Kleurenwiezen / Whist à la Couleur

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A popular Belgian trick-taking card game for four players with objectives and partnerships determined by the bidding.

Class: Boston Group

Related games: Wiezen, Solo Whist

Browse classification network

Region: Belgium

Introduction

The game of Colour Whist (Kleurenwiezen in Flemish, Whist à la Couleur in French) is a Belgian variation of Whist with bidding. A more accurate English translation of the name would be Suit Whist. Its distinctive feature is that the trump suit and the partnerships are chosen by the bidding, rather than fixing trumps by turning up the last card dealt as in the basic game of Belgian Whist (Wiezen). Kleurenwiezen is popular throughout most of Belgium and there are numerous local variations. For clarity I have revised the page so that the main description explains a single version of the game similar to the basic version offered at the online Whisthub server. I then list the main alternative rules that I know of in the Variations section at the end of this page.

This page is based on information from Tom Torfs, Peter Kinoo, Nicolas Darchis and Sebastiaan Marynissen (the creator of Whisthub); also from the "Guide Marabout de Tous les Jeux de Cartes" by Frans Gerver (Verviers , 1966), Leo Dignef's thesis "Spelkaarten en Kaartspelen in het Turnhoutse", and the web sites Amis du Whist, FreeWhist.be and Pont Neuf.

Players and Cards

This is a game for four players, each ultimately playing for themselves, though in any particular deal they form alliances, two against two or one against three, according to the bidding. A standard 52-card pack is used. For bidding purposes the four suits rank from high to low: Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, Spades. Within each suit the cards rank 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

Deal and play are clockwise. The first dealer is chosen at random; thereafter the turn to deal passes to the left.

The deck is never shuffled between hands. The cards are simply gathered together and cut by the player to the right of the new dealer. The cards are then dealt out in batches of 4 and 5, normally a packet of 4 to each player, then a packet of 5 each, and then 4 each again.

At the start of a new session with a new deck, it is customary to deal the cards to the players who sort their hands but do not bid or play them. The cards are then gathered together, cut, and dealt again to be bid and played.

The Bidding

After the cards have been dealt., players bid to decide what the contract will be and which players will be partners. The basic contract is for a pair of players to win at least 8 of the 13 tricks with an agreed trump suit of their choice. One player proposes the suit and if another player accepts the suit a partnership is formed.

Other contracts are possible in which one player plays alone against the other three as a team, contracting to win at least a certain number of tricks alone or to lose every trick or to win exactly one trick.

The bidding begins with the player to dealer's left and continues clockwise until the contract is determined. If more than one player or pair wants to play a contract, there is an auction in which the number of tricks to be taken can be raised, and whichever player or pair is willing to undertake the highest contract plays that contract.

The ranking order of contracts is given in the table in the scoring section below. If two players or pairs want to play the same type of contract for the same number of tricks, the contract with the higher ranking trump suit has priority. The player or pair wanting to play with the lower ranking trump suit need to bid one trick more to stay in the auction.

The possible bids and their consequences are as follows.

1. Pass

A player who does not wish to play a contract, neither alone nor with a partner, says 'pass'. This player cannot bid again during the auction.

2. Wait

This option is available only to the dealer's left. By saying 'wait' the player does not propose a contract but reserves the right to accept a proposal by another player. At their next turn they must either accept a suit proposal or pass. They can no longer propose a suit of their own or make any other bid.

3. Proposal (vraag / propos)

A player may name a suit, proposing a partnership in that suit if another player accepts. The proposal remains live until the proposer's next turn to speak, at which point it expires if it has not been accepted. At this point the proposer may propose a different suit, or renew their proposal (once) by naming the same suit again, or accept another player's proposal, or bid a different contract (see below) but not an Abondance or Slam.

A player can only propose a suit if all the following conditions are satisfied:

  1. The player has not previously made any bid other than a proposal.
  2. There is currently no live proposal of the same suit by another player, and no previous proposal of that suit has been accepted by anyone.
  3. There is at least one other player who could legally accept the proposal.
  4. The player has not proposed this same suit more than once before in this auction.
  5. The player holds at least one card in the proposed trump suit.

