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Title: Whist or Bumblepuppy - Thirteen Lectures Addressed to Children
Author: Hewby, John Petch
Language: English
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Thirteen Lectures Addressed to Children.



      “Ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes
   Emollunt mores, nec sinuisse feros.”—_The Newcomes._

Revised and Enlarged Edition.


Frederick Warne & Co.,
Bedford Street, Strand.

Mudie & Sons,
15 Coventry Street, W.

Printed by Geo. W. Jones,
35 St. Bride St., E.C.



    “We have been rather lengthy in our remarks on this
    book, as it is the best attempt we have ever seen to
    shame very bad players into trying to improve, and also
    because it abounds with most sensible maxims, dressed
    up in a very amusing and palatable form.”—_The Field._

    “‘Whist; or Bumblepuppy?’ is one of the most
    entertaining and at the same time one of the soundest
    books on Whist ever written. Its drollery may blind
    some readers to the value of its advice; no man who
    knows anything about Whist, however, will fail to read
    it with interest, and few will fail to read it with
    advantage. Upon the ordinary rules of Whist ‘Pembridge’
    supplies much sensible and thoroughly amusing comment.
    The best player in the world may gain from his
    observations, and a mediocre player can scarcely find
    a better counsellor. There is scarcely an opinion
    expressed with which we do not coincide.”—_Sunday

    “Lectures on the points most essential to the
    acquisition of a complete knowledge of the game. The
    lessons here given will well repay perusal.”—_Bell’s

    “All true lovers of Whist will give a hearty welcome
    to this work. It is a small book, but full of weighty
    matter. We have not space to analyse the positive rules
    laid down by ‘Pembridge’ for the guidance of those
    who wish to qualify as Whist players. Suffice it to
    say that they are all sound, and most of them worth
    committing to memory.”—_Sportsman._

    “It would be very easy to write at greater length than
    we have done in praise of ‘Pembridge’s’ little book.
    But we have said enough to indicate its nature and
    scope; and we feel sure that any of our readers who may
    meet with it will endorse our verdict that it is a real
    addition to the literature of Whist.”—_Australasian._


  LECTURE I.—INTRODUCTORY                                         1

  LECTURE II.—THE LEAD                                           11



        (Part I.; Part II.)                                      46

  LECTURE VI.—THE ELEVEN RULE                                    55


  LECTURE VIII.—FALSE CARDS, LOGIC, LUCK                         69

  LECTURE IX.—WHIST AS AN INVESTMENT                             74

  LECTURE X.—ON THINGS IN GENERAL                                81

  LECTURE XI.—THINKING                                           93

  LECTURE XII.—TEMPER                                            99


  BUMBLEPUPPY IN EXCELSIS                                       111

  THE DOMESTIC RUBBER, DOUBLE DUMMY                             113

  EPILOGUE I.                                                   115

  EPILOGUE II.                                                  117



THESE remarks are addressed to the young, in the hope that when they
arrive at man’s estate they will use their best endeavours to do away
with Law 91.

To the present generation, already acquainted with “the Game,” I should
no more presume to offer advice than I should presume to teach my
lamented Grandmother to suck eggs, if she were still alive.

    “To instruct them, no art could ever reach,
     No care improve them and no wisdom teach.”
                              PROVERBS, _chap. 27, v. 22._






                      “Vacuis committere venis
    Nil nisi lene decet.”—_Eton Grammar._

    “Those that do teach young babes
     Do it with gentle means and easy tasks.”—_Shakespeare._

AS, humanly speaking, you will probably play something for the next
fifty years, should you select either Whist or Bumblepuppy,[1] it will
be as well for your own comfort—the comfort of others is a minor
consideration[2]—to have some idea of their general principles; but
first you must decide which of these two games you intend to play, for
though they are often confounded together, and are both supposed to be
governed by the same ninety-one laws and a chapter on etiquette, they
differ much more distinctly than the chalk and cheese of the present
day. Professor Pole in his “Theory of Whist,” Appendix B, has made a
very skilful attempt (by modifying the maxims of Whist) to make the two
games into a kind of emulsion. I was rather taken with this, and having
been informed that the most incongruous materials will mix, if you only
shake them together long enough, I have given this plan a fair trial,
and failed.

It may be that I had not sufficient patience and perseverance, but the
principal cause of failure I found to be this: the Bumblepuppist, like
Artemus Ward’s bear, “can be taught many interesting things but is
unreliable;” he only admires his own eccentricities, and if a person of
respectable antecedents gets up a little pyrotechnic display of false
cards for his own private delectation, the Bumblepuppist utterly misses
the point of the joke, he fails even to see that it is clever: if such
a comparison may be drawn without offence, he doesn’t consider that
what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

In the face of this difficulty, I should recommend you to treat them as
separate games: as you go down in one scale and up in the other they
closely approximate; that extremes meet is a law of nature, and between
the worst Whist and the best Bumblepuppy it is almost impossible to
draw the line.

Other elementary forms, protozoa for instance, are often so much alike
that it is difficult to decide whether they are plants or animals; but
representative specimens of each game, beyond being found at the same
table, (in scientific slang, having the same habitat,) have scarcely
one point in common, you might just as reasonably mistake horse-radish
for beef.

If you elect Whist (I shall refer to the laws later on) begin by
learning the leads, and the ordinary play of the second, third and
fourth hand, which you will find in any Whist Book;[3] this can be done
in a few days; then after cutting for partners (see note to Law 14) as
soon as the cards are dealt, _not before_ (see note to Law 45),

    (1) Take up your hand;

    (2) Count your cards (see notes to Laws 42 & 46);

    (3) Sort them into suits;

    (4) Look them over carefully;

    (5) Fix firmly in your memory not only the trump suit
      but the trump card, then

    (6) Give your undivided attention to the table, _it is
      there and not in your hand the game is played_;

    (7) _See every card played in the order it is

    (8) When you deal, place the trump card apart from the
      rest of the suit, that you may know at once which it

N.B.—Knowing is always better than the very best thinking, and
generally much more easy: by these simple means you get rid at once
and for ever of all such childish interruptions as “draw your card!”
“who led?” “what are trumps?” “show me the last trick!” and so _ad
infinitum_, which, by their constant repetition, not merely worry and
annoy the rest of the table, but tend to destroy any clue to the game
that you yourself might otherwise possess.

It is a good plan to sit clear of the table, and then if you are
constrained to drop a few cards, they at any rate fall on the floor,
where they cannot be called.

So far, I have assumed your object to be Whist; if your end and aim is
Bumblepuppy, you need do none of these things; you can learn the leads
and the recognised play—more or less imperfectly—in a few years by
practice, or you can leave them unlearned;

    “Build by whatever plan caprice decrees,
     With what materials, on what ground you please.”

ignorance imparts variety to the game, and variety is charming. You
can set all laws at defiance, and if any one objects—after much
wrangling—you can refer the matter in dispute to the Westminster
Papers,[5] and hang it up for a month certain: (this is a better plan
than writing to the _Field_, for there you only get a week’s respite).

Should you be in any doubt whether Whist or the other game is your
vocation, the first half-dozen times you play make it a rule never to
look at the last trick—

    “Things that are past are done with.”—_Shakespeare._

and if at the end of that time you find the difficulty insuperable,
give up, as hopeless, all idea of becoming a Whist player.

_Notes on some of the Laws._

                      “Vir bonus est quis?
    Qui consulta patrum, qui leges jaraque servat.”—_Eton Grammar._

I have mentioned that there are ninety-one laws. The wording of
the first is not strictly accurate; it ought to be “The rubber is
_generally_ the best of three games,” for though I myself have never
seen more than four, it may consist of any number, as the following
decisions show:

DECISION A.—The rubber is over when one side has won two games and
remembers it has done so: this memory must be brought to bear before
the other side has won two games and remembers it has done so.

DECISION B.—If a game is forgotten, it is no part of the losers’ duty
to remind the winners of the fact.

LAW 5.—This law is clear enough; still the first time you revoke and
are found out, if your opponents hold honours and you have nothing
scored—however many you have made by cards—they will claim a treble:
you should be prepared for this. The claim is wrong, but in spite of
that—possibly because of it—“they all do it.”

LAW 7.—DECISION.—You must call your honours audibly, but you are not
obliged to yell because your adversaries are quarrelling.

LAW 14.—Always get hold of the cards before cutting, and place a high
card at one end of the pack and a low one at the other, then cut last
and take either card you prefer: by this means you select your partner,
this is an admirable coup and tends to the greatest happiness of the
greatest number (Note A, page 2) but it must be executed with judgment,
for if you are detected your happiness will not be increased, rather
the reverse. Some purists, anxious to be on the safe side, only keep an
eye on the bottom card, and take it when it suits them.

LAW 34.—Until the last few years, after you had cut the cards into two
distinct packets, if the dealer thought fit to knock one of them over,
leave a card on the table, or drop half-a-dozen or so about, it was a
mis-deal on the ground that these proceedings were opposed to one or
other of the next two laws, 35 and 36, but the latest decision is that
the dealer can maltreat the pack in any way he likes and as often as he
likes, and compel you to keep on cutting _de die in diem_.

OLD DECISION.—“You cannot make your adversary cut a second time; when
you left a card on the table it could not be said that there was a
confusion in the cutting, it is a mis-deal.”

NEW DECISION.—“There is nothing in the laws to make this a mis-deal.
The play comes under the term ‘Confusion of the cards,’ and there must
be a fresh deal.”

If you see a potent, grave, and reverend seignior carefully
lubricating his thumb with saliva, don’t imagine he is preparing it
for deglutition, he is only about to deal. Even if he should swallow
it, why interfere? he will not hurt you; it is not your thumb. Should
you suffer from acute hyperæsthesis you can follow the example of
an old friend of mine, who once rose from the table in his terror,
and returned armed with a large pair of black kid gloves which he
wore during the remainder of the _seance_: though the effect was
funereal—not to say ghastly—it was attended with the best results
in this case, but it is just as likely to lead to ill-feeling, and
therefore to be deprecated. Leave the matter to time! Apart from the
cards being glazed with lead, a single pack has been found to contain a
fifth of an ounce of arsenic, and there is no known antidote. Even if
not immediately fatal, the practice must be very deleterious. A whist
enthusiast with a greater turn for mathematics than I can lay claim
to, has counted from six to seven thousand bacteria on each square
centimetre of a playing card, and makes this ghastly deduction: “it is
really dreadful to reflect upon the colony of microbes which a person
who moistens his thumb before dealing may convey into his mouth, and
thence into his system.”—_Standard_, Nov. 2nd, 1893. “Everything comes
to the man who can wait,” and while you are waiting _always sit on the
dealer’s right_.

LAW 37.—An incorrect or imperfect pack is a pack containing duplicates
or more or less than fifty-two cards, but it is neither incorrect nor
imperfect because you think fit to place any number of your own cards
in the other pack, or to supplement them with one from it. _Vide_ Laws
42, 46.

LAW 42.—If you take _one_ card from the other pack, it is clear that
you subject yourself to a penalty; if you take more than one the matter
is not so clear; possibly you may gain by it; should you wish to have
the point settled, any time you have a bad hand add the other pack to
it; then complain that you have sixty-five cards, throw them up, claim
a new deal under Rule 37, and see what comes of it.

LAW 45.—Taking up your cards during the deal has one advantage, that
if you can get your hand sorted and begin to play without waiting
for the dealer, you save time, and time is reported to be money.
To counter-balance this there are two attendant disadvantages, you
prevent the possibility of a mis-deal, and any card exposed by your
officiousness gives the dealer the option of a new deal.

LAW 46.—Under this law it is manifest that—the other hands being
correct—your hand may consist of any number of cards from one to
thirteen, and if you once play to a trick—however many you may be
short—you will have to find them or be responsible for them. See Law 70.

LAW 91.—If this law, which is the main cause of inattention and
innumerable improper intimations, were abolished, Whist would be
greatly improved; and I have never met with a good Whist player who was
not of the same opinion.

The chapter on etiquette is good sense and good English, and is worthy
of much more attention than is usually given to it.

In addition to their ambiguity and sins of commission, there is also a
sin of omission; there is no limit as to time, and it seems desirable
there should be; I would suggest—as allowing the hesitating player
reasonable latitude—one of those sand glasses, supposed to be useful
for boiling an egg; there is no sense in giving him time enough to
addle his egg.

Though these laws appear more difficult of access than I had imagined,
they are not the laws of which the only copy was destroyed by Moses;
I have seen them myself in Clay, Cavendish, and the “Art of Practical
Whist,” and if you are unable to get any of these works from Mudie’s,
there are copies of each in the British Museum, Great Russell Street,

Before or immediately after breakfast is the best time to play; then,
if ever, the intellect is clear, the attention undistracted; in the
afternoon you are exhausted by the labours of the day, and your
evenings should be devoted to the morrow’s lessons or a quiet nap (not
the round game of that ilk).


[1] “That there are a large number of players who think they
play Whist, and yet do not reason, is too true, but such play
may be Bumblepuppy, or some other game; it certainly is not
Whist.”—_Westminster Papers._


Bumblepuppy is persisting to play Whist, either in utter ignorance of
all its known principles, or in defiance of them, or both.

Hudibras has given another definition—

    “A lib’ral art that costs no pains
     Of study, industry, or brains.”

“Bumblepuppy was played in low public houses.”

“Here and there were Bumblepuppy grounds, a game in which the players
rolled iron balls into holes marked with numbers.”—_Chronicles of

From which I infer that in the good old times this game first drove its
votaries to drinking, and then landed them in a felon’s cell.

[2] In all well regulated society, your aim should be the greatest
happiness of the greatest number, and that number is notoriously number

[3] “Do not attempt to practise until you have acquired a competent
knowledge of the theory.”—_Mathews_, A.D. 1800.

[4] “The first Whist lesson should be to keep your eye on the table and
not on your own cards.”

“We cannot all have genius, but we can all have attention;
the absence of intelligence we cannot help, inattention is
unpardonable.”—_Westminster Papers._

[5] Since these words were written the “Westminster Papers” is no more.

    “Sit tibi terra levis!”






    “Dux nobis opus est.”—_Eton Grammar._

    “I pray thee now lead.”—_Shakespeare._

THE play of the entire hand often depends upon the very first card led,
and the confidence your partner has that your lead is correct; whatever
then your original lead may be, let it be a true and—as far as you can
make it so—a simple lead: never lead an equivocal card—that is one
which may denote either strength or weakness—if you can, lead a card
about which no mistake is possible.[6] With the original lead, follow
the books and lead your strongest suit; if you have nothing at all, do
as little mischief as you can; in this pitiable condition the head of a
short suit—as a knave or a ten—is better than the lowest or lowest but
one of five to the nine; your partner, when he sees the high card led,
knows at once (assuming he knows anything) that he will have to save
the game himself if it can be saved, and will take the necessary steps
to that end. Though there is ancient and modern authority for this,[7]
I am perfectly aware that (according to the latest theory) it is
heresy; I am also aware, and the reflection gives me quite as much pain
as the heresy does, that leading a long weak suit _with a bad hand_ and
no cards of re-entry is a losing game:

          “Such courses are in vain
    Unless we can get in again.”

to lead your longest suit when you are neither likely to get the lead
again, nor to make a trick in it if you do, is a “short and easily
remembered rule,” but is apt to bring its followers to grief; if I
do so, I know perfectly well that after the game is over I shall
probably be left with the two long cards of that suit, or I may have
an opportunity of discarding one or both of them before that crisis
arrives, but this is not the slightest consolation to me.

While on the subject of heresy, I may as well refer to another lead
which has a special orthodoxy of its own. In all suits of four or more,
containing no sequence, unless headed by the ace, you either lead the
lowest, or, if you wish particularly to exhibit your knowledge of the
game, the lowest but one; but from king, knave, ten, &c., you lead the
ten, and if your object is a quiet life, you will continue to do so;
if you want to make tricks the advantage of the lead is not so clear:
if the second player holds ace, queen, &c., or queen and another, you
drive him into playing the queen, and so lose a trick, which if you had
led your lowest in the usual way, you might not have done.[8]

Against this you have the set off that by leading the ten you insure
having the king-card of the suit in the third round, but it is scarcely
worth your while to go through so much to get so little; for such a
lead pre-supposes your partner to have neither ace, queen, nor nine,
and it is two to one that he holds one of them; if your partner’s best
card is below the nine, the tricks you will make will be like angels’
visits, few and far between, whatever you lead; and why you should
take such a desponding view of an unplayed suit I am not aware. The
advantage of opening a suit in which you hold tenace is not so great
as to oblige you to handicap it by sending the town-crier round with a
bell to proclaim what that tenace is; _late in the hand_ it is often
advisable to lead the knave.

