Card Games: Whist Group

Games of this group form a good introduction to trick taking, as the rules are very straightforward. You just deal out the cards and play tricks. The cards have their familar rank from ace (high) down to two (low). Despite their apparent simplicity, these cannot be the oldest trick taking games because:

  1. in the earliest games the king was highest and the ace (or one) was in its logical position next to the two - promotion above the king came later;
  2. whist has trumps, an idea probably introduced from tarot - the earliest trick taking games would almost certainly have been without trumps.

Classic Whist and its close relatives are for four players in fixed partnerships, partners sitting opposite.

  • Ruff and Honours - precursor of Whist
  • Whist - the classic game
  • Minnesota Whist or Norwegian Whist, played without trumps, the players choosing whether the object will be to win or to lose tricks.
  • Rússi - a whist game without trumps played in Iceland.
  • Hokm - a Whist-like game from Iran, in which one of the players chooses trumps
  • Court Piece, also known as Rang or Seven Hands - a similar game played in India and Pakistan
  • Troefcall - a similar game played in Suriname, where there is a significant ethnic Indian community
  • Double Sir - a Pakistani variant of Rang in which tricks are only collected when two consecutive are won by the same player
  • Hidden Rung - another Pakistani Rang variant in which the trump suit is chosen in secret and revealed during the play
  • Omi (a 32-card whist-like game played in Sri Lanka)
  • Satat (a Whist-like game from Mauritius in which the heart2 is the highest card)
  • Arba'a Turub is a more distant relative, played in Somalia with 144 cards.

There is also a group of Whist games for three players, in which each player has a quota of tricks to fulfill.

Whist-like games also exist for other numbers of players.

  • German Whist is a version of classic whist for two players.
  • Turnover Bridge is a two-player Whist variant in which each player starts with a hand of two 'hole cards' and 12 packets of two cards on the table.
  • Knockout Whist is a children's game, playable by any number from two to seven.
  • Another Two-Player Whist, based on Norwegian or Minnesota Whist.
  • Humbug was an 18th century British two-player Whist game.
  • 7-8 is an Indian two-player game related to 3-2-5.

One of the most fruitful developments of Whist over the last two centuries has been the incorporation of a bidding process, whereby players undertake in advance to win a certain number of tricks.

This page is maintained by John McLeod (   © John McLeod, 1999, 2005, 2009, 2018, 2024. Last updated: 21st February 2024