, K, Q, J, score an extra 4 points for the team who has all of them in their hands. It is not used now, as most consider it to be a matter of chance.
Norwegian – where you play either ‘grand’ to win the most tricks, or ‘nullo’ to lost the most.
Sergeant – 3 player game.

An explanation of ‘Bidding‘ in Whist,



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: