Knock-Out Whist

This page is mainly based on a description contributed by Nick Wedd

This is a simple plain-trick game, suitable for children. It seems to be played mostly in Britain, and is often called by the alternative name Trumps. Any number from two to seven may play. A session consists of seven hands, of diminishing size.

A 52-card pack is used, with four suits ranking from high to low A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2. A player is selected to deal, and deals seven cards each, clockwise. The uppermost of the undealt cards is turned face upwards to indicate the trump suit.

The player on dealer's left leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit if they can, otherwise they may play any card. Each trick is won by the highest trump in it; otherwise by the highest card of the suit led. The winner of a trick leads to the next trick.

After the first hand, a second hand is dealt, by the next player in order around the table, with only six cards each. The game continues like this, with one fewer card per player on each hand, until the final hand consists of one card each.

The winner of most tricks on a hand chooses the trump suit on the next hand. If there is a tie for who took most tricks, the players involved in the tie cut cards for the right to choose trumps.

A player who takes no tricks at all in a hand is knocked out, is dealt no more cards, and takes no further part in the game.

There is one exception to the rule about being knocked out: the first player during the game who takes no tricks on a hand is not knocked out immediately but is awarded the "dog's life". On the following hand, she is dealt just one card, and may decide on which trick to play it. In the course of the play, a player "on a dog's life" may, when it is her turn to play, either play her card or knock on the table to indicate that she wishes to keep it for a later trick. If she is the player on the dealer's left, she is not compelled to lead her card to the first trick; she may either do so, or knock, allowing the next player to lead.

If two or more players take no tricks on the same deal, no one having previously used the dog's life, these players get one dog's life each. Apart from this case, there is only one dog's life available during the game. Players who take no tricks in later deals are eliminated immediately.

If a player on a dog's life manages to take a trick with her card, the player on her left leads to the next trick, and the dog's life player is dealt a normal hand on the next deal, and treated like the other surviving players. If the dog's life player doesn't manage to win a trick, she is knocked out of the game, like anyone else who takes no trick.

The game is won by the winner of the one trick on the final hand. Or if all but one of the players are knocked out before this, the surviving player is the winner.

Advice on Skilful Play

In choosing trumps, always choose the longest suit. From

Clubs 6
Spades K Q
Hearts 6 5 4
make hearts trumps.

In choosing between suits of the same length, do not choose a suit with very high cards in it, as these may well win tricks even if they are not trumps. From

Clubs A Q
Spades 8 6
Hearts 4
make spades trumps.

Knockout Whist Software

Mana Battery publishes online games for the Microsoft Xbox 360, Windows Phone, IOS and Android, including a Knockout Whist game to play online or against the computer.

With the Whist program from Special K Software you can play Knockout Whist against computer opponents.