ASCOT - card game rules



This game makes use of the principles of German Whist to produce a four-horse flat race using the four Aces, one player owning the black pair and his opponent owning the red pair. The object, of course, is to gain victory for one of your horses.

Running the Horses

Like German Whist, the game is played in two halves. The Aces are lined up as shown below and the remaining cards are shuffled and 12 dealt to each player. The remaining 24 cards form the Stock and the top card is then exposed for the start of play.

(To view the basic rules of German Whist, follow this link)

North (Black)


South (Red)

Phase 1 Building the hands

The players then "bid" for the exposed card on the stock. Non-dealer plays a card first and his opponent must follow suit (or discard if he is void). There are no trumps. The winner of the exchange takes the exposed card and the looser takes the next (blind) card from the top of the stock, and both players add them to their hands. The two "bidding cards" are thrown to a discard pile and cannot be viewed again by either player. The next card on the stock is exposed and the play is repeated until the stock is exhausted. The winner of the last exchange plays first to the next. During this stage of the play each player will maintain 12 cards in his hand.

In addition to the process of collecting cards from the stock and building the hands, the "horses" are advanced according to the following rule:



So, during play, the horses may appear like this:


AC has not yet advanced. AD has moved half a length. AH has moved twice, to make a length. And AS is running well in front, having moved four times for two lengths

In the second stage of the game the hands are played off in normal Whist style (the player who won the last exchange for the stock leading to the first exchange in the play-off) and the Aces are again advanced according to the above rule. There is no need to collect "tricks"; they have no value. The Ace that advances the farthest is the winner, the position of the third horse deciding the outcome if there is a tie for first place between a black and a red Ace.

Points of Play

Phase 1 Building the hands

In the first half of the game the players must consider both the need to advance their horses and the value of the exposed card on the Stock.

1 For example, "Red" player holds the KH, and the QH is exposed on the stock. Clearly, if he leads the King he will win the Queen and advance his AH by half a length. A subsequent lead of the QH at any time in the play will advance the AH again.

2 In the other extreme, "Red" holds the 2S and the exposed card is the 5C. He sees little value to him in the 5C so leading the 2S will loose the exchange to his opponent (unless he happens to be void in Spades). Because the second player will win the exchange, the AS is not advanced, and "Red" has, therefore, gained an advantage.

3 For a third example, "Red" player holds both the QH and the 10H. The KH is exposed on the stock and "Black" player leads the JH. "Red" player must now decide between ducking the JH, so allowing the AH to be advanced, or foregoing this in favour of winning the exchange with the QH and capturing the valuable King.

Note that, even though it is "Black" who leads the Heart, if he wins, his "Red" opponent's AH must be advanced.

In that example, the decision might be easier if the KD is exposed and it is the AD rather than the AH that "Red" player has running in front. Equally, it might be even more difficult if the KC is exposed; now "Red" has to decide between getting his AH advanced or denying his opponent what would be a valuable card.

It must be remembered that it is not just the high cards that are valuable. "Red" could consider both the 2H and the 2D as powerful cards because he knows he can duck any lead by his opponent in these suits and thereby gain an advance of a red "horse".

Phase 2. Playing off the hands

In the second phase of play, things are a little more straight forward; the players simply try to continue the advance of their "horses". Theoretically, players with perfect memories will know exactly what is their opponent's hand and will be able to plan their play.

Note that there are no real bad or good hands in this game. For instance, if "Red" player has not been able to collect any of the top Hearts, he may know that they are held by his opponent. With skilful play, he may be able to leave his opponent on lead and force him to win a sequence of Heart leads and so advance the AH for him.

The progress of the "horses" can vary greatly, the maximum movement being six lengths (the 12 cards in the suit being led with the second player having to discard each time) and the minimum being no movement (6 exchanges in the suit, the second player winning each one).

Examples of play Game 1 (In preparation, not yet ready)

Variations on ASCOT

Last updated: 9th January 2002