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American whist illustrated online

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that D. has ace, 6, 5, and 3. A. leads the 8 c. C.
follows with the 2 c. B. trumps, and D. plays the
3 c. B. takes up the trick and leads. Every one
is satisfied, and no one knows that he is not play-
ing whist, and yet every player has played wrong-
fully. A. should not have led the 8 ; but if he did
lead it, C. should have played the 10, B should
not have trumped, and D. should have thrown
the 5. Every good player will understand the
analysis.

Once more, A. holds k., kn., 10, 6, 4, and 2 h.,
trumps. C. has the 9, 8, 3, B. the 5, and D. the
ace, qu., and 7. He plays the 6 or 4 or 2, C. plays
the 3, B. the 5, and D. the 7. C. played wrong-
fully, but A. has thrown away a trick. Here again
the whist-player will know that the kn. was the
correct lead, no matter what partner may hold.
These instances of wrong play, so far from being
occasional, are constant, correct play being un-
known to the general player.

Probably in nine hands out of every ten that
can be given, the man who thinks himself a whist-
player, but who is not such from study, will lead
and play one half the cards he holds improperly.
We will add the hand that Cavendish gives :
ace, k., and qu. s., 8 c, ace, k., qu., and 3 d.



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204 AMERICAN WHIST,

(trumps), and 9, 8, 6, 4, and 3 of h. What man
who does not know the prmciples of whist would
properly lead the 4 of hearts ?

We do not admit that there is a valid excuse
for the play of false cards. If you hold qu., kn.,
and a small card of a suit, of which your right-
hand opponent leads the 8, and you argue that
qu. and kn. in your hand are equal cards, and
play the qu., you have deceived your partner,
whom you lead to suppose that you have but
one card beside qu. played, or that you have k.
and another. You have certainly told him that
you have not the kn.

Trumps should always be placed by a player
in the same relative position in his hand, per-
haps at the extreme right or left. Good players
have enough to do to attend to their own hands
and to watch the cards as they fall, and are not
guilty of espionage. But it will be impossible
for any player to ascertain the rank of trumps
in any other hand, as they need not be disposed
according to rank, or to determine how many
are held, as there is no visible dividing line be-
tween the cards. The assertion that the number
and value of trumps in a given hand can be as-
certained by any other player finds its force in
the gross carelessness of the player who holds
them.

The handling of thirteen cards during a dozen
consecutive hands by the fine player, as by the



I



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WHIST PRACTICE, 205

ordinary one, may be very much the same, be-
cause the chance for brilliant play is but occa-
sional. But there comes a handy and in it a
chance. The ordinary player stumbles through
it, and makes the major cards. Give it to the
fine player, with a partner of his own strength,
and he will plan a play of it that will as far
outrank the thought of the other man as Jay
Gould's manipulations of a railway scheme over-
shadow the actions of a dabbler in its stocks.
After the holder of the high cards has exhausted
his battery, the holder of low ones may by infer-
ence and calculation know how to do something
that will get one trick which could not have been
made save by such careful management. There
is more value in this action than in a hundred
pound-downs of aces and kings.

Again, the moderate player in the early part
of a hand succeeds, by trumping or forcing or
playing leading cards, in making a certain head-
way. This very gain, whatever it is, might per-
haps have been much more ingeniously obtained
without the trump, the force, or the showy play.
There is but one trick played for in a hand; the
rest will make of their own accord. If you play
over the cards that are played in the general
way, you can see wherein might have been, if
not a gain, at least a better mode of play ; and
the better mode of play is the very thing to learn
and to practise. •



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206 AMERICAN WHIST.

It is very easy to understand that great at-
tention must be given to be able to accomplish
designs that must be completed through calcula-
tion. Then does it not follow that all interrup-
tions hinder and annoy those who are carrying a
purpose in their brain ? Of course the talk of
penalties and claims for cards in error are con-
fusing, and though they effect or settle an
instant purpose, they interfere with considera-
tions concerning what is to come. That is why
it is that whist is a great game ; and it does not
matter how it appears to the player who does
some seemingly smart thing in an ordinary way
in the early part of a hand, and who is badly
playing the cards that he is so sure he under-
stands. He sees what he thinks is a surety, and
accepts it ; he does not see* what the issue is to
be.

