How to Play Whist

Whist, described by some to be an ancestor of Bridge, is a card game that offers its players a nice combination of luck, skill, and surprise. Here's how to play:

Number of players: Four, in pairs with partners facing each other.

Object: To win a majority of the 13
tricks in a hand and to score points.

The cards: Standard 52-card deck, with ace being high.

Dealing: Lowest
draw determines the first dealer. A second deck is shuffled to deal for the following hand. Some have the dealer's partner do the shuffling; others have the player to the dealer's left with the person to the dealer's right doing the cutting.

The dealer deals 13 cards to each player, starting with the player to the dealer's left and continuing clockwise. The last card is turned faceup to set the
trump suit and then is placed into the dealer's hand as soon as the player to their left leads to the first trick.

Playing: Players follow suit if possible. If they are
void, they may play any card, including trump. The highest card of the suit led wins the trick unless a trump is played in which case the highest trump wins. The winner of each trick leads to the next.

Scoring: Tricks are scored in books. The first six tricks (book) won by a pair are not tallied, but every trick after book counts for one point. For example, if you win 12 tricks, you score 6 points. Before play begins, game points should be set. Either 5 or 10 points is traditional, but you may set it at any score.

Tips: In order to win the majority of tricks, you must do more than take tricks with aces -- you must try to make winners out of lower cards. For example,
s are trump and your hand includes Q-J-10. Even when the opponents have both A and K, if you can lead twice, you establish a high card in the suit. Even if your s are Q-9-6-4, lead the 4, and see what happens. If partner has some high clubs, you may together be able to make the Q high to win a trick later.

In general, at the start of play, when you are long in trumps (4 or more cards), lead another long suit if you have one. When you have a short trump holding (2 or fewer), lead another short suit.