Wiezen

This page is based on information from Peter Kinoo, Tom Tempelaere, Rodrigus Etienne and Tom Kochuyt, on games with Greet, Gusta and Brigit Paulussen in Ravels, near Turnhout in March 2004, and on information from Leo Dignef's thesis 'Speelkaarten en Kaartspelen in het Turnhoutse'.

Introduction

This page describes a form of Whist played in Belgium: Wiezen is the Flemish word for Whist. This is not the classic game of Whist which was fashionable throught Europe in the 19th century, but a version with bidding - a descendant of Boston Whist, somewhat similar to the British game of Solo Whist and the Dutch game Rikken. Another, more complex version of Belgian Whist, known as Kleurenwiezen in Flemish or Whist à la Couleur in French, is described on another page.

Players and Cards

Wiezen is plain trick game with bidding for four players, who each ultimately play for themselves, though in each deal they form temporary alliances: one against three or two against two. A standard 52-card pack is used, the cards in every suit ranking from high to low A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2. In Belgium the Aces, Kings, Queens and Jacks normally have the indices 1, R, D, V respectively.

The Deal

The first dealer is chosen at random and the turn to deal passes to the left after each hand. The deal, bidding and play are clockwise. The cards are shuffled at the start of the session, but between deals they are not shuffled - they are only cut by the player to the dealer's right.

The dealer deals a packet of 4 cards to each player, then another packet of to 4 each, and finally a packet of 5 cards to each, so that everyone has 13 cards. The last card of the pack is turned face up for everyone to see. It shows the prospective trump suit. This exposed card is part of the dealer's hand and can be picked up by the dealer as soon as the bidding is over and the play begins.

The Bidding

The bidding begins with the player to dealer's left and continues clockwise round the table.

The possible bids, in ascending order are as follows:

  • Pass: No real bid is made, and the bidder is excluded from any further bidding.
  • Vraag (Proposal): By saying 'Ik vraag' ('I ask'), the bidder offers to win at least 8 tricks, playing in partnership with another player yet to be determined, using the suit of the turned up card as trump.
  • Meegaan (Acceptance): If a proposal has been made, another player can accept it by saying 'Ik ga mee' ('I go with'). If no one overcalls with a higher bid, the proposer and the player who accepted will play as partners against the other two players with the turned suit as trump and try to win at least 8 tricks.
  • Solo: The bidder undertakes to win at least 5 tricks, playing alone, using the suit of the turned up card as trump.
  • Kleine Miserie (Small Misery) (In most places this bid is not allowed.) Everyone discards one card face down, after which the bidder has to lose all 12 remaining tricks, with no trumps.
  • Pico (In many places this bid is not allowed.) The bidder, playing alone, has win exactly one trick, with no trumps.
  • Abondance or Avondans or Appendance: The bidder undertakes to win at least 9 tricks playing alone. The trump suit is chosen by the bidder.
  • Abondance in Troef (Abondance in Trumps): The bidder undertakes to win at least 9 tricks playing alone, using the suit of the turned up card as trump.
  • Miserie (Misère, Misery): The bidder undertakes to lose every trick, playing alone with no trumps.
  • Troel: The bidder has at least three aces and undertakes to win at least 8 tricks, playing with a partner. The partner will be the holder of the fourth ace if the Troel bidder has three aces and the suit of this fourth ace will be trumps. If the Troel bidder has all four aces, the partner will be the holder of the highest heart not held by the bidder, and hearts will be trumps.
  • Open Miserie or Miserie op Tafel or Misère Ouverte (Open Misery, Misery on the Table): The bidder undertakes to lose every trick, playing alone with no trumps. The bidder's hand is placed face up on the table after the first trick is complete.
  • Solo Slim: The bidder undertakes to win all 13 tricks, playing alone. The trump suit is chosen by the bidder.

The player to dealer's left can pass or bid or 'wait' (wachten). By waiting he reserves the right to accept a proposal, if another player proposes and the other two players pass. Only the player to dealer's left has the right to wait, and having waited, his only options at his second turn are to accept a proposal or to pass: he cannot make any other bid.

After the first player, each player in turn, in clockwise order, must either pass or bid higher than the highest bid so far. A player who has passed cannot speak again in the auction.

