Nash Whist is a collaborative strategic trick-taking game of cards for four players (can involve three to six). The aim is for the defence alliance to collaborate well, so as to defeat the declarer.
Nash Whist is a refined form of Solo Whist with more bids and streamlined play. Each game involves four people. The winner of the bidding phase will play alone against the other three. The aim is for a skilled defence team to collaborate so well that they reach a powerful balance, whereby they will defeat the declarer. Revealing and learning the strategies of each other, enables new levels of collaboration. Thus the emphasis is on positivity, making the most of what you have at hand. It is a fast and exciting game, with plenty of joy and laughter.
Each person plays on their own for the duration of the tournament, and keeps their own score. Four people play at each game. For each game, a temporary alliance is formed. The person who wins the bidding phase (the declarer) plays on their own (solo), while the other three form the defensive team for this game.
Six people can play, but two sit out (the old dealer and the one to their right). This makes the game more social. The two sitting out can chat with each other, or observe the other players, or provide nourishment and drinks. The three-handed variant is an excellent game which satisfies those occasions when you cannot find a fourth person.
A standard 52-card pack is used. The rank of cards in each suit is Ace-high: A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
The rank of suits is as for Bridge, i.e. Spades is highest, then Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs.
No cards are missing and there are no wild cards, i.e. no Jokers or Bowers. There is no kitty and no cards are passed on. The deck is complete, and so is not like Five Hundred.
As each player has thirteen cards and nothing is hidden, it is possible for the astute player to count Trumps (and even count all suits) to know what cards remain to be played.
Dealing and shuffling
The deal, bidding, and play are all clockwise, i.e. to the left.
Deal thirteen cards to each player, starting with the player to the left. To commence, hide the old trump indicator card (remember that the pack has already been shuffled) then deal the cards in clumps, i.e. one round of four and three rounds of three. This seems to enable better hands.
Use two packs to speed the game. The player to the dealer's left, prepares the other pack for the next game. Shuffle only a little, then turn up the top card. This is the trump indicator card, which sets the initial trump suit for the game, and during play will remind people which suit is trumps.
The person to the left of Dealer is the Hot Seat. They are first to bid, first to play, and will be the next dealer. It is their responsibility to ensure that all payments have been made and to keep the game flowing. After shuffling, place the new deck directly in front of you to remind your responsibilities.
Left-of-dealer is the first to bid. When a player passes, they cannot bid again.
The minimal bid is "Five-in" solo, i.e. play alone against the other three with the initial turned-up suit as trumps. So win five tricks in the indicated trump suit.
The trump suit can be changed by any bidder when it is their turn to bid.
Higher bids will beat the previous bid. For example "Seven-Out" in any suit will beat "Six-In" (i.e. Six in trumps) and Seven-In will beat Seven-Out.
The rank of suits is as for Bridge, i.e. Spades is highest, then Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs.
For example, if Hearts was turned up trumps and the current bid is Six-In, then a bid of Seven-Out Clubs would beat that, and a bid of Seven-Out Diamonds would beat that. Note that a bid of Six-Out Spades does not beat Six-In, because in this example Hearts are trumps and so automatically rank at the top.
The bidding can start at any level, and proceeds with higher bids until no-one wants to bid further. The last bid is the "declarer". Their suit is now Trumps.
If everyone passes then each of the players adds one chip to the centre pot, and the deal moves on to another game using the next dealer.
Prop-and-Cop (i.e. Proposal and Co-operate) is another minimal bid which can arise when no solo bid is likely. This is a minor bid and only in the initial trump suit. It means getting eight tricks as a partnership. To Prop means not quite Five-in solo, need help. Left-of-dealer gets a second chance to bid Cop, but no further bids are allowed.
