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The great feature of modern whist is the “That the hands of the two partners shall more perfect cultivation than formerly of not be played singly and independently, but the relations existing between the two play- shall be combined and trcuted as one. And ers who are in partnership with each other. that in order to carry out most effectually this As these players have a community of inte principle of combination, each partner shall rests, it is evidently desirable that they of his play.'
adopt the long-suit system as the general basis should act in conjunction. If the two hands could be put together and played as It is easy to trace how all the more imone, great advantage would clearly result; portant rules of modern play arise out of for not only would the strong points of each this theory. Take, for instance, the managestill preserve their full value, but special be- ment of trumps, which is a great stumblingnefits would arise from the combination; block to ill-educated players. It is obvious just as the junction and co-operation of two that the chief obstacle to making long suits divisions of an army would give more is their being ruffed, and that the advantage powerful results than could be obtained by will be with that party who, having predotheir divided action. The modern play minant numerical strength in trumps, can aims at carrying out this principle to the succeed in drawing those of the adversaries. farthest extent possible.' It forbids the five trumps are generally sufficient for this player to consider his own hand apart from purpose; and hence the rule, that if you that of his partner, commanding him to hold this number, or more, you should lead treat both in strict union, and to make every them. Three or four leads will generally step conducive to the joint interest of the disarm both opponents, and you will stiil pair.
have one or more left to bring in your own Simple and obvious as this principle ap- or your partner's long suit, and to stop pears, it is only very lately, after a century those of the enemy. and a quarter of tentative approximations, So important is the trump-lead under these that it has become fully recognised. The circumstances, that, in the modern game, a fact of the community of interests was, of conventional signal, or call for trumps, has course, always patent, but many of the ear- | been introduced, by which, if the holder of lier rules were either antagonistic to, or at a strong trump-hand cannot get the lead least imperfectly fitted for, efficient com- early, he may intimate his strength to his bined play; and the tendency of the latest partner, and so call on him to lead them as improvements has been either to abolish or soon as he can. We shall have occasion to to modify these, so as to make the combi- speak of this more fully hereafter. The oldnation of the hands the ruling principle, the fashioned objection to 'lead up to an hogreat basis from which the whole play i nour,' as well as the direction to lead springs.
through an honour,' both vanish under the Now, in order that this combination may modern system. Either is right, if you are be properly effected, it is requisite that each strong in trumps; neither, if otherwise. partner should adopt the same general sys- It is imperative that your trump-lead be tem of treating his hand; for there are se- returned by your partner the first opportuveral different modes of trick-making, accord-nity. Hesitation in this is inexcusable, as ing to either of which a player may regu- endangering the great benefit your strength late the general design of his play. These would confer on the combined hands. are fully investigated by Dr. Pole, and the If you hold only four trumps, much disdiscussion forms one of the best parts of cretion is required as to leading them; and his essay. He shows clearly that the only with three or less, which is pumerical weaksystem which adapts itself favourably to the ness, a trump-lead at the commencement of combination of the hands, is that of endea- the hand is seldom justifiable. The proper vouring to make tricks, by establishing application of trumps, when weak, is to use and bringing in a long suit. Suppose, them for ruffing, if they escape being drawn for example, you hold by the adversary.
