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Instructions for Whist

On Playing the game of Loo

Instructions for Whist

Card games were a popular way of whiling away an evening at home or with friends. The game of whist is one that was common during Jane Austen’s era. We hope these instructions for whist prove helpful.

“Whist and speculation; which will amuse me most?”
Mansfield Park


Deck: 52 card deck
Players: 4 players, as partners (2 and 2)
Object: To take tricks and score the most points
Preliminaries:All 52 cards are dealt facedown except for the final card, which is turned up to establish the trump suit.

Whist was one of the first card games to use the trump-suit concept. It developed in the 18th century from the French game of triomphe, which began in the 16th century. This game was replaced at the end of the 19th century by bridge and is very similar to hearts.

When playing, the dealer adds that card to his hand when it is his turn to play. The player to his left starts play by leading a card and the other players follow suit, if possible.

The trick is won by the highest card of the suit or by a trump card played form a hand with no cards in the suit that was led. The winner of each trick leads next. Six tricks are called a book and each additional trick counts as one point. The first partnership to score seven points wins.


Enjoyed these instructions for whist? Have a look at our Jane Austen playing cards!

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Charades and Bullet Pudding

“Different amusements every evening!
We had Bullet Pudding, then Snap-Dragon, &
. . . we danced or played at cards.”
Fanny Austen Knight~1806

English playing cards from about 1750
Everyone knows that the Austens were a great family for games- whether charades, family theatricals or a quiet game of cards. These activities often occur in Jane Austen’s novels not only as natural ways to spend time, but frequently furthering the plot or adding an unexpected twist. Emma (charades and alphabet blocks)and Mansfield Park (a very telling game of Speculation) have major revelations through simple games, while all of the books feature some kind of card play, either to while away an evening in dull company or as a time waster until a ball is over. One tends to believe Jane Austen found playing cards tiresome as it is always portrayed as a game for either very silly or boring people. Could she be speaking for herself when Anne Elliot says, “I am no card-player”? Continue reading Charades and Bullet Pudding