4. Acceptance (meegaan / emballage)

A player may accept a live proposal by another player by bidding the same suit provided that they hold at least one card of that suit. This creates a partnership with the proposer and commits the pair to a contract to win at least 8 tricks with the agreed suit as trumps. These two players are bound to this suit. The acceptor will bid on behalf of the partnership and has the following options:

  1. To bid the minimum number of tricks needed to stay in the auction. To keep track of the bidding the acceptor should state the number of tricks bid. For example in the auction South: 'Spades', West: 'Diamonds', North: 'Accept Diamonds', East: 'Accept 9 Spades', East needs to contract for 9 tricks to outbid West and North's default contract of 8 Diamonds because Spades is a lower suit than Diamonds.
  2. To pass, breaking the partnership. The proposer remains bound to the suit.
  3. If the number of tricks that would need to be bid is 11 or more to 'pass parôle' (see below).

So long as the acceptor chooses option 'a' to bid the necessary number of tricks the acceptor continues to bid on behalf of the partnership and the proposer cannot say anything more. The proposer's turn to bid is skipped unless and until the acceptor passes or says 'pass parôle'.

5. Pass parôle

If the acceptor of a suit would have to bid 11 or more tricks to stay in the auction, they can say 'pass parôle' instead, passing the choice of whether to continue bidding back to the original proposer who from now bids on behalf of the partnership. The original proposer must either undertake the minimum number of tricks needed in the agreed suit or pass. A player who has said 'pass parôle' cannot bid again in the auction unless the original proposer passes. If the original proposer breaks the partnership by passing, the original acceptor remains bound to the agreed suit and can only bid a Solo in the suit (see below) or pass.

6. Solo

This is a contract to play alone against the other three players as a team and win at least 5, 6, 7 or 8 tricks with a trump suit named by the bidder. Solo cannot be bid initially if there is a possibility of a partnership contract with that trump suit: the player must first attempt to form a partnership by proposing the suit (or accepting it if it has been proposed by another player). A Solo in a suit can only be bid in the following circumstances:

  1. the player previously proposed the suit but no one accepted, or
  2. there is no player who would be allowed to accept a proposal in that suit because all the other players are already committed - they have either passed or are already in partnerships or have bid their own Solo in another suit or some other type of contract, or
  3. the player who bids Solo was previously in a partnership in that suit but their partner has broken the partnership by passing.

Note that a player who has been bound to a suit by a proposal and acceptance cannot subsequently bid a Solo in a different suit, nor can they bid any other contract. If their partner breaks the partnership by passing they can bid a Solo in the agreed suit or pass, but cannot make any other bid.

Note also that it is not possible to bid a Solo in the same suit in which a partnership contract or a Solo has already been undertaken by a different player or players.

A player who bids a Solo must always bid the minimum number of tricks needed to outbid the previous highest contract. This binds them to Solo in that suit. Subsequently they can raise their Solo bid if necessary to outbid another player, but they cannot change to a different trump suit or a different type of contract.

The highest possible Solo is for 8 tricks, and there is no reward for winning more than 8 tricks in a Solo. A player who wishes to contract to win 9 or more tricks must bid Abondance from the outset (see below).

7. Small Misère

This is a contract to lose all 12 tricks after everyone has discarded a card of their choice face down. There are no trumps. The other players form a team who attempt to force the declarer to win a trick.

Small Misère can be bid at any turn by any player who has not previously passed and is not bound to a suit by a proposal and acceptance, provided that no higher contract has been bid.

If the most recent bid is Small Misère another player who is not bound to a suit can also bid Small Misère and in this way it is possible for two, three or even all four players to play a Small Misère simultaneously. In this case each of the declarers succeeds or fails independently depending on whether each of them manages to avoid taking any tricks.

Any player who bids a Misère (of any kind) is thereby bound to negative contracts (Misère and Piccolo) and for the remainder of the auction can only bid a higher negative contract or pass.

8. Piccolo

This is a contract to win exactly one trick, losing the other 12. There are no trumps. It can be bid by any player who is not bound to a suit, provided that nothing higher has been bid. As with Small Misère more than one player can play Piccolo simultaneously. A player who has bid Piccolo bound to negative contracts (Misère and Piccolo) and for the remainder of the auction can only bid a higher negative contract or pass.

