Today I'm beginning a series on Card Games, the first game I'm sharing is Long Whist and the rules are long. But for those of you who might play whist, check it out and see if the rules have changed. Cassel's Book of Indoor Amusements, Card Games and Fireside Fun ©1882 is our source for this really long tidbit.
There is no knowing exactly when card-playing first made its appearance, or who introduced it. Long before Whist, Cribbage, or Piquet was heard of the natives of India and China amused themselves for many a long hour in cardplaying. Though probably they did not restrict themselves to any particular rule or method, still, the enjoyment they derived from the game was, doubtless, quite equal to any that we have now. The old tale, that has so often been repeated, that Whist was invented purposely to entertain, during his moments of sanity, an English sovereign who had lost his reason, may or may not be true. All we really know is, that for more than two hundred years our grandmothers and grandfathers have spent many a happy hour at the card-table, sipping their toddy and playing their rubbers in really good earnest. As far as we are concerned, the toddy sipping may be with safety dispensed with, but not the earnestness; for with cards, almost more than any other amusement, it is utterly useless to play in a half-hearted sort of manner.
Everything, for the time, must be forgotten but the game, and into that the whole energy must be thrown. As all good players know, triflers are to be dreaded far more than inexperienced players. The latter, by practice, strict attention, the exercise of judgment, observation, and memory may soon become skilful players, while the former will never willingly be chosen as partners by good Whist players. It is said that good old Sir Roger de Coverley sent a messenger round every Christmas time with a pack of cards to all the cottagers on his estate, and if accompanied, as no doubt they were, with something useful and substantial, nothing could have been much more acceptable.
Among all card games Whist is unequalled, and although no more than four players can join in one game, a whole roomful of people may easily play at the same time by simply dividing themselves into so many quartettes, a pack of cards being provided for each set of players.
For Long Whist four players are required, and a complete pack of fiftytwo cards. The first step is for each player to draw a card from the pack, the two highest and the two lowest being partners, each player taking his seat opposite his partner. The cards are then shuffled by the "elder hand," who is the player to the left of the dealer, the post of dealer being allotted to the drawer of the lowest card; after which they are cut by the "younger hand," who is the player to the right of the dealer. Beginning with his left-hand neighbour, the whole pack is then dealt out to the players one by one, faces downward, until the last one is arrived at, which, though the property of the dealer, is turned up, displaying the trump suit. If dealt properly, every player will hold in his hand thirteen cards, which he is now at liberty to look at and arrange in order, the owner of each hand being in honour bound not to look at any cards but his own.
The object of the game is for each player to either make himself, or assist his partner in making, as many tricks as possible, so that they together may gain ten points, that number being game in Long Whist.
The player to the left of the dealer first leads a card which his left hand opponent follows with a card of the same suit; the next player does the same, until all four cards are upon the table, the trick belonging to the player of the highest card.
Should any one not be able to follow suit, he may either play a card from another suit, or give one of the trump suit, and may possibly, by adopting the latter method, secure the trick for himself and his partner from the hands of their adversaries.
The winner of the trick is entitled to the next lead, the others following him as they did the former leader, and thus the game goes on until the full thirteen tricks are made. The points gained by each side are then noted down, either on a eribbage board or entrusted to the memory of the players, after which another shuffling takes place, and the cards are again distributed, the game thus proceeding until one of the couples has obtained ten tricks, when the game is won.
Another way of scoring points, and one which greatly facilitates business, is that of counting the honours. The four court cards of the trump suit are called honours, and should any one be fortunate enough to have these four cards dealt to him in one hand, or if he and his partner have the cards between them, they can score four to their game. Three honours count for two; but should the honours be equally distributed—that is, should one set of partners have only two court cards between them—the other two cards of the same kind must necessarily be in the hands of their opponents, in which case the honours are said to be divided, and neither side reaps any advantage from them. Each set of partners must win six tricks, constituting " a book," before they may score any to the game.