Bids and payments
|Prop-and-Cop||1||A minimal partnership bid. Eight tricks, with the initial turned-up suit as trumps.|
|Five-In||2||Five tricks, on your own, with the initial turned-up suit as trumps.|
|Six-Out||3||Six tricks, with another suit as trumps.|
|Six-No-Trumps||4||Six tricks, with no trumps.|
|Six-In||4||Six tricks, with the initial turned-up suit as trumps.|
|Seven-Out||5||Seven tricks, with another suit as trumps.|
|Seven-No-Trumps||6||Seven tricks, with no trumps.|
|Seven-In||6||Seven tricks, with the initial turned-up suit as trumps.|
|Triste||7||Lose every trick except one, with no trumps. Only in the three-handed game.|
|Eight-Out||7||Eight tricks, with another suit as trumps.|
|Eight-No-Trumps||8||Eight tricks, with no trumps.|
|Eight-In||8||Eight tricks, with the initial turned-up suit as trumps.|
|Misere||9||Lose every trick, with no trumps.|
|Nine-Out||10||Nine tricks, with another suit as trumps.|
|Nine-No-Trumps||11||Nine tricks, with no trumps.|
|Nine-In||11||Nine tricks, with the initial turned-up suit as trumps.|
|Ten-Out||12||Ten tricks, with another suit as trumps.|
|Ten-No-Trumps||13||Ten tricks, with no trumps.|
|Ten-In||13||Ten tricks, with the initial turned-up suit as trumps.|
|Eleven-Out||14||Eleven tricks, with another suit as trumps.|
|Eleven-No-Trumps||15||Eleven tricks, with no trumps.|
|Eleven-In||15||Eleven tricks, with the initial turned-up suit as trumps.|
|Twelve-Out||16||Twelve tricks, with another suit as trumps.|
|Twelve-No-Trumps||17||Twelve tricks, with no trumps.|
|Twelve-In||17||Twelve tricks, with the initial turned-up suit as trumps.|
|Open Misere||18||Lose every trick, with no trumps. After the first trick, declarer lays all of their cards face-up on the table.|
|Thirteen-In-or-Out||19||Thirteen tricks. Grand slam. Either as no trumps or in a suit.|
Rank of suits: Spades is highest, then Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs.
See also the Nash Whist Quickstart one-page A4 summary. Print and fold in quarters, then add to your card kit.
The trump indicator card needs to be changed to match the final bid suit. This is the responsibility of the Hot Seat.
Left-of-dealer, the Hot Seat, is always first to lead. Everyone knows this, because the next deck of cards (indicating the trump suit) is placed directly in front of this seat.
The initial lead can be from any suit.
As is normal with trick-taking games, the players must follow suit. If they cannot play a suit card, then they can either discard or play a trump card.
The winner of a trick is then the next player to lead.
Keep the game fast and flowing smoothly. A number of techniques can assist people to remember what is happening. The Hot Seat is first to lead and next to deal. Declarer places the bid value of chips in front of their seat (which also avoids any possible argument regarding the level of the bid). Using the tally system shows who is next to play. This also makes the game more social, as people who cannot simultaneously talk and play can easily see the state of play when they are ready to continue.
When declarer has achieved their required number of tricks, then say so. It is now a lay-down, claim it, and move on to a new hand. Do not try to make extra tricks. This will teach you to bid better next time.
Keep the tally of tricks for each game using the same system as for Bridge, i.e. at the end of each trick, place your own played card face down in an upright aspect to indicate a won trick and sideways for a lost trick.
This also enables review of the hands at the end of each game for assessment and training purposes.
When declarer wins, they receive the payment from each of the other three players. They also receive the pot of chips that has been accumulating.
If declarer loses, they pay each of the other three. The pot remains intact.
In the Prop-and-Cop partnership, each of the declarers receives the payment from one of the other two. They do not receive the pot.
There are no payments for over-tricks. This encourages people to bid to the limit of their hand and not be safe.
If everyone passes, then each of the players adds one chip to the centre pot, and the deal moves on to another game using the next dealer.
For each game, each player adds one chip to the centre pot. Place it in front of you, and when all are there, scoop the chips into the pot.
There are various ways to keep track of the total overall score. Remember that each person is essentially on their own, and so has their own cache. Many game kits have a set of coloured chips. Allocate one colour (e.g. blue) to be the unit score in the "Bids and payments" table, and another colour (e.g. red) to be two units, and so on. For example a bid of Six-In is worth 4 units, so four blue, or one red and two blues. If you do not have chips then use tree leaves.
Nash Whist is designed so that there is no pressure. If someone feels like a short break, or to finish completely, then do so. If there are only three players remaining then they can quickly switch to three-handed with the separate set of cards.
There are a number of ways to reach the termination of a tournament (a session).
Usually someone needs to call a stop, as the game is addictive and people will keep playing on. One could specify: Let us finish when next declarer wins, i.e. takes the pot. Or one could specify: Let us finish after the deal gets back to me, i.e. once more around the table.
A session could be a certain number of games. As a time guide, it takes around five minutes per game, if everyone operates efficiently.
A session could be a certain time duration, e.g. 30 minutes (which would be approximately six games). Settle up at the end of the final game.
A session could terminate when someone loses their 50 allotment.
Accumulate a "dinner fund" to shout your group to an evening out.
For example we commence a tournament with a cache of 50 units each. If a player runs out, then they get another allocation of 50. Each allocation contributes $5 to the fund.
Another method is to settle up whenever someone loses their 50 allocation. If anyone else is less than 50 then they also contribute to the dinner fund. A new session is started with everyone funded afresh (the "levelling tax").
Another method is to get a lottery ticket for any additional allocations.
The three-handed variant is an excellent game which satisfies those occasions when you cannot find a fourth person. Some actually prefer this variant.
