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How to play Whist

Whist is probably the classic plain-trick taking game of all time. It was invented around what cards do best - follow suit and take tricks. Since its heydey in the 19th century Whist has given way to more refined developments of its game format like Bridge. This is less an indication of its obsolescence, than it is a testament to its enduring mechanics which underlie so many of the best card games.

Whist is a game for four players in two fixed-partnerships.

The Cards

A standard deck of 52 cards, ranking from highest to lowest; A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

The Deal

Deal and play are clockwise, and each player is dealt 13 cards, one at a time, beginning with the player to the dealer's left and finishing with the dealer's last and 13th card, which is turned up and calls trumps. This card belongs to the dealer but remains face up on the table until it is dealer's turn to play to the first trick, whereupon he/she takes it up.

The Play

The person to the dealer's left leads first and thereafter the winner of the trick leads to the next. Any card may be led. Players must follow suit. If they can't follow suit they may play any card.

The trick is won by the highest Trump played to it. If no trumps are played, the Trick is won by the highest card of the suit led.

Scoring

When all 13 tricks have been played, the side which has won the most tricks scores 1 point for each trick they won in excess of 6. The partnership which first reaches 5 points wins the game, though it is common practice to make the target higher, like 7.


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