How is a Whist Drive set up?
Tables are set up in order with the expectation that there will have four players at each table. Table are numbered or organised, so that players know which table they need to move to when they lose a game. We know roughly how many people are expected, so we put up enough tables to cover this, for example, if we had 16 players that makes up 4 full tables. We would set up 4 tables and number them 1-4; with tables 1, 2, 3 & 4 in a circle or line. We play a format called Semi-Partner where if you win with your partner you keep playing with your partner and you only move when you lose like this:
- When ladies lose, “ladies go up” moving from table 1 to 2, then lose again 2 to 3, and then lose another from 3 to 4 and when they lose on table 4 they move to table 1 to play again.
- When gents lose, “gents go down” (from table 4 to 3 to 2 to 1) and then when they lose at table 1 move to table 4 to play again.
The simplest way to work this is to have a circle of tables with ladies moving up clockwise and gents moving down anti-clockwise (use the same system for incomplete tables, explained below) Other ways include a line of tables with ladies moving from top to bottom (i.e. 1,2,3,4,1) and gents from bottom to top (i.e. 4,3,2,1,4) We have also had a snake of three rows, which is the same as a line; useful when more tables are in play.
Are there other ways to set up and play?
Yes, other formats of Whist Drive include Progressive Whist and Partner Whist Drives:
- Progressive Whist is different because you play with a different partner whether you win or lose. The losing partnership still moves in the same way as Semi-Partner, but the gent of the wining partnership also moves places on the winning table to now oppose his previous partner. Scoring, incomplete tables and playing the game is the same. Progressive Whist is the format most Whist Drives followed; we used to play this way, but changed 20 years ago by popular demand to the simpler and somewhat friendlier Semi-Partner way of doing things.
- At a Partner Whist Drive you keep the same partner all night and you move together to the next table when you lose. Scoring and playing the game is the same, but there is no scope for a dummy or a single flirt. Partnerships can flirt together.
What happens when there are incomplete tables?
If we have three players we would make up a player. This player is called the ‘Dummy’, this is how to play and how to score:
- Imagine the dummy as the 4th (or missing) player and give him or her a score card (dummy is nominated as a ‘gent’ or a ‘lady’ depending on the player due to partner the missing player at the start)
- The three players cut for deal and deal cards as normal in four piles, leaving a pile where the missing player, the dummy, is sitting (the dummy does not cut for deal)
- Tidy up the dummy’s pile into a stack of cards.
- When ready turn the top card of the dummy’s pile over to lead.
- The other three players take their turn to play a card in sequence, and the best card wins a trick for the two player partnership or the one player and dummy partnership.
- Repeat with the dummy leading every time, second player playing second every time, and third and fourth until all of the dummy’s cards have been laid…
- As with every other game, the tricks are counted at the end of the game, for example if one partnership has 7, other will have 6 (or other divisions of 13) but the partner of the dummy always takes a minimum of 7.
- If the partner of the dummy loses, they and the dummy move to other tables as normal, but would score 7 by not having a proper partner. If the partner of the dummy wins and gets 7 or above they take what they have scored and stay at the table with the dummy to play the next game.
- The partnership/two players who played against the dummy score what they got; if they got 6 or less tricks “they take what they got” and put that as a score on their scorecard and move tables. If they win by getting 7 or more tricks they score 7 or more and stay seated for opposing players to come to them for the next game as normal.
- There is no need to record what the dummy scores each time.
- There is never more than one dummy at a Whist Drive.
If we have one or two spare players. These spare players would have to ‘flirt’. A playing table would be set up for the spare players to ‘flirt’ on as if they were going to play. The players would have to specify whether they would either be a ‘gent’ or ‘lady’ so all the ‘gents’ or ladies’ would ‘flirt’ in turn, if there was two there would have to be one ‘gent’ and one ‘lady’ so all players would ‘flirt’ in turn. When a player flirts they score 7.
How is a Whist Drive set up with incomplete tables?
Always set up for full tables but the difference is who plays when, for example, if you had 18 players that makes up 4 full tables with two spare players. We would set up 5 tables and number them 1-5; with tables 1, 2, 3 & 4 as full tables and table 5 with a ‘lady’ and gent’ flirting. Players would move when they lose like as described earlier and move after a missed turn/flirt as follows:
- When ladies lose, “ladies go up” moving from table 1 to 2, then lose again 2 to 3, and then lose another from 3 to 4 and when they lose on table 4 they move to table 5 where they flirt and after one missed turn move to table 1 to play again.
- When gents lose, “gents go down” (from table 4 to 3 to 2 to 1) and then when they lose at table 1 move to flirt at table 5 and after one missed turn move to table 4 to play again.