It is true that all whist-players are learners ;
that the better they play, the more they see how
much there is before them. Nevertheless, the
good players are the students of the principle
and system of which that future development is
the superstructure. If persons do not know how
the foundations are laid, their judgment as to
what can be built thereon wjjl be worth very
little.

Two gentlemen about a year a^o declared
their intention of learning whist, and joined a
club f©r that purpose. One of them played at



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J



WHiST PRACTICE. 20/

every chance with players of all degrees, and
saw what they did, heard what they said, and
tried to practise what seemed to him to be best,
as the different plays and different remarks con-
cerning tiiem gave opportunity. The other
watched one hand at a time, asked questions,
took printed games and played them through,
and read the reasons for what seemed to him
peculiar. When the first man afterward began
to study, he had to unlearn the greater part of
what he had thought was right ; when the
second man began to play, he taught the mys-
teries of finesse to some of those who had played
longest.

Unsafe advisers are they who assume to
know what is best to be done, founded merely
upon the practice they have had. Such persons
are evqr ready to tell of what they have " tried,
and it worked well," and what they believe to
be the "best play," no matter "what the books
say." Be sure of one thing, — whenever a
player boasts that his knowledge was gained
from practice and none of it from books, the
real player has no difficulty in crediting the
statement. It will constantly be seen that a
good player not only plays the hand that is hope-
less as well as it can be played, but also the
hand that is mediocre, that is very good or very
strong ; while the moderate player merely throws
away the first two, and almost always loses a
trick in each of the second two.



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208 AMERICAN WHIST.

If four gentlemen who call themselves whist-
players, but who never yet individually or collec-
tively did or could sit in silence while exciting
and interesting business with cards was being
transacted by themselves or others, ^would re-
solve, and keep the resolution, let come what
would, for the space of five minutes, or during
the play of a single hand of cards held by th«n,
to observe everything^ but never speak of anything
until the last card of all that hand had fallen,
thisy their first lesson in mhist, would be replete
with satisfaction.



Cards are employed unworthily and have a
bad reputation. So has gold, and for the same
reason.

We anticipate the remark which some proper
person may make to the effect that he believes
players of card games squander time, and desire
to agree with him, confessing that much time is
ignominiously wasted at the card-table. But if
he ignorantly places whist upon his rdle, we as
readily desire to be at issue with him, and to
assert that he could possibly commit no error
more likely to be exposed, to the great discom-
fiture of hastily formed opinion. Men of busi-
ness, or professional men, must have recreation,
and the fascination of a game which, while it
calls for the exercise of ingenuity and obsefVa-



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WHIST PRACTICE, 209

tion, constantly yields pleasant satisfaction,
while the result is more or less within the do-
main of skill, is not to be criticised because of
its demand upon time for its investigation. It
is a singular fact that while the game of whist,
properly played, requires the close attention,
calculation, inference, which must be bestowed
upon an important mercantile transaction, the
transfer of mental application proves congenial
to the rest that the brain demands.

A man who has accomplished in business
matters a satisfactory result, at. the end of a
day's toil is weary ; at night he applies like con-
centration to his game of whist, and is refreshed.
The greatnesses and the littlenesses of a man
come forth at the whist-table. The fairness or
the meanness of his life-ways have illustration
there. His dogmatism, egotism, or his philoso-
phy and manliness, are apparent. In no place,
at no time, will overweening anxiety, impulsive
action, or nervous disposition sustain such de-
cided rebuke as at this silent game. In like
manner, honesty of purpose and propriety of
action take to themselves the unspoken compli-
ment. Is it a waste of time, is it not rather a
gain, when men strive to do away with undue
action or emotion, while under the potent sur-
veillance of friendly antagonists, and learn to re-
spect more and more the proper deportment of
their fellows t Which is the best employment



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2IO AMERICA!^ WHIST,

for an evening, — criticising the doings of Fitz-
John Porter's court-martial, commenting upon
the inability of Dennis Kearney to govern Ire-
land, dozing over a fifteen-cent novel, finding
fault with the morals of everybody excepting
Smith and yourself, and having grave doubts
about Smith, or playing a game of intellectual
whist ?