With ace and four small cards and a bad hand, when weak in trumps, I
have found, from long experience, the ace to be a losing lead, and
being distinctly of the impression that for the ordinary purposes of
life, 13/4 = 2, as I am not always anxious to proclaim the exact number
of my suit, I generally lead a small one.

I am aware that the suit does not always go twice, or even once; but
that is the fault of the cards, not of the equation.

Of course, if, for any wise purpose, you feel you must have one trick,
take it at the first opportunity, irrespective of Cocker or any other

N.B.—When you, second, third, or fourth player have won the first
trick, whatever you may think, you are _not_ the original leader, and
your lead then should be guided by your own hand; if it is a bad one
you are under no compulsion to open a suit at all, one suit is already
open, go on with that; if it also is a bad one, one bad suit is a less
evil than two bad suits, or opening a doubtful one in the dark; return
through strength up to declared weakness, or if it was your partner
who led, why should you show a suit unless you hold a good sequence or
strong trumps? Return his suit, yours will be led sometime; whatever
you won the trick with, he is in a better position to defend himself as
third player than if he had to lead it again himself.

In returning your partner’s lead, if you had originally three, you
return the higher of the two remaining cards; in returning through your
adversary’s lead, if you hold the third best and another, play the
small one, for your partner may hold the second best single and they
would fall together.

Whenever you hold a suit with one honour in it, to lead that suit, if
you can avoid it, is about the worst use you can make of it. Should you
fail to see this, devote ten minutes—not when you are playing whist,
but on some wet half-holiday or quiet Sunday afternoon—to thinking the
matter over; even if you have a suit of king, queen to three, why not
be quiet? If anybody else opens the suit you will probably make two
tricks, if you open it yourself, probably one; there is no hurry about
it, you can always do that, but why you should go out of your way to
lead a suit in which you hold four to the knave or five to the ten is

It is not generally known (or if it is, it is never acted on, which
comes to the same thing) that neither in the ninety-one laws of whist,
nor in any of its numerous maxims, are you forbidden to play the third
round of a suit, even though the best card is notoriously held by
your opponent. It is a common delusion to fancy that when a suit is
declared against you, you can prevent it making by leading something
else, whereas you merely postpone the evil day, and do mischief in the
interval. Many feeble whist-players are unwilling ever to let their
opponents make a single trick; now this is unnecessarily greedy; under
no circumstances, at short whist, is it imperative to make more than
eleven. Allow your adversary to have two, it amuses him and does not
hurt you.

    “It is less mischievous, generally, to lead a certain
    losing card, than to open a fresh suit in which you are
    very weak.”—_What to Lead_, by Cam.

With trumps declared against you be particularly careful how you open
new suits; surely when you have just succeeded in knocking your partner
on the head in one suit, you might give him till the next hand to
recover himself, instead of trying to assault him again the very next
time you get the lead.[9]

Changing suits is one of the most constant annoyances you will have
to contend against; queer temper, grumbling, logic, and so on, if
sometimes a nuisance, are sometimes altogether absent, but the
determination to open new suits for no apparent reason—unless a feeble
desire on the part of the leader to see how far the proceeding will
injure his partner can be called a reason—is chronic.

Never[10] lead a singleton unless you are strong enough in trumps to
defeat any attempt either of your adversaries or your partner to get
them out, in which case it might be as well to lead them yourself;
whether you lead a sneaker or wait for others to play the suit, the
chance of ruffing is much the same, and the certainty of making a false
lead, and the nearly equal certainty of deceiving your partner are

When a singleton comes off it may be nice, it is certainly naughty;
when on the other hand you have killed your partner’s king, and he has
afterwards got the lead, drawn the trumps, and returned your suit,
should the adversaries make four or five suits in it, you must not be
surprised if he gives vent to a few cursory remarks. To succeed with a
singleton, (1) your partner must win the first trick in the suit, (2)
he must return it at once, (3) on your next opening another unknown
suit, he must again win the trick, and the odds against these combined
events coming off are something considerable. Per contra, he will
probably be beaten on the very first round, and even if he is not, it
is extremely likely that he will either lead trumps—unless he is aware
of your idiosyncracy, when he will never know what to do—for what he
naturally imagines is your strong suit, or open his own; at the same
time, just as there are fagots and fagots, so there are singletons
and singletons, and a queen or knave is by no means such a villainous
card as anything below a seven. “The very worst singleton is the

With five trumps and no cards, lead a trump: you have made a true lead,
you have led not merely your strongest suit, but a very strong suit,
and if your partner has nothing, you will lose the game whatever you
play, but you will lose it on that account, and not because you led a
trump; if you open any of the plain suits you will make a false lead,
and it is two to one that the adversaries hold any of them against your
partner. You will often be told by the very people who will tell you
to lead from five small cards in a plain suit, that to lead a trump
from five is too dangerous, but if you inquire in what way it is too
dangerous, and receive any satisfactory reply, you will succeed in
doing what I have never done.

With five trumps and other cards, _a fortiori_ lead a trump.

Towards the end of the game, you will find it laid down by some
authorities that if you hold nothing and have an original lead, you
should lead your best trump; now if that trump is of sufficient size to
warn your partner that it is your best, this lead may not, under the
circumstances, be much more injurious than any other; but an original
trump lead is usually supposed to indicate great strength either in
trumps, or in plain suits, and if your partner infers from the size
of your trump that your lead is from strength, and acting on that
inference returns it, it is about the most murderous lead that can
be made; having been two or three times the victim of such a lead is
almost as good a reason for not returning trumps as sudden illness or
not having one.

If he holds seven tricks in his own hand he can make them at any time,
and any attempt of yours, however able, to deceive him at the outset
will (to say the least of it) not assist him in doing so.

Why add an additional element of confusion to the game? Why should
your partner have to say to himself as well as “Strong cards or strong
trumps?” “Perhaps nothing at all.” He is compelled to wait about to see
what is the meaning of this lead, time is lost, and an opportunity let
slip which may never recur. The Bumblepuppist will here observe that
time was made for slaves; but the apophthegms on this subject are more
numerous and contradictory than he is aware of.

As a general principle, with the original lead and a very bad hand, it
is advisable to efface yourself as much as possible. In such a case, I
always have a strong desire to get under the table—I don’t know that it
is contrary to either the laws or the etiquette of whist to do so—and I
firmly believe it is a better course than leading the trey of trumps;
at any rate it is not for the weak hand to dictate how the game should
be played; and to step boldly to the front and lead a small trump
from two, without a trick behind it, is in my opinion the height of

At certain states of the score it may be imperative, in order to save
the game, that you should place all the remaining cards, but that is
another matter altogether, and if you want to go into it, read Clay
on the subject (page 85), though he nowhere suggests that you should
commence operations by placing thirty-eight unknown cards.

If your partner has led you a trump, and you—holding ace, queen, to
four or more—have made the queen, return the ace; if you are playing
Bumblepuppy return a small one, your partner thinking the ace is
against him, is almost certain to finesse and lose a trick—then call
him names. The reason assigned by the perpetrator of this return is
that as he originally held four he is _compelled_ to play the lowest,
and it curiously exemplifies his inability to apply even the little
knowledge he is possessed of.

With ace, king only, it is customary to lead first the ace and then
the king; there is no authority for such a lead,[11] and nothing to be
gained by it, except that by leading in this way you probably prevent
your partner from signalling in the suit, but if you like to burden
yourself with a useless anomaly, you can make a note of it. We started
with the hypothesis, that, in the ordinary course of nature, you have
fifty years before you, and if you wish to embitter and shorten those
years, you will invariably lead the lowest but one of five—it may be,
and I am informed is, useful among a few assorted players, “chock-full
of science,” but it is caviare to the general[12] and (unlike
Wordsworth’s Creature)—

            “Too bright and good
    For human nature’s daily food.”[13]

For my part I only think it expedient to show five when, with
reasonable strength on the part of my partner, I have a fair prospect
of bringing in the suit.[14]

It is often better to keep the knowledge of mere length of suit
religiously to yourself. Length and strength are not always the same
thing; why are giants generally so weak about the knees? Length is
often only one element of strength and a very poor one at that,
though it may be of use indirectly. With four or five low cards and
an observant opponent, it is occasionally a good plan to bottle up
the smallest. I have known this missing link so to prey upon that
opponent’s mind as to cause him to forget matters of much greater

In bumblepuppy all this is entirely different, you can lead anything
you like, in any way you like; here the safest lead is a long weak
suit, the longer and weaker it is, the less is your partner able to do
you a mischief. _With a weak partner_, strengthening cards are either
futile or dangerous: as he will in all probability at once disembowel
himself, the result of leading them is on all fours with the Japanese
Hari Kari; whereas if you lead him a small card he will finesse into
his boots.

You should also be very particular to lead the lowest but one of
five,[15] it creates confusion, and under cover of that confusion you
may make a trick or two. From this point of view you will often find
the lead of the middle card of your suit extremely effective.

As to play false cards for the purpose of deceiving your partner is
considered clever, a very little practice will enable you to play them
with facility. With all deference to Bret Harte, for ways that are
dark, the Heathen Chinee is _not_ particular, and for tricks that are
vain, the Caucasian can give him points.

    “For when he’d got himself a name
    For fraud and tricks, he spoil’d his game;
    And when he chanced to escape, mistook,
    For art and subtlety, his luck.”

The ability to play false cards is not a proof of intelligence.
(“Cunning is often associated with a low type of intellect.”—_Report of
Inspector-General of Military Prisons._)[16]

If you read your Natural History, you will find it is the weaker
animals which betake themselves to anomalous modes of defence; though
the cuttle-fish and the skunk may be much looked up to in their
respective domestic circles, they are quite out of place at the

It is also usual with ace to five or more trumps to lead the ace, and
if you see—by killing your partner’s king, or by his failing to play
one—that he has no more, to try something else, for you can change the
suit as often as you please. It is a fine mental exercise for your
partner to recollect the remaining cards of four unfinished suits, all
going simultaneously.

I often think, when I see this game in full blast, that whist-players
are not sufficiently grateful to Charles the Sixth, or whatever other
lunatic invented playing cards, for having limited himself to four
suits; he might have devised six—but the idea is too horrible. “In the
time of Charles the Sixth there were five suits.”—_Field._ This not
only proves my ignorance but my position, for if five suits have been
tried and found too much for human endurance, then six would manifestly
have been quite too awful! Q.E.D.



[6] “It is highly necessary to be correct in leads.” “Never lead a card
without a reason, though a wrong one.” “Be particularly cautious not to
deceive your partner in his or your own leads.”—_Mathews._

[7] “According to the play that we see, with great weakness the rule
is rather to lead strengthening cards. For our own part we should
be inclined to say, “Lead from your long suit only when you are
sufficiently strong to bring in that suit with the aid of reasonable
strength on the part of your partner.”—_Westminster Papers._

“When you have a moderate hand yourself sacrifice it to your

“With a bad hand lead that suit which is least likely to injure your
partner. Do not, therefore, lead from four or five small cards.”—_Major

“A lead from a queen or knave and one small card is not objectionable
if you have a miserably weak hand; your queen or knave may be valuable
to your partner.”—_Clay._

“The rule of always leading from the longest, as distinct from the
strongest suit, is a rule which, more frequently than any other,
sacrifices a partner’s cards without any benefit to the leader, and is
in direct opposition to the true principles of combination.”—_Mogul._

Even Cavendish, unless “generally” is synonymous with “always,” admits
the expediency of occasionally leading a short suit; “the hand, however
weak, must hold one suit of four cards, and this should _generally_ be

[8] “The lead is quite exceptional, and many good judges have doubted
whether a small one should not be led.”—_The Field._

[9] As intelligent children you will, perhaps, be tempted to observe
that all this is so self-evident it is scarcely worth mentioning: at
your immature time of life such a mistake is pardonable, but as you
grow older you will find that a determination to open ragged suits
in season and out of season—especially out—is one of the strongest
impulses of our imperfect nature.

[10] As defined by Captain Corcoran, R.N. In all treatises on Whist
“never” is invariably used in this sense. Perhaps in presence of the
New Whist which is now raging violently in America, it would be more
correct here to substitute “was” for “is.”

[11] Peccavi! the lead is given in _What to Lead_, by Cam.

[12] Never give “the general” an opportunity for thinking if you can
avoid it; this is a rule of _universal application_. “How oft the sight
of means to do ill deeds makes ill deeds done!”

[13] It was introduced as “a proposed extension of principle,” but you
had better stick to the old adage, “first catch your principle,” and
leave the extension of it to some future time. Theoretical advantages
of this lead, and also the echo of the signal, you will find fully set
forth in “Cavendish.” In a letter to the _Field_, September 27th, 1879,
he appears to advocate varying its monotony by occasionally leading the
lowest but _two_. Cam, the original patentee of this invention, and
one of the finest players of his day, directs you to lead the lowest
but one only when you hold no honour in the suit. By this plan you can
not only count your partner’s hand—the apparent end of most modern
Whist—but after you have made the queen and lost your king on the
return, you have the additional gratification of knowing to a certainty
that he does not even hold the knave.

With regard to the echo, I have no head for intricate mathematical
calculations, and therefore am unable to tell you at about what trick
everything would be ready, but speaking roughly, I should be afraid
that for all practical purposes the hand would occasionally be over
before the signaller and the echoer had completed their operations. In
the “Art of Practical Whist” you are recommended to lead the lowest
but two of six. (The advice of _Punch_ to those about to marry is
applicable here.)

Mr. F. H. Lewis, in the _Field_, January, 1880, has propounded a
scheme for sub-dividing the echo into categories, and it has recently
been pointed out to me that by leading trumps in some irregular
way—understood, I presume, by the inventor of the process—you can
explain to your partner that you originally held four. “Is there
anything whereof it may be said, see, this is new? it hath been already
of old time, which was before us.” When all these improvements are in
use, this is clear, the elect will return to that fine old practice
known as “piping at whisk”; the rest of us to primæval chaos.

[14] “These refinements of artifice are utterly opposed to the essence
of scientific Whist.”—_Westminster Papers._

[15] “What with the if’s and the mystification that would occur
from playing the cards in this erratic manner, we should do more
to injure than improve the play _in the present state of Whist
science_.”—_Westminster Papers._ [The italics are mine.]

[16] “It puzzleth and perplexeth the conceits of many that perhaps
would otherwise co-operate with him, and makes a man walk almost alone
to his own ends.”—_Bacon._






    “The play is the thing.”—_Shakespeare._

SECOND hand with king and another, or queen and another, never play the
honour either in trumps or plain suits, unless you particularly want
the lead, and then you will probably not get it, and throw away a trick.

By not playing the honour,

    (1) The chance of trick-making in the suit is greater
      (this has been proved to demonstration by Mogul).[17]

    (2) The possible weakness of the third hand is
      exposed—a very important point.

    (3) Your own weakness is concealed from the leader, and
      he is able to finesse against your partner; these
      three reasons ought to be tolerably conclusive, but
      if a high card is led, head it!

If, holding knave, ten, and another, you are afraid of trumps being
led, and your partner is devoid of common sense, don’t play the ten,
or it will be taken for a signal (that it neither is one, nor at all
like one, does not affect the petrolater in the least); it is almost
equally dangerous with queen, knave, and another to play the knave. A
high card second hand has exactly the same effect on many players as a
red rag has on a bull; and if you have an objection to being gored, you
should keep it out of their sight as long as possible—subject to this
important qualification—“Put an honour on an honour, with only three of
a suit; with four or more you should not do it.”—_Mathews._

Except to save or win the game, whether you are weak in trumps, or
strong, don’t ruff a doubtful card unless you have a distinct idea what
to do next; if you are only going to open a weak suit, let it go.

Don’t ruff a suit of which your partner clearly holds the best, in
order to announce, _urbi et orbi_, that you are weak in trumps; depend
upon it _urbis_ and _orbis_ will take advantage of this, not to mention
that you take the lead out of your partner’s hand at a critical
moment, and prevent him from developing any game that he may have.

