The Game of Whist

Author: unknown

Source: Article on Whist As A Business from the
London Society Journal and The Quarterly Review of 1880

If you the modern modern game of Whist would know,

From this great principle its precepts flow;

Treat your own hand as to your partner's joined,

And play not one alone, but both combined.

Your first lead makes your partner understand

What is the chief component of your hand;

And hence there is necessity the strongest

That your first lead be from your suit that's longest.

In this with Ace and King, lead King, then Ace;

With King and Queen, King also has first place;

With Ace, Queen Knave, lead Ace, and then the Queen;

With Ace, four small ones, Ace should first be seen;

With Queen, Knave, Ten, you let the Queen precede;

In other cases you the lowest lead.

Ere you return your friend's, your own suit play;

But trumps you must return without delay.

When you return your partner's lead, take pains

To lead him back the best your hand contains,

If you receive not more than three at first;

If you had more, you may return the worst.

But if you hold the master card, you're bound

In most cases to play it second round.

Whene'er you want a lead, 'tis seldom wrong

To lead up to the weak, or through the strong.

If second hand, your lowest should be played,

Unless you mean 'trump signal' to be made;

Or if you've King and Queen, or Ace and King,

Then one of these will be the proper thing.

Mind well the rules for trumps, you'll often need them:

When you hold five, 'tis always right to lead them;

Or if the lead won't come in time to you,

Then signal to your partner so to do.

Watch also for your partner's trump request,

To which, with less than four, play out your best.

To lead through honors turned up is bad play,

Unless you want the trump suit cleared away.

When, second hand, a doubtful risk you see,

Don't trump it, if you hold more trump than three;

But having three or less, trump fearlessly.

When weak in trump yourself, don't force your friend,

But always force the adverse strong trump hand.

For sequences, stern custom has decreed

The lowest you must play, if you don't lead.

When you discard, weak suit you ought to choose,

For strong ones are too valuable to lose.