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whist

whist, card game for four players, those on opposite sides of the table being partners. The full pack of 52 cards is dealt. The dealer's last card is turned up to indicate trump, and after he draws this card in hand, the player on the left of the dealer leads. Cards rank from ace down through two, and the highest card of the suit or the highest trump wins the trick. Partners collect their tricks in one pile. Six tricks make a book, and each trick over the book in one game counts one point. The partners who first score seven points win. Famous variations include duplicate whist, bid whist, solo whist, and Norwegian whist. Whist originated in England, where it was a development of earlier games (e.g., triumph) that were known in the 16th cent. In 1742, Edmond Hoyle published A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist, but it was Henry Jones (pseud. Cavendish) who first compiled (1862) a complete system of scientific whist play. The game spread to other European countries in the 19th cent., and tournaments were organized. Whist gave rise in the late 19th cent. to the game of bridge, which quickly surpassed the parent game in popularity.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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