Acceptance can of course only be bid if someone has Proposed. If a player Proposes ond no one Accepts, the Proposer may change his bid to Solo or any other bid: this is the only way that Solo can be bid.

Kleine Miserie, Pico, Miserie or Miserie op Tafel are exceptions to the rule that each bid must be higher than the last: for example if the highest bid so far is Miserie, it is possible for other players who have not previously passed also to bid Miserie, and if no one bids higher these Miserie contracts are played simultaneously. However, if two players were top bid Kleine Miserie and then a third player bid Pico, the Pico would supersede the Kleine Miserie bids. Either or both the Kleine Miserie bidders could then increase their bid to Pico to play simultaneously with the Pico bidder.

If all four players pass at their first turn, or the first player waits and the other three pass, then the cards are thrown in and the same dealer deals again. If someone bids, the bidding continues clockwise around the table as many times as necessary until the contract is settled - i.e. either there has been a proposal and acceptance and no one has bid higher, or someone has bid one of the higher contracts and the other three players have passed, or one or more players have bid equal contracts of Kleine Miserie, Pico, Miserie or Miserie op Tafel and the others have all passed.

A player who has three or four aces is obliged to bid Troel at his first turn to speak, unless another player has already bid higher than this. Troel can only be overcalled by Miserie op Tafel or Solo Slim.

When bidding Abondance or Solo Slim, you do not announce the trump suit along with the bid, but wait until the other players have passed and then announce trumps immediately before the first lead. Any of the four suits can be chosen as trumps, including the suit of the exposed card. The bid of Abondance in Trumps is only used to overcall another player's bid of Abondance: the scores for the two bids are the same.

The Play

In all contracts except Troel and Solo Slim, the player to the dealer's left leads to the first trick. Any card may be led to a trick. Players must follow suit if they can; a player unable to follow suit may play any card. If any trumps are played to a trick, it is won by the highest trump played. If there are no trumps in a trick, it is won by the highest card played in the suit that was led. The winner of a trick leads to the next.

In Troel with three aces, the holder of the fourth ace must lead it to the first trick: the suit of this ace is trumps. If the bidder of Troel has all the aces, he must announce this and call for the highest heart that he does not hold. The holder of this heart then begins the play and must lead this heart to the first trick. In this case hearts are trumps.

In Solo Slim, the bidder leads to the first trick.

The Scoring

In contracts where two players play against two, each of the two members of the losing team pays the value of the contract and each member of the winning team receives the same amount. When one player plays alone, that player pays collects the value of the contract from each of the three opponents or pays the equivalent amount to each opponent - so the lone player wins or loses three times the value of the contract in total. When two players play Misère, the two contracts are settled separately, each bidder collecting or paying each of the other three players.

The value of the contracts varies greatly between different groups of players. Tom Tempelaere provided the following schedule, used at St Niklaas. Each hand is settled up in money: a typical stake would be 5 Eurocents per unit.

  • Vragen/Meegaan (Proposal and Acceptance): 1 unit, plus 1 for each overtick or undertrick, doubled if all 13 tricks are won.
  • Solo: 1 unit, plus 1 for each overtick or undertrick, doubled if all 13 tricks are won.
  • Kleine Miserie: 5 units
  • Pico: 6 units
  • Abondance: 8 units - overtricks and undertricks do not count.
  • Miserie: 10 units.
  • Troel: 2 plus 2 per overtrick or undertrick, doubled if all 13 tricks are won.
  • Miserie op Tafel 16 units.
  • Solo Slim 24 units.

In Vragen/Meegaan and Troel, each player of the losing team pays each member of the winning team. For example if A proposes, B accepts, and they win exactly 8 tricks, they each receive 2 units (1 from C and 1 from D) and C and D each pay 2. If they win 10 tricks, A and B each win 6 units and C and D each pay 6. If they take only 7 tricks (1 undertrick) A and B pay 4 each and C and D each win 5. If A and B win every trick they each collect 24 units (1 for the game, plus 5 overtricks, doubled to 12, from each opponent).

In contracts where one player plays against three, the lone player receives the appropriate amount from each opponent or pays to each opponent. For example, for winning 7 tricks in a Solo (2 overtricks) you win 3 units (1 + 2) from each opponent, a total of 9 units.

