Scanned, proofed and corrected from the original edition for your reading pleasure. (Worth every penny!)
TO THE READER.
It is a fact of general notoriety, that notwithstanding the numerous theories published, and the almost universal practice of a science, where profit and amusement may be combined, a capital Whist Player is scarcely ever, and even what may be termed a good one, but rarely met with. ...
There is, indeed, in almost every town and city, some person of whom, you are told, plays an excellent game of Whist; but a judge frequently finds him ignorant of what may be termed the alphabet; and, at best, possessed of a good memory, and capable perhaps of playing his own cards tolerably. The reason of this will appear obvious to those who reflect that in all other arts and sciences, no man commences but by making himself master of the first rudiments; the Whist Player, in general, sits down without any further preparation than the having got a few general maxims by rote, which, from want of comprehending, he applies universally, and is consequently much oftener wrong than right in their application.
When the beginner reads, that with two or more of a sequence to his partner's lead, (as king and queen) he should put on the lowest, he does so, or not, generally, without thinking it material; but after he is made to comprehend that his queen's passing demonstrates to his partner that the king cannot be in his left-hand adversary's hand, or the knave in his, and the consequent advantages to him in playing his suit (whereas if he puts on the king, it leaves him in ignorance as to the queen and knave) he will never after err in those cases, and will also know how to profit by similar correctness in his future partners.
To beginners I wish to inculcate the absolute necessity that they should proceed gradually; and before they sit down to play at all, make themselves masters of the different leads, modes of playing sequences, and some few of the most simple rules. When they feel within themselves that they have acquired some insight into the theory, let them begin to reduce it to practice in the best set of players they can meet with. Beginning to play with bunglers, will not only prevent present improvement; but as experience shows, when once they have acquired erroneous ideas, they will find it next to impossible to eradicate them in future.
By these means they will gradually acquire a knowledge of the more intricate combinations of the game, and comprehend when and why the general maxims are to be adhered to or violated: without which, I cannot too often repeat, they more frequently puzzle than inform < the player.
Though in many instances 1 have deviated from the common maxima, I am convinced, that an attentive study of this little treatise, in the mode described, will enable the beginner to sit down without disadvantage, in a very short time, with most sets he meets with. It is needless to tell those who play for stakes, that it is their interest to acquire a knowledge of the game, at least sufficient to defend their money; but it is, equally necessary to those who sit down for amusement, to avoid the unpleasant epithet of a bungler, and being scolded and found fault with, from the moment he commences playing to the breaking up of the party.
How far I have succeeded in my intention must be left to the judgment of the readers; to whom, with all due respect, these maxims are dedicated, by
The following definition of the game of Whist is recommended to the attentive perusal of the reader, previous to his studying the maxims; as nothing will facilitate his comprehension of them so much as a clear idea of th? ultimate end to which they all tend.
Whist is a game of
Calculation, Observation, and Position or Tenace.
Calculation teaches you to plan your game, and lead originally to advantage; before a card is played, you suppose the dealer to have an honour and three other trumps; the others each an honour and two others. The least reflection will show, that as it is two to one, that your partner has not a named card, to lead on the supposition he has it, is to play against calculation. Whereas, the odds being in favour of his having one of two named cards, you are justified in playing accordingly. Calculation is also of use on other occasions, which the maxims will elucidate; but after a few leads have taken place, it is nearly superseded by observation. Where the sets are really good players, before half the cards are played out, they are as well acquainted with the material ones remaining in each other's hands as if they had seen them. — Where two regular players are matched against two irregular ones, it is nearly the same advantage as if they were permitted to see each other's cards, while the latter were