Several minor rules in regard to trumps left with the full command of it, and every are deducible from the same principles. card, however small, will then make a trick, The greatest mischief you can do if led, and not trumped by the adversary strong trump-hand is to force it to ruff, So essential is the adoption of this system thus depriving it of its preponderating to the interests of the combined hands, that strength. Hence you must carefully avoid Dr. Pole incorporates it in what he terms forcing your partner, if you know him to be the fundamental theory of the modern strong, or if, being weak yourself, you have seientific game, which is
reason to suspect he may be so. But, on the
other hand, force a strong adverse trump- | termined by special rules, which, will be hand whenever you can. Again, if you are found in the books. second player to a trick which it is possible The modern theory further defines the your partner may win, and have none of the duty of your partner in helping you in resuit yourself (a position always puzzling to gard to your long suit. After showing you ill-taught players,) the principles tell you to his own, it is his duty to return yours; but ruff fearlessly, if weak in trumps, but to much depends on what card he plays. In pass the trick, if strong. In the former case the first place, he must get rid of the command your trumps are useless; in the latter they by playing out the master cards, if he holds are too valuable to risk losing unnecessarily. them ; for it is essential that you retain the
In the management of plain suits, the superiority in your own hand. Then, setheory furnishes ample guidance. It bears condly, he must adopt what is called strengthmaterially on the first lead, which, though ening play, by sacrificing his high cards in the most important step a player has to the suit to strengthen you. Suppose, for take, has generally to be taken in the dark. example, he had originally ace, knave, and This lead must therefore be guided by care-four, and has won your first lead with the ful considerations, and it should have two ace, he must return the knave, and not the objects in view; in the first place it should four. The effect of this is to raise the rank be a lead which, even in ignorance of the of any lower cards you hold in the suit, and partner's cards, may be reasonably expected to aid in getting higher ones out of the way, to benefit the combined hands, and not to so as to hasten your obtaining the complete favour the adversaries; and, secondly, it command. should serve to give the most direct and The modern system is chiefly useful in useful information to the partner as to the directing the lead, which is the active and agcards held by the leader.
gressive part a player has to perform; but The lead from the long suit fulfils all it is not without influence also on the more these conditions ; for even though the passive operations of the other hands, inasplayer may not succeed in ultimately bring- much as it prescribes greater care and stricting the suit in, the lead will be the safest ness in what were thought, under the old he can made, and it will permit of his real system, unimportant things. The second izing any other possible advantages from player, for example, in the old game, would the cards in his hand.
often feel at liberty to put on a high card The question, which card of your long to a small one led; but by the new doctrine suit you should first lead, is answered by he is bound, except in well-defined and reconsiderations founded on careful reasoning cognised cases, to play his lowest, or he may and long experience. As a general prin- give his lynx-eyed partner false information, ciple, it is expedient to begin with the low- and so ruin their joint plans. The third est, which gives your partner the chance of hand now is forbidden to do what he might making the first trick, and enables you to often legitimately have done before, namely, keep the complete command at a later pe- to finesse (except with ace and queen) to riod. But when you hold several high his partner's original lead, as the high cards cards, this principle is subject to modifi- are wanted out of the way. Even the fourth cation by the chance of the suit being player, easy as his part is, may do vast mistrumped, and by some other contingencies, chief if he is careless with his sequences or and therefore certain definite leads have small cards. been determined for particular combinations, Another application of the theory is in of which the following are the most use- discarding, which should, if possible, be fui :
done from short or weak suits, not from
long ones. The cards of the former are of FIRST LEADS from a Long plain Suit. little use; those of the latter may be very Holding
valuable, even to the smallest you have.
We have made several allusions to the Ace and king King.
communication of information between the King and queen, King. Ace, queen, knave, Ace, then queen.
partners, as to the contents of each other's Queen, knave, ten, Queen.
hands. It is clear that if the hands are to King, knave, ten, Ten.
be combined and played as one, such in.
