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While Away a Wonderful Weekend With Whist part 1

Learn to Play Whist with your Family

We have recently welcomed a new member of staff into the team.  Having no knowledge of bridge or any trick-taking games, we’ve just had a very pleasant staff meeting teaching her Whist.  Although there are many different forms of whist, at its most basic form it’s a fun trick-taking card game which is quick to learn and needs a bit of strategy in order to become accomplished.  This means it’s simple for young players (I learned the game when I was about 7) but has enough depth to entertain teens upwards.  In other words, a great game for all the family!

Here’s how we taught the game in our staff meeting.

Step 1 – Learn to Take Tricks

The aim of the game is to win as many tricks as possible.  The winner is the person who has won the most tricks when all the cards have been played.  Read on to learn what a trick is!

Round 1

  1. Shuffle and deal a whole pack of cards amongst your players.  You each need to have the same number of cards, so if there are a couple of cards left spare, put them to one side.  You can play with any number of players*.
  2. Each player needs to sort their cards into suits, and into number order.  Aces are high.
  3. The player on the left of the dealer goes first.  They put one card on the table, for example 10♥.
  4. Play rotates clockwise.  The next player has to ‘follow suit’ and put a card on the table that is in the same suit if they have one.  For example, they might play 3♥.
  5. Play continues clockwise, each person following suit.  For example, the next 3 players might play queen of hearts, 5♥ and 8♥.
  6. When everyone has laid down a card, look at the cards and see who put down the highest card – that person wins the ‘trick’.  In our example, the person who played queen of hearts wins the trick because it was the highest heart on the table.  He/She gathers up all the cards that have been played and puts them in a neat pile in front of him/herself.

*For 2 players, you’ll need to deal 3 hands of cards and only play with 2 of them.  Otherwise you’ll have a lot of cards to hold, and you’ll each know what cards your opponent is holding!

Round 2

The player who won the first trick now lays down a card and play progresses as in round 1.  For example, he/she plays the king♥ and the next three players play 2♥, 6♥ and jack♥.  The last player holds both 9♥ and the ace♥.  They play the ace knowing that they will win that trick because it’s the highest heart of all.  They gather up the trick and put it in a neat pile in front of them.

Round 3

The player who won the second trick now plays the first card in round 3.  In our example, they know that the ace, king, queen, jack and 10 hearts have already been played so they play 9♥ knowing it’s the highest heart left in play and will win the trick.  Not all the other players have hearts left in their hands so they can play any card – it’s best to play a low value card from another suit.  So let’s say in this round, the other players laid down the last remaining hearts (4♥, 7♥) plus 2♣ and 3♠.  The 9♥ wins the trick.  This player has now won 2 tricks in total, so he/she places this one overlapping but not entirely covering the first trick, so it’s easy to count how many tricks they’ve won at the end.

Subsequent Rounds

Play progresses as above: the card that is first played in each round sets the suit, all the other players must play a card from the same suit if they have one, and the trick is won by the person who played the highest card in that suit.  The winner of the trick always plays the first card in the next round, and they can play any card in any of the four suits – it’s completely their choice.

Winner

When all the cards have been played, count up how many tricks you won.  The winner is the person with the most tricks.

Have fun playing, and in the next blog post I’ll tell you a couple more rules to make the game a bit more challenging and interesting.

Feedback

Do you have happy memories of card games you were taught when you were young or have you got a simple way of introducing non-card players to the game of bridge?  If so, please use the comment box below and share your thoughts with all of us!  Thanks for reading.

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