    “Why for the momentary trick be perdurably fined?”

In bumblepuppy, with ace, king, and others, or king, queen, and
others, the trick is often passed, and with knave led, if the second
player holds ace, queen, etc., he usually plays the queen;[18]
holding the same cards, if instead of the knave a small card is
led, he occasionally produces the ace. These proceedings may be the
eccentricities of genius; if they are not, the only other explanation I
can suggest for them, is a desire to lose a trick.

Third hand.—Don’t finesse against your partner, unless you have reason
to believe you are stronger in his own suit than he is, or that he has
led from weakness.

Don’t finesse against yourself. If you have led from ace, knave, etc.,
and your partner has made the queen, the king is certainly not on your
right. If, on the other hand, you have led from king, and your partner
again has made the queen, it can be of no use to put on the king, the
ace must be over you. Though Clay described the finesse obligatory
before you were thought of, I am afraid that after you are forgotten,
these two simple cases will continue to be reversed—that people will
finesse against, and not for, themselves. In bumblepuppy this is _de
rigueur_; also at this game, with king, queen, and another in your
partner’s lead, it is customary to play the king, and, if it wins, to
open a new suit.

Ruff a winning card of the adversaries! What possible benefit can you
derive from allowing your opponent to discard, and by that discard show
his partner the suit he wishes led? If you are too stingy to use a high
trump, surely you might play a little one just to keep the trick going.
“It is much better to play a small trump with the certainty it will be
overtrumped than to let the trick go.”—_Westminster Papers._

When your partner has opened a suit with the ace, and on the third
round eleven are out, he holds the other two, and whenever he leads one
of them—whether it is the queen or the four—it is a winning card; but
if you fail to grasp this, and feel disposed to play the thirteenth
trump on it, don’t waste time either in invoking the immortal gods,
inspecting the last trick, or looking præternaturally intelligent—trump
it at once, and put him out of his misery. The idea is not new, for it
occurred to Macbeth when about to perpetrate the very same coup:

    “If ’twere done when ’tis done, then ’twere well
                    It were done quickly.”

My only claim is to have expressed myself without such an involved use
of auxiliary verbs.

If you have more than two of the suit, don’t play the ace on your
partner’s knave; it may be a short suit, or the head of a sequence,
and you throw away the power of passing the ten second round, even if
it is from king, queen, knave to five, there is nothing to be gained
by covering; with ace and another win the trick and return it at once,
unless you lead trumps.

Though frequently done, it is not good whist to decline to win a trick,
either on the ground that you want a guard for your king of trumps, or
because you hold six. In the other game both these proceedings would be

Fourth hand.—Win the trick, and endeavour, if possible, to do so
without playing a false card. Like all things that are difficult at
first, you will find it become comparatively easy by practice. You
might suppose that the exponent of bumblepuppy—who always considers a
trick of his own making worth at least two made by his partner—would
get into no difficulty here; but he does. He has a firmly-rooted
belief that his strong suits are under the protection of a special
Providence which will never allow them to be ruffed, and uttering his
wretched shibboleth, “Part with my ace, sir? never!” he contrives to
lose any number of tricks by keeping up his winning cards to the last
possible moment and a shade longer. I imagine he is under the erroneous
impression that this in some way compensates for cutting in with a
small trump when he is not wanted.

“It is a good plan when you have the thirteenth trump to pass winning
cards. The reason of this is not apparent, but in practice I know
several players who do so, and in the multitude of counsellors there is
wisdom.”—_Westminster Papers._



[17] I have worked it out myself in more than four thousand cases by
rule of thumb (_Field_, October 1882), and obtained the same result; if
in the teeth of this, _early in the hand_, a decent Whist-player plays
the king second on a small card led, it is an unnecessarily high card;
and as unnecessarily high cards are not played without an object, that
object is presumably a call for trumps.

[18] “With ace, queen, etc., of a suit of which your right hand
adversary leads the knave, put on the ace invariably. No good player,
with king, knave, ten, will begin with the knave: of course, it is
finessing against yourself to put on the queen, and, as the king is
certainly behind you, you give away at least the lead, without any
possible advantage.”—_Mathews._ This advice as a rule is sound, but you
must bear in mind that towards the end of a hand the knave is often led
from king, knave, ten, or king, knave alone, and if you, holding ace,
queen, are obliged to make two tricks in the suit, in order to win, or
save the game, you will have to play the queen. If the king is held by
your left-hand adversary, you will lose the game whatever you play.
When you play the queen under these circumstances, and it comes off,
don’t imagine that you are inspired, or præternaturally intelligent;
you are only playing to the score; and you will find that most
instances of irregular play, which at first sight suggest inspiration,
resolve themselves into this.






    “This the vain purpose of his life to try,
     Still to explore what still eludes his eye.”

DISCARDS are of two distinct kinds:—

    (1) Ordinary.
    (2) Forced.

(1) When your partner; (2) When your adversary shows strength.

In the first case, you naturally point out to your partner which is
your strong suit by discarding from your weak suits, your object
being to win the game, and there is an end of that matter.[19] In the
second case it is just the reverse. You have to save the game, and you
discard from your _best guarded suit_, by no means necessarily your
strongest, with a view, as far as you can, of blocking every suit, and
so preventing the adversary from establishing his long cards.

These two kinds of discards are, or ought to be, of importance to three
very different classes of players:—

(1) The Scientific.

(2) The Commonly Decent.

(3) The Exponents of Bumblepuppy.

(1) The Scientific.—Here, with trumps declared against you, you
discard, as already said, from your best guarded suit. Your partner
knows this is probable, but he does not know how strong you are in
that suit; he also knows it may very possibly be a suit in which you
hold three small cards, and a second discard of it only gives him the
further information that you had either three or five—_he must infer
which from his own hand_—he assumes you did not originally hold two,
for you would not have left yourself entirely bare of the suit. It is
not everybody who is in the proud position which I once occupied, when
a trump being led by the adversary, I found myself with no trump, the
best nine cards of one suit, and two other aces.

Among good players, then, the forced discard amounts to this: that
though you are aware your partner is discarding with the best possible
motives, and he is aware that you are doing the same, neither can
depend upon the other’s discard as showing anything for certain. With
trumps declared against you, you must place unknown cards to the best
of your ability, and in such an unpleasant conjuncture, if you are
exceptionally fortunate, you may sometimes save the game, and the
skill displayed in doing so may be a joy for ever:—

    “Forsan et hæc olim meminisse juvabit.”

Observe the discretion of the poet in his choice of the word “_forsan_.”

But when, on the other hand, you look at the improbability of this
coming off, when you reflect that your partner has occasionally given
you two discards, and that you, in the exercise of that right of
private judgment inherent in every Protestant, led one of those very
suits, and by so doing lost the game; when you recall what then took
place, the _epea pteroenta_, the mutual—but the subject is too painful;
let us leave it, and pass on to Class 2.[20] This class has two
divisions, they both see your discards, but—without any reference to
their own hands or anything that has been played—one division assumes
your discard is invariably from weakness, and at once knocks on the
head the very suit you have sedulously been attempting to guard; the
other has got hold of the pernicious axiom that the original discard is
necessarily your _strongest_ suit, and always leads that.

Here we have again a pretty considerable element of confusion.

Class 3.—These, with an unerring instinct that might almost be mistaken
for genius,[21] will put you in a hole, whatever you do. The safest
plan is, under all circumstances, to discard from your weakest suit;
you cannot be cut to pieces there, and, whatever happens, you have the
letter of the law on your side. When you have not followed suit to the
second round of the opponent’s trumps, when, as a rule, your discard
(being forced) is not to be depended on and is of no importance to
them, this is the only time they ever see it; for having no winning
cards in their own hands to attract their attention, they are able
to devote a little more time to seeing the cards on the table. The
number of times they will have that wretched trick turned, and their
anxiety to be quite sure of the suit, are painful to the sensitive mind
(especially if that sensitive mind is sitting opposite to them and
happens to belong to yourself). Well might Sophocles observe, “Many
things are dreadful, but nothing is more dreadful than man.”

That the first discard is from the weakest suit is one of those
half-dozen cast-iron rules—three of them wrong, and the remainder
invariably misapplied—which make up their stock-in-trade;[22] but
if they hold ace, king, queen to five trumps—say clubs—you see them
come well up to the table with an air of triumph, and begin to lead.
Again you don’t follow suit; what do they care? they drive gaily on,
but, as they finish the third round, the idea just begins to dawn upon
them—perhaps you have discarded something.[23] A careful inspection of
the last trick affords them the pleasing intelligence that somebody has
discarded a diamond and somebody else a spade; the light fades from
their eye, their jaw drops, and they are such a picture of hopeless
misery, that if they were not in the habit of informing you—scores of
times a day—that they play whist only for amusement, you might almost
doubt the fact.[24]

After prolonged contemplation of the chandelier and a farewell look at
the spade and diamond, they eventually produce a heart—your original
discard!—have their remaining trumps drawn, and lose the game.

Ordinary discards are simple in the extreme, and might be very useful;
unfortunately (as the general public will persist in confining its
attention to its own hand, as long as there is anything in it), the
only discard usually seen is the last, and this detracts from their
utility. Forced discards are always difficult (not to the discarder,
but to his partner), and to a duffer, unintelligible, for this reason,
they require common-sense—far be it from me to teach it—it is like
poetry, “_nascitur non fit_,” and these remarks have not been made with
any such intention, but to endeavour to accentuate that Cavendish in
his treatise on Whist, and a letter which I append, has said everything
on the subject likely to be of use.

_The Principles of Discarding._

“The old system of discarding, though unscientific, had at least the
merit of extreme simplicity. It was just this: when not able to follow
suit, let your first discard be from your weakest suit. Your partner
in his subsequent leads is thus directed to your strong suit, and will
refrain from leading the suit in which, by your original discard, you
have told him you are weak.[25]

Several years ago some whist enthusiasts, amongst whom were Mogul and
myself, played a number of experimental rubbers, the cards of each hand
being recorded as they were played, and the play being fully discussed

In the course of the discussion it was observed first, I think, by
Mogul, that in several hands the discard from a weak suit, when the
adversaries evidently had in their hands the command of trumps, had
resulted very disastrously.[26] This caused us to consider whether the
weak suit should not be protected under these circumstances, and we
finally came to the conclusion that discards should be divided into two
classes, viz., ordinary discards and forced discards. These I proceed
to distinguish.

The reason a weak suit is chosen for the discard is, that when a
strong suit is broken into, the number of long cards which might be
brought in, if the suit is ever established, are lessened, and so many
potential tricks are thus consequently lost.

But little harm, certainly none of this kind of harm, is done by
throwing away from a weak suit, in other words, from a suit that can
never be brought in. But when the adversaries have declared great
strength in trumps, the chance of bringing in a suit is reduced to a
minimum. On the assumption that you can never bring it in, the small
cards of your long suit are valueless to you. That suit will protect
itself so far as its high cards are concerned, but the weak suits
require protection.

Thus, by guarding honours, or by keeping four cards to a ten or nine, a
trick is often won, or the establishment of an adverse suit prevented.
It was this point, indeed, which first led us to condemn the
invariable discard of the weak suit; the remark was frequently made, “I
was obliged to deceive you then, partner, and to throw my long suit in
order to keep my king guarded in another suit.” This, of course, when
the game was in danger.

Honours in weak suits may be freely unguarded by the players who have
strong trump hands, but the guards should be religiously preserved by
those who are weak. Our discussions resulted in our laying down the
following rules for our own guidance, viz., _when you see from the
fall of the cards that there is no probability of bringing in your
own or your partner’s long suit, discard originally from your best
protected suit_. This I may call the foundation of the modern system of
discarding; it has been adopted by all the best players with whom I am

For the sake of having a short and easily remembered rule, however,
it is the fashion to say, “Discard originally from your strong suit
when the adversaries lead trumps.”[27] “No doubt you will be right in
your discard in most cases, but this aphorism does not truly express
the conditions.” (Query, then why use it?).... “The conclusion I
have arrived at is that the modern system of discarding requires so
much judgment in its application as to be rather a stumbling-block
than an assistance to the ordinary run of players,”—rough on the
neophyte!—“This is a pity, as there can be no doubt but that the
classing of discards into ordinary and forced is sound in principle,
and adds beauty to the game. I have been prompted to write this letter
in the hopes of seeing this classification more generally adopted, and
its limitations more distinctly observed and acted on.”—_Cavendish._

I have met with the same conclusion and the same regret in a metrical
form: it is short, and may be useful to any of you troubled with bad

    “If seven maids, with seven mops,
       Swept it for half-a-year,
     Do you suppose,” the walrus said,
       “That they could get it clear?”
    “_I doubt it_,” said the carpenter,
       _And shed a bitter tear_.

_Resumption of Note C, page 36._



If this principle were carried out to its logical result, and everybody
played for amusement in the ludicrous sense in which this word is
generally understood, it is manifest that—as no one would ever see
either a card led or played, or know what suit was trumps—it would be
useless continuing to ask each other for information on those abstruse
points; and unless, by some alteration in the laws of whist, an
intelligence department outside the table were provided to supplement
the precarious knowledge acquired by looking at the last trick, the
game would shortly collapse from its innate absurdity; unfortunately we
seldom arrive at this point; what usually takes place is this:

Four people sit down nominally to play whist, when suddenly one of
them announces, to the consternation of his partner, that he is not
there with any such intention, but solely for his own amusement; he
altogether ignores the possibility of the others wishing to play whist
for their amusement, and lays down his stale proposition with such an
air of originality that he often deludes the unwary bystander into
the belief that he is somehow superhuman, and much superior to the
other three, who are consequently looked down upon as mean and sordid
individuals; this is not the case. If yelling when he is trodden upon,
and crying if he loses, are proofs of humanity, he is essentially human.

Now, no one has the slightest objection to your amusing yourself as
long as you do not annoy anybody else. I go further than this, and
admit your abstract right to amuse yourself at your partner’s expense,
but I protest against your expecting him to rejoice with you in his own

Because eels are accustomed to being skinned, it does not at all follow
that they should like it—at any rate, whether they do so or not, it is
not expected of them.

Again, the practice of vivisection may be both amusing and instructive
to the vivisector, while it may be neither the one nor the other
to his victim. Though I have no practical acquaintance with this
pursuit, I have often seen large portraits of the vivisectee pasted on
hoardings, and judging from the expression of his countenance, and the
uncomfortable position in which he is always depicted, I should imagine
that the entire proceedings were supremely distasteful to him.

From the time when Cain was short-coated, and tipcats, pea-shooters,
catapults, and other instruments of torture appeared on the scene,
there have been peculiar ideas of amusement. Fortunately—with the
exception of your doting mammas—public opinion has been against you.
A gentleman found in the street with a tipcat embedded in his eye is
usually conducted to the nearest chemist, and the malefactor given
in charge. (The crafty Ulysses, before he performed a very similar
operation on Polyphemus, made every preparation to escape from the room
as soon as it was over, and took uncommonly good care not to originate
the now trite witticism, “there you go with your eye out,” till he
was well beyond his reach. He was far too intelligent a man to expect
the Cyclops to take it pleasantly.) But if this occurs at Whist, and
the victim even hints an objection, he is looked upon as a bear, and
sometimes the verdict is “served him right,” while at other times he
seems to be expected to “rub it in.” There I draw the line; annoy your
partner as much as you like, but don’t expect that! It is contrary to
nature; still, while fully and freely admitting your right of annoying,
and also your right to throw away your own property if you please,
you are not privileged to treat your partner’s in the same way. This
borders closely on theft, and before taking such a liberty, in order to
be on the safe side, I think you ought first to obtain his consent in
writing. It is all very well for Shakespeare to call his purse trash
(he knew the contents of it, and his description may have been most
accurate), but whether things are trash or not, if they don’t belong to
you, you must not make away with them (as the poet himself experienced
when he took to deer-stealing), and unless you wish, like him, to fall
into the clutches of the criminal law, you had better take Captain
Cuttle’s advice, and overhaul your catechism, with special reference to
your duty to your neighbour. You will find it a safer guide.

I ought to apologise for the length of this note, but I have suffered
myself, and although I never killed an albatross, and am by nature most

    “Since then at an uncertain hour
       That agony returns,
     And till my ghastly tale is told
       The heart within me burns.”