9. Troel / Trou

A player who has three or four Aces must announce Troel (Trou) before the start of the auction proper. The Troel bidder's partner is the player who holds the fourth Ace, or if the Troel bidder has all four Aces (sometimes known as Royal Troel), the partner is the holder of highest heart not in the Troel bidder's hand. The default trump suit is the suit of the card that determines the partner and the contract is for the team to win at least 8 tricks. The partner has the option to switch to a different trump suit, but in that case the team must win at least 9 tricks for the contract to succeed.

10. Abondance

This is a contract to play alone against the other three players as a team and win at least 9, 10, 11 or 12 tricks with a trump suit named by the bidder. The bidder names the suit and the number of tricks, for example "Abondance 10 clubs". A player who wishes to bid Abondance must do so at their first turn to speak - it is not possible to begin with a different bid, such as a Proposal, and convert to Abondance later. If another player competes by bidding a higher contract (i.e. an Abondance for more tricks or in a higher suit or an appropriate Misère), the original Abondance bidder can raise their bid to a higher Abondance or a Solo Slim if they wish (but cannot change to a different trump suit). A player who has bid Abondance cannot subsequently bid a Misère.

11. Large Misère (Grande Misère / Grote Miserie)

This is a contract to lose all 13 tricks with no trumps. It can be bid at any turn by any player who has not previously passed and is not bound to a suit, provided that no higher contract has been bid. As with other negative contracts, it is possible for two or more players to play Large Misère simultaneously.

12. Open Misère (Grande Misère Etalée / Misère Ouverte / Open Miserie)

This is a contract to lose all 13 tricks with no trumps. It can be bid at any turn by any player who has not previously passed and is not bound to a suit, provided that no higher contract has been bid. At the end of the first trick, the bidder's cards are placed face up on the table for all to see, and the declarer plays them from the table. Simultaneous Open Misères are possible in which case the hands of all declarers are exposed.

13. Slam (Chelem / Solo Slim)

The bidder chooses the trump suit and must win all 13 tricks playing alone. This contract can only be bid on a player's first turn or by a player who has previously bid Abondance in the same suit.

The Bidding Process

The bidding process essentially consists of three stages:

  1. Announcing Troel
  2. Forming partnerships or bidding solo contracts
  3. Raising bids to establish which contract will be played

1. Announcing Troel

When the cards have been dealt and before the auction proper commences, the players must check whether anyone has Troel (3 or 4 aces). Each player in turn starting to dealer's left says "Troel" or "no Troel".

  • If there is a 3-Ace troel the holder of the fourth Ace says "with me" (without at this stage specifying the suit of the fourth Ace).
  • A troel bidder who holds all four Aces must name the highest heart that is missing from their hand (for example by saying "Troel with the King of hearts"), and the holder of this heart says "with me".

2. Forming partnerships or choosing contracts

After a Troel bid there is an auction starting with the player to dealer's left in which only contracts higher than Troel can be bid, such as Large Misère or Abondance for 10 tricks or more. The Troel bidder and partner can take part in this and outbid the Troel if they wish to. If all pass the Troel is played.

If there is no Troel, the auction begins with the player to dealer's left, who can pass, wait, propose a suit, or bid any contract from Small Misère upwards with the exception of Solo. If all four players pass, either at the outset or after unsuccessful attempts to find a partner, the cards are thrown in and the same player deals again.

The auction continues clockwise until every player has committed themselves, either by passing or bidding a contract or by forming a partnership. In this part of the auction players who are already committed are skipped.

3. Raising bids

This third stage takes place only if at the end of stage 2 there is more than one player or partnership that have bid different contracts. In this case, the action continues clockwise from the last player who bid in stage 2.

At their turn, any player whose contract has been bid outbid by another player or team must either pass or raise their bid to a contract of the same type that is higher than (or in the case of negative contracts equal to) the highest contract so far bid. Players are skipped if they have already passed, or if their bid is already the highest, or if they are in suit partnership and their partner is currently responsible for raising.

