"The Page of Wands."
"Judgement. My trick. The Queen of Cups."
"Ace of Cups."
"The Star. My trick. The Hermit."
"With trumps she leads!" Leo laughed. "Death."
"The Fool. My trick is. Now: the Knight of Coins."
"Trey of Coins."
"King of Coins. My trick is. Five of Swords."
"The Magus; my trick"
Katin watched the darkened chess table where Sebastian, Tyÿ, and Leo, after the hour of reminiscence, played three-handed Tarot-whist.
He did not know the game well; but they did not know this, and he ruminated that they had not asked him to play. He had observed the game for fifteen minutes over Sebastian's shoulder (the dark thing huddled by his foot), while hairy hands dealt and fanned the cards. From his small knowledge Katin tried to construct a cutting brilliance to toss into the play.
They played so fast. . .
He gave up.
From Chapter Six of Nova, by Samuel R. Delany.
The game being played is based, more or less, on bid whist:
Melannie Cunningham has to shout to be heard over all the racket. "There's four things you need for a good bid-whist party," she says. "Good food, good drinks, good music and good fellowship."
The Doo Drop has plenty of all four tonight. It's 10 p.m., and the joint is jumping. The Impressions are wailing on the sound system, waitresses are hustling back and forth with cocktails, Cajun catfish and fried chicken and several dozen card players - all black - are shouting at once, yelling taunts, slamming down cards.
Bid whist, a card game that's equal parts luck, skill and talking trash, is a black American tradition, played in every corner of the country.
And now, thanks to Cunningham, Washington has its own official bid-whist organization.
The Bid Whist Players Club of Washington State, which Cunningham organized six months ago, meets on the first and third Fridays of every month. Now 150 members strong, it draws players from Lacey all the way to Everett.
That's because the game is such an important part of black social life, Cunningham says.
"You could have the most uppity, hoity-toity black person and a street person," Cunningham says. "It doesn't matter because the game is so common across the culture. "When it's time to talk bid whist, we all talk the same language."
Like many aspects of black history the origins of Bid Whist are a matter of speculation, shrouded in. . .
Blah. Hate writing like that. Nobody knows for sure how the game started. It traces back to slavery. All you need to know.
Well, except the basic rules:
Rank of Cards: The rank of cards within each suit shall be as follows: A,K,Q,J,10, and so forth. There is no rank of suits other than trump, which shall be different in each game, and will outrank all other suits.
Tricks: Each trick will begin with one player leading a card. The lead for the first trick belongs to the bidder, each subsequent trick will be lead by the player who won the previous trick. The player who plays the highest card of the suit led shall win the trick unless a trump has been played, in which case the player who played the highest trump wins the trick and leads the next.
Following Suit and Trumping: Each player after the lead must play a card of the suit which was lead unless s/he does not have one. In that case, that player may either play a trump or play a card in any other suit. Trump may be lead at any time in the game.
And so on and so forth. It ain't that hard, really. I've learned to play -- and promptly forgotten -- several times over the years.
Want to know more? Check out Play Cards! The Electronic Newsletter For Bid Whist, although you maybe wanna make sure your speakers are turned off, or that your browser knows playing embedded MIDI files is a Very Bad Idea.