[19] In ordinary discarding, your strong suit is your long suit: except
to deceive your partner, and get your king prematurely cut off, it can
be no use to discard from four or five small cards in one suit, in
order to keep king to three in another.

[20] If there are a “few words” going about, and you are not concerned,
don’t put your oar in—

    “They who in quarrels interpose,
     Must often wipe a bloody nose.”

[21] Genius has been defined to be “an unlimited capacity for taking
pains,” and the pains they will take to circumvent you are assuredly
unlimited, but their capacity for anything is so doubtful, that their
claim to genius on this score must be left in abeyance.

[22] The excitement of the moment has led me into exaggeration here;
let me give the bumblepuppist his due, the exact number is ten, as you
will find later on.

[23] “The strong hand is leading trumps, and he gets them all out,
and has the lead; nine times out of ten he will have forgotten his
partner’s first discard, and play on the assumption his last discard is
his first, and so certain is this to come about that, we believe, with
some players, it is best to endeavour to calculate how many discards we
shall get, and let the last discard be our weakest suit.”—_Westminster

[24] If they were slightly to vary this statement, and say, “They
pitched thirteen cards about only for their own amusement,” the
position would be much more inexpugnable.

Unless my memory deceives me, in “The Whist Player,” by Col. Blyth,
they are recommended to confine themselves to playing “Beggar my
Neighbour” with their grandmothers;—as most of those ladies must in the
ordinary course of nature have gone over to the majority, this would
be hard on them—but they might adopt a middle course, and play that
fascinating game with each other; they could pitch the cards about
equally well, and would have more cards to pitch. I shall resume this
topic at the close of this lecture.

[25] Will he?

    “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”

And you can hope anything you like, if you don’t mind the subsequent
disappointment: First, he has to see it, and after you have got over
that difficulty, if he only holds two small cards in that suit, and has
a tenace in the other—according to my experience—he will lead his own.
With king singly guarded in your suit, instead of being delighted to
play it, wild horses are powerless to drag it from him.

[26] Absorbed in their discoveries, they appear to have forgotten that,
“_Vixerunt fortes ante Agamemnona_.”

“If weak in trumps, keep guard on your adversary’s suits. If strong,
throw away from them.”—_Mathews._

[27] That young and curly period when I was influenced by the fashions
has passed away. _Eheu fugaces_, etc. It may be easier to remember
“strong” than “best protected”; one epithet is certainly three
syllables shorter than the other, but it seems a pity, for the sake of
those three syllables, to use an expression which is utterly misleading.

In “The Art of Practical Whist” also “strongest” is used without any
qualification whatever, and here you only save two syllables; although
the Commination Service is seldom read now—even if, like Royal Oak Day
and Herr Von Joel, it should cease altogether to be retained by the
Establishment—to make the blind man go out of his way would still be
inexpedient, unless you make him go out of your own way as well, for
you may cut him for a partner; if you have no respect for the blind,
surely you have some regard for your pocket-money.






    “Monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens, cui lumen
    ademptum.”—_Eton Grammar._


THE last lecture went thoroughly into the forced discard and, after
looking at it in every possible light, left it exactly at the point
where it was left by Mathews nearly a hundred years ago: “IF WEAK IN

Here I should gladly have let the matter rest—as the boy said when he
saw the wild cat. It is a thorny subject; but the New Man will not
permit it.

“_The Decline and Fall of Whist_” contains a view of him and his game,
which is very widely entertained in this country, and though it may or
may not be a better game, it is not Whist in the English sense of the

Our subject being the Whist or Bumblepuppy of our native land, the
invariable lead of the longest suit, fourth-bests, eleven rule,
American leads, and all the subsequent proceedings have no more
interest for the British school-boy wishing to learn Whist than they
had for Abner Dean of Angels on a well-known occasion.

To give the American Whist-players their due, I am bound to admit that,
in addition to their having devised a new set of leads, new play of
second and third hand, a new mode of scoring, and having done away with
the honours—greatly to their credit for common sense and intelligence;
their idea of our modern forced discard is: “It is a curious notion
that an original discard should always be from the strongest suit” (_A
Practical Guide to Whist, by Fisher Ames_), and also they have compiled
a new code of laws which is an enormous improvement upon the singular
jumble of laws, definitions, and arbitrary decisions under which we
impotently writhe.

    “On ashes, husks, and air we feed,
     And spend our little all in vain.”—_Wesley._

Law 37 of their code runs as follows: “When a trick is turned and
quitted it must not be seen again until the hand has been played. A
violation of this law subjects the offending side to the same penalty
as a lead out of turn.”

They may have been driven to abolish our Law 91 in order to make the
intricacies of their game humanly possible, still, “for this relief
much thanks.”

Considering the cheapness of freight, and that there is no import
duty, why Law 37 has not been introduced into this country is one of
the greatest mysteries of the end of the nineteenth century.

We are flooded with all the other American Whist innovations, and the
key of the position is conspicuous by its absence.

“Why should English Whist-men retain an antiquated, ill-constructed and
ambiguous code, when they have in the code of the American Whist League
laws as free from such defects as human ingenuity can devise?”—_Whist._
And echo answers, Why?

But to return to our muttons. On one point it is incumbent to make
a stand. If the New Man had only been satisfied to concentrate his
mischievous attentions on his New Game, we might have agreed to differ
and gone our several ways in peace and harmony: _dis aliter visum_.
Unfortunately, “in his craze for uniformity,” he has tampered with the
forced discard, which is our common grazing ground, and has deluded
himself and the whole of Bumblepuppydom into a wild and erroneous
belief that the first discard—when unable to follow suit to an adverse
trump lead—is _always_ the suit he wants led.

                “In all the fabric
    You shall not see one stone or a brick,
    But all of wood.”

Now, I have dealt myself innumerable hands—it is a favourite amusement
of mine when I have a little spare time—and taking the shortest and
weakest suit for trumps, have carefully calculated how often I could
discard a suit I wanted led; how often I should feel justified in
dictating to my partner to make me third player in it. It comes out
well under fifty per cent.

Hands of this kind are constantly turning up.

Diamonds (trumps)—9, 7.

Hearts—Kg., Qn., 3.

Spades—Qn., Kn., 9.

Clubs—10, 8, 6, 3, 2.

Here I must discard a club, but I don’t necessarily want it led.

Diamonds (trumps)—Qn. and another.

Hearts—Kn. and three small ones.

Spades—Kn. and three small ones.

Clubs—Three small ones.

As I am not going to unguard either of these knaves, again I discard a
club, and again I don’t want to dictate to my partner to lead it, and
so _ad infinitum_.

The simple faith that, whenever the adversary leads trumps, you are
bound to hold a strong suit, may be better than Norman blood. If it is,
it only tends to prove of how singularly little value that fluid may be.

Therefore, in my own case, this is the way the rule works out: “When we
are in a very tight place, and trumps are declared against us, my first
discard _always_ shows clearly the suit I want led;” only, in more than
half the instances, it does nothing of the kind.

This is a pretty sort of universal rule. Whatever view you may take of
it, it scarcely comes up to my idea of a sheet anchor.

    “_Lex non cogit ad impossibilia._”

    “Kind Fortune, come, my woes assuage,
       Bend down and mark a modern moan,
     And bear me through the golden age,
       Through age of iron, bronze, and stone;
     Back, back, before the men with tails,
       A million years before the flood;
     To where the search of science fails,
       And leave me happy in the mud.”

But if I prefer to wallow there, don’t let me thrust my opinions on
you—you may object to mud; your cards may be better than mine; judge
for yourselves! Deal a few hands, and if you find once in five times,
or once in ten times, that the rule won’t work, then you have this
formula for your guidance: “We always discard from the suit we want
led, _except when we have no such suit_,” and mind this, the first
time you fail, all the fat is in the fire; there is no retreat. When
once you cast judgment and common-sense to the four winds of heaven,
and submit yourselves body and soul to the rule of thumb—and such a
thumb!—you cannot play fast and loose with it; you must take it for
“all in all, or not at all.” Like a wife, which you may have some day,
you take it for better or worse, till death do you part; and this is
all worse; it is an utterly unworkable arrangement,

    “That, like a wen, looks big and swells,
     Is senseless, and just nothing else.”

If you are to have an _always_ in this most intricate and difficult
affair (_which I strongly deprecate_), and are unable to sit
comfortably at a whist-table without a crutch of some kind to lean
upon—and this in such a position seems uncalled for—you will find
discarding from your _longest_ suit a safer plan, though this is not
always available. Why cannot you leave good old _best-guarded_ alone?

After all I have said, should you still persist in running your heads
against “strongest” and “the suit I want led,” these lines of Moore
undoubtedly “touch the spot”—

                “Behold your Light, your Star—
    “Ye _would_ be dupes and victims, and ye _are_!”


    “Post tenebras lux.”—_Pintsch._

THERE is one method of forced discarding which is often extremely
useful; it is simple to a degree and always practicable; it has been in
use for some years, and is approved of by all the good whist-players I
have ever come across.

If you have a really strong suit to discard from—a suit that you _can_
order your partner to lead you—_signal in it_, and throw away the
highest card you safely dare.

This was first brought to my notice by Mr. Proctor, and—like Newton’s
apple, Columbus’s egg, and many other great discoveries—is almost
obtrusively obvious when it is once pointed out.

It is no new invention, for it has been the well-known practice of
whist from primæval times.

Possibly known in the cave of Neanderthal.

Its inhabitants, when they had a really powerful suit, discarded an
unnecessarily high card. With a quint major, they discarded the ace;
with a quart to a king, they discarded the king, and so forth.

Here is a declaration of absolute strength at the very moment it is
required; no uncertainty as to whether it is a protective discard,
or mere length; it is also flexible,[28] for you can use your own
judgment; give the information; conceal it for a time if you think fit,
or withhold it altogether.

Minor details—such as that when only one discard is available, a
high card would in all probability indicate strength, while a low
one (though it might indicate length) would do nothing of the kind,
but rather the opposite; and its use under many circumstances, even
when your partner is leading trumps—if not at once obvious to your
own unassisted intelligence, are better left to the professional

Having a rooted antipathy to formulating an interminable series of
minute regulations for exceptional cases, a practice which has done
irreparable injury to whist, far be it from me to trench upon their

The convention I have shown to be venerable, and I believe it to be
perfectly legitimate.

Here I begin to tread upon delicate ground, for though whist is
entirely made up of conventions, many different views are held as to
what a convention is (see note page 60), and when it is and is not

Between the Albert Club and the Bloomsbury back parlour there is a
great gulf fixed—

    “_Virginibus puerisque canto_,”

and it would be a life-long regret to me if I seduced them from the
paths of rectitude.

Still, for practical purposes, I should imagine that a mode of
play which is known, or open to be known by all players, and which
contravenes neither the laws nor the etiquette of whist, fulfils all
the necessary conditions; at all events, it satisfies my moral sense.

If, in addition, it is conducive to trick making,—as it undoubtedly
is—I hail it with effusion.

With innumerable treatises; treatises on developments, on counting
number, on exceptional play; treatises philosophical and treatises
mathematical; with exercises in simple addition; with arrangements for
exorcising superfluous winning cards as elaborate as if winning cards
were enemies of the human race, and a direct emanation from the evil
one, the time has arrived, if possible, to import a little common-sense
into the game, and to make an effort to win an occasional trick.



[28] This is one of the numerous points where the new man and the man
of the stone age—now politely termed “fossil”—come into collision. “We
do not think that a _hard and fast rule_, (the italics are mine) such
as you propose, can be laid down.” Even if it were a hard and fast
rule—which it is pre-eminently not—his objecting to it on that ground
would be most inconsistent—

    “And yet he thinks what’s pious in
     The one, in th’ other is a sin.”




THE ELEVEN RULE (_by desire_).


    “Three wise men of Gotham
     Went to sea in a bowl;
     If the bowl had been stronger
     My tale had been longer.”

THIS lecture, though quite irrelevant, is given to gratify the
curiosity of many youthful enquirers.

The eleven rule (which only applies to American leads) is simply this:
that, if under favourable circumstances, you add certain integers
together and the result should be eleven, then you shall see what you
shall see. (It can scarcely be called a novelty, for it seems to have
been well known to Virgil,

    “Magnus ab integro sœclorum nascitur ordo.”)

Bearing this cardinal fact firmly in mind, supposing a deuce is led—and
it is _ex rei necessitate_ a fourth best; this is the favourable
circumstance just referred to—then, if you hold nine higher cards of
the suit, you add nine to the pips on the deuce, and if you add it
correctly and it comes to eleven, you play the lowest of your superior
cards, and (with the proviso the suit is trumps) win the trick.

Though it is scarcely an epoch-making discovery,[29] still it is
true, and that in these days of the new journalism is something to be
thankful for.

There is one example of this rule in the “Field” which is to me a
source of perennial joy.

The second player who holds the ace, the king, the queen, the knave,
and the eight of hearts, to his own enquiry which card he ought to play
on the six led, replies, “I say the eight!”

Now, though certainly 6 + 5 = 11, and the rule—as I have already
admitted—is true, this play does not commend itself to my intelligence,
and I should advise you not to trouble your youthful brains about the
later rounds of a plain suit—when the leader, to your own certain
knowledge, has from four to eight, and you yourself follow holding
five, including a quart major. If you win the first four tricks in it,
you will do as much as you can reasonably expect, and will have done
enough for glory.

_O sancta simplicitas!_ That eight, so innocently stepping to the
front, has done more to reconcile me to human nature than anything
that was ever done by Jonas Chuzzlewit.

May it continue to retain its evergreen faith unspotted of the world!

    “May no ill dreams disturb its rest,
     No deeds of darkness it molest,”

and that it may never be rudely awakened to find a serpent in its Eden,
and the harmless looking six a singleton, is my fervent prayer.

I have mentioned that this kind of thing is not whist as played in
this country, and it is by no means certain it will long be the whist
of any country; for I hear that in the American Whist Club of Boston,
“they have now quite chucked the American leads,” and one of the later
Cavendishes has propounded this singular view; “I have the craze for
giving information in such an acute form that I should like to be
allowed to show my whole hand to the whole table before the first lead,
on the condition that my cards are not to be called.” I presume all the
hands must be exposed, otherwise this is merely an offer to back his
partner against his two opponents at single dummy, and there is nothing
particularly sporting in that.

If, then, this doctrine and position is a rule of faith and not merely
a pious opinion—and pious opinions have a nasty knack of becoming
extended into principles—the devotees of the new game will, it is to
be hoped, at once relegate its uninviting literature to the nearest
dust-bin, and all with one accord, in pairs (like the wooden animals in
your Noah’s ark), betake themselves to double-dummy; where, happily,
elaborate schedules of leads are not required; where extensions of
principle are unknown, and where “faith is lost in sight.”



[29] “About as remarkable as the rule that if you want to ascertain how
much you have spent out of a shilling, you must subtract the number of
pence left from twelve.

“If the court cards and the ace of a suit are pipped according to their
values, the knave would be eleven, the queen twelve, the king thirteen,
and the ace fourteen; and everybody would see that the difference
between the pips on any card and fourteen would show the number of
cards in the suit of higher value than the card in question.

“Thus, there are nine higher than the five, and seven higher than the

“They would see, also, that if they could place three, and three
only, of those cards in any one player’s hand—as can be done when the
fourth best is led—the number of higher cards not in his hand would be
fourteen, less three, that is eleven less the pips.”—_Mogul._

    “The mountain groaned in pangs of birth,
     Great expectation filled the earth,
     And lo, a mouse was born!”






    “Petrus nimium admiratur se.”—_Eton Grammar._

    “The base vulgar do call.”—_Shakespeare._

SOME years ago a simple piece of mechanism, to which somehow or other
very undue importance has been attached, was introduced to the Whist
world; you play a higher card before a lower one—unnecessarily—to
indicate that you hold good trumps, and _want them out_.[30]

You can want this for two reasons:

(1) Because you have the seven best trumps. There is no objection to
your signalling here, though it is quite uncalled for; if you have the
game in your own hand, you can either lead the lowest but two of six,
stand on your head, or execute any other—what it is the odd fashion to
call—convention the authority of the day may think fit to invent, as
long as you do not come into collision with law 5.[31]

(2) Because you have a good trump hand, and the fall of the cards shows
that unless you get them out, your winning cards or your partner’s
will be ruffed. Here is a good legitimate reason, but when everything
is going nicely, and your partner making the tricks, that you should
interfere with this merely because you have five trumps—or nine for the
matter of that—is the height of absurdity. It may be an interesting
fact for him to know, on the second round of a plain suit, that you
hold five trumps, just as there are numerous other interesting facts
which he may also ascertain at the same time, _e.g._, that you have
led a singleton, that you hold no honour in your own suit, and so on,
but none of them justifies him in ruining his own hand and devoting his
best trump to destruction.

