Auction Whist Group

The classic plain trick game of Whist, in which four players play in fixed partnerships, was fashionable throughout the Western world in the 18th and 19th centuries. From the mid 19th century onwards games were developed in which the trump suit was chosen by the players rather than at random by turning a card. There was an auction for the right to choose trumps, won by whoever was prepared to commit their team to undertake the most valuable contract, or to win the largest number of tricks.

I have decided to call this family of games with fixed partnerships the Auction Whist Group, as distinct from the Boston Group where the players form new alliances in each deal according to the result of the auction.

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.
  • Vint is a Russian game fashionable in the late 19th century with a complex scoring system that anticipated several of the features of modern Contract Bridge.
  • Skruuvi is a Finnish game, a distant cousin of Bridge that evolved from the Russian game Vint over the course of the 20th century.
  • Biritch is a direct ancestor of Bridge that appeared in Constantinople in the early 1880's. There was no auction as yet, but the dealer would either choose trumps or pass the duty to do so to partner.
  • 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.
  • Back Alley Bridge is a North American game, maybe inspired by Bridge, 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.
  • Rook Sluff is a game based on Spades but played by 6 or more players in two equal teams using Rook cards.
  • Tarneeb, played in Lebanon and Egypt, is another game in which the player who bids the largest number of tricks chooses trumps.
  • 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 thast seems similar to Bridge, but its card ranking with jacks high in the trump suit places it more naturally in the Euchre group.