Android Whist

Contributed by Tuomas Korppi .

1. Story

Mad Scientist has sent androids back in time to the 19th century. The androids have infiltrated a British gentlemen's club and threaten to alter the timeline. You are sent back in time to hunt the androids.

You arrive at the club, and to fit in, you decide to play a game of whist. However, during the game you find out that two of the players are androids, but you must finish the game so that the members of the club do not get suspicious. Fortunately, you can use your brain link and see the cards of the opponent android and control your partner android to some extent...

2. Setup

The game is for two players, and it utilizes one deck of 52 cards and two card holders capable of holding 13 cards each. Quick and dirty card holders are extremely easy to make out of pizza boxes and duct tape - see illustration.

pizza box card holder

3. Game play

The game is played and scored according to the basic rules of Whist except that both partnerships have a human player and an android player. Also, no points are awarded for honours.

In each deal, the dealer is a human, and turns to deal alternate between the humans. Android hands are placed in the card holders. There is one android to the dealer's left and another to the non-dealer's right. Therefore the android to dealer's left will lead to the first trick, dealer's android partner will play second, the human non-dealer will play third and the dealer will play fourth. The winner of each trick, human or android, leads to the next as in Whist.

android whist layout

The human players see the opposing partnership's android's hand (and perform actions on behalf of this android). The humans do not see the cards of the friendly android, but they can command the friendly android.

4. Commands

Commands the androids accept:

4.1. When playing a card to a trick other than leading:

Command: Duck
Action: The android plays the lowest card of the suit that was led. If it does not have cards of the led suit, it returns Error Message via the brain link.
Command: Beat
Action: The android plays the lowest possible card that beats the highest card in the trick so far. This may involve ruffing, if the android has run out of the original suit. If the android does not have such a card, it plays the lowest card of the suit led. If also that is impossible, the android returns Error Message via brain link.
Command: High
Action: If the android can beat the highest card in the trick so far, the android does so with the highest possible card. This may involve ruffing with its highest trump, if the android has run out of the original suit and can beat any trumps previously played to the trick. If the android cannot beat the high card, it plays the lowest card of the suit led. If also that is impossible, the android returns Error Message via brain link.

For the 'Beat' and 'High' commands, trumps are considered higher than non-trump cards.

4.2. When leading to a trick or immediately after an error message:

Command: (name a suit)
Action: The android plays the lowest card of the named suit. If void, the android returns Error Message via brain link.
Command: shortest
Action: The android plays the lowest card of its shortest non-trump suit. If there are two or more equally short shortest non-trump suits, the android returns Error Message.
Command: longest
Action: The android plays the lowest card of its longest suit (which may be the trump suit). If it has two or more equally long longest suits, the android returns Error Message.

Any of the three previous commands can be prefixed with the word "high", which causes the android play the highest card instead of the lowest.