You ought to understand the signaller to say, “Get the lead at any cost
the first moment you can, play your highest trump, and you shall see
something remarkable.”[32]

This is rather a large order, and when you find as the result of your
best attempts to execute it, that that promised something is not
uncommonly the loss of the rubber, though it will be a shock to you at
first, you will soon get accustomed to it.

It is even a dangerous practice to signal when the adversaries will
most likely have the lead on its completion; they at once adapt their
play to the circumstances. I have seen innumerable games of whist not
won, and many a game lost, by absurd signalling; still Whist players
suffering from Peter on the brain constantly refuse to ruff a winning
card in order to disclose a signal in the discard. If they wanted
trumps led, it occurs to the ordinary mind that the simplest plan would
be to win the trick and lead them, and as they decline to do so, the
only conclusion is that they regard signalling for the mere sake of
signalling to be in itself so noble an end that, to attain it, it is
worth while to announce to their opponents that they had better save
the game at once, and at the same time to present them with at least
one trick towards it.[33]

    “O scenes surpassing fable, and yet true.”

    “By Heaven! he echoes.”—_Othello._

If you only want the odd trick, signalling is about the safest way to
miss it. Any two decent players would, in a vast majority of cases,
get on exactly as well if the Peter had never been invented, while
two bad players—assuming they can possibly miss the game with all the
trumps—generally do so by its assistance.[34] Where it would be useful
is when, with moderate strength in trumps, and the cards declared in
your favour, you want trumps led at all hazards. Unfortunately, if
at such a crisis as this, your partner is not equal to leading them
without a call, he is certain not to see it, although he is missing
all the other points of the game in what he calls looking for it. This
looking for a Peter is an oddly-named and peculiar form of amusement
appertaining not only to Bumblepuppy, but also to Whist. Among all
those people who have attended the University Boat Race during the
last half-century, I apprehend not one went to look for it, they went
to see it, and just as you would see that race, so you should see the
signal. Never look _for_ it! look _at_ it! It is just as obvious as any
other circumstance that occurs in the play; instead of this, after much
looking, it is generally overlooked altogether.

    Spectatum veniunt, veniunt spectentur ut ipsæ.

They come to look, and end by making spectacles of themselves.[35]

If you must look for it, at any rate don’t look for it in the last
trick; you would scarcely look for the Boat Race as you were going to
church the next day. Still, Cowper—though he clearly disapproves of the
signal and calls it senseless—seems, if he is to be annoyed with it, to
advocate this—

    “’Tis well if look’d for at so late a day
     In the last scene of such a senseless play.”

What the signal for trumps ought to be, and what strength in trumps
justifies a signal are clearly laid down by Clay.

If you see a call and hold the ace and any number of trumps, play the
ace—there can be no danger of dropping your partner’s king—and if you
had originally more than three, continue with the lowest; but if you
are quite sure that leading trumps is the only way to miss or lose the
game, don’t lead them at all. Often as, in obedience to my partner’s
call, I slam in an ace and play my best trump, Elaine’s despairing cry
rises to my lips,—

    “Call and I follow, I follow, let me die.”

This important fact is too much lost sight of: that the object of Whist
is not so much to lead the lowest but one of five, or to signal, as
to win the game; these and other fads may or may not be means to that
end, but the end itself they emphatically are not; in their inception,
at any rate, they were intended to be your instruments. Don’t let this
position be reversed; whether, like fire, they are always good servants
may be open to argument, but their resemblance in the other respect is

One aspect of signalling has been overlooked in all the treatises on
Whist. I have seen a player of great common-sense and acute observation
signal having three small trumps and a short suit, and by this means
induce his watchful opponents to force him to make them all. I do not
recommend such devious courses to you, even if they are lawful in a
Christian country (of which I have doubts); they are only practicable
when you are playing very good Whist, and this, as Clay says, can only
be the case when you thoroughly know your men.

Hair-splitting about the legitimacy of the Peter is beyond the scope of
these remarks; what is lawful is not necessarily expedient: this the
Apostle Paul pointed out, long before either the foundations of New
Orleans were laid, or Columbus discovered America; but when Professor
Pole—who appears to have been acquainted with the present mode of
signalling for forty years (_Fortnightly Review_, April, 1879), and for
nine has advised _learners_ with five trumps _always_ to ask for them
(_Theory of Whist_, page 65)—begins at this eleventh hour to find fault
with the practice, and to have his suspicions that it is immoral; this
is the Gracchi complaining of sedition with a vengeance.

    “A merciful Providence fashioned him holler,
     A purpose that he might his principles swaller.”

In this year of grace, good players have long known that signalling
is by no means an unmixed benefit, but rather an edge-tool dangerous
to play with,[36] while it has been so long rampant that it has
permeated the very lowest strata. If at such a time as this—when all
the tenth-rate Whist players in Christendom and Jewry not only think
they know all about it, and consider it in itself the quintessence of
science, when many of them by constant practice have actually acquired
such skill that their hesitation in playing first a ten and then a
deuce is sometimes scarcely perceptible—the professor imagines that any
words of his can put a stop to it, his courage is only equalled by that
of the well-known Mrs. Partington with her mop. A child may start an
avalanche; but once started it runs its appointed course, and in one
respect it is preferable—it is sooner over—for there is no instance
recorded in history of an avalanche keeping on for forty years.

In bumblepuppy the proceedings are so complicated and peculiar, they
must be seen to be appreciated; but there are five common forms you
should be acquainted with.

(1) After you have had a lead or two and got rid of your winning cards,
you can begin signalling for somebody to lead a trump;[37] if somebody
obliges you, and you win the trick, lead another suit, and wait till
somebody else leads trumps again—continuing to signal in the intervals.

(2) You can signal in your own lead, and I don’t know that there is
any objection to your expecting that your partner will attend to
it—assuming he ever comprehends what you are driving at.

(3) You can signal without any trump at all.

(4) You can signal without intending to do so.

(5) If by any odd chance there should be no signal about, you can
imagine there is and act accordingly.

To obviate the evident disadvantages and mutual recrimination which
might ensue from such vagaries, if you really intend to signal, it is
usual to take the following precautions:

(1) Always signal with your highest card.

(2) Pause before you play it.

(3) Put it down not only with emphasis, but in a special corner of the
table mutually agreed upon beforehand. (Note,[30] page 59.)

(4) As soon as the trick is turned, ask to see it. (See note to Law 91).

    “Why the wicked should do so,
     We neither know, nor care to do.”



[30] The origin of the signal is as clear as mud, and the very name of
the inventor of the well-known dodge of playing an unnecessarily high
card to induce the opponents to lead him a trump, is lost in the mists
of antiquity.

[31] People do not seem at all agreed what a convention is. I used to
be under the impression myself that it was an assembly of notables—a
sort of liberal four hundred, or what is called in America a caucus.
It is described by Childe Harold as a dwarfish demon that foiled the
knights in Marialva’s dome, while I find in the _Fortnightly Review_,
April, 1879, “Conventions are certain modes of play established
by preconcerted arrangement;” by whom established, preconcerted,
or arranged is not mentioned; and I am very much afraid that this
definition leaves a loop-hole for winking at your partner when you want
trumps led—of course “by preconcerted arrangement”—otherwise it would
be unfair and (as he might mistake it for a nervous affection of the
eyelid) absurd. At Whist you can call anybody or anything whatever you
please; I have been told, but I scarcely believe it, that you can call
the knave of hearts “Jakovarts.” Poets (also an irritable race) have
the same licence, and for general purposes, according to Mr. Squeers,
there is no Act of Parliament against your calling a house an island;
but when you come to definitions, you must be more particular, or you
will land in a hole.

[32] It is only right that I should state here that these are not
modern opinions, they are the opinions of Clay, and I am informed he is
rapidly becoming obsolete. This may be the case. I know the practice of
numbers who call themselves Whist-players is entirely opposed to his
theory; still, though I don’t like to prophesy (having a high respect
for the proverb that it is dangerous to do so, unless you know), I am
open to make a small bet that the Peter will be obsolete first.

[33] I have seen a _player_ signal twice consecutively, and lose a
treble each hand.

With the score three all, I have seen the original leader, holding ace,
knave, nine, to five trumps, and the ten turned up—play a singleton,
knock his partner’s king on the head, and then begin to signal, while
the adversaries were making the next two tricks in that very suit: his
partner ruffed the fourth, and with king and queen of the two unopened
suits, led the queen of trumps, killed the king in the second hand, and
the signaller then proceeded to wait about, and with all the remaining
trumps on his right, eventually lost three by cards.

I have seen another _player_ of many years’ standing first lead a plain
suit and then call; his partner echoed it, and they lost four by cards,
and I _have been told_ that some time after a table had broken up,
and three of the party had left the house, one of the club servants,
entering the card-room, found the fourth still sitting at the table,
and continuing to signal.

[34] “Signalling has placed a dangerous weapon in the hands of an
injudicious player. Weak players avoid leading a trump, watching for
some invitation from their partner. Weaker players still are constantly
examining the tricks; and finding in the position of the cards,
accidentally disarranged in turning, an indication of a call, lead
trumps, perhaps to the ruin of the game.”—_Mr. F. H. Lewis._

“We do not know whether anyone has ever kept a record of the number
of tricks lost by Petering. During the past year in the Whist we have
witnessed we feel confident that more tricks have been lost than won by
this practice.”—_Westminster Papers._

After many years’ further experience I am quite of the same opinion.

[35] “They are looking for Peters and the lowest but one, but they
never think of the real points of the game.”

“They are always on the look out for it, and they spend more
time and trouble about the signal than about all the rest of the
play.”—_Westminster Papers._

[36] Even in board schools forcing the strong hand is a part of the
ordinary curriculum.

“Always force the strong.”—_Mathews._

There used to be some difficulty in ascertaining which was the strong
trump hand, but the signal has done away with that.

[37] “Many times this kind of signal comes after the player has had the
lead, and when nothing of importance, speaking from our own knowledge,
has taken place to justify a signal. We are very careless about leading
trumps when our partner has had the chance and did not lead them.”

“It is a sign of weak play if you first lead out your winning cards,
and then lead trumps; it shows ignorance of the principles of the game.
If it was advisable to lead trumps at all, it should be done before you
led out your winning cards.”—_Westminster Papers._

These are noble sentiments! how any sane human being can imagine he has
the right to tell me to destroy my hand and do for him—after he has
drawn his own teeth—what he was afraid—before that operation—to do for
himself, I have never been able to understand.






    “And shall we turn our fangs and claws
     Upon our own selves without cause,
     For what design, what interest,
     Can beast have to encounter beast?”—_Hudibras._

THERE are three kinds of false cards—

(1) Those that deceive everybody;

(2) Those that deceive your opponents only;

(3) Those that deceive your partner only; and a sparing use of the two
first—especially towards the end of a hand—is often advantageous;[38]
but in playing cards that deceive everybody, you must be prepared to
take entire charge of the game yourself, or you will probably have your
conduct referred to afterwards. The third is sacred to bumblepuppy.

One thing is very certain, that the original leader is never justified
in playing a false card.

Clay’s conclusion does not altogether harmonize with his premises—a
very unusual circumstance with him—for after objecting strongly to
false cards on high moral grounds, and prefacing his remarks by the
expression of a touching belief that in no other position of life
would anybody tell him what is untrue, he ultimately arrives at the
delicious _non sequitur_, that if your partner is very bad, or holds
miserably weak cards, or towards the end of a hand, you may often
play a false card with advantage: why you should do what you know to
be wrong, because another person is bad, or weak, or because you hold
four cards and not thirteen, or even because such nefarious conduct
may benefit yourself, he does not explain, and in default of that
explanation he appears stronger as a whist player than a moralist.
But the logic of whist is a thing _per se_, utterly dissimilar to any
known form of argument;[39] it finds vent in such syllogisms as “You
ought to have known I had all the spades, I led a diamond,” or, “I
must have the entire suit of clubs, I discarded the deuce;” though the
usual reply is “the deuce you did,” this is merely paltering with a
serious subject; the only effective argument is to throw something at
the speaker’s head—_the argumentum ad hominem_—(of course this would
create more or less unpleasantness at first, but the speaker would
soon find his level, if you hit him hard enough) “unfortunately this
discipline by which such persons were put to open penance and punished
in this world—that others admonished by their example might be afraid
to offend”—has fallen into desuetude; until the said discipline be
restored again, which—although it is much to be wished[40]—can never
be until the present reprehensible practice of screwing candle-sticks,
match-boxes, and all reasonable missiles into the table be done away
with, you have two courses open to you:

(1) You can give an evasive answer;[41]

(2) You can pretend to be deaf; this is a capital plan, as it gives
you the option either of being unaware anybody spoke, or of totally
misunderstanding him.[42] There is an utter inability to see that any
question can possibly have two sides, evidenced by such remarks as “My
finesse was justifiable, yours was bad play.”[43] The two prepositions,
post and propter, are constantly mistaken for one another—it seems to
be thought that because they both govern the accusative case, their
meaning is identical, or, to speak more correctly, convertible.

But you must be prepared to contend against other things besides false
cards and curious logic; there is a fiend often reported to be present
in the card-room, known by the name of “Luck,” and you ought to be
acquainted with two of the common stratagems for circumventing him; it
is by no means unusual to see two obese elderly persons—who have just
lost a rubber by revoking, ruffing each other’s winning cards with the
thirteenth trumps, forgetting to score honours _et id genus omne_—after
first roundly anathematizing this malefic spirit, taking precautions
against such things happening again by slowly and painfully rising
from their respective chairs, and at great personal inconvenience,
changing places with each other; this is one way; another is to throw
away several additional shillings in the purchase of new cards; turning
your chair round and sitting down again is also supposed to have an
emollient tendency.

That there is such a thing—though stupidity is often mistaken for
it—is, to my mind, as undoubted as that there are birds; but whether
one or the other is to be caught by putting salt on its tail—without
taking other precautions—must be left to that right of private judgment
already mentioned. (Page 34.)

It is true the Swan of Avon sings—

    “Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie
     Which we ascribe to Heaven,”

but he was only a literary person, not a whist player; and if a careful
exercise of your judgment satisfies you that either calling (and
paying) for new cards, or wearing out the seats of your knickerbockers
by dodging from chair to chair, is a specific for want of memory and
attention, so let it be: whatever conclusion you arrive at, it is your
duty to respect your seniors.


[38] “When it is evident the winning cards are betwixt you and your
adversaries, play an obscure game; but as clear a one as possible if
your partner has a good hand.”—_Mathews._

[39] The defence is quite as singular as the attack; for instance, if
you should be taken to task for any alleged criminality arising from
defective vision; instead of making either of the obvious answers that
it never took place at all, or that you regret it escaped your notice
and will endeavour to keep a better look out in future, the ordinary
plea in extenuation is “the noise in the room,” also “because your
cards are so bad,” is often assigned as a satisfactory reason.

[40] Even a few days of this discipline at the beginning of Lent would
be better than nothing.

[41] Evasive answers are of two kinds; those

(1) For the ordinary platitude, for which you will find good examples
in _Card Table Talk_.

(2) For the blatant absurdity; these are more difficult, for while
modestly asserting your own individuality, you must at the same time
guard against

    “Heating a furnace for your foe so hot,
        That you do singe yourself.”

The following remark admirably fulfils both these conditions:—

“For the matter of that,” said Colonel Quagg, “Rot!”—_Sala_.

It should be addressed, kindly but firmly, to a point about eighteen
inches above your partner’s head.

[42] A well-known whist-player who is really deaf is reported to aver
that he never knew what comfort was till that misfortune befell him.

[43] Bad play is any kind of solecism perpetrated by somebody else; if
by yourself, it may be either just your luck, _pardonable_ inattention,
playing too quickly, drawing the wrong card, or—in a very extreme
case—carelessness, but it is never bad play; sometimes the difference
is even greater than this, and what would be bad play in another, in
yourself may be the acme of skill.






