Card Games: Boston Group

These plain trick games with an auction largely displaced the L'Hombre group during the 19th century. They are formed by adding bidding to whist. Suits generally have the familiar ranking order A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2. Players bid for the right to be declarer mainly according to the number of tricks they are prepared to win (assisted by their partner if any). Often, bids are also differentiated according to the trump suit proposed, and other kinds of bids may be allowed, such as a bid to lose every trick. The oldest game of this type, Boston Whist, originated in the late 18th century. The principle has proved highly successful and is the basis of many modern games.

Most games of this group can be conveneintly divided into alliance games (of which Boston itself is one) and fixed partnership games.

Alliance games

In these games, the high bidder plays alone, the other players forming a temporary partnership, or the high bidder may have a temporary partner, chosen by the bidding or by calling a card.

  • Wiezen (Whist) and its more elaborate relative Kleurenwiezen (Whist à la Couleur) are popular in Belgium.
  • Rikken is a game of the same kind, played in the southern Netherlands and northern Belgium.
  • Solo Whist is a simplified form of Boston Whist, played in Britain.
  • Vira is an elaborate 3 player variation of Boston, with some elements from l'Hombre. It has been claimed to be the national card game of Sweden, though it seems to be much less popular there now than in the past.
  • Noms is a four-player game played in the British Royal Navy, in which the bidder chooses a partner by calling a card.

Fixed partnership games

In these games, normally for four players, the players facing each other remain as partners throughout the game.

  • Bid Whist is modern North American game; the team which bids to take more tricks can choose trumps and also the ranking order of the cards.
  • Contract Bridge is the most celebrated game in this group, with an enormous literature, and players throughout the world. Minibridge is a simplified version, originally intended to introduce new players to the game.
  • Tarneeb, played in Lebanon and Egypt, is another game in which the player who bids the largest number of tricks chooses trumps.
  • Back Alley Bridge is a North American game, in which the number of cards dealt varies from hand to hand.
  • Spades is a another modern North American game. Rather than the bidding being a competition to decide who plays a contract, all the players bid and all try to make their bids at once. In this respect it has some affinity with the exact bidding games, especially as there is sometimes a penalty for making too many overtricks.
  • The Syrian and Lebanese game 41 is another in which all players bid. Hearts are permanent trumps, and although it is a partnership game, scores are kept for each individual player.

Honeymoon Bridge is the name given to several attempts to adapt Contract Bridge for just two players.

Individual Games

The game of Call Bridge, played in Bangladesh, seems to be related to Spades, but is played without partners.

Related games

Some games are on the borderline of this and other groups.

  • The Australian national game 500 has a bidding process similar to Boston, but its card ranking with jacks high in the trump suit identifies it as also belonging to the Euchre group.
  • Russian Preference also incorporates bidding to take a number of tricks in exchange for the right to name trumps. In this game not only the bidder but also the defenders have a quota of tricks they must win to avoid penalty. While in the Russian game any number of tricks from 6 to 10 can be bid, in some other forms of Preference the bidder's objective is to take 6 tricks (or all or none).