It is possible, therefore, for a couple of players to gain ten or eleven points during one round, though such luck very rarely occurs. It is a much more common occurrence for five or six deals to be made before the winning of a game.
Although in playing Whist the beginner need know nothing more than the ordinary rules of the game to enable him to take a part, nothing but practice will make him a skilful player. It is only by experience he will learn how necessary it is for him to rigidly adhere to the rules of the game. Whist, like Chess, must be played properly, or not at all. It is, therefore, important that all who wish to be good Whist players should at once make themselves thoroughly acquainted with the rules of the game, and also learn what mistakes to avoid.
The following are technical terms used in Whist:—
Ace.—Highest in play, lowest in cutting.
Blue Peter.—A signal for trumps allowable in modern play. This term is used when a high card is unnecessarily played in place of one of lower denomination—as a ten for a seven, a five for a deuce, &c.
Bumper.—Two games won in succession before adversaries have won one; that is a rubber of full points. Five at Short Whist, ten at Long.
Cut.—Lifting the cards when the uppermost portion (not fewer than three), is placed below the rest. The pack is then ready for the dealer.
Cutting in.—Deciding the deal by each player taking up not fewer than three cards, and the two highest and two lowest become partners. In case of ties, the cards must be cut again.
Cutting out.—In case of other person or persons wishing to play, the cut is adopted as before, when the highest (or lowest, as may be agreed on), stands out of the game, and does not play.
Call, The.—The privilege of the player at eight points asking his partner if he holds an honour. "Have you one?" The partners having eight points are said to have the call. When each side stands at eight, the first player has the privilege. No player can call until it is his turn to play.
Deal.—The proper distribution of the cards from left to right, face downwards.
Deal, Fresh.—A fresh or new deal, rendered necessary by any violation of the laws, or by any accident to the cards or players.
Double.—Ten points scored at Long Whist before adversaries have obtained five; or in Short Whist, five before three.
Elder Sand.—The player to the left of the dealer.
Faced Card.—A card improperly shown in process of dealing. It is in the power of adversaries, in such cases, to demand a new deal.
Finessing.—A term used when a player endeavours to conceal his strength, as when having the best and third best (ace and queen) he plays the latter, and risks his adversary holding the second best (the king). If he succeed in winning with his queen, he gains a clear trick, because if his adversary throws away on the queen, the ace is certain of making a trick. The term finessing may be literally explained by saying a player chances an inferior card to win a trick with while he holds the king card in his hand.
Forcing.—This term is employed when the player obliges his adversary or partner to play his trump or pass the trick. As, for instance, when the player holds the last two cards in a suit and plays one of them.
Hand.—The thirteen cards dealt to each player.
Honours.—Ace, king, queen, and knave of trumps, reckoned in the order here given.
Jack.—The knave of any suit.
King Card.—The highest unplayed card in any suit; the leading or winning card.
Lead, The.—The first player s card, or the card next played by the winner of the last trick.
Long Trumps. —The last trump card in hand, one or more, when the rest are all played. It is important to retain a trump in an otherwise weak hand.
Loose Card.—A card of no value, which may be thrown away on any trick won by your partner or adversary.
Longs.—Long Whist, as opposed to Short.
Lurch.—The players who make the double points are said to have lurched their adversaries.
Love.—No points to score. Nothing.
Marking the game.—Marking the score apparent with coins, &c., or with a whist-marker.
Mis-deal.—A mis-deal is made by giving a card too many or too few to any player, in which case the deal passes to the next hand.
Nine Holes.—The side when the score, at a fresh deal, stands at 9, must win, if at all, by points only; the honours do not count.
No Game.—A game at which the players make no score.
Opposition.—Side against side.
Points.—The score obtained by tricks and honours. The wagering or winning periods of the game.
Quarte.—Four cards in sequence.
Quarte Major.—A sequence of ace, king, queen, and knave.
Quint.—Five successive cards in a suit; a sequence of five—as king, queen, knave, ten, and nine.
Mags.—Cards of no value, as the small numbers.
Renounce.—Possessing no card of the suit led, and playing another which is not a trump.