formation must be ample and perfect, and The lead of king from king and acc, is one the provisions for this are peculiarly characof the conventional refinements of modern teristic of the modern game. It is prescribplay, for the purpose of conveying informa-ed that the whole play shall be so regulated tion to your partner. Leads in trumps, or as to convey the greatest possible amount of in plain suits when trumps are out, are de- intelligence, and thus to aid, to the utmost,
in the combined treatment of the hands. about these communications, because, at Indeed to such an extent is this carried, that present, opinions are divided as to the exthe two players may be said to carry on, tent to which they may legitimately be throughout, a defined and legalised system carried. of communication in their play, by which A large amount of information is conveythey obtain almost as perfect an insight ed, to an intelligent and observant partner, into each other's hands as if their cards by simply following the rules which have were exposed. The rules of this conversa- been determined as most expedient on genetion, as Cavendish calls it, are imperative, ral grounds; and this is a great incidental and a player who violates them, without advantage of a careful adherence to system. sufficient reason, is said to play · false,' or But the modern game goes much farther not to understand the language of the than this, inasmuch as it prescribes certain We must speak somewhat fully conventional modes of play, established, by
pre-arranged understanding, for the sole * Since this article was in type, we have met purpose of conveying information. Cases with a remarkable book on whist, published in are continually arising in which it is quite Vienna in 1845, entitled 'Das rationelle Whist; immaterial
, as a matter of general expediency, oder das Whistspiel, mit allen seinen Abarten, what card is played; but in these you are vollständig aus einem Princip nach der philoso- allowed no choice; the convention directs phischen und der mathematischen Wahrschein- what you are to do, and you are bound to leicht fasslichen philosophischen Versuch über follow it implicitly. die mathematische Wahrscheinlichkeit dieses. A few examples will make this clear. Spiels. Vom Ritter Ludwig von Coeckelbergle- Suppose king and ace are led in succession, Dützele. This is an admirable work. The and you hold only the two and the four; it motto, taken from Schiller,
is quite indifferent, on general grounds, in * Den lauten Markt mag Momus unterhalten, what order you play them; but the conven
Ein edler Sinn liebt edlere Gestalten :' tion tells you you must, when playing worthand an exhortation introduced elsewhere, less cards, always throw away the lowest
first, then the next lowest, and so on; it Que le whist soit un jeu, et non pas un jouet,'
would be considered a crime if (except for a show the author's ligli estimation of the game, definite motive to be explained presently) which he treats in a most intellectual and phi- you were to drop the four first, as your losophical manner. His exposition of the mathematical probabilities is especially clear and full. partner would at once infer you had nothing He comes very near to an anticipation of the smaller. Again, suppose you, being third modern English game, by the great stress he player, hold a sequence of king, queen, and lays on the advantage of combiuing the hands knave; they are all of equal value, but it is. of the two partners, and he devotes one long by no means indifferent which you play ;gungsspiel, -—-.e. the system of mutual understand the convention prescribes you must (if not. ing established between the partners by their leading, when other considerations come in) play. He heads the chapter by the appropriate always play the lowest of a sequence; if you. Spanish proverb
were to play the queen, your partner would Que hablen cartas Y callen barbas.'
infer you had not the knave. Another imLet the cards discourse, but the tongue be mute; portant convention is in returning your and the following extract will illustrate general partner's suit, when you hold nothing but ly the principles he inculcates :
useless cards; you must return the highest 'In order to make the most advantageous use of your own as well as of your partner's hand, you must endeavour to find out what his cards especially when the chief direction of the play are, and to afford him similar information as to lies with yourself or your partner; the deceptive
Both these objects are effected by practice should only be resorted to when the what is called the language of the cards (Karten- adversaries have the command, or when it is sprache), or the art of signalling (Signalkunst). obvious that your partner is thoroughly weak, The cards selected to be played serve, by their and that your information can be of no use tó relative value, as telegraphic signs, by which him. In general, however, false indications, the two partners carry on a reciprocal com- which of course mislead your partner as well as munication, and convey indications as to what the adversaries, should be used very sparingly; cards they hold, as well as suggestions of the most advantageous system is to approach as their respective views and wishes. By this nearly as possible to the ever-honest dummy, means they are enabled to give better support who deceives nobody, and yet in the long run to each other; to calculate more easily the proves the best player.' chances of the game ; and to anticipate more In Northern Germany, if we are to judge by a correctly the effect of any particular play. more modern work, the 'Encyclopädie der Spiele,'
'The conduct of your hand should be as clear Leipzig, 1855, whist would appear to be made as possible towards your partner ; but towards rather a jouet than a jeu. The book scarcely the adversary it may be equivocal and deceptive. contains an intimation of the true principles of The former course should be usually followed, the game.