Note that a player who wishes to bid Abondance or Solo Slim must do so on their first turn to speak. When bidding Abondance (unlike Acceptance or Solo) it is not necessary to bid at the lowest available level. Since there is no extra score for winning overtricks in Abondance, a bidder may wish to bid 10, 11 or 12 tricks from the outset. A player who has bid Abondance can raise it to a higher level (or to a Solo Slim) on their next turn to speak, but only if another player has overcalled it with a higher contract (another Abondance or a Misère). If all the other players pass the Abondance has to be played at the level that was bid.

The third stage of the auction ends when the final (highest) contract is established, all players not playing this contract having passed.

There are many local variations in which bids are allowed and in their ranking order. Before playing, the players should agree on a scoring table which lists the possible bids in ascending order and the score for each of them. A recommended scoring table is given in the scoring section of this page, and some alternatives are mentioned in the variations section.

The Play

When the final contract is established, the play begins. In all contracts players must follow suit whenever possible. A player with no card of the suit led may play any card. (There is no obligation to trump, nor to beat the cards previously played to the trick.) The trick is won by the highest card of the suit led, unless there are trumps in it, in which case the highest trump wins. The winner of a trick leads to the next.

In a Proposal and Acceptance or a Solo, the trump suit is already known from the bid, and the player to the left of the dealer leads to the first trick.

In a Troel the bidder's partner has two options:

  1. The partner leads to the first trick and must lead the called card - their Ace if they have one or their highest heart if the Troel bidder has all the Aces. This establishes the led suit as trumps and the contract is to win at least 8 tricks.
  2. The partner changes the trump suit by announcing one of the other three suits. In this case the Troel bidder must lead the Ace of trumps to the first trick and the contract is to take at least 9 tricks.

In the negative contracts - Piccolo and all kinds of Misère - there are no trumps and the player to dealer's left leads to the first trick.

In Abondance and Slams the winner of the bidding leads to the first trick.

The Scoring

The game is usually played for small stakes. If the score is kept on paper, there is a column for each player representing the amount of money that player has won or lost, and the scores should balance.

  • When two players play against two, each member of the winning team wins a certain amount, and each member of the losing team loses that same amount.
  • When one player plays against three, that player is paid by or pays to all three opponents, so the amount won or lost by the lone player is three times the amount lost or won by each member of the opposing team of three players.
  • When there are simultaneous contracts - for example two different players playing a Small Misère at the same time - then each is scored separately.

In a Proposal and Acceptance or a Solo, the score depends on the number of tricks won. In a Troel there is a fixed score unless the bidding side wins every trick, in which case there is a higher score. Each of the other contracts has a fixed score.

The details of the scores and the precise ranking order of the contracts varies from place to place and is shown in a scoring table such as this one.

Contract Basic score Overtricks Undertricks
accept 8 8 +3+3+3+3+10 3 each
solo 5 3 +1+1+1 1 each
accept 9 11 +3+3+3+10 3 each
solo 6 4 +1+1 1 each
accept 10 14 +3+3+10 3 each
solo 7 5 +1 1 each
accept 11 17 +3+10 3 each
small misère 6 - -
accept 12 20 +10 3 each
solo 8 7 - 1 each
piccolo 8 - -
accept 13 30 - -
abondance 9 10 - -
troel 16 all tricks 30 -
grand misère 12 - -
abondance 10 15 - -
abondance 11 20 - -
open misère 24 - -
abondance 12 30 - -
solo slam 60 - -

Notes.