If it were true, as many proper people urge,
that any game of cards is mere amusement, even
then let players have the best, and play as well
as their capacity permits. But the error con-
cerning whist lies in the assumption that it is
to be classed with any game of cards. Any
building is not architectural. It is for the man
who built St. Paul's to show you how to be lost
in space while you confess completeness in de-
tail. It is for the student and appreciator of its
infinite changes to understand and practise to
advantage the game of most wonderful revela-
tion. We do not propose to recommend as
available, in any regard, the playing at playing
whist, the mere letting fall of picture-cards and
throwing away as useless all others in their
turn, the mere gaining of tricks by the use of
what is termed a good hand, the mere desire to
make game with the least effort, although even
this commonplace may pass for pleasure and
the strain upon the business man's mind may be
relitWed thereby ; but we do mean the game that



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WHIST PRACTICE. 21 1

is accomplished by endeavor, the cards managed
for the best effect, since he who knows, observes,
and remembers holding the good hand or the
poor hand, will inevitably use the same to better
advantage than the careless player. Nor do we
counsel a hurried game in which dependence is
placed on proof of Fortune's favoritism, but the
working game, in which, whether gain in points
is made or lost, errors in play do not occur, are
not allowed to occur, wherein finesse, and lead
and follow, and throwing the lead, playing for
the fall of other cards than one's own, remem-
bering what has been done, observing what is
being done, and calculating upon what must be
done, retaining, inferring, that result may be as-
sured, even if it be all for the purpose of thwart-
ing a single advance, or gaining a single trick,
or making a single brilliant play ; the working
game that asks for utter competency and enter-
prise, that is played through to the last, and that
makes the last part better than the first, that
plays for value of the play irrespective of what
chance may order, — this working game is
what we call the highest order of whist and the
greatest game in the world.



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IRREGULAR LEADS.

Irregular may be another word for forced
Irregularity is sometimes another term for bril-
liancy. An irregular lead is a finesse upon the
lead. An irregular lead, unlike the play of
a false card, must be made only when it can
do the partner no harm. Lewis, of London,
calls a well-judged irregular lead one of the tri-
umphs of common-sense whist. When a player
has strength in trumps or cards of reentry, he
voluntarily makes an irregular lead. The rules
are intended to apply to the usual conditions of
the player's hand, and the usual propriety of
play, but they cannot cover specific cases. The
judgment which obeys the laws may violate the
rules ; and in any event, when there is no rule
there must be judgment. Irregular play is
made after several rounds. The order for the
opening is seldom disobeyed. It may happen
that, before C. can make his original lead, A. has
exhausted trumps save only the thirteenth in C.'s
hand. C. holds a suit of ace, qu., and four small
xards. If, on getting in, he leads ace, and B.
holds k., kn., and a small card, when C. follows
with fourth best B. plays kn. and makes two
tricks. If C, sure of his power, leads fourth best



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IRREGULAR LEADS. 213

originally, B. plays his small card and D. may
take with 10.

A holds ace, kn., and one small. To make
two tricks he may play kn. But at the stage of
the hand at which such play would be made
from necessity, if C. held k. and qu. he would
cover and risk the ace. In the event of any
other holding of the suit, A. gains nothing. A.,
however, would be justified in leading the small
card, retaining the tenace.

The lead of the lowest card of any three is
irregular, but it may be proper for A., holding
ace and two small, to retain command. The
small card may let his partner in to play his
suit, while the ace remains a card of reentry.

All underplay is irregular. It is finesse upon
the lead. But it is not only justifiable, but
proper, and at times provokes brilliant play.
Usually, when opportunity is given for the play,
the regular leads have been made and there is
chance for display of ingenuity. While there is
no satisfaction in the following up of suits that
make play monotonous, the converse of such
action is exhilarating. There was once a say-
ing, "Avoid change of suits,'* but now the game
is wearisome that obeys it. Original leads may
be forced leads. A., informed by B. that B.'s
suit is clubs, remains with the last trump and a
sure suit. He also holds k. c. and two small.
It is his original lead, and the k. c. is his proper
play.

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214 AMERICAN WHIST,

Ace, qu., lo, org and three small may be held.
If by a card of reentry or the last trump the
holder can be sure of a second lead, he may
draw three cards of the suit by the play of the
qu., and make all the rest of the tricks. This
he could not have done if k. and kn. were in op-
posing separate hands and he had led the ace.

