Romanian Whist

This game is similar to the English or American game Oh Hell. The game is popular in Romania, and the citizens simply call it Whist.

Players

This is a game for 3 to 8 players, however best for 4 to 6 players. Each player plays alone.

Cards

From a standard pack use 8 cards for every player, 24 for 3 players, 32 for 4 players and so on. The cards rank as usual: A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2. They have no value, because it is a game for tricks only.

Deal

The first dealer is chosen at random. Then the turn to deal rotates clockwise after each hand.

The number of cards dealt to each player varies during the game. For the first few deals each player gets only one card. This continues for as many deals as there are players.

After this, the number of cards dealt to each player increases by one with every deal until eventually all the cards are dealt, that is 8 cards each. Then as many deals are played with 8 cards each as there are players.

Then the number of cards dealt decreases again until every player gets only one card. Once more there are as many deals with one card each as there are players.

An Example

With 4 players the whole game would consist of 24 deals, and the number of cards dealt each time would be as follows: 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1.

After the cards are dealt, the next card is put face up and the suit of this card is trump. In the games with 8 cards there is no card left to turn, and these games are played without trumps.

Bidding

Every player in order, beginning with the player to dealer's left, says how many tricks he/she thinks he/she will get. The sum of all tricks bid must not be the same as the number of cards dealt to each player. For example: game with four cards, three players: The first player says "2", the next "1". The third player is not allowed to say "1", because that would make the sum of the tricks 4. The player has to bid either 0, 2, 3 or 4.

The rule that the bids must not add up to the number of cards dealt ensures that not everyone will succeed in their bid, but puts the dealer at a disadvantage, especially when only one card is dealt. It is for this reason that everyone must take a turn at dealing one-card hands at the beginning and end of the sequence of hands.

Play

The player to dealer's left plays the first card. The other players must play a card of the same suit if possible. If they have no card of the suit led, they can play a trump or discard any other card. The trick is won by whoever played the highest trump, or if no trump was played, by whoever played the highest card of the suit led. The winner of the trick leads to the next.

The objective is to win exactly the number of tricks you said you would win.

Scoring

The hand ends when all cards are played.

The players who made their contract (exactly) get 5 points plus the number of tricks they made.

If the player takes fewer tricks than the player bids, the player loses one point for each undertrick.

If the player takes more tricks than the player bid, the player loses one point for each overtrick.

Examples:

Suppose a player bids 3 tricks.

If the player takes exactly 3, the player will win 8 points (5+3).

If the player takes only two tricks, the player loses 1 point; the same if the player takes 4 tricks.

If the player takes 1 or 5 tricks, two different from the player's bid, the player will lose 2 points.

If the player takes no tricks or 6 tricks, the player will lose 3.

Variations

1. One variation that may be used if desired. In the last games with one card the players do not look at their own card, but they hold it on their forehead. Each player can see the cards of the other players, but he/she does not know which card he/she holds himself. So he/she must guess how many tricks he/she can made from the sayings of the other players.

2. If a player wins 10 consecutive games (this means, if the player never fails to fulfill his contract), he/she may add 30 points to his total.

3. If a player with the last game has exactly 0 points, he wins the game. This variation commonly played, but is not recommended, because it tends to destroy the game at the end since the players may try to lose as many games as possible, in an attempt to reach zero.

4. Another variation is where the 8-card hands are dealt first, then reducing to one card and increasing again to 8 cards. The number of 8 card hands at the beginning and end and one-card hands in the middle is equal to the number of players, so with four players the deals would be: 8-8-8-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-1-1-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-8-8-8.

Claus and Raymond

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