  • The extra points for overtricks generally increase the score so that it is equal to the score for the same contract played at a higher level. For example the notation "+3+3+10" for "accept 10" means that the 11th trick increases the score by 3 points, the 12th trick by another 3, and the 13th trick by 10 bring the total to 30 (=14+3+3+10), the same as would have been scored for accept 13.
  • In a Solo there is no extra score for winning more than 8 tricks. In order to win more than 7 from each opponent the player needs to bid an Abondance on their first turn to speak.
  • In a failed Proposal/Acceptance or Solo all undertricks score points, even the first. So for example a failed Solo 6 always costs at least 5 points paid to each opponent - a basic score of 4 plus at least one undertrick.
  • Because the bidder is paid by 3 opponents, contracts that are played alone are essentially worth three times as much to the bidder compared to partnership contracts. This is to a large extent reflected in the ranking and scores in the above table, for example 8 < 3×3 < 11 < 3×4 < 14 ...
  • There is no score for overtricks or undertricks in Troel unless the bidding team wins all 13 tricks, which increases the score from 16 to 30.
  • There is no score for overtricks or undertricks in Abondance. To benefit from taking more tricks the player would have to bid a higher Abondance.
  • When more than one player plays Misère all are scored separately. For example if two players play Small Misère and both succeed, they each win a total of 12 points (18‒6) and their opponents each pay 12 (6+6). If one succeeds and the other fails the unsuccessful Misère player pays 24 (18+6) to the successful player, and the other two neither win nor lose (6‒6).

Examples of Bidding

The following examples are intended to clarify the bidding mechanism. They are based on the ranking of bids in the suggested scoring table above.

Example 1

North East South West (dealer)
No Troel No Troel No Troel No Troel
Diamonds [a] Clubs [b] Spades [b] Hearts [b]
Hearts [c] 9 Spades [d] - [e] - [e]
9 Hearts [f] Pass [g] Solo 6 Spades [h] -
10 Hearts - Solo 7 Spades -
Pass [i] - - Solo 7 Hearts [j]
- - Pass [k]  
  1. Since no one has Troel, North begins stage 2 of the bidding by proposing a suit. North could instead pass, wait or bid a different kind of contract, but not Solo.
  2. In this example, East, South and North all propose different suits. Any of them could instead accept an earlier player's proposal or bid a different contract (but not Solo).
  3. North accepts West's proposal of Hearts, forming a partnership. From now on West and North can only bid Hearts, and it will be North's responsibility to decide whether to raise if necessary. Other options for North at this point would have been to accept Clubs or Spades, to propose Diamonds again, to bid a Solo in Diamonds since to one accepted the first proposal, or to bid a negative contract (a Misère or Piccolo) or to pass. It is now too late for anyone to bid Abondance or Slam.
  4. East accepts South's proposal of Spades, forming a partnership. Since all the players are now committed, East initiates stage 3 of the bidding by bidding 9 Spades, the minimum needed since North-West are already committed to 8 Hearts (the lowest possible acceptance) and Spades is a lower ranking suit than Hearts.
  5. South and West are now skipped, since it is the acceptors North and East who are responsible for deciding whether to raise.
  6. North's only options here are to raise to 9 Hearts or to pass. North decides to raise.
  7. East is unwilling to raise to 10 Spades so passes. This breaks the South-East partnership.
  8. South is still bound to Spades and is now allowed to bid a Solo because the Spade partnership is broken. 6 Spades is the minimum Solo needed to overcall 9 Hearts. East, having passed, is out of the auction, and it is a competition between South playing alone and North on behalf of the North-West team.
  9. North decides that 11 Hearts would be too high and passes. Another option at this point would be to say 'pass parôle', preserving the partnership and giving West the responsibility of deciding whether they are strong enough to take 11 tricks.
  10. West must now decide whether to pass or take on a Heart contract alone, and decides to bid Solo 7 Hearts.
  11. South is not strong enough for Solo 8 spades and passes. This ends the auction and establishes West as the declarer, playing alone to take 7 tricks in Hearts, since everyone else has passed.