if you have only two left, the lowest if The introduction of particular modes of more; thus if, after winning his lead, you play for the sole purpose of giving informahave the four and five left, you must return tion is as old as Hoyle. He says if you the five;
if you have the four, five, and six, have ace, king, and queen of trumps, “play you must return the four.
the lowest, in order to let your partner into These, and
other conventional the state of your game.' Also, if you have modes of play, have been admitted without a quart-major in any suit, and have occasion question; but about thirty years ago an to throw away from it, he tells you to throw application of the principle was introduced away the highest, for the same object. which, although it has been very generally Mathews says if you have to win a small adopted in England, has given rise to much trump with one of a sequence of three, win discussion. This is the call for trumps, it with the highest and play the lowest already mentioned, which is given by throw- afterwards, “to inform your partner.' All ing away, unnecessarily, a higher card before these are pure empirical intimations, which a lower, i.e. by a conventional departure cannot be traced to any extensions of natural from the ordinary conventional rule. Thus, play. in the case above mentioned, where king Mr. Clay distinctly states his opinion that and ace are led, the call for trumps would it is fair to give your partner any intimabe given by throwing away first the four, tion which could be given if the cards were and then the two.
placed on the table, each exactly in the same The legitimacy of this signal has been manner as the others, by a machine, the questioned. It is said, by some, to be no, players being out of sight and hearing each more justifiable than giving a sign with of the other. This would sanction
kind your finger, or kicking your partner under of intimation, pre-arranged or not, that can the table; but we cannot see that it is a be conveyed by the cards played. whit more open to cavil than playing the A passage in Paley's Moral Philosophy' lowest of a sequence, or any other pre-con- is pertinent to this question. After speakcerted means of conveying information. It ing of whist and justifying any advantage has been attempted to draw a distinction gained by skilful play, he says: “But if I between purely empirical conventions, and gain an advantage by packing the cards, such as may be traced to an extension of glancing my eye into the adversaries' hands, ordinary rules of play. For example, throwing or by preconcerted signals with my partner, away the smallest of two cards, both useless, it is a dishonest advantage.' This might at is said to be only an extension of the same first seem to condemn conventional signals ; practice, when the higher one may be useful; but mark the reason because it depends playing the lowest of a sequence is consider- on means which the adversary never suspects ed analogous to the common-sense rule of that I make use of. This clearly shows winning with the lowest card possible, and that the 'preconcerted signals' here alluded
It is then argued that this class to mean only such as are privately arranged may be allowed, while empirical conventions between the partners, and are unknown to aré indefensible; and Mr. Clay, who has the adversaries. It is, of course, essential devoted a chapter to the signal for trumps, to the legitimacy of all conventional signals has ingeniously endeavoured to show that it that they be publicly acknowledged, and has arisen out of ordinary play, and so comes that the intimations given to the partner be within the permissible category. But irre- equally visible to the adversaries, who may spective of the fact that there are several take any advantage of them they can. Every admitted intimations which cannot be traced practised player knows, for example, how .to ordinary rules, we do not see any logical dangerous it is to call for trumps with a ground for such a distinction; for whenever clever adversary, who, by forcing the strong à natural mode of play is pushed so far as hand before trumps can be led, may totally to require a special pre-arranged understand destroy the intended plan, and so turn the ing to make it intelligible, it becomes as tables on the giver of the signal. It is the strictly conventional as if it were of empiri- same, more or less, with all intimations : the cal origin. In short, no line can be drawn, advantage is on the side of that player, be and, therefore, either the conventional mode he partner or adversary, who observes them of conveying information should be admitted most carefully and acts on them most skilgenerally, or it ought to be abolished alto- fully; and thus they tend, as all whist devices gether. But the latter course would be ought, to the promotion and the reward of clearly impossible, as nobody could be pre- good play on either side. vented from playing indifferent cards in some On the whole, we think it established regular way, which he might expect his that any well-understood modes of giving, partner to comprehend.
