Solo whist

Solo whist

Solo Whist, sometimes known as simply Solo, is a trick-taking card game based on Whist. A major distinctive feature is that one player often plays against the other three. However players form temporary alliances with two players playing against the other two if prop and cop is called.

It requires four players using a standard 52 card deck with no jokers. Aces are high.

The deal, bidding and play are clockwise (i.e. to the left).

History

Solo Whist was first played in the Low Countries in the 19th century. It is mainly played in Britain, and also Australia and New Zealand. It is especially popular within the Jewish community.

Dealing of cards

The cards are shuffled by the dealer and cut by the player to dealer's right.

Cards can be dealt in ones but it is common practice to deal the cards in groups of three and then a single card for the last round (3,3,3,3,1).

The last card is turned face up to indicate the trump suit for that game. The exposed card is part of the dealer's hand and he can pick it up once everyone has noted it.

The turn to deal passes to the left after each hand.

In some variations (see below) the cards are not shuffled after every game, this creates the possibility of a hand having several cards of the same suit making Solo and Abundance hands much more likely.

Bidding

Beginning with the player to dealer's left, each competitor may make one of the bids in the table below or pass.

If someone bids, then subsequent players can either pass or bid higher. The bidding continues around the table as many times as necessary until the contract is settled.

If everyone passes or there is a Prop without a Cop then the hands are thrown in and dealt again.

Call Description Proposer Points Further notes
Prop and Cop Two players attempt to win eight tricks together. The first player calling Prop and the remaining players invited to call Cop +/- 1
Solo One player attempts to make five tricks alone +/- 3 (wins or loses one unit from other players)
Misère One player thinks they will win no tricks +/- 6 (wins or loses two units from other players) There is no trump
Abundance One player thinks they can win nine tricks +/- 9 (wins or loses three units from other players) Proposer picks the trump
Royal Abundance One player thinks they can win nine tricks in the current trump +/- 9 (wins or loses three units from other players)
Misère Ouverte One player thinks they will win no tricks with their hand placed face up on the table after the first trick is complete +/- 12 (wins or loses four units from other players) There is no trump
Abundance Declared One player thinks they can win all 13 tricks +/- 18 (wins or loses six units from other players) Proposer leads first. There is no trump

Play

The player to the dealer's left leads the first trick, except in the case of an Abundance Declared in which case the bidder leads.

Any card may be led and the other three players must follow suit where possible. A player with no card of the led suit may play a trump.

If any trumps are played, then the trick is won by the highest trump card. If there are no trumps, it is won by the highest card in the suit that was led.

The winner of the trick gets to lead to the next.

Once a player has succeeded or failed in their bid, scores are adjusted.

The deal then passes to the left and the next hand begins.

Variations

  • Morris Fagelson Variation

A common version of Solo played among the Jewish community in Essex and East London. This has the following differences.

A Prop and Cop pairing need to win seven tricks.

Players only get one bid, except the person to the dealer's left who is able to bid twice. Although if someone Props without a Cop, they still have the option to upgrade to a Solo no matter where they sit.

The Proposer picks the trump in an Abundance Declared hand.

  • Hardcore Solo

In this variation Prop and Cop is ruled as boring and only individual hands are allowed.

  • High-scoring Solo

To increase the proportion of hands with uneven distributions, some play that the cards are shuffled only at the start of a session and after a bid of abundance or higher.

Otherwise, the cards are simply gathered together by the new dealer and the player to the dealer's right cuts.

  • Different Trumps

Instead of turning the dealer's last card for trump, some cut a card from a second pack. Others go through the trump suits in cyclic order: hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades, hearts, etc. Some even add 'no trumps' into that cycle.

  • Overtricks

To spice up the game further, some play with a payment for overtricks in Prop and Cop, Solo and Abundance. In that case it is usual to set the basic score for a Solo as four, five or six units, increasing the other scores in proportion.

Each overtrick or undertrick in a Prop and Cop or Solo is worth an extra unit.

In Abundance, overtricks gain an extra two units each, but undertricks cost only one unit each. There is no score for over or undertricks in Misère, Misère Ouverte or Abundance Declared.

  • Irish Solo

There are two phases of the game, the bidding and the play.

During bidding players try and win the bid by claiming to be able to win more tricks than the previous player claimed. There are no things such as those mentioned above, "prop cop" etc. nor are their various points, it is just straight bidding similar to bridge.

Example, if I call "six spades", this means I will try to win six tricks with spades as trumps, someone would outbid me if they called "seven hearts."

The one who wins the bidding round is the one who goes "solo" in the play phase. The solo player is playing against the other three players. The goal is to win what he said he could win, the goal of the other three is to stop him.

If there is betting each trick is given a certain value and the pot is given by the number of tricks that were bid. If the solo player gets the bid he/she wins the pot, if the other three stop him/her from achieving it they split the pot between them.

If there is a player short then, before bidding, that hand is laid open on the table and whoever wins the bidding places it opposite their seat and plays from it after the player following them has played a card.

A bid of misere claims to be able to lose all 13 tricks, its value is equivalent to attempting to win 12 tricks. The suit order and no trumps have the same status order as in bridge.

Trivia

  • The call misère is french for misery

External links

References

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