Example 2

North East South West (dealer)
No Troel No Troel No Troel No Troel
Spades Spades [a] Clubs Diamonds
- [b] - [b] Hearts [c] Diamonds [d]
- - Clubs [e] Solo 5 Diamonds [f]
- - Solo 6 Clubs [g] Pass [h]
- [i] 10 Spades [i] Pass [j]  
  1. East accepts Spades, forming a partnership with North.
  2. North and East now wait for the other two players to decide what contract if any they want to play before bidding again. If both South and West pass, there will be no stage 3 and North and East will play a contract of 8 Spades.
  3. South's options here were to propose Hearts, to propose Clubs again, to accept Diamonds, to bid a Solo 5 in Clubs, to bid a Misère or a Piccolo, or to pass.
  4. West has similar options and decides to propose Diamonds a second time.
  5. South has the same options as before and makes a second proposal of Clubs.
  6. West evidently has no interest in trump suits other than Diamonds. Players are not allowed to propose a suit a third time so West now bids a Solo.
  7. South now has no potential partner, so can only pass or play alone, either a Solo in Clubs or Hearts or a negative contract. The Solo in Clubs has to be for 6 tricks since clubs rank lower than Diamonds, and stage 3 of the auction has now begun.
  8. West must raise to Solo 6 Diamonds or pass, and chooses to pass.
  9. Now South and West's positions are clarified, the North/East team must decide whether to raise their bid. East as the acceptor has to make this decision without consultation and chooses to bid 10 Spades, the minimum needed to overcall a Solo 6.
  10. South's pass ends the auction, and the final contract is 10 Spades, played by North and East in partnership.

Example 3

North East South West (dealer)
No Troel No Troel No Troel No Troel
Spades Pass Spades Solo 5 Diamonds [a]
- [b] - 9 Spades [b] Solo 6 Diamonds
- - Pass [c] -
Pass [d]      
  1. This is a case in which a player can bid Solo in the first round of stage 2 of the auction, because there is no player that would be allowed to accept any suit proposed by West.
  2. We are now in stage 3 and South as the acceptor is responsible for raising on behalf of North-South.
  3. South is unwilling to bid 10 Spades so passes, breaking the partnership.
  4. North would need to bid Solo 7 Spades to stay in the auction, Spades being lower than Diamonds, but decides to pass, leaving West as the declarer.

Example 4

North East South West (dealer)
No Troel No Troel Troel [a] -
- with me [a] - -
Pass Pass Pass Pass
- 9 Clubs [b] - -
  1. These announcements are obligatory since South has three Aces and East has the fourth.
  2. Since no one bid over the Troel, East could now lead her Ace, establishing that suit as trumps and contracting to take at least 8 tricks with South as partner. However in this case East's Ace is in a short suit, and having long Clubs, East prefers to switch the trumps to Clubs and contract for 9 tricks. South must now lead the Ace of Clubs, and we do not yet know which Ace East holds.

Example 5

North East South West (dealer)
No Troel Troel with the
King of Hearts [a]
- with me [a]
Pass Abondance 10 Spades [b] Open Misère Pass
- Pass [c]    
  1. Here East has all the Aces, so calls the King of Hearts, which is held by East.
  2. East has strong Spades and decides not to share the profit, but to play alone for 10 tricks.
  3. East would have needed to bid Abondance 12 to beat the Open Misère, and decides to pass

Example 6

North East South West (dealer)
No Troel No Troel No Troel No Troel
Diamonds Clubs Hearts Hearts
Spades Diamonds [a] - -
9 Diamonds [b] - - 9 Hearts
10 Diamonds - - Pass [c]
- - Pass [c]  
  1. It is legal to propose a suit that has previously been proposed by another player after that first proposal has expired.
  2. Since South and West are already committed to 8 Hearts, North's Diamond acceptance needs to be at the level of 9 to overcall the Heart partnership. By means of this sequence North and East have found out not only that they have a Diamond fit, but also that East has good Clubs and North has good Spades. This information should help them in the play of the cards.
  3. West is not strong enough for 10 Hearts and South does not want to contract for 7 tricks alone.

Example 7

North East South West (dealer)
No Troel No Troel No Troel No Troel
Clubs Hearts Clubs Hearts [a]
- - 9 Clubs 9 Hearts
- - 10 Clubs 10 Hearts
- - Pass Parôle [b] -
Pass [c] - Solo 7 Clubs [d] Pass
- Pass    
  1. Since Hearts is a higher suit than Clubs, the minimum Heart bid of 8 tricks is sufficient at this point.
  2. South is quite strong in Clubs but is unsure whether North's hand is good enough for an 11-trick contract so passes the option to North.
  3. North's only options here are to bid 11 Clubs or pass.
  4. South is still bound to Clubs, but now that North has broken the partnership, South is allowed to bid Solo.

