« Games Index History of Playing Cards Early Standards Gallery of Playing Cards Card Backs


Boston is a card game of the Solo Family which is thought to have originated in France in the late 18th century and is now played widely in the United States. What distinguishes Solo from other games is that players are generally not organized into fixed partnerships but instead, one player, i.e. the Soloist, declares their game, and plays against the rest who try to beat the Soloist.

As it is explained here, Boston is a card game for four players. There are no fixed partnerships, except for where play allows for temporary partnerships in the course of play as described below. Each player plays for themselves.


For the purposes of scoring, each player is equipped with counting chips in denominations of 1, 2 and 5, with a view to paying out as much as 160 points in a single hand.

The Cards

A standard deck of 52 cards. Cards rank A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2

For the purposes of bidding, the suit rank from high to low, Diamonds, Hearts, Clubs and Spades, so that a bid in Diamonds, for example, will outrank the same bid in Hearts, Clubs or Spades.

The Deal

Deal and play are clockwise, and the deal proceeds to the left at the end of each hand. Beginning with the player to the Dealer's left, each player is dealt 13 cards in batches of four, four and five.


Beginning with the player to the Dealer's left, each player takes it in turn to either bid or pass, notwithstanding that any player who passes cannot then again re-enter the bidding process.

A bid consists of announcing a proposed trump suit and the number of tricks the bidder proposes to win. The lowest bid, therefore, would be "Boston in Spades", which means, "Five tricks in Spades". Each successive bid must be higher than any previous. Thus, for example, a bid of "Boston in Spades" can be outbid by a bid of "Boston in Clubs" and so on.

The possible bids from lowest to highest are tabled alongside their respective value in score:

Over Trick
None Spades Clubs Hearts Diamonds
Boston - 2 4 6 1
Six Tricks - 6 8 10 1
Little Misere 15
Seven Tricks - 10 12 14 1
Piccolissimo 20
Eight Tricks - 14 16 18 1
Grand Misere 30
Nine Tricks - 18 20 22 1
Little Spread 40
Ten Tricks - 22 24 26 1
Grand Spread 50
Eleven Tricks - 26 28 30 1
Twelve Tricks - 30 32 34 1
Slam (Thirteen) - 80 90 100 -
Spread Slam - 120 140 160 -

Once all players have effectively passed, the last standing bid becomes the contract and its caller, the "Soloist". Once having won the auction, and becoming the Soloist, the player cannot then alter his/her winning bid but plays it out according to the contract.

Calling for a Partner

In Boston, there are no fixed partnerships. However with bids of 6, 7 and 8 tricks, the Soloist may call for a partner. Any player can accept and no players have to accept. If a player accepts, then the Soloist and the Partner now play as a team against the other two, and together they must take at least 4 over-tricks (i.e. 4 tricks more than their contract) in order to win the hand and score for it accordingly.

Carte Blanche

When the contract has a trump suit, any player who has absolutely no trumps in their hand can, before play begins, declare it so and receive two chips from each player. Such a player does not have to prove so by showing his/her hand as any such error will become evident during the course of play.


The Ace, King, Queen and Jack of Trumps represent "Honours". If 3-4 honours have been dealt to the Soloist or the Soloist and their partner, then such count as a bonus equivalent to two overtricks for 3 honours, and four overtricks for four honours. However, such points are only awarded if the Soloist(s) win.

The Play

Left of the Dealer leads first, and thereafter the winner of the tricks leads to the next. Where there is a contact of Little Misere, Piccolissimo or Little Spread, the Soloist discards one of his/her cards face down before the first play, and only twelve tricks are played to the hand. In hands played "Spread" (ouverte) the Soloist's hand must be laid face up on the table before play begins.

The Rules

Standard trick taking rules apply:

  • You must follow suit to the Card led, if possible.
  • If you can't follow suit, you can 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.


If the Soloist wins he receives the appropriate amount from each opponent; if not, he pays the appropriate to each opponent. When there are partners, each partner receives payment from the opponent to his right or, if the Soloist team lose, they pay that amount to the opponent on their left.


Boston is played over an agreed to number of hands, that being a multiple of four so that each player gets the same number of turns to deal in a game.


How to play Boston - Cats at Cards
Card Games: Boston Group - Card Games Website
Boston and Solo Whist - Historic Card Games described by David Parlett
Boston Whist - Colonial Card Games

Complete Index
of Card Games »

Solo Family

Spanish Solo
German Solo

Hearts Family

Rickety Kate
Black Maria

Whist Family

German Whist

Rummy Games

Gin Rummy

Bezique Family

Sixty Six
Polish Bezique

All Fours

All Fours
Seven Up
Auction Pitch
Double Pedro
California Jack
Shasta Sam

Euchre Group

RailRoad Euchre
Buck Euchre
Call Ace Euchre

Five Card

Five Hundred
Spoil Five

Skat Family


Yass Games

Clover Jack
Complete Index
of Card Games »

Euchre Links

« Games Index History of Playing Cards Early Standards Gallery of Playing Cards Card Backs
MSN Search
Search Engine Submission and Marketing Services Submit Your Site To The Web's Top 50 Search Engines for Free!