Hearts, trumps, exhausted, you holding thir-
teenth. You have ace, k., lo, 4, 3, 2, c. If you
lead ace, then k., your partner, uncertain of the
situation of the last trump and aware that op-
ponent led trumps originally, discards upon the
k. from his best suit. D. regulates his play ac-
cordingly. But if you lead for qu. or kn. to take,
and D. plays qu. holding two more, he may lead
through the strong hand or up to a tenace.
Your lead to that tenace would have lost a
trick.

It is irregular, holding a long suit, to lead a
short one, but the best play may happen in this
wise. You hold kn. and four small diamonds,
kn. and 5 spades, a. and k. c, and four small
hearts, 6 s. turned on your right. You have no
suit to make, and there is no need of your reen-
try clubs. If you play a diamond, you may force
your partner ; at any rate, you can be of no ser-
vice to him. Lead the ace c, then k. ; if he
calls, your kn. s. may be very useful. If he does
not call, he sees that your hand has no value,
and will either make qu. c, or give you a chance



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IRREGULAR LEADS, 21 5

to trump the suit, if possible for him to get the
lead.

Irregular leads are not to be confounded
with false leads. A false lead or play is one
that must deceive the partner or the table, while
an irregular lead may be properly made and for
sufficient reason. For instance, a player violates
law when he leads from a suit of two or three
cards if he has a better or a longer suit to de-
clare, but he may have strength in a suit which
must be developed before it can be used. Sup-
pose a player holds two small cards of each
plain suit and seven trumps. He must lead a
trump. Any other lead is a deceit. But if he
holds ace, k., 9, 8, 4, 2, of a plain suit, three low
cards of another, and four trumps, and leads
the 8, it is not a deceit nor false play. His
reasons are, that he has not strength enough in
trumps to lead one ; that if he leads ace, then k.,
he parts with command ; that if his partner can
play trumps for him he will do so ; that he shows
three higher cards ; and that his play will bring
down three of the suit which he desires to clear
and establish.

Again : a player may hold ace, kn., 10, 4, 3,
of a suit. He leads the ace, and neither k.
nor qu. fall. If, now, he leads the 4, the trick
may be taken by the 9 or 8, and the higher
cards held up. His second lead of the 10 is
irregular, but it is a forced lead, not a false one.



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2l6 AMERICAN WHIST,

Again : a player holds lo, 9, 5, 4, 2, of a plain
suit and leads the 4. The qu. falls second, the
k. third, and the ace fourth. If, on getting the
lead, he plays the 2 to show his suit of five, it
may be taken by opponent's 8, the kn. held up.
If he leads 10, and it is passed, he either takes
the trick or retains command. Again : a player
holds a double tenace and a small card of a suit,
kn. and three small of another suit, the ace of
another, and four small trumps. He leads the
lowest card of the suit headed by kn. It is not
his best suit, but his reason is a good one for
not opening that. His partner takes with k.,
and returns a card of the ace suit. He takes
with ace and leads his lowest trump. It would
seem that he was very strong in the first suit
which he led. But analysis will show that both
leads, apparently irregular, were justifiable.

Brilliant play is oftentimes phenomenal, but
never false. There is always good reason to be
given for its exercise. Some players, desirous
of doing a strange thing, make an attempt to do
it by a lead or follow whose speculation is not
warranted by good judgment. Players had best
consider that there is enough for them to do to
observe the play of others, and to regulate their
own by the proper rules. Only those players
who, because of much study and by experience,
understand wherein brilliant play may be made,
are successful in making it.



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PLAYING THROUGH THE STRONG
HAND.

The value of the force by A. upon C. is not
always properly estimated. The idea that, if
C. desires trumps played, neither A. nor B. can
desire that they should be played, is apt to
have too much weight. Great pains is some-
times taken by both A. and B. not only to ab-
stain from leading a trump, but in every manner
to hinder C. and D. from doing so. Players
forget that play through the strong is play up to
the weak. It may be that, when C. has called,
A. can make no better lead, not even from his
own strong suit, than a trump through the calling
hand. The trumps must come out, and A. can
understand that B. will not lead up to C. D. of
course in obeying the call must play through A.
and up to B. But that may be a very different
matter, in so far as A. and B. are concerned,
from the play of A. through C. up to D. Fear
of playing the adversary's game, and unwilling-
ness to assist it, deters the play of a trump
through that adversary's hand. Such play is apt
to be looked upon as the doing of just what the
opponent desires. But if it is done, in the way
in which he does not desire it to be done, and



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2l8 AMERICAN WHIST.

the lead comes from the quarter from which he
least expects it to come, perhaps the only gain
possible to be made may be by the bold lead
assured. Again, it is thought that when C. ob-
tains the lead he will, by the play of a low trump,
allow A.'s qu. or lo to make over the best card
that D. may hold.