When simultaneous contracts are played, all are paid. For example: A, B and C all play Pico. A and C win, but B loses. So A wins 6 each from the others for her Pico, plus another 6 from B for the lost Pico, but pays 6 for C's won Pico, a net gain of 18 for A. B has to pay 6 each for losing, plus another 6 each to A and C for the won Picos - a total loss of 30. C wins 18, like A. D pays for two won Picos and gains from the one that was lost, so D's net loss is just 6 units.

The Dutch Wikipedia has a page on Wiezen with a different scoring schedule. A score sheet using that same schedule is available as an Excel spreadsheet.

Variations

Most players prefer to omit "Kleine Miserie" (Small Misery), because either the contract is easily overbid or it overcalls Vragen/Meegaan too often, which spoils the game. Pico is more often included: it can be difficult and the strategy of playing it is more interesting.

Some players require Troel to be said before the bidding proper begins, rather than during the first round of bidding. So after the deal, each player says "Troel" or "Pas-Troel", and if all four said "Pas-Troel" then the bidding begins. If anyone says "Troel" they can be overcalled only by Miserie op Tafel or Solo Slim.

Many players allow the partner of a Troel bidder, rather than leading the called ace to the first trick, to lead a different suit. In this case the suit led becomes trumps, the contract is 9 tricks rather than 8, and the Troel bidder must play the ace of the suit led to the first trick. In this version, when the bidder has all four aces the contract is always for 9 tricks, and the partner leads a card of any suit to the bidder's ace, the suit led becoming trumps.

Some require any pair of players who propose and accept to take at least 9 tricks, rather than eight, and in this case Troel is always a contract for 9 tricks.

Some players do not recognise Abondance in Trumps, but instead allow bids of Abondance of 10, 11 or 12 tricks to overcall a 9-trick Abondance. Some also rank the possible trump suits in the order hearts (high), diamonds, clubs, spades (low) and allow an Abondance in a higher suit to overcall one in a lower suit. (This rule is also found in Kleurenwiezen). A player wanting to play in a lower trump suit can outbid an Abondance in a higher suit by offering to win a greater number of tricks - so for example "9 hearts" can be overcalled by "10 clubs", which can be overcalled by "10 hearts", and so on.

Some award the same payment for an Abondance, however many tricks are bid. Others award higher payments for bidding 10, 11 or 12 tricks (but not for making extra tricks when you have bid only 9). In the first system, you would only bid Abondance for 10 tricks to overcall another Abondance; in the second system, you can choose to bid a higher Abondance to get the higher payment if you succeed.

Sometimes play with a variant called "Ronde Pas" (Passed Round), or "Totale Miserie" (Complete Misery). If everyone passes, one of the games in the following list is played (all without trumps). This first time everyone passes the first game is played. The next time everyone passes, the second game on the list is played, then the third, then back to the first and so on.

  1. Lose the final trick: The player that wins the last trick, loses and pays 4 units to every other player.
  2. No Queens: The object is to take as few Queens as possible in the tricks you win. The player with the most Queens pays every other player 4 units. If two players have two Queens they each lose 8 units and the other two players win 8 units. If everyone has one Queen then nobody pays or receives anything.
  3. The least number of tricks: The object is to win as few tricks as possible. The player who takes the fewest tricks receives 4 units from each other player. If more than one player tie for the least number of tricks, they each receive 4 units from each other player.

Carte Blanche Some play that a player who has no Jacks, Queens or Kings in hand, may (but is not obliged to) call "Carte Blanche" before the bidding begins. In this case the only bids allowed are Miserie op Tafel and Solo Slim - Carte Blanche has priority over Troel. If no one bids Miserie op Tafel or Solo Slim the cards must be thrown in and redealt.

Vuilbakwiezen (Trashbin Whist). In this variation the dealer deals 17 cards to each opponent and only 1 card face down to himself, which will determine the trump suit. Each of the dealer's opponents discards 4 unwanted cards face down, and these 12 discards, together with the one card dealt to the dealer, make up the dealer's hand. After all three opponents have discarded, the dealer's trump card is turned face up, and the bidding and play continues as in normal Wiezen.