    “None alive can truly tell
     What fortune they must see.”—_Sedley._

IN “the Art of practical Whist” you will see capital invested in
Whist compared to consols; don’t run away with the idea that there is
any such resemblance; those numerous foreign _securities_ or limited
companies nearer home where you receive no interest and lose your
principal—or those public conveyances suggested by the elder Mr.
Weller—would be much closer analogues.

Whist is not a certainty; neither is it true that you will every year
find your account exactly square on the thirty-first of December—it is
a popular fallacy devised by those who win, to keep the losers in good

    “Maxima vis est phantasiæ.”

An old friend of mine—veracious as men go, and always considered of
fairly sound mind and free from delusions, though a very inferior
whist-player—has often assured me that he won over three thousand
points for three years running (close on ten thousand in the
aggregate); if this statement is correct, and I have no reason to doubt
it—I often played with him, and he almost invariably won—it is manifest
that, after paying for the cards, some of us when we called at the bank
for our dividends, must have had to go empty away.

I have played whist—club, domestic, or bumblepuppy—pretty regularly for
a quarter of a century, and the only conclusion I have arrived at so
far, is the very vague one that I shall either win or lose—I don’t know
at all which—for five years in succession, or multiples of five.

For the first ten years I won considerably, for the next five I lost
considerably, then for another five I won slightly, and the last five
(I am thankful to say I am now getting well into the fifth) I have lost

I have no doubt things equalise themselves in the long run,
the difficulty is that I am unable to give you any idea, even
approximately, what the duration of a long run is.[45]

During a part of that first period, extending over a year and a
quarter, I played long whist—five points to the bumper—more than fifty
times, and never but once won less than twelve points. If we may
believe Herodotus, in his day the end was not always visible from the
beginning, and so it is now. I have won rubbers against all the cards,
and with all the cards I have lost them.

Sometimes I cannot lose a rubber, sometimes I cannot win one; at one
time cards will beat their makers, at another the makers will beat the
cards, and these results occur without rhyme or reason, in defiance
of any system of play. Don’t imagine for a moment that I suggest play
is of no consequence, I merely say that you will frequently see the
cards or the players run wild, and that the actual result—winning or
losing—is beyond your own control.

    “In the reproof of chance lies the true proof of man.”


I have known twenty-four successive rubbers lost, and I have won
seventeen more than once. I have lost nine hundred and thirty points
in two months, and a hundred and fifty-four in two days. I have lost
a bumper in two deals, holding one trump each hand and with the same
partner, the same seats, and the same cards won the next rubber but one
in two deals, again holding one trump in each hand.

I have seen a player with no trump and no winning card lose a
treble, and the very next hand, again with no trump and no winning
card—assisted to some extent by his partner—score nine, and on one
melancholy occasion my partner and myself were unable to raise a trump
between us; as a set-off to this, I ought to admit that we once held
them all.

Though I have never seen it myself, that the dealer should give each
member of the _parti_ an entire suit is becoming as common an object
of the sea-shore as our old friend the sea-serpent. Fortunately,
overpowering cards do not always win. A hand of thirteen trumps has
been known to make only one trick; it occurred in this wise.

A, B, Y, and Z were playing in a train, and A dealt himself the whole
suit of hearts: Y led the king of spades; B played the ace; Z followed
suit, and A ruffed.

B, “an arbitrary gent,” ejaculated “Trump my ace!” at once took up the
trick and, with his own twelve cards, threw the lot out of the window.

“The rest is silence.”

I have held three Yarboroughs in two hours (a Yarborough is a hand
containing no card above a nine), and a hand with no card above a
seven at least twice. There was a hand recently at Surbiton with no
card above a six. With ace, knave, to five trumps, two kings, and
trumps led up to me, I have lost by five cards, and with queen, knave,
10, 8, 3, 2, diamonds (trumps), spade king, ace and king of hearts,
ace, king, queen and another club, and the original lead, I lost the
odd trick; and, most incredible of all, I know a very good player who,
on three consecutive Saturdays, lost an aggregate of over three hundred

I have played a set match, and, although I never bet, as I fancied
we had a shade the best of the play, and the other side made the
liberal offer of six to four, it tempted me, I took it and won five
rubbers running. I once cut about the best player I know six times
consecutively. My partner laid six to five to commence with, and as we
won the first game—a single—he gave five to two, and that was the only
game we won in those six rubbers.

One of the two finest players I ever met lost twenty-eight consecutive
rubbers; feeling aggrieved at this ill-treatment he swore off for a
fortnight, and then lost twelve more.

Busses—not Funds—is much nearer the mark. Irrespective of the time of
day, you can either go to bed when you have won two rubbers, or when
you have lost them; you can persevere to the bitter end either when you
are winning or when you are losing; you can take any of the measures
mentioned in the last lecture, or adopt any other system you please;
but there is one rule with no exception: though no earthly power can
prevent your winning or losing, the actual amount of that gain or loss
always depends upon yourself and your partner; if you should ever lose
eighty or a hundred points at one sitting, that deplorable result will
never take place without your active connivance; a trick lost here
and a trick lost there, an exposed card or something of that kind—the
consequence is always intensified when you are losing—will just make
the difference every now and then between winning and losing a rubber.

During the bad forty-eight hours I had when I lost a hundred and
fifty-four points, I was attending carefully to the play, the cards
were abominable, and, making no allowances for what might have happened
if my partner and I had only been omniscient, simple little mistakes of
the kind just mentioned accounted for thirty-two of those points.

If there is such a thing as luck—and I believe there is—don’t lie down
and let it kick you.

Always play with reasonable care and attention:—if a thing is worth
doing at all, it is worth doing well—and when you hold cards which you
do not consider quite equal to your deserts, instead of playing worse
on that account—as most people do—take a little extra care.

If your pocket money gives out, or you feel that your cards are too
bad for endurance, give up playing altogether; but if you continue to
play don’t exacerbate your misfortunes by your own shortcomings; it is
bad enough to retire to your crib with empty pockets, without a guilty
conscience in addition.



[44] To the sneer that I lose now because I play worse, I reply it is
quite possible I do not play so well as I did five years ago, I make
the sneerer a present of the admission, but I play better than I did
twenty years ago, when—playing against as good players as I do now—if I
did not win every time I sat down I was astonished.

[45] “An experiment that does not go on to millions is very little
use in determining such propositions. It can be demonstrated to the
satisfaction of everyone that the odds, after having won the first
game in a rubber, in favour of winning one of the next two games is
three to one. Yet Mr. Clay considered that five to two was a bad bet,
and we have lost not only at five to two but at two to one, and on one
occasion we actually lost the long odds in two hundred bets, a hundred
and three times, so that if we were to take this result as of any
value, the odds would be slightly in favour of losing a rubber when you
had won the first game, which is absurd.”—_Westminster Papers._






    “‘The time has come,’ the walrus said,
      To talk of many things.’”

TO become a fair whist-player[46] no wonderful attributes are required;
common sense, a small amount of knowledge—easily acquired—_ordinary
observation of facts as they occur_, and experience, the result of
that observation—not the experience obtained by repeating the same
idiotic mistakes year after year—are about all. To save you trouble,
the experience of all the best players for the last hundred years has
been collected into a series of maxims, which you will find in any
whist book. These maxims you should know,[47] but though you know
every maxim that ever was written, and are “bland, passionate, deeply
religious, and also paint beautifully in water-colours,” if among your
other virtues the power of assimilating facts as they occur is not
included, this will not avail you in the least.

Bumblepuppy—according to its own account—demands much more superfine
qualities, _e.g._, inspiration, second-sight, instinct, an intuitive
perception of false cards and singletons, and an intimate acquaintance
with a mysterious and Protean Bogey called “the Game”—in short
everything but reason[48]—(all these fine words, when boiled and
peeled, turn out sometimes to mean ordinary observation, but more
usually gross ignorance). So much for its theory; its practice is this—

_Practice of Bumblepuppy._

    “This is an anti-Christian game,
     Unlawful both in thing and name.”—_Hudibras._

(1) Lead a singleton whenever you have one.

(2) With two small trumps and no winning card lead a trump.

(3) Ruff a suit of which your partner clearly holds best, if you are
weak in trumps.

(4) Never ruff anything if you are strong.

(5) Never return your partner’s trump if you can possibly avoid it,
unless he manifestly led it to bring in a suit of which you led a

(6) Deceive him whenever you get a chance.

(7) Open a new suit every time you have the lead.

(8) Never pay any attention to your partner’s first discard, unless it
is a forced discard (page 32); lead your own suit.

(9) Never force him under any circumstances unless you hold at least
five trumps with two honours; even if you lose the rubber by it, play
“the Game!”

(10) Devote all your remaining energies to looking for a signal in the
last trick. If you are unable to discover which was your partner’s
card—after keeping the table waiting for two minutes—enquire what
trumps are, and lead him one on suspicion.

       *       *       *       *       *

Play all your cards alike without emphasis or hesitation; how can you
expect your partner to have any confidence in your play when it is
evident to him from your hesitation that you have no confidence in it

If your partner renounces, and you think fit to enquire whether he is
void of the suit, do so quietly; don’t offer a hint for his future
guidance by glaring or yelling at him.

Don’t ask idiotic questions; if you led an ace, and the two, three, and
four are played to the trick, what is the use of asking your partner
to draw his card? If you hold all the remaining cards of a suit, why
enquire whether he has any?

Don’t talk in the middle of the hand.[49] However you may be tempted
to use bad language—and I must admit the temptation is often very
great—always recollect that though your Latin grammar says “humanum
est irasci,” the antidote grows near the bane, for—at the bottom of the
very preceding page—it also says “pi orant taciti.”

    “’Tis best sometimes your censure to restrain.”—_Pope._

According to the wisest man who ever lived, “he that holdeth his
peace is counted wise, and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a
man of understanding.” Such a reputation appears cheap at the price;
but—if you are of the opinion of J. P. Robinson that “they didn’t know
everything down in Judee”—you can call your partner any names you like
as soon as the hand is over.[50] You need not be at all particular what
for, any crime of omission or commission, real or fancied, will do; if,
after the game is ended, you discover that it might have been saved or
won by doing something different, however idiotic, grumble at him.[51]

It is quite legitimate to revile him for not playing cards he never
held; if he should have the temerity to point out that the facts are
against you, revile the facts.

If there is a really diabolical mistake in the case, and you happen to
have made it yourself, revile him with additional ferocity.

But never forget this! Before you proceed to give your partner a piece
of your mind, _always call your honours!_ for by neglecting this simple
precaution, you will often lay yourself open to a crushing rejoinder;
_experto crede!_

Failing any other grievance, you can always prove to demonstration—and
at interminable length—that if his cards, or your cards, or both your
cards, had been just the reverse of what they were, the result would
have been different; this certainly opens a wide field for speculation,
but it is neither an instructive nor entertaining amusement, though
it kills time. “Oh, take one consideration with another, the
whist-player’s lot is not a happy one.”

There is a theory which, according to some evil-disposed persons,
may easily be made too much of—the injury to yourself being remote
and doubtful, while the gratification of annoying him is certain and
immediate—that abusing your partner, as having a tendency to make him
play worse, is a mistake from a pecuniary point of view; of course it
is a mistake, but not for such a paltry reason as that; take a higher
stand-point! Whether you are winning or losing

    “You should never let
     Your angry passions rise.”—_Watts._

Don’t cry!

    “Ill betide a nation when
     She sees the tears of bearded men.”

And you will have a beard yourself some time, if you don’t lead the
penultimate of five. (See page 21.) Without exciting the slightest
sympathy on the part of an unfeeling public, crying deranges the other
secretions; the Laureate says tears are idle, and professes ignorance
of their meaning; if he played whist he would know that they injure the
cards and make them sticky.

Don’t play out of your turn, nor draw your card before that turn comes.

Don’t ride a hobby to death! _In ordinary whist_ three prevailing
hobbies are so cruelly over-ridden that I am surprised the active and
energetic Mr. Colam has never interfered: these are—

    (1) The penultimate of a long suit.

    (2) The signal for trumps.

    (3) Not forcing your partner unless you are strong
    in trumps—under any circumstances.

The first is, in the majority of cases, a nuisance;[52] the second is
stated to simplify the game and to cause greater attention to be paid
to it—practically the entire time of the players is taken up, either
in devising absurd signals or in looking for and failing to see them:
the third is responsible for losing about as many games as anything I
am acquainted with, though the constant and aimless changing of suits
runs it close.

Is it any reason—because you have no trumps—that you should announce
that circumstance early in the hand to the general public and prevent
your partner making one? If he has them all, you cannot injure him; if
he has not, the adversaries will play through him and strangle him: why
is it that you are afraid to let your partner make a certain trick,
though you are never afraid to open a new suit?

An impression is abroad that there is somewhere a law of whist to this
effect: “Never force your partner at any stage of the game unless you
yourself are strong in trumps.” Now there is no such thing.

Let us see what the authorities say on the point. “Keep in mind that
general maxims pre-suppose the game and hand at their commencement,
and that material changes in them frequently require that a different
mode of play should be adopted.” “It is a general maxim not to force
your partner unless strong in trumps yourself. There are, however, many
exceptions to this rule, as

(1) If your partner has led a single card.

(2) If it saves or wins a particular point.

(3) If great strength in trumps is declared against you.

(4) If you have a probability of a saw.

(5) If your partner has been forced and did not lead trumps.

(6) It is often right in playing for an odd trick.

If your partner shows a weak game force him whether or not you are
otherwise entitled to do it.”—_Mathews._

With a weak trump hand force your partner:

“(1) When he has already shown a desire to be forced, or weakness in

“(2) When you have a cross ruff.

“(3) When you are playing a close game as for the odd trick, and often
when one trick saves or wins the game or a point.

“(4) When great strength in trumps has been declared against

“Do not force your partner unless to make sure of the tricks required
to save or win the game;

“Or, unless he has been already forced, and has not led a trump;

“Or, unless he has asked to be forced by leading from a single card, or
two weak cards;

“Or, unless the adversary has led, or asked for trumps.”—_Clay._

“Unless your partner has shown great strength in trumps, or a wish to
get them drawn, or has refused to ruff a doubtful card, give him the
option of making a small trump, unless you have some good reason for
not doing so, other than a weak suit of trumps in your own hand.”—_Art
of Practical Whist._

With these extracts before you, perhaps you will dismiss from your mind
the popular fallacy, that you are under any compulsion to lose the
game, because your trumps are not quite so strong as you could wish.

Make a note of this.

Maxims were not invented for the purpose of preventing you from either
saving or winning the game, though it is their unfortunate fate to be
epitomized and perverted out of all reasonable shape: the ill-advised
dictum, “Suppose the adversaries are four, and you, with the lead,
have a bad hand. The best play is, in defiance of all system, to lead
out your best trump;” was comparatively innocuous till some ingenious
person, with a turn for abbreviation, altered it into “Whenever you
hold nothing, lead a trump!” Use your common sense.[53]

I have gone into this matter at considerable length, because I am
convinced that however many people, once affluent, are now in misery
and want, owing to their not having led trumps with five—Clay gave the
number as eleven thousand—a far larger number have been reduced to this
deplorable condition, by changing suits and refusing _on principle_ to
save the game by forcing their partner.

Before quitting the subject, there is another branch of it worthy of
a little consideration: when your partner by his discard has shown
which is his suit, and you hold two or three small cards in it, however
strong you may be in trumps—_unless everything depends on one trick_—do
you expect to gain much by forcing him and making yourself third
player? though it is usual to play in this absurd way, is there any
objection to first playing his suit and—as, _ex hypothesi_, you are
strong in trumps—forcing him afterwards?

Play always as simply and intelligibly as you can!

In addition to your partner not being able to see your cards—in itself
a disadvantage—he is by an immutable law of nature, much inferior in
perception to yourself; you should bear this in mind and not be too
hard on the poor fellow.

Never think![54] Know! Leave thinking to the Teuton:

    “A Briton knows, or if he knows it not,
                           He ought.”—_Cowper._

After the game has begun, the time for thinking has passed: as soon as
a card is led it is the time for action, the time to bring to bear your
previously acquired knowledge.


