Some Hansoms recreating the game that never happened in "Red-headed
to Play a Proper
Sherlockian Game of Whist
(With color commentary by Sherlock Holmes)
First obtain a standard deck of playing cards. (Traditional whist is
played with two decks, one being shuffled while the other is dealt. Sherlock
Holmes, it would seem, preferred the informal one-deck game.)
"I had brought a pack of cards in my pocket . . . " (REDH)
Get together four people including yourself.
". . . as we were a partie carree . . . . " (REDH)
Cut cards to determine who will be partners with whom, those drawing
the highest two cards playing against the lowest two, aces counted as
"A confederate who forsees your conclusions and course of action
is always dangerous." (BLAN)
Cut cards again to determine the dealer, then have the fellow go through
the usual shuffle, cut, and deal procedure common to most honest card
games. He should deal thirteen cards to everyone, turning his own last
card face up.
"We are getting some cards in our hands . . . ." (SHOS)
That last, exposed card's suit is then announced as trump, and the card
is taken into the dealer's hand.
"You see that we hold all the cards . . . ." (GREE)
Play begins with the player to the dealer's left, who lays out a card
for all to see.
"It's not an easy one to play." (SHOS)
Following a clockwise rotation, the other players do likewise, each playing
a card of the same suit as the first if they have it. If they don't have
any cards of the leading suit, players can lay down whatever card they
"I see the fall of the cards." (BRUC)
The round or "trick" of four cards is won by whomever has the
highest card of the suit led (and unlike the draw for partners, aces are
counted as high), unless a card from the trump suit has been played by
a player out of cards in the leading suit. In that case, the highest trump
takes the hand. (Taking a hand by means of a trump is usually called "trumping,"
but "ruffing" was the original term for it, dating back to one
of whist's progenitors "Ruffs and Honours.")
"When the other fellow has all the trumps, it saves time to throw
down your hand." (MAZA)
The winner of that round plays the leading card of the next trick, and
the others follow as before, playing the suit of the lead card if possible.
"We must see what further cards we have in our hands, and play them
with decision." (HOUN)
The play progresses in such a manner until thirteen tricks have been
won and lost, all the cards having been played. At that time the score
is totalled, one point being awarded for each trick over six (called "odd-tricks"
in the parlance of whist) that a team has won.
"At present it must be admitted that the odd trick is in his possession,
and, as you are aware, Watson, it is not my habit to leave the game in
that condition." (MISS)
Another hand is dealt, played, and scored, the game continuing until
one team's score gets to seven points. Another game begins, and the winners
of the best two out of three games win the entire match or "rubber."
". . . you might have your rubber after all." (REDH)