- Use the same system if you have a dummy (dummy moves up or down depending if it is a lady or gent.)
The simplest way to work this is to have a circle of tables with ladies moving up clockwise and gents moving down anti-clockwise. Other ways include a line of tables with ladies moving from top to bottom (i.e. 1,2,3,4,5,1) and gents from bottom to top (i.e. 5,4,3,2,1,5) We have also had a snake of three rows, which is the same as a line; useful when more tables are in play.
How is a Whist Drive played?
Whist is played by four players at each table. Players seated opposite one another (partners, one lady and one gent) compete against the other two players at the table for that particular game. There are various ways to organise how players move following a game including Progressive, Semi-Partner and Partner Whist Drives; we use the ‘Semi-Partner’ format. Players elect to either play “lady” or “gent” before the start of the drive to choose who picks up the tricks (gents do) and which way they move when they lose. At some Whist Drives ‘gents’ always deal too.
At our Whist Drive all four players cut from the pack of cards to decide whom shuffles and deals (after shuffling but before dealing, the opposing player to the right cuts the pack for the dealer). For the cut the Ace is low and the player cutting the lowest card shuffles and deals the cards to the player on his left. This could be a lady or gent player and it is they who subsequently lead the first card of that game. A trick is scored after each of the four players has played one of their cards into the centre of the table.
There are 24 games played at a Whist Drive, 12 games each half. All Whist scorecards are printed like this (see picture (these scorecards are available at eBay.)
There is no maximum time or time limit for games. An MC is responsible for calling out ‘next deal’ when everyone’s ready to move on. Whist Drives take between two and half to three hours to complete including break and prizes. At ours people arrive at 7:30, start playing at 7:45, finish playing about 10:00, then we do prizes and raffle; so we finish about 10:20
There is also no maximum limit for tables. Tables are organized numerically and players move one table at a time so it does not matter how many tables you have (see also ‘How to set up a Whist Drive’)
Who runs a Whist Drive?
Running a Whist Drive is simple once everyone is used to it, the secret to it is to get people involved. We have the following roles:
- Local Contact – 1st point of contact, books dates and turns on heating.
- Refreshments – buys the tea and biscuits.
- Tea Person – who makes the tea and washes up.
- MC (master of ceremonies) – person in charge.
- Organiser – leaflets, money, raffle prizes, buying cards and this site.
Probably ‘the most vital person’ is the MC (master of ceremonies) who is responsible for dealing with any altercations, calling out ‘next deal’ when everyone’s ready to move on and for dishing out the prizes at the end of the night. If you’re setting up a Whist Drive, always appoint an MC; this does not have to be organiser (ours isn’t.)
The second role to fill is to have someone doing teas. This would usually be best to be someone who is not playing as this speeds up the evening. We have tea and biscuits, break time takes as long as it takes to drink a cup of tea (10-15 mins)
A local contact is also invaluable, whether it be the organiser or not. We have a separate local contact because organizer moved away from the area where our Whist Drive is based. We are very lucky to have someone with strong links in the community, who liaises with the village hall committee. We are also very lucky to have somebody who is based locally who provides the tea, milk and biscuits; essential to a happy Whist Drive.
The organiser is the person ultimately responsible for ensuring that the Whist Drive happens and could do all the above roles. We believe it is better to have lots of people doing little bits; as this spreads the jobs and builds a sense of community ownership.
How much does it cost and what does that include?
We charge £2, which includes playing plus a cup of tea and biscuits, people like this and stops fiddling around and delaying break. We don’t offer coffee to also avoid delays and we have someone who is not playing, doing teas, so this speeds up the break too. Raffle tickets are paid for separately.
What prizes are offered?
Whist prizes are cash prizes that come out of the entrance charge; these can be given out for whatever high scores, low scores or other oddities. For example some drives have prizes for the most number of 7s, but at most of our drives the prizes are 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 1st half highest score, 2nd half highest and lowest score (booby.) Value of prizes given depends on numbers of players.
Raffle prizes are paid for out of selling raffle tickets (ours are available in two colours at 50p a strip) Lots of prizes also donated by players on the night too. We also draw the raffle last, so everyone stays to the last moment.
How is the Whist Drive advertised?
We put adverts are in the parish magazine or local newspaper (if we can afford it.) We do a list of dates too, so players can put on their fridge/notice boards. We also put larger (A4) lists on local public notice boards as raises the profile locally. This website also contains our dates.
Any other questions?
If you have further questions, please do contact Jonathan Hornett via email – firstname.lastname@example.org