Example 8

North East South West (dealer)
No Troel No Troel No Troel No Troel
Wait Small Misère Spades [a] Clubs [a]
Pass [b] - Small Misère [c] Pass [d]
  1. South and West are boldly proposing 12-trick contracts here, since that is what would be needed to overcall East's Small Misère.
  2. North's only alternatives here are to pass or to accept a 12-trick contract in one of the black suits. It is not possible to join a Misère after saying 'wait'.
  3. South's options are (theoretically) to propose a 12-trick red suit contract, to accept 12 Clubs, to propose Spades again, to bid Solo 8 Spades, to bid a negative contract or to pass. South decides to bid Small Misère.
  4. At this point West, who no longer has any potential partner (all proposals having expired), could bid Solo 8 in any suit or a negative contract or pass. The pass ends the auction since East and South have bid equal negative contracts. There are two declarers, each independently trying to lose all 12 tricks after everyone has discarded a card.

Variations

There are numerous variants of this game, especially in the bidding process, the contracts allowed and how they are ranked and scored. Some of the differences are regional but the game also varies within region from group to group of players. It is therefore necessary to agree the contract list and scoring before any session with unfamiliar players.

Shuffle and Deal

Normally the cards are not shuffled between deals, only gathered up and cut, but there are some groups that shuffle the pack before every deal. This tends to produce a more even distribution of cards, so that the higher contracts occur less frequently.

There are various ways to deal, but most people deal in packets of 4 and 5 cards. Usually the deal begins with a packet of 4 cards each. It seems that the 4-5-4 deal is more common in the Flemish part of Belgium and 4-4-5 in the French part.

Contracts

Many players do not allow the lowest Solo contract for just 5 tricks, considering it too easy, so Solo can only be bid for 6, 7 or 8 tricks. There is in any case a custom only to accept a proposal if willing to raise the contract to at least 9 tricks, so a Solo 5 will normally be overcalled.

Many players do not allow the Piccolo contract.

There are several variants concerning the Troel contract.

  • In some places, particularly in the French part of Belgium, 9 tricks are required for a Troel contract to succeed, irrespective of what trump suit is chosen.
  • Some players do not recognise the Troel bid at all, considering it too easy to make.
  • In some places Troel is only bid with exactly three Aces. A player with four Aces is not allowed to bid Troel.
  • Some Flemish players play that if you bid Troel with all four Aces and the heartK, you must call the king of the highest ranked suit where you don't have the king - i.e. the diamondK unless you have that as well, in which case you call the clubK, and so on.

In some versions there is a Small Slam (Petit Chelem) contract for 12 tricks and a Grand Slam (Grand Chelem) for 13 tricks. If Small Slams are allowed, any Grand Slam bid outranks any Small Slam and the maximum Abondance bid is for 11 tricks.

Some versions allow an additional bid of Open Slim - a Slam in which the bidder's hand is spread face up on the table after the first trick - which outranks any ordinary Grand Slam.

Gerver's Guide Marabout de Guide Marabout de Tous les Jeux de Cartes allows several additional contracts:

  • Piccolissimo: a contract to win exactly two tricks
  • Abondance sur Table: an Abondance in which the declarer's hand is exposed after the first trick
  • Chelem sur Table: a Small or Grand Slam with exposed cards.

Bidding Process

Some do not allow a player to propose the same suit more than once, while others allow it to be proposed up to three times. In some groups a player who has proposed a suit more than once is not allowed to convert to a Solo in this suit.

There are many alternative versions of the binding rules. For example, some play that when a suit has been proposed and accepted, the players in that partnership are not completely bound to that suit. Some allow the proposer to change to a negative contract, Misère or Piccolo, if the partnership is broken. Also some allow a player who has begun by bidding an Abondance to change to a Misère if overcalled.

Some groups do not allow the passe parôle option. Only the acceptor can increase a partnership bid.

Different groups of players have slightly different ranking orders of the contracts; for each local version of the game there is a scoring table that shows the ranking order of the bids.

Some play that if three players bid Small Misère, the fourth player is also forced to play Small Misère.