Revoke.—Playing a card different from the suit led, though the player can follow suit. The penalty for the error, whether made purposely or by accident, is the forfeiture of three tricks. When a Revoke is made the penalty should invariably be enforced.
Mubber.—The best of three games, that is, two out of three.
Ruffing.—Another term for trumping a suit other than trumps.
Sequence.—Cards following in their natural order—as ace, king, queen; two, three, four, &c. There may, therefore, be a sequence of four, five, six, and so on.
Single.—Scoring at Long Whist ten tricks before your adversaries have scored five.
See-Saw.—When each partner trumps a suit. For instance, A holds no diamonds, and B no hearts. When A plays hearts, B trumps and returns a diamond, which A trumps and returns a heart, and so on.
Score.—The points gained in a game or rubber.
Slam.—Winning every trick in a round.
Shorts.—Short Whist as opposed to Long.
Tenace.—Holding the best and third best of any suit led when last player. Holding tenace; as king and ten of clubs. When your adversary leads that suit, you win two tricks perforce. (Tenace minor means the second and fourth best of any suit).
Treble.—Scoring five (at Short Whist) before your adversaries have marked one.
Tierce.—A sequence of three cards in any suit.
Tierce Major.—Ace, king, and queen of any suit held in one hand.
Trick.—The four cards played, including the lead.
Trump.—The last card in the deal; the turn-up.
Trumps.—Cards of the same suit as the turn-up.
TUs.—Cards of like denomination—as two kings, queens, &c. Cards of the same number of pips.
Trumping Suit.—Playing a trump to any other suit led.
Underplay.—Playing to mislead your adversaries; as by leading a small card though you hold the king card of the suit.
Younger Sand.—The player to the right of the dealer.
The following rules have frequently proved very valuable to beginners; we think, therefore, our own young readers who are at all ambitious to excel in Whist may as well have the benefit of them.
BOB SHORT'S ' RULES.
FOR FIRST HAND, OR LEAD.
1.—Lead from your strong suit, and be cautious how you change suits, and keep a commanding card to bring it in again.
2.—Lead through the strong suit and up to the weak, but not in trumps, unless very strong in them.
3.—Lead the highest of a sequence; but if you have a quart or quint to a king, lead the lowest.
4.—Lead through an honour, particularly if the game be much against you.
5.—Lead your best trump if the adversaries be eight, and you have no honour, but not if you have four trumps, unless you have a sequence.
6.—Lead a trump if you have four or five or a strong hand, but not if weak.
7.—Having ace, king, and two or three small cards, lead ace and king if weak in trumps, but a small one if strong in them.
8.—If you have the last trump, with some winning cards, and one losing card only, lead the losing card.
9.—Keturn your partner's lead, not the adversaries', and if you have only three originally, play the best; but you need not return it immediately when you win with the king, queen, or knave, and have only small ones, or when you hold a good sequence, have a strong suit, or have five trumps.
10.—Do not lead from ace queen or ace knave.
11.—Do not lead an ace unless you have a king.
12.—Do not lead a thirteenth card, unless trumps be out.
13.—Do not trump a thirteenth card, unless you be last player or want the lead.
14.—Keep a small card to return your partner's lead.
15.—Be cautious in trumping a card when strong in trumps, particularly if you have a strong suit.
16.—Having only a few small trumps, make them when you can.
17.—If your partner refuses to trump a suit of which he knows you have not the best, lead your best trump.
18.—When you hold all the remaining trumps, play one, and then try to put the lead in your partner's hand.
19.—Remember how many of each suit are out, and what is the best card left in each hand.
20.—Never force your partner if you are weak in trumps, unless you have a renounce or want the odd trick.
21.—When playing for the odd trick, be cautious of trumping out, especially if your partner be likely to trump a suit; make all the tricks you can early, and avoid finessing.
22.—If you take a trick and have a sequence, win with the lowest.