[46] Not a fine whist-player, for this is a rare bird, much more rare
than a black swan (these can be bought any day at Jamrach’s by the
couple, but even in the present hard times when, I am informed, the
markets are glutted with everything, he has not one fine whist-player
in stock); essential to him, in addition to common sense and attention,
are genius and a thorough knowledge of Cavendish.

[47] “Although these maxims may occasionally speak of things never to
be done, and others always to be done, you must remember that no rules
are without exception, and few more open to exceptional cases than
rules for whist.”—_Clay._

[48] Just as orthodoxy has been defined to be your own doxy, so “the
Game” usually means “your own idea of the game at the time.”

I have called it Protean because it assumes so many different forms
(being mainly based on results), and like the nigger’s little pig—runs
about to such an extent that it is impossible to get a clear view of it.

[49] Though whist is reported to be an old English word meaning
silence, and though it is advisable for many reasons that it should be
played with reasonable quiet, it is not at all compulsory to conduct
yourself as if in the monastery of La Trappe; you have a perfect
right—as far as the laws of whist are concerned—to discuss at any time
the price of stocks, the latest scandal, or even the play going on,
“provided that no intimation whatever, by word or gesture, be given as
to the state of your own hand or the game.”—_Etiquette of Whist._

At bumblepuppy you had better waive this right altogether, for if under
any circumstances you open your mouth, you will infallibly put your
foot into it. Even here, the bumblepuppist is not consistent, for while
constantly laying down the extraordinary law—in a very loud voice—that
whist is silence, he considers the carrying out of that law much more
incumbent on the rest of the table than himself.

[50] “Avoid playing with those who instruct, or rather find fault while
the hand is playing. They are generally unqualified by ignorance, and
judge from consequences; but if not, advice while playing does more
harm than good.”—_Mathews._

“The empty vessel makes the greatest sound.”—_Shakespeare._

“Talking over the hand _after_ it has been played is not uncommonly
called a bad habit and an annoyance, I am firmly persuaded it is one of
the readiest ways of learning whist.”—_Clay._


    “O dreary life!” we cry, “O dreary life!”
       And still the generation of the birds
     Sing through our sighing, and the flocks and herds
       Serenely live while we are keeping strife.

“The education of the whist-player is peculiar. How he becomes a
whist-player nobody knows. He never learns his alphabet or the
catechism or anything that he ought to do. He appears full-grown,
mushroom-like. He remembers someone blowing him up for doing something
he ought not to have done, and somebody else blowing him up for
doing something else, and he is blown up to the end of the chapter.
This phase of being blown up is varied by grumbling sometimes aloud,
sometimes _sotto voce_; so that the whist-player is reared on scolding
and grumbling as other youngsters are reared on pap. Truly this is a
happy life. Some men grumble on principle because it is a national
privilege, and they avail themselves of the Englishman’s birthright.”

    “A sect whose chief devotion lies
     In odd perverse antipathies:
     In falling out with that or this,
     And finding somewhat still amiss,
     More peevish, cross, and splenetic
     Than dog distract, or monkey sick.”—_Hudibras._

“Some do it because they believe that if they grumble enough, it
will bring them luck. Some do it in the hope that they will excite
sympathy, and that their friends will feel for their ill-fortune,
which, by-the-bye, whist-players never do. Some grumble to annoy their
friends, and we are bound to say these succeed.”—_Westminster Papers._

    “The croaking nuisance lurked in every nook;
    And the land stank—so numerous was the fry.”—_Cowper._

[52] “They are intent on some wretched crotchet like the lowest but

“Every time he can lead a lowest but one, no matter what the state of
the game or the score, that lead he is sure to make, and we believe
there are some neophytes who would lose their money with pleasure if
they could only tell their partners afterwards that they had led the
lowest but one.”—_Westminster Papers._

[53] “Common sense (which in truth is very uncommon) is the best sense
I know of. Abide by it; it will counsel you best.”—_Chesterfield

[54] This is at first sight a rather appalling proposition, but the
advice I give you I have always endeavoured to follow myself, and I am
not a solitary case, for in the _Nineteenth Century Review_ for May,
1879, I find the writer of one of the articles is in the same boat;
this thoughtful writer—he must have been thoughtful, otherwise his
lucubration would not have been accepted—says: “I have given up the
practice of thinking, or it may be I never had it.”






    “With some unmeaning thing, that they call thought.”—_Pope._

    “Think, and die.”—_Shakespeare._

NEVER think!

Unless you have some remarkably good reason for taking your own course,
do as you are told. If your partner leads a small trump, and you win
the trick, return it at once:

    “Gratia ab officio, quod mora tardat, abest.”

This is a much more simple and satisfactory plan than to proceed to
think that he may have no more, or that the fourth player must hold
major tenace over him; no one will admit more readily than I do that
you are much the better player of the two, still, allow him to have
some idea of the state of his own hand.

Don’t think whenever you see a card played that it is necessarily
false.—“_Nil sapientiæ odiosius acumine nimio._”—_Seneca._

As, on the whole, true cards are in the majority, you are more likely
to be wrong than right, and the betting must be against you in the long

    “My business and your own is not to inquire
     Into such matters, but to mind our cue—
     Which is to act as we are bid to do.”—_Byron._

If you are blest with a sufficiently sharp eye to the left, you may
occasionally _know_ that a card is false, but knowledge acquired in
that way I should not describe as thinking; I should use a quite
different expression.

With the military gentleman who anathematized intellect I deeply
sympathize. Profound thought about facts which have just taken place
under your own eye is the bane of whist.

Why imitate Mark Twain’s fiery steed? Why, when it is your business to
go on, “lean your head against something, and think?”

Whether you have seen a thing or not seen it, there can be no necessity
for thought; recondite questions—such as whether the seven is the best
of a suit of which all the others but the six are out, or whether a
card is the twelfth or thirteenth—can be answered by a rational being
in one of two ways, and two only; either he knows, or he does not know,
there is no _tertium quid_; the curious practice of gazing intently at
the chandelier and looking as intelligent as nature will permit—if not
more so—though it is less confusing than going to the last trick for
information, and imposes upon some people, is no answer at all;[55]
this, in whist circles, is called, or miscalled, _thinking_. It is not
a new invention, for it has been known and practised from the earliest
times. “There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes; and their
eyelids are lifted up.”—_Proverbs, chap._ 30, _verse_ 13, B.C. 1,000.
Pecksniff, who had an extensive acquaintance with the weaknesses of
human nature, knew it; you and all other schoolboys are adepts at it.

In Greek the very name of man—ανθρωπος—was derived from this peculiar
method of feigning intelligence, and it was by no means unknown to the

    “Pronaque cum spectent animalia cœtera terram,
     Os homini sublime dedit cœlumque tueri.”

But, however ancient and venerable the practice may be, it is one
of those numerous practices more honoured in the breach than in the
observance; surely, looking on the table is more in accordance with
the dictates of common sense than attempting to eliminate unknown
quantities from a chandelier. In the one you have gas and probably
water; on the other—lying open before you—the data required. I have
now endeavoured, not to teach you either whist or bumblepuppy, but to
point out a few of the differences between them, and to start you on
the right road. The first is a game of reason and common sense, played
in combination with your partner; the second is a game of inspiration,
haphazard, and absurdity, where your partner is your deadliest enemy.
I have made a few extracts from Mathews—partly because I do not like
novelties merely because they are novelties—partly to convince the
bumblepuppist (if anything will convince him) that when he tells me
the recognised plan is a new invention, introduced by Cavendish for
his especial annoyance, he does not know what he is talking about;
and partly to show you that since that book was written—eighty years
ago—the main principles of Whist are almost unaltered.

The chapter on etiquette is since his time; but, although the game has
been cut down one-half, take away from Mathews his slight partiality
for sneakers—to be accounted for by the possibility of his partner at
that remote period being even a more dangerous lunatic than yours is at
present, and the consequent necessity for playing more on the defensive
(for leading singletons, whatever else it may do, and however it may
damage the firm, does not injure the leader)[56] take away from the
play of to-day its signal, its echo, and its penultimate of a long
suit; (all excrescences of doubtful advantage for general purposes,
and the last two more adapted to that antediluvian epoch when human
life was longer)—and the continuity of the game is clear.[57] Whether
Whist would gain anything by their omission I am unable to say; the
attention, now always on the strain in _looking_ for its accidents,
would have a spare moment or two to devote to its essentials; whether
it would do anything of the kind is another matter.

Those followers of Darwin and believers in the doctrine of evolution,
to whom it is a source of comfort that an ascidian monad and not Eve
was their first parent, must find the Whist table rather a stumbling
block: they will there see uncommonly few specimens of the survival of
the fittest. A cynic with whom I was once conversing on this subject,
remarked that they were much more likely to come across the missing

The philosopher of Chelsea long since arrived at the unsatisfactory
and sweeping conclusion, that the population of these islands are
mostly fools, and he has made no exception of the votaries of Whist.
Still, it has the reputation of being a very pretty game, though this
reputation must be based to a great extent on conjecture; for apart
from its other little peculiarities—on some of which I have briefly
touched—its features are so fearfully disfigured by bumblepuppy, that
it is as difficult to give a positive opinion as to say whether a woman
suffering from malignant small-pox might or might not be good looking
under happier circumstances. The sublime self-confidence expressed in
the distich—

    “When I see thee as thou art,
     I’ll praise thee as I ought,”

has not been vouchsafed to me, but if ever I obtain a clear view of it,
I will undertake to report upon it to the best of my ability.

You may have heard that if you are ignorant of Whist you are preparing
for yourself a miserable old age: it is by no means certain that a
knowledge of it—as practised at this particular period—is to be classed
with the beatitudes.



[55] Making passes in the air with your hand, as if you were about to
mesmerise the table, is another favourite stratagem.

[56] The difference here is more apparent than real; Mathews, with
considerable limitations, advocates leading singletons; now-a-days the
practice is decried, but I regret to say that as far as my experience
goes, the principal obstacle to leading a singleton is not having a
singleton to lead.

[57] “We expect that Cavendish very often must have objected to that
ancient plagiarist Mathews for stealing his ideas.”

“If their ideas are not identical, it is rather difficult to find where
one begins and the other ends.”—_Westminster Papers._

“I contend that there is no essential difference between modern and
old-fashioned whist, _i.e._, between Hoyle and Cavendish, Mathews and
J. C.”—_Mogul._






    “O tempora! O mores!”

    “To seek to extinguish anger utterly is but a bravery of
    the Stoics.”—_Bacon._

I AM afraid that you will hear at the whist table a good deal about
temper, unless you are particularly fortunate; that so-and-so is
good-tempered, or the reverse; that if we were all better tempered,
something or other might be different, and similar platitudes. Now
these mostly start on the utterly false assumption that everybody is
equally subject to the same annoyances.

    “Tender and delicate persons must needs be oft angry;
    they have so many things to trouble them, which more
    robust natures have little sense of.”—_Ibid._

That the greatest exponent of Bumblepuppy has necessarily the longest
temper goes without saying—of course he has! He has nothing to ruffle
him, for he has everything his own way; he plays as he thinks fit
(supposing him to think at all, or ever to be fit); if his partner
makes a mistake it is any odds he never sees it; _de non existentibus
et non apparentibus eadem est ratio_; here is one cause of equanimity.

If it is any amusement to him—and I presume it is, otherwise he would
not do it—from his cradle to his grave to play a game of which he knows
absolutely nothing, and if in pursuit of that amusement he thinks it
worth his while to take a certain amount of his own and his partner’s
capital, and to throw it in the street, why should he lose his temper?
Although he has paid his money, he has had his choice—another cause of

Ah Sin played a game he did not understand, and remained quite calm
and unperturbed, though he was a heathen and an Asiatic; while his
antagonist disgraced our common Christianity by letting his angry
passions rise because things were going against him.

If both partners, then, are of the same mind and the same
calibre—either bad or good—to quote an American author, “all is peas,”
and like the place

    “Where brothers dwell and sisters meet
     Quarrels should never come.”

The difficulty begins to arise when one of the partners fails to
see things altogether in the same light as the other. He may be so
unfortunately constituted (cross-grained the other would say) that he
is unable to derive any amusement from the game unless it is played
with a modicum of intelligence; it is just possible that instead of
considering gold as dross, as an accursed thing to be got rid of at
the earliest opportunity, he may be actuated by a depraved love of
filthy lucre, and a sordid desire for gain; such conditions are to be
deplored, but they exist and must be reckoned with.

When his partner proceeds to run amuck, he misses the point of the
joke; his perverted moral sense revolts against paying half the money,
and the other man having all the choice; probably, for a time, he keeps
his mouth tightly shut, but his _collaborateur_ is not to be eluded
in that way; he demands not merely the passive, but the active assent
of his victim, and sooner or later, after the perpetration of some
particularly atrocious _coup_, inquires with the bland and childlike
smile of the heathen already referred to, “Partner, I think we could
not have done better there?” What is to be done now? Silence is not
an answer; it used to be, but has been disestablished. Are you to
agree with him? Are you to state what is false? Are you to dissent and
be informed you are always finding fault? (Shakespeare’s retort is
neat and worthy of him: “You have always been called a merciful man,
partner;” but we are not all Shakespeares.) Or is it the best course
at once to resort to active measures, and throw at him the first thing
that comes to hand?

The worm must turn some time or other; it may turn the other cheek, but
that is only temporising; no worm has more than two cheeks, and when
it has had them both slapped, what is it to do then? We come to an

The copy-books used to tell us—for anything I know they may do so
yet—copy-book aphorisms have a marvellous vitality, and you have seen
them since I have—that “patience is a virtue” (I think virtue ought
to have a capital V), and, as an abstract proposition, the statement
is probably as true and more grammatical than “There’s milestones on
the Dover Road”; but what is the use of it? The question is, will it
wash? The two best known examples of this virtue are the Patriarch
Job and the patient ass. Whether the Patriarch was well advised in
enduring his friends so long, and whether he endured them on account
of his patience, or whether the bodily affliction from which he was
notoriously suffering at the time, incapacitated him from taking
energetic steps to expel them from his bed-room, are questions
difficult to decide so long after the event. I express no opinion of my
own; let the dead past bury its dead: _de mortuis nil nisi bonum_; but
the donkey is a different matter; he lives in our own times, and I know
him well; he touches me nearly; and I unhesitatingly affirm that the
only benefit—if benefit is the proper term—he has ever derived from his
long-suffering, has been to be invariably imposed upon in consequence.
Casa Bianca on the burning deck is another case in point; he did score
to a certain extent, for owing to his patience his widowed mother
escaped an undertaker’s bill, while he himself is known to this day in
the nursery as “the noble boy”; but to the more mature observer, in
whom the ambition to be called names is dead, the game is hardly worth
the candle; while you yourselves will be called quite enough names
at the whist table without being cremated; not to mention that the
majority of you probably prefer pudding to praise.

Some irritable people go so far as to apply language of a condemnatory
character to the inanimate cards; as it is impossible to arouse any
emotion either of pleasure or anger in their breasts, this seems absurd
and a waste of energy. It must be bad form to excite yourself without
causing annoyance to others, and should certainly be avoided.

Believing luck to be strictly personal, it appears to me that calling
for new cards is an unnecessary display of temper and throwing good
money after bad.

We may take it, speaking generally—for it is not always the case—that
the worse a man plays, the less visible is his bad temper; the converse
fortunately does not hold good, for many good players have really
wonderful tempers.

One curious circumstance is that want of perception and thickness of
mental cuticle are usually looked upon by the unfortunate possessors
as proofs of good temper, and boasted of as such. This is not the case
in other afflictions. I once knew a man with a Barbadoes leg, and
though its circumference much exceeded that of mine, he never made any
offensive comparisons.

In Bath I have seen scores of invalids—mostly naval and military men,
naturally warlike—they were all seated decorously in the local chairs;
and when they dismounted and hobbled into the club, they did not go
about brandishing their crutches and bragging that they had refrained
from assaulting us innocent civilians; on the contrary, I always found
them most courteous and friendly.

To sum up the matter; we are all worms of some kind, and we all turn
more or less when we are trodden upon, if we perceive it. The denser
the worm, the more slowly he turns. While some ill-conditioned ones
turn under all circumstances, some of the most highly-organised are
scarcely ever known even to wriggle. Apparently harmless ones sometimes
turn most suddenly and ferociously. Those most trodden upon—unless
quite _hors de combat_—turn most.

