5. Knockout whist

Equipment: a pack of cards, table

This is one of only a few card based games to be covered in this book. Knockout whist follows the rules of whist: after shuffling the deck each player gets seven cards which they hold as a hand. Organise them by suits  so hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds are kept together in the hand in ascending order. On the first round everyone cuts the remaining deck and the winner-that is the person with the highest card, aces high, chooses trumps. Your strongest suit dictates your choice for trumps. This  is likely to be the most numerous suit.

Once trumps are chosen the player to the right of the dealer leads. The cards are played out as tricks round the table where normal whist rules apply. That is, the dealer plays a card followed by the person to their left round the table until everyone has played one card.  In whist, the collection of played cards once a round is completed is called a trick. The rules are:  if you can follow suit you must, if you can not follow suit you can play a trump to beat all non-trump cards, or discard a non-trump card which will not be a winner. Players may over trump or put a higher trump on a lower trump to win the trick provided they have run out of the lead suit.

In round two the person with the highest number of tricks in round one chooses trumps after the hands are dealt. This time each player gets six cards each. If two players tie on highest number of tricks these players must cut for who decides trumps. The winner of the most tricks is the person who decides which suit is trumps in the following round. The number of cards per person decreases by one each round.  So knockout whist hands have seven cards in round one, then six cards in round two, then five, then four then three, two and finally everything is decided on the last card. The winner of the last card is the overall winner.

A rule that is widely played, and played in our family, is that if a person wins no tricks they are reduced to having one card in the following round, which they can play at any time. If they do not win this card, they can be reduced to a blind man’s chance, which means they only get one card and they can not see it. If they fail to win their trick they are eliminated from the game.

This is a good basic entry level game for teenagers and older primary children as it teaches basic card skills. If you are going to love card games, this is a great entry point.