FOR SECOND HAND. 23.—With king, queen, and small cards, play a small one when not strong in trumps, but if weak, play the king. With ace, king, queen, or knave only, and a small card, play the small one.
FOR THIRD HAND. 24.—With ace and queen, play Her Majesty, and if she wins return the ace. In all other cases the third hand should play his best card when his partner has led a low one. It is a safe rule for third hand to play his highest.
FOR ALL THE PLAYERS.
25.—Fail not, when in your power, to make the odd trick. 26. ^-Attend to the game, and play accordingly.
27.—Hold the turn-un card as long as possible, and so keep your adversaries from a knowledge of your strength.
28.—Retain a high trump as long as you can.
29.—When in doubt, win the trick.
30.—Play the game fairly, keep your temper, and don't talk.
Supplied with the above directions, none of our young friends need hesitate to become one of four players at the whist-table, where, no doubt, they will soon distinguish themselves by their skill and dexterity.
This, however, will not be the case unless they resolve either to play well or not to play at all; and to do this, they must bear in mind that not only is it necessary to have a thorough knowledge of all the leading rules and principles of the game, but the little details, which are learnt only by degrees, must also receive due attention.
For instance, success greatly depends upon knowing when to return a partner's lead, how to secure the odd trick, and also how to finisn the game.
A very common occurrence is for a well-played game to be spoilt by the last two or three tricks being played badly; and the ending of the game is almost more important than the beginning.
An inexperienced player, elated, perhaps, by a little seeming success, which, no doubt, has really been attributable to the good playing of his partner, has often been known to spoil the end of a game by his bad playing.
Very slow calculating players are by no means regarded in the light of acquisitions at a card-table; still, as compared with rash, thoughtless players, they are very much the safer partners.
Most of the long established laws of Whist, which must be thoroughly mastered and committed to memory by all learners, in order that they may be carried into practice continually, are as follows:—
LAWS OP LONG WHIST.
1.—The rubber is .the best of three games. If the first two games are won by the same players the third game is not played.
2.—A game consists of ten points (five in Short Whist). Each trick above six counts one point.
3.—Honours, i.e., ace, king, queen, and knave of trumps, are thus reckoned :— If a player and his partner, either separately or conjointly, hold — 1st. The four honours, they score four points. 2nd. Three of the honours, they score two points. 3rd. Two honours only, they do not score. (In Short Whist honours do not count.)
4.—Those players who at the commencement of a deal are at the score of nine cannot score honours.
5.—The penalty for a revoke takes precedence of all other scores; tricks score next; honours last.
6.—Honours, unless claimed before the trump card of the following deal is turned up, cannot be scored.
7.—To score honours is not sufficient: they must be called at the end of the hand; if so called, they may be scored at any time during the game.
8.—If an erroneous score be proved, such mistake can be corrected prior to the conclusion of the game in which it occurred, and such game is not concluded until the trump card of the following deal has been turned up.
9.—If an erroneous score, affecting the amount of the rubber, be proved, such mistake can be rectified at any time during the rubber.
10.—In cutting, the ace is the lowest card.
11.—In all cases every one must cut from the same pack.
12.—Should a player expose more than one card, he must cut again.
13.—In cutting for partners, two players cutting cards of equal value, unless such cards are the two highest, cut again; should they be the two lowest, a fresh cut is necessary to decide who shall deal.
14.—Three players cutting cards of equal value cut again.
1.—The pack must be shuffled above the table, but not so that the cards can be seen.
2.—The pack must not be shuffled during the play of the hand.
3.—The dealer's partner must collect the cards for the ensuing deal, and has the first right to shuffle that pack. #
4.—Each player, after shuffling, must place the cards, properly collected and face downwards, to the left of the player about to deal.
5.—The dealer has always the right to shuffle last; but should a card or cards be seen during his shuffling or any other time, he must re-shuffle.
6.—Each player deals in his turn; the right of dealing goes to the left.
7.—The player on the dealer's right cuts the pack, and in dividing it must not leave fewer than four cards in either packet; if, in cutting, a single card be exposed, or if there be any confusion of the cards, there must be a fresh cut.