publicly to the table, by the play of the
cards, information as to the contents of the The modern game is, like whist itself, enhand of the player, are justifiable by the tirely of English invention; but when we spirit and the morality of whist, as well as come to inquire what whist playing actually by the recorded opinions of the best authori- is, in this country, we find it, as a general ties, past and present. The essence of the rule, far below the proper standard. Conmodern game, as we have already explained, sidering the immense popularity of the game consists in the combination of the hands, it is singular how very rare is even modewhich can only be effected by full informa- rate proficiency. Really good play is gention. Without pre-arranged conventions erally confined to the clubs; in domestic this information would be most imperfect, circles the prevalence of what Charles Lamb the combination would become impractica- called sick whist’ is almost universal. ble, and whist would lose all the fine in- It is almost inconceivable what depths of tellectual character it has acquired, and ignorance and incompetence are found even would relapse into little better than an among habitual players. Deschapelles tells obscure game of hazard, as it was in its a laughable story of four enthusiastic worearliest days.
thies who were given, for a joke, two packs It is astonishing what an insight a player of cards, from one of which the four aces, may obtain into the state, not only of his and from the other the four kings, had been partner's hand, but also of those of his oppo- abstracted. They played on, with constant nents, if, guided by the established rules, he disputes about tricks and honours every carefully observes the fall of the cards, and hand, but it was two hours before they draws the proper inferences therefrom. Mr. found out the cause ! These proficients Clay's first chapter, and Dr. Pole's Table of were well matched by four later players, in Inferences, put this very forcibly. It may this country, who had just heard of the sigfairly be said that by the time half the nal for trumps, and, thinking it a fine invenhand is over, the general character and pro- tion, each of the four gave the sign, but not bable results of the whole play will be re- one of them saw it! Madam,' once said vealed. Deschapelles has a fanciful way of an adept to his partner who asked his opiillustrating this: he likens the progress of nion of her play, expecting a compliment, the play of a hand to the parabolic path of you played one card quite correctly, that a shell thrown from a mortar, the seventh was the last.' trick forming the apex of the curve. During It would be vain to attempt to describe the first half, corresponding to the rise of all the infinite varieties of bad play ; but it the projectile, the play is tentative, and the may be useful to give a few of its most player is acquiring information, which in the salient characteristics, and this we may do latter or descending portion he has to apply. by dividing whist-players into four classes,
In the above remarks we have taken no with, however, the proviso that such a classinotice of what may be called the accidents fication must be only approximate, and far of the game, such, for example, as finessing, from exhaustive in the lower grades. taking advantage of peculiar situations, &c. Beginning with the worst, the fourth Rules for these things formed the staple of class appear to have derived their ideas of. ancient whist; the modern game has by no playing from certain oral traditions, which, means superseded them; they must be well though widely spread, and, doubtless, of studied by every one who aspires to be a great antiquity, it is difficult to trace to any good player, and the new system gives more definite origin. Probably they may be the scope for them, by increasing the knowledge handing-down of the rudest practice in the which leads to their successful application. infancy of the game. We have, as a matter They are treated of fully in all whist books, of curiosity, paid some attention to the and do not require further notice here. habits of this class, and the following may
be taken as a summary of their chief rules, The description above given has been ne- which, we believe, now appear in print for cessarily brief, but it will suffice to show the first time:that modern whist stands, in an intellectual point of view, far in advance of the old 'If you have an ace and king of any plain game of Hoyle. It is more logical and sys- suit, lead them out at once. If not, lead from tematic in its structure, and is more easily it some time; or lead a single card for ruffing.
the best card you hold, in the hope of making learnt; at the same time it admits of a
* But if fortunately your partner has led behigher order of skill in play, and it is proved fore you, you have only to return his lead, and by experience to be more advantageous in its results.*
game over independent play, is estimated at
half a point per rubber. Superior personal skill * The advantage of the systematic combined l in the two players may add half a point more