Whist. All games at cards, in our opinion, are insignificant in comparison with whist. The whole structure of the game is ingenious, and a result of just calculation. Its rules have all been carefully studied, and there seems to be a sufficient reason why each has been instituted. The game is a happy blending of skill and chance ; skill being the most important element, and chance only accessory, in order to impart a due relish or piquancy to the sport, and deprive highly skilled players of being always certain of the victory.
Whist is played by four persons, two being on either side. The four sit at a square table, one on each side, partners being opposite to each other. The table should be covered with cloth, to permit an easy lifting of the cards. Before com-mencing the game, a pack of cards is laid on the table, the faces undermost. The parties then cut for partners; that is,they leave it to chance to determine who shall be partners. This is done by each person lifting or cutting a portion of the cards from the heap or pack, and the two who have the highest cards play together.
The value of the cards is as follows : - As already stated, there are four suits, each suit consisting of thirteen cards - ten being common, and three being court-cards. The card in each suit which has but one mark is called the ace ; and this ace is the highest in value in all cases, except in cutting for partners, when it is the lowest. The next highest is the king; the next, the queen ; the next, the knave ; then the ten, nine, eight, and so on down to the two or deuce, which is the lowest. In playing whist, one suit is of higher value than any of the other three; but which suit shall possess this temporary distinction depends on chance in dealing out the cards ; the last card dealt, out is turned up, and the suit to which it belongs is called trumps; trumps, then, is the suit of the highest value. In the course of a game, the trump suit may of course vary at every deal.
The cutting of the pack, as above mentioned, determines who are to be partners, and at the same time determines who is to deal. The rule is, that he who had the lowest card in cutting, is the dealer. This person shuffles the cards last, that is, has a right to mix them in any way he thinks proper, always keeping the backs towards him. Previously to this his adversaries are entitled to shuffle the cards also; indeed, each person has a right to shuffle them. Being duly shuffled, the pack is laid on the table - always backs uppermost - before the youngest hand, or the person sitting to the right hand of the dealer ; and he cuts it, by lifting off a portion, not less than four cards, and laying it down. The dealer now puts the lower portion on the top of the portion laid off.
Dealing must be neatly performed ; the dealer holding the pack in his left hand, lifts off the top cards with his right, and distributes them, one to each, all round. He begins with the person on his left, who is called the elder hand, then the person opposite, then the youngest hand, and then himself. He thus goes thirteen rounds, the last card which he holds in his hand falling to his own share. This last card he turns up, and it determines the suit to be trumps.
The dealer, therefore, has at least always one trump in his band, but this advantage is somewhat neutralised by the adversaries having a knowledge of one of his cards. The trump-card lies on the table exposed till the first trick is played. Any exposure of a card in dealing, by real or pretended accident is strictly provided against.
Rules foR Dealing. If a card is turned up in dealing, the adverse party may call a new deal if they think proper; but if either of them has been the cause of turning up such card, then the dealer has the option.
If a card is faced, there must be a fresh deal, unless the opponent objects; if two, the deal is void.
It is the duty of every person who plays to see that he has thirteen cards. If any one happens to have only twelve, and does not find it out till several tricks are played, and that the rest have their right number, the deal stands good ; and the person who played with the twelve cards is to be punished for each revoke, provided be has made any. But if any of the rest of the players should happen to have fourteen cards, in that case the deal is lost.
The dealer should leave his trump-card upon the table till it is his turn to play; and after he has mixed it with his other cards, no one has a right to demand what card was turned up, but may ask what suit is trumps. In consequence of this law the dealer cannot name a wrong card, which otherwise he might have done.
None of the players may take up or look at their cards while they are dealing out: when this is the case, the dealer, if he should happen to miss deal, has a right to deal again, unless it arises from his partner's fault; and if a card is turned up in dealing, no new deal can be called, unless the partner was the cause of it.
If any person deals, and instead of turning up the trump, he puts the trump-card upon the rest of his cards, with the face downward, he loses his deal.