8.—When a player whose duty it is to cut has once separated the pack, he must neither re-shuffle nor re-cut the cards.
9.—After the pack is cut, should the dealer shuffle the cards he loses his deal.
10.—If any card, except the last, be faced in the pack, or if the pack prove to be imperfect, there must be a new deal.
11.—A misdeal loses the deal.
12.—The trump card must be left on the table until the first trick has been won.
13:—A revoker must give three tricks to his opponent.
14.—When a revoke has been made the opponents may search all the tricks.
15.—A revoke cannot be claimed after the cards have been cut for the next deal.
16.—Bystanders should be silent.
The following general principles will be found to be of very great value:—
FIBST HAND. 1.—Lead from your strongest suit. 2.—Lead the highest of a head sequence. 3.—Lead the highest of a numerically weak suit. 4.—Try to avoid changing suits.
5.—In the second round of a suit return the lowest of a four suit, the highest of a three suit.
6.—The second hand player in the first round of a suit should generally play the lowest card, and also win with the lowest of a sequence.
7.—If you do not head a trick you should throw away with your lowest card.
8.—Young players often make the mistake of imagining that it does not signify which card they play when they hold only small cards or cards in sequence.
9 —They have still to learn that a reason ought to exist for the playing of every card on the table, and that the winning of a single trick is not all that ought to be taken into consideration; the information afforded to one's partner must also be thought of.
10.—Play your highest card third hand. Presuming that your partner, who may lead a small card, plays from his strong suit, meaning to get the winning cards of it out of his way, you therefore play your highest, remembering that you play the lowest of a sequence.
11.—When your partner leads a high card, however, the case is different. You must not put ace on your partner's king, thus parting with ace and king in one trick.
12.—If you think that your partner has led from a weak suit, you may then finesse king, knave, &c., or pass his card altogether, so as not to give up the entire command of the suit; but if you are not sure whether his card is intended to signify strength or weakness, do not finesse.
13.—Less skill is required by the fourth player than any of the others; all he has to do is to try to beat the three cards on the table before him, and thus win the trick, unless, of course, it has already been taken by his partner, who has either played the highest card or trumped. In that case the player should play a low one of the same suit, or if he cannot do that he should discard.
When not able to follow suit, you should discard from your weakest suit; indeed, the fact of your discarding originally from any suit is an intimation to your partner that you are weak in that particular suit. Natural discards may be distinguished from such as are forced by taking into consideration the aspect of the game at the time of the discard.
If the person discarding has been playing a strong game, or leading trumps, you may be sure that the discard was from a weak suit; while, on the other hand, any one discarding who has not shown strength most likely does it to conceal weakness. The best use that can be made oi trumps is a matter that is by no means learnt all at once. The advantage generally acknowledged to be the greatest in the possession of a hand strong in trumps is to draw the adversaries' trumps for the bringing in of your own or your partner's long suit. At the same time, should you be weak in every suit but trumps, you have no alternative but either always leading trumps or leading from a weak suit. As a general rule, it is only right to lead trumps when strong in them, therefore your partner's lead of trumps should be returned immediately. Still, a player, however strong in trumps, should not use them recklessly, but remembering that they are meant to disarm the opponents, should employ them as much as possible for that purpose. Such advice, we ought to remark, is only serviceable among sound players; should you have an inexperienced partner, the best thing to be done is to make as many tricks as you can, and not attempt to play scientifically.
When you have played all your trumps, do not choose a suit from which your partner threw away when he was not able to follow your trump lead. Of course he is weak in that suit. If he has thrown away more than one suit, play the suit from which he last threw away.
Leading a high card, then a low one from the same suit, indicates weakness, or it may indicate a wish to have trumps led. Trumping second hand at an early stage of the game also indicates weakness.
When you and your partner have all the trumps between you, if you wish to throw the lead into his hand play a small one.'
There are some instances when it is polite to win your adversaries' leads with the highest of a sequence, if you can do it without deceiving your partner; by so doing you make your opponents wonder what has become of the lower honours.