Finally, many congenitally mal-formed worms, and worms suffering from
amaurosis, cerebral ramollissement, myxædema, and other dreadful
diseases, are not only unaware of their critical state, but are
actually proud of it, and look upon it as a proof of their amiable






    “Past and to come seem best; things present worst.”—_Shakespeare._

IN my time I believe Whist has on the whole deteriorated,[58] it
mistakes means for ends, is more tricky, more difficult, more
cantankerous; with regard to common mistakes—inability to hold a few
cards without dropping them on the table, or to play them one at a
time; inability to count thirteen, to recollect the best card, or
whether it was your opponents, your partner, or yourself who first led
a suit; winning your partner’s trick, or not winning your adversary’s;
leading out of turn, revoking, and so on—there is not much difference.

As long as I can recollect, Whist has been gorged with these, and
neither the hydraulic ram nor any other of the improved mechanical
appliances of the present day can squeeze into a thing more than it
will hold. Architects of card-rooms are to blame for a good deal of
this bad Whist; it is impossible to play in a badly lighted, or a badly
ventilated room. Whist players have often told me exactly what they
require, and it is very odd they cannot have it.

With a large fire, the room hermetically sealed, and everybody smoking,
the temperature should never exceed sixty-one-and-a-half degrees, nor
be below sixty. There must be neither doors (they admit draughts)
nor windows: windows are open—allow me to withdraw that offensive
word—windows are exposed to two objections, (1) some scoundrel,
regardless of consequences, might lower or raise the sash; (2) instead
of being placed in the ceiling or the floor—where you would naturally
expect to find them—they are always at the side of the room, and no
whist player can see a card with the windows in such a position.

Candles do not give sufficient light, and gas is unbearable; a
suggestion to try an attic with a skylight fell through (not through
the skylight—I mean the suggestion failed), because no one was able to
go upstairs; a lift would overcome that objection, but the temperature
difficulty remained.

This only applies to clubs; curiously enough, in small stuffy
back-rooms in private houses, gas never causes head-ache, and neither a
mephitic atmosphere nor a temperature of 120° is at all disagreeable.

Joking apart, the _fons et origo mali_ is Law 91, and not only the
head and front of the offending, but its barrel and hind quarters as

Since the introduction of signalling, the subsequent petrolatry, and
all the elaborate functions of that cultus, an exaggerated importance
(increasing in geometric ratio with every additional convention) has
been attached to the last trick—the only place where, by universal
consent, anything can reasonably be “looked for”—and if you, after
seeing the cards played, informing your partner which is yours (of
course, in answer to his enquiry), gathering the trick and arranging it
neatly, should imagine you have done with it, you will be the victim of
a fond delusion—using “fond” in the old acceptation of the word. First,
your partner will ask to see it at least twice, then your opponents,
one or both, will probably grab at it without asking, and put it back
in a dishevelled condition; it is useless to specify what their mental
state must be, and unfortunately, by the time all these irritating
performances have been gone through and you have again arranged the
trick symmetrically, you will find yours is not all you could wish. You
can avoid some of these annoyances by allowing your partner to gather
the tricks, but from his slovenly mode of doing so, you will never
be able to see how many he has; and just as you are endeavouring to
concentrate your attention at a critical point, it will be distracted
by your having to make an intricate calculation how the game stands,
the data being the cards remaining in your hand, and two confused
heaps on the table; as long as this is permitted, whist is out of the
question, and you feel inclined to say with the Divine Williams,

    “Let him have a table by himself.”

One of the principal uses of the new method of suspended animation
will turn out to be, that all decent whist players will have to submit
themselves to it, and remain, arranged in rows on shelves, until that
law is abrogated.

The number of shelves required will not appreciably affect the timber

In the good time coming, promised by the poet to those of you who wait
a little longer, when the present inspired, convention-ridden, and
last-trick-inspecting generation is in the silent tomb or cremated, as
the case may be, and a new school—basing its play on common sense and
attention—has arisen, there may be an improvement; but as I am not an
optimist I cannot join in the aspiration of the little girl whose world
was hollow and whose doll was stuffed with sawdust; therefore, though
this improvement, like the millennium, may be looming in the more or
less remote future, I see no sign of it at present.

If “to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose
under the sun,” also “_a time to lose and a time to cast
away_.”—Ecclesiastes, chap. 1, verse 1-6: it seems clear to me there
must be a time for bumblepuppy.

Some people deny this, they say that the argument proves too much; they
point out that Shakespeare says there are

    “Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
     Sermons in stones, and good in everything.”

and that as this could not apply to bumblepuppy, these passages only
show that it was unknown when they were written.

Another argument of theirs against the antiquity of bumblepuppy,
based on the passage “in all labour there is profit,” is altogether
fallacious and unworthy of consideration; they admit the labour but
deny the profit. This must have had its origin east of Temple Bar,
where it is held there is no profit unless it assumes a pecuniary form.
But the repressing your innate tendency to profane swearing, curbing
your evil passions generally, and the cultivation—under considerable
difficulties—of nearly all the cardinal virtues, as inuring to your
moral well-being, are a profit of the most positive kind;[61] to be
able to give a definite answer to the long-standing conundrum “is life
worth living?” is something.

However, you can draw your own conclusion, the extract from Shakespeare
is—I confess—difficult to get over, still, when Solomon makes use of
these remarkable words “a time to lose and a time to cast away,” I fail
to see what he could have had in his mind, unless it was this very game.

At any rate one thing is clear, bumblepuppy exists now, and is not a
pretty game (there can be no two opinions about that); neither—judging
from the demeanour and language of its exponents—is it a pleasant
game. I append a hand, which is, I think, the finest specimen of it I
ever saw. Judge for yourself. I had jotted down a few further remarks
on this repulsive subject, but on reading them over, they seem to be
not only inconsistent with that extreme reverence which is due to the
young, but absolutely unfit for publication.

    “Quod factu fœdum est, idem est et dictu turpe.”
                        R. I. P.

The two games are now before you, let me conclude the lecture with one
more extract from my favourite classic.

    Utrum horum mavis accipe.

       *       *       *       *       *


    “Here’s a pretty state of things! Here’s a how-de-do!”

Score love all. Trumps diamond 9. Z is a bumblepuppist with the highest
opinion of himself.

      A.          Y.          B.          Z.

    1 H5         ~H6~         H2          H4

    2 D2          D5          D4         ~DK~!

    3 S3          SK         ~SA~         S4!!

    4 S7          SJ          S2         ~SQ~

    5 D8         ~D10~        S10         S9!!!

    6 D3          D7          D6         ~DQ~!!!!

    7 C3          DJ         ~DA~         D9!!!!!

    8 C4          H8         ~S8~          C2

    9 C6          C8         ~S6~          C9

    10 C7         HQ         ~S5~          CJ

    11 H10       ~HA~         H3           H9

    12 H8        ~CA~         C5           CK

    13 HJ        ~CQ~         C10          HK

This is the worst hand ever played, without exception; it is a
microcosm, complete in itself, and contains examples of stupidity,
selfishness, duplicity, defiance of all recognized principles, and
every conceivable villainy.

Trick 2.—The misplaced ingenuity in deceiving Y as to the position of
the Qn is worth notice.

Trick 3.—The lead of the only weak suit, in preference to the strong
suit of clubs, playing up to declared weakness in hearts, or returning
the trump is very neat.

Trick 5.—The force here of the trump leader, inducing him to believe
that Z at any rate holds the remaining spades, an illusion carefully
fostered by B, is especially good.

Trick 7.—The return of the trump at this point with the best trump
(probably) and three long spades (certainly) declared against him in
one hand, is a real gem.



    “Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the
    fool nowhere but in his own house.”—_Shakespeare._

A third variety of whist, the domestic rubber, I have passed over in
silence; what takes place in the sanctity of private life it would be
as unbecoming for me to divulge as for you to seek to know;

    “O’er all its faults we draw a tender veil,
     So great its sorrows and so sad its tale.”

At the same time I don’t think I am violating any confidence in stating
that you will find there neither signalling, nor the penultimate of
five and its developments: yet, though free from these annoyances,
the game, even when mitigated by muffins, music, and the humanizing
influence of woman is inexpressibly dreary, and you had better keep out
of it if you can; but should this not be practicable,—for some relative
from whom you have a reasonable expectation of a tip may be staying in
the house, and you may be compelled to sacrifice yourself either on
the altar of duty or of self-interest—then never forget that sweetness
of temper is much more important here than knowledge of Whist, and
consoling yourself with the following two reflections:

(1) That (according to Epicurus) prolonged pain is pleasant rather than
otherwise, extreme pain always short;[62]

(2) That those whom the gods love die young; when your hour arrives,
bare your throat to the knife with a smile.

So shall your memory smell sweet and blossom in domestic circles.


Double dummy is not Whist, nor anything like it, it much more closely
resembles chess; one is a game of inference, the other is an exact
science, where the position of every card is known.

Often, in the course of a controversy on Whist, you will hear one of
the disputants challenging the other to play double dummy, imagining
that he has clenched the matter; it would be quite as germane to
suggest trial by battle, or to move an adjournment to a good dry
skittle alley.

“The bearings of these observations lays in the application of them.
That an’t no part of my duty. Avast then, keep a bright look out
for’ard, and good luck to you.”



[58] “The game is not the simple straightforward game it was, it is
more erratic and more difficult.”

“Whist is more and more, and year by year, a game of brag, a game
for gambling, a game in which we have to study the idiosyncrasies of
the players as well as the cards themselves. We have to deduce from
imperfect data, and when our inference is wrong we have a great chance
of a scolding from an infuriated partner.”

“Modern whist in a nutshell—signs and signals and a short supply of
brains.”—_Westminster Papers._

“We are by no means peculiar in the opinion that signals and the
so-called developments are destroying whist.”—_Cornhill Magazine._

“Whist, as a game, is in a fair way of being ruined.”—_Knowledge._

[59] “Let players, if they wish to play a decent game, and avoid a
mischievous and annoying practice, give up the privilege accorded by
Law 91.”—_Home Whist._

[60] “This refuge against boredom has fallen through. Seeing an article
on suspended animation in the _Contemporary Review_ for November 1879,
I pounced upon it, thinking it might contain the recipe, and found to
my disgust that the process, so circumstantially narrated, was a hoax.”

[61] “While practising these virtues you are not obliged to look
pleasant unless you feel so—this would be dissimulation. Heine’s plan
fulfils all reasonable requirements.

    Once I said in my despairing,
      This must break my spirit now,
    But I bore it and am bearing,
      Only do not ask me how.”

[62] He is right to some extent; the domestic rubber always closes



AS my present aim is confined to purveying food for babes in an
elementary and easily assimilable form, and to calling your attention
to Law 91, any lengthened disquisition on the more recent conventions
would be out of place.

More competent critics than myself flatly deny that they are food for
anybody, and have denounced them, lock, stock, and barrel, in _The
Field_, _Longman’s_, _Cornhill_, _Knowledge_, _Whist_, and numerous
daily and weekly papers.

Having given my opinion elsewhere, I would merely remark that though,
in your allotted span of three-score years and ten—after deducting a
reasonable time for rest and refreshment, say eight hours a day—you may
possibly master such an intricate absurdity as the plain suit echo,
that result is highly improbable, and most assuredly not worth the

Still, though the thanes have revolted, they are not immortal, and must
shortly join the great men who have gone before; the future is in your
hands, and if you wish Whist to endure you must bestir yourselves at
once; there is no time to lose. “The times have been, that when the
brains were out, the man would die;” those times may return at any
moment and where will the modern game be then?

Already its authors have provided you with the following dogmata:—

    _the lead of uniformity;_
    _the discard of uniformity;_
    _the suit of uniformity;_

all three of them rooted in error—a melancholy tripod to hang the fine
old game upon, with a strong family likeness to the Manx emblem, three
legs all abroad and no head-piece—if you give these iconoclasts a
little more rope, they have only to formulate _the hand of uniformity_,
and the _corpus_ or rather the _cadaver_ of Whist will be complete.




SOME readers of these lectures have complained that it is often
difficult to discriminate when they are serious and when they “attempt
to be funny,” and have suggested that the attempts should be indicated
clearly by a note, thus [Illustration] “this is a goak”!—and the
remainder printed in red ink. While fully recognizing their difficulty
and sympathizing with them, I am unable to entertain either proposal;
the first is an American innovation utterly at variance with the
conservative character of the work; and it is a fatal objection to
the other that if whatever is important were picked out in red, many
well-disposed children would at once rush to the natural—but highly
erroneous—conclusion, that they had got hold of a Prayer Book. Another
complaint, that my advice to Bumblepuppists is likely to lead them
further astray is beside the question, even assuming—for the sake of
this argument—such a thing to be possible; the point is whether I
have described “the game” correctly, and I am prepared to stake my
reputation as an experienced Bumblepuppy player, that I have done so
without manifesting fear, favour, or affection.



    =The Monthly Journal devoted to the
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    =MUDIE & SONS,=
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       *       *       *       *       *


    THE PHILOSOPHY OF WHIST. By Dr. Pole, F.R.S. Price 3/6.

    THE THEORY OF WHIST. By Dr. Pole, F.R.S. Price 2/6.

    CLAY ON WHIST (The Laws of Short Whist, by J. L.
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    FOSTER’S WHIST MANUAL—The Course of Lessons. By R. F.
    Foster. Price 3/6.


    Price 6d.

    THE CORRECT CARD. By Lt.-Colonel Campbell-Walker. Price

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    “An interesting game of the Bezique order.”—_Daily

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LAWS AND PRINCIPLES OF WHIST. Illustrated in Red and Black. New
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    In the Methods which make some Players so much more skilful than others.

    Illustrated with
    112 Hands at Duplicate Whist, played by Correspondence, between sixteen of
    the best players in the world.

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *

It is generally admitted that the most popular and useful book on
Whist ever written is “Foster’s Whist Manual.” Another work, by the
same author, entitled “Whist Tactics” is intended to carry players a
step farther, and should enable them to become past-masters of whist

The methods which ensured the success of the “Manual” are followed in
the present work, the author first giving the examples to be practised
with the actual cards, and then explaining the principles underlying
their proper management. In the “Manual” only the simple elements of
the game are treated of, such as the leads 2nd and 3rd hand play, etc.;
but in “Whist Tactics” the general management of the entire hand is
examined; the relations of the plain suits to each other and to the
trumps are shown; and certain simple, clear, and well-defined rules are
given, which will enable any player immediately to judge which course
it is best to pursue when he finds the plain suits and the trumps in
certain proportions to each other.

It is also shown that after one or more tricks have been played
the hand must no longer be treated on its own merits, but must be
considered in its relation to the known or inferred peculiarities of
those of the three other players.

The examples which the author uses throughout the work consist of 112
hands at Duplicate Whist, which were played by correspondence between
sixteen of the finest players in America. For every card played in
this match, each of the players had a week in which to think over the
situation; and the result has provided 112 examples of the very best
and most carefully studied whist ever played.

The author continually refers to these illustrative hands in order to
show that certain general principles of tactics are followed by all
the best players, and that it is neither more nor less than the proper
understanding and use of these tactics which make their play so much
better than that of the others.

The arrangement and presentation of the subject are quite original,
and entirely different from that pursued in any other work on whist;
and the publishers are confident that it will be welcomed as the most
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Illustrated in two colours, cloth bound, gilt edges. Price 5s.

    =Sent Postage Free on Receipt of the Price.=

       *       *       *       *       *

    =MUDIE & SONS, Publishers, 15 Coventry Street, W.=

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s note:

Obvious punctuation errors were corrected. Sometimes the errors were
not able to be corrected as in a few opening quotes that never closed.

Page 27, “urbs” changed to “urbis” (upon it _urbis_)

Page 28, “lead” changed to “led” (is led, he occasionally)

Page 41, the citation “Cameron” was changed from small capitals to
italics to match the rest of the text’s layout. (—_Cavendish._)

Page 55, “suits” changed to “suit” (the suit is trumps)

Page 80, Footnote 45, repeated word “of” removed from text (one of the

Page 109, “millenium” changed to “millennium” (like the millennium)

Page 109, “passsge” changed to “passage” (based on the passage)

Page 113, “at” changed to “At” (At the same time)

Page 123, advertisement, “Egdes” changed to “Edges” (with Gilt Edges)

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