Minnesota Whist

The name stems from the fact that the game is reported to be very popular in northern Minnesota, where it is simply called Whist.

Players

There are four players in two fixed partnerships. Partners sit facing each other. The game is played clockwise.

Cards

A standard 52 card pack is used. The cards in each suit rank from highest to lowest: A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2. There are no trumps.

Deal

The dealer deals out all the cards one at a time so that each player has 13.

High / Low Bids

Each hand is played either high or low. If it is played high, the partnership that takes at least 7 of the 13 tricks scores points. If it is played low, a partnership must take 6 or fewer tricks to avoid losing points.

All four players indicate whether they wish to play the hand as high or low by simultaneously placing a card face down in front of them. A black card indicates that they wish to play high; a red card indicates that they wish to play low. Usually players pick their lowest red or black card to represent their bid.

Starting with the player to the left of the dealer, each person turns over their bidding card in turn. If the card is red, the next player to the left turns over their card. If any card is black, all revealing of bid cards stops and the hand is played high. Only if all four bidding cards are red is the hand played low.

The partnership containing the person who showed black first is said to have granded.

Play and Scoring with High Bid

The player to the right of the person who granded leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit. The player of the highest card in the suit led wins the trick and leads to the next. When all 13 tricks have been played, the side which won more tricks scores 1 point for each trick they won in excess of 6.

Play and Scoring with Low Bid

The player to the left of the dealer leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit. The player of the highest card in the suit led wins the trick and leads to the next. When all 13 tricks have been played, the side which won more tricks loses 1 point for each trick they have in excess of 6.

End of the Game

The partnership which first reaches 13 points wins the game. This takes several deals.

Variations

In some variations a difference in the scoring among players is pre-established. In the case of a high bid, the side that did not grand takes more than 6 tricks, they receive 2 points for each trick they won in excess of 6. If the side that granded wins more than 6 tricks, they receive just 1 point for each trick in excess of 6 as usual. This type of scoring reflects the idea that granding is like undertaking a contract, and the penalty for failing should be greater than the reward for succeeding.

Tactics

The Invite

When a person leads for the first time, it is called an invite. There are usually four invites during a game.

Tactics for the High Bid

When playing high, the invite should be the lowest card of the player's best suit. This gives their partner a hint as to what to lead later on if their own hand is weak, yet does not give away the true strength of inviter's hand. The inviter's partner should respond by playing their highest card in this suit. This gives the inviter a sense of what the partner has to offer during the hand.

Sometimes when it comes to the partner's turn to invite, after having won a trick, they will choose instead of leading their own suit to lead back their partner's suit. To do this indicates to one's partner that one has a very weak hand.

The most important invite is the first lead by the person who granded earlier and this indicates to everyone the strongest suit of a person who considered themselves to have a strong hand.

Tactics for the Low Bid

Playing low is generally considered more difficult than playing high. The invite during a low game should be the highest card of a player's weakest suit. This gives their partner a hint as to what to lead later on. The response of this person's partner is to play their highest card in this suit as well.

Claus and Raymond

Conventions

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