Holding ace, ten, and a small one, your partner leading the nine of the suit, pass it; for if he holds an honour you make two tricks, counting your ace for a certain trick.
With king, queen, or queen and knave, and another play one of the high cards in all cases when you are second hand. With an average remainder of trumps and good cards, having one certain loser, throw it away at your first opportunity; it may enable your partner to make his second best of the suit. When your partner does not trump a winning card you may be quite sure that he means you to play trumps.
Should the queen come from your right in a lead with ace or king, ten or another, pass it; this gives you a ten ace, as, if your partner have either ace or king, you make three tricks in the suit.
Some players, however, think it best to cover the queen.
It is bad policy to lead up to queen or knave, the contrary with respect to the ace or king; the same may be said with reference to leading through those several cards.
If your partner leads trumps and you have four high trumps, endeavour to make sure of three rounds in that suit; should his lead, however, be a nine, pass it; you will then have the lead after the third round.
When the lead comes from your right hand opponent, play your queen, should you hold ace, queen, and ten.
Independently of Whist being one of the best in-door games that have ever been introduced, it is certainly the finest exercise of memory that, in this form, we could have. Beginners frequently are quite discouraged by their repeated failures, which arise from no other cause than simply the forgetfulness of the player. No one, however, need be disheartened; a knowledge of the game will create in the player such a love for it that he will be anxious to cultivate any deficiency he may have as regards his memory in order that he may become a proficient Whist player, and thus his character as a whole will, no doubt, be benefited by the exercise, because in Whist one great maxim is that no allowances should be made for forgetfulness.
Not beginners only, who have had no confidence in their memory, but many long-estabushed players, have been known, in sorting their cards after the deal, to arrange them in such perfect order that a sharp-sighted adversary with very little difficulty can take a glance at the whole hand.
Even Hoyle, in a plan laid out by him as a kind of aid to the memory, recommends that the trumps should be placed to the left of all the other suite, the best or strongest suit next, and the weakest last on the right hand
Instead of that, most people find by experience that the best plan is to take up the cards just as they happen to fall, and hold them in the hand without sorting.
A little practice will soon enable the player to select the right card without any previous arrangement.
And now, after giving all these rules and instructions with regard to Whist playing, we must not omit to add a few words as to the spirit in which the game should be played. Voltaire says that " in war we ought to do that which the enemy most dreads." So we should also in Whist, remembering, however, that we are trying to conquer, not our enemies, but our friends ; therefore, if we win we have cause for congratulating ourselves, if we lose let us be quite as ready to congratulate our opponents.
There is, perhaps, no game where the temper may be more tried than in Whist. Knowing this, it would perhaps be better for the irritable and peevish in disposition to keep altogether aloof from the game, simply because they would not only be a source of annoyance to others, but they would derive no pleasure themselves from the pursuit.
Patience and forbearance must be exercised. In spite of all that has been said against the practice of card-playing, we none of us can tell how much good has resulted from it. Not only good temper, but many other virtues, may be cultivated at the whist table.
Honour and integrity must be maintained ; for though cheating and underhand playing have in some cases for a time been successful, they are methods that never, in the long run, have been adopted with satisfaction.
Idleness is a quality that must be wholly dispensed with. A player needs to be always on the alert; without casting any sly glances at the cards held in the hands of the others, he may, by his own observation and diligence, know exactly the strength or weakness of each player.
"My son," once said a keen, shrewd business man, "don't attempt to play cards unless you have four eyes;" and certainly the player who cannot with his mind's eye see what cards the other players have, as well as those in his own hand, will never be much more than an indifferent player.
No silly trifling conversation should be carried on during the game. To play well, nothing should be allowed to divert the interest from the subject in hand. Indeed, we cannot conclude better than quote what Charles Lamb says in one of his Essays about the famous Mrs. Battle, although, at the same time, we should scarcely advise any of our readers to estimate either Whist or any other gome quite so seriously as she did.