Some play that after a Piccolo or Misère has been bid it is no longer possible to propose a new trump suit. It is however still possible to accept a suit previously proposed by another player provided that the acceptor contracts for enough tricks to outrank the previous highest bid.

Play

Some play that in a Troel contract the partner of the bidder always leads to the first trick, irrespective of the trump suit chosen, and is allowed to lead any card, not necessarily a trump.

Scoring

Some use a similar scoring table to the one given above, but omitting Solo 5 and Piccolo and awarding 26 points rather than 30 for a partnership game (acceptance or Troel) in which the bidding team wins all the tricks.

Some score for overtricks in Abondance in a similar way to Solo. In this case a player scores for the number of tricks that they actually won, up to a maximum of 12. For example a player who bids Abondance 9 and wins 11 tricks is paid 20 points by each opponent rather than just 10. There is still no extra score for the 13th trick: winning all the tricks is worth 30 points, the same as 12 tricks. The basic version of the online Whisthub game uses this scoring system.

Flemish Scoring

In Flanders, some play that any bid of Solo has equivalent rank to a Proposal and Acceptance for 3 tricks more. Between bids of equivalent level, the rank of the suit decides which is higher. So for example a Solo 5 Clubs is lower than Accept 8 Diamonds, which is lower than Solo 8 Hearts. Here is a possible scoring schedule. When two play against two, each member of the losing side pays one of the winners the given amount. When one plays against three, the lone player pays the given amount to or receives it from each opponent.

Contract Score for contract Overtricks or undertricks
5 tricks alone or 8 tricks with partner 2 points 1 point each
6 tricks alone or 9 tricks with partner 2 points 1 point each
7 tricks alone or 10 tricks with partner 2 points 1 point each
8 tricks alone or 11 tricks with partner 2 points 1 point each
12 tricks with partner 2 points 1 point each
13 tricks with partner 2 points 1 point each
Abondance 3 points ---
Miserie 5 points ---
Troel 4 points 2 points each
Open Miserie 10 points ---
Slam 20 points ---

Note that when an ordinary game (5-8 tricks alone or 8-13 tricks with partner) is lost, the payment is at least 3 points, because there is always at least one undertrick.

There are several circumstances that can cause the score to be "doubled". When more than one of these applies, it is usual not to keep doubling the score but to increase it more gently as follows: ×2 for one double; ×3 for two doubles; ×4 for three doubles; etc.

The score is 'doubled' if a team wins all 13 tricks in an ordinary game (8-13 tricks with a partner or 5-8 tricks alone).

An opponent of the final bidder who thinks that the bid will fail can announce "double", to apply a double to the score. Only one double can be added this way.

If everyone passes - either initially or after no one accepts their proposal - so that no game can be played, the score for the next deal is doubled.

The score for Troel is double the score for an ordinary game. This doubled score is already shown in the scoring table above, but it counts as a double in the sense that the next double will increase the score only to 6 for the contract and 3 for each over- or undertrick. For example if the troel team wins 13 tricks the score for the contract and 4 overtricks has a multiple of 3 for two doubles applied: (2 + 4) * 3 = 18.

IWWA scoring

The International World Whist Association publishes a scoring schedule used for tournaments in which the positive and negative scores do not balance. The tables therefore show separately the amount won or lost by members of the bidding team and amount lost or won by their opponents, depending on the number of tricks bid and won. This system is clearly not suitable when the game is played for stakes.

Other Kleurenwiezen / Whist à la Couleur Web Sites

Another version of Whist à la Couleur is described on Jean-François Bustarret's Jeux de Cartes site.

The International World Whist Association promotes Kleurenwiezen and also Wiezen, Rikken and Manillen, providing information and organising tournaments.

At Sebastiaan Marynissen's Whisthub you can play Kleurenwiezen online against live or AI opponents.

Dafke's Guide to Kleurenwiezen (archive copy) gives rules for another version of the game in Flemish.

The page Whist, en meerbepaald kleurenwies... on the Pont Neuf site, giving rules in Flemish, has unfortunately disappeared, but here is an archive copy.

This page is maintained by John McLeod (john@pagat.com).   © John McLeod, 2005, 2023. Last updated: 1st August 2023

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