The advocacy of a rule to play the trump
through C. is not proposed, but only the consid-
eration urged that the card or cards which A.
must lose should be lost at highest cost to the
opponent. Suppose C. calls upon ace, kn., and
three small. A. holds qu. and 6 ; B. the k., lo, 2.
If A. leads qu. through the calling hand, and C.
takes with ace, B. holds the tenace. If C. does
not take, the qu. makes. Of course, if A. does not
so lead, and C. gets in and leads small trump, A/s
qu. makes, but B. has no knowledge of the ace.
A. B. are to make two tricks at any rate ; but
if A., having his chance to do so, leads through
the calling hand, B. knows who holds the ace if
C. does not play it. Suppose that A., taking the
trick, follows with the 6. C. knows that A. can
have no more ; for A., holding qu. and two others,
would not have led qu. through the call. C. can-
not now place the lo. If he throws ace, it will
not bring the k. ; and if he throws kn. to let k.
take and be out of his way, he may leave lo and
a small card in B.*s hand. If C. D. hold the
trumps, D. having k. A., by his lead of qu., has
done no harm to himself or partner.



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PLAYING THROUGH THE STRONG HAND. 219

Or, suppose that C. has called upon five
trumps, k. high. B. has ace, kn., 2. A. has qu.,
6. A. leads qu. through the call, and unless C.
covers, giving up control, A. B. make three
tricks in trumps. If instead A. leads from
plain suit, and D. gets the play leading to the
call, A. playing 6 and C. finessing 10, A. B. can
make but two tricks. If A. should play qu. and

C. k., the result would be the same.

But it is not alone the matter of making an
extra trick (which may be improbable) that A.
considers when playing through the calling
hand. He can see no chance for gain if he does
not do it, and while such course is not made rul-
able, and is not at times advisable, yet players
will do well to remember that the pronounced
strength is less dangerous in second than in
fourth hand.

It may be said that A. exhibits weakness by
his lead. True, but he assists B.*s strength.
It is evident that C. is strong, it is possible that

D. is weak. The point is, in what manner can
A. make a card of the third or fourth rank most
useful } We give an example from actual play.
C. had called. A. held the kn. and 9 h. trumps.

C. held k., 10, 6, 4, 3. A. on getting the lead
would not play kn. h., because, he afterward said,
such course would be the play of C.'s game.

D. on getting the lead threw the 8 h., on which
A. threw 9, C. 10, and B. took with qu. D.,



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220 AMERICAN WHIST,

when next having the lead, threw 7 h., A. kn.,
C. k., and B. ace. C. afterward drew the 5, and
with the other trumps made game. If, when D.
threw the 8, A. had played kn., the result would
have been in C.'s favor. A. B. could have made
but two tricks. But if A. had led the kn. and
C. had not covered, A. B. would have made
three tricks, saving the game.

The gain by play of a second round of trumps
through original leader is frequent. Clubs
trumps. A. holds kn. and 9. C, holding k., qu.,
6, 3, 2, led 3. B. threw 4, D. 7, A. 9. A. then
declined to play kn., because it was C.'s lead.
C. on getting the lead led k. c, which B., holding
ace, 10, 5, passed. Diamonds were afterward led,
and A. took with ace and led a heart. D. took
the trick, led the best heart, which took ; then,
on the tenth round, a small heart that C. trumped.
C, on the eleventh play, threw the diamond lead
into B.*s hand, who made ace c, and lost the 10
and game. Had A. followed his taking with
the 9 c. by the play of kn., A. B. would have
made three tricks. If C. had thrown qu., B.
would have passed, and A. would have seen the
proclaimed tenace. When A. afterward made
his ace d., he could have forced on spades, which


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Online LibraryG[eorge] W[illiam] P[ettes]American whist illustrated → online text (page 12 of 17)