Simply remove the entire Clubs suit. Adjust your rules-of-thumb for hand assessment and play. Misere is difficult and often does not occur. Add the "Triste" bid below 8-out, allowing one trick to be won. Remove the "Prop and Cop" bid.
Keep a separate pair of packs which have the Club suit permanently removed. During a four-handed session, if someone wants to take a break then the remaining three players can quickly switch to three-handed, and not miss a beat.
Strategies, tips, rules of thumb
Collaboration among defence is the key. Reveal your strategies. Share the tips. At the end of each game, review any interesting situations. Help everyone to improve.
There is a powerful equilibrium reached when the defence alliance can capitalise on each other's holdings. For example: back and forth trumping of the declarer's winners; be attentive to your partners' voids; position the next lead to go through the declarer so that their Queen is potentially taken by your partner's King; etc.
See the Nash Advanced information and training package for further tips.
Use washable plastic playing-cards (e.g. Kem) and plastic scoring chips. Wash the equipment regularly with warm water and soap. Dry in light sun.
Encourage players to wash hands before play.
If eating food while playing with cards, then rather than using fingers, consider those useful inventions: knife, fork, and plate.
(Implementors please see the free license terms explained below.)
Gather together a small group of friends, or perhaps different groups on different nights. Meet each week for an evening of cheap and rewarding entertainment, mirth, and mind exercise. Meet for dinner, or perhaps after dinner so that it does not become a stress to prepare.
When there is trouble finding four (or even three) people in real life, then hook up on Skype for a virtual Nash Party at an agreed time at an on-line venue. Utilise the venue's "private table" and "chat" facilities.
This game is very beneficial and therapeutic. People leave their daily worries at the door. One needs to relax with a clear mind, focussed on the cards. So a meditation state is reached.
There is beauty when the defence collaboration works well to make the most of things. There is a feeling of satisfaction, followed by praise and joy.
The collaborative nature of the game creates an accommodating environment, where personal issues tend to arise for discussion. People learn to talk and play. The fast flow techniques assist us to know the current state of play.
The game can be utilised in professional group therapy situations, self-help and self-awareness groups, and laughter therapy (more sincere than "funny faces").
The Nash Advanced information and training package is a collection of documents and small movies to provide further tips and demonstrations. It also contains the Quickstart document, which is a one-page summary so that each new player has a reference sheet. It has sets of interactive hand assessments. It also explains how to set up a Nash Party, how to purchase good quality playing cards, chips, etc.
The package is being continually improved. See the Changes section below.
Support and donations
Please support by paying for new versions from time-to-time. The proceeds go towards website maintenance and production of new versions.
Simply go to your local post office to send a
for any value:
IndexGeo Pty Ltd : 160 Cowper Street Goulburn NSW 2580 Australia
The perfect gift: Download the Nash Advanced package, burn it to disk, give it to your friends, encourage its use and involvement. Everyone benefits.
These documents and rule-set are licensed in a way that encourages broad use. This method also intends to be completely unencumbered, so as to freely enable online games and such.
If you essentially change the game (for example to make it more competitive rather than collaborative, or not the 52-card deck) then please give your game a new name.
- Next version (in-development version: not yet released)
- Adding a search system. Adding more interactive hand assessments.
- Current Version: 5
- Expanded the Glossary. Added another set of interactive hand assessments about Misere bids. Improved the document "Tips and strategies". Added a new document explaining how to sort a card hand.
- Version: 4
- Modified the top end of the Bids (now Open Misere ranks just below grand slam). Improved the document "Tips and strategies".
- Version: 3
- Improved section "Tally" and section "Finish". Other text tweaks. Improved the document "Tips and strategies".
- Version: 2
- Added two initial sets of interactive hand assessments about low bids and high bids. Initial set of web pages. Added more tips.
- Version 1
- Initial release. Initial set of advanced tips. Initial one-page quickstart handout.
History and development
A group of friends evolved this game from the original Solo Whist. We intended it to be streamlined and fast and easy to operate. We added more complete bids all the way up to grand slam. Simplified the shuffle-cut-cut-deal situation of Solo. Removed the "over-tricks" to encourage people to bid to the value of their hand. Made the rank of suits the same as for Bridge (in fact Nash Whist is a good introduction to Bridge).
The main focus is on the "collaboration among defence" aspect. People would suggest more (or less) features and the group would try them out (open-source style development). If the feature met the requirements of collaboration and simplicity then it was incorporated.
This is an "Alliance game" from the "Boston group" of Whist .
In honour of John Nash
The name of this card game is in honour of John Forbes Nash and his work in the field of "Game Theory" .
"Players are in Nash Equilibrium if each one is making the best decision that he or she can, taking into account the decisions of the others."