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Oneonta Whist (An MS-DOS demo of this game is available)

by Richard Hutnik


[Set up]

List of terms:


[Dealing and set-up]

  1. Cards are dealt alternately between two hands. Nine cards are dealt out to each hand. One hand is for the player. The other is a dummy hand. After 18 cards are dealt out (nine in each hand), the top card of the remaining four is turned over. The suit on the card turned over is the suit of the trump suit. If a joker is turned over, then there will be no trump suit. However, the remaining joker is still a trump card (it beats all other cards played). The dummy hand remains face down.


After cards are dealt out, the player estimates how many tricks they will win. A player can bid one of two ways:

  1. A player can bid between one and nine (1-9). This type of bid represents the number of tricks a player thinks they will win.
  2. A player can also bid what is called a null. This type of bid is for when a player thinks that they will take no tricks. A null bid may also be from one to nine (1-9). If the player wins no tricks, they receive the number of points that they bid null. If the player wins one or more trick, they lose as many points as they bid.


  1. The dummy hand, that hand which is not controlled by player, has its top card turned face up.
  2. The player must match the suit of the card played by the dummy hand, if they can. If the player has a card higher than the value of the card played by the dummy hand and is the same suit as the dummy hand, the player wins that trick. Both cards are then placed into a pile of cards won by player in tricks.
  3. If the player can't match the suit of that the dummy hand led with, then the player may play a trump card and win the trick. If the player doesn't have a trump card, then the dummy hand wins the trick.
  4. Play continues until all the cards in the player's hand have been played.


1. Player adds up number of tricks they won.

2. If player made a regular bid:

3. If player made a null bid:

Note: Null bids are all or nothing. Player must not win any tricks or they lose what they bid.

[Modification in rules for non-solitaire play]

  1. Winner of the game: Play to a set point value or a set number of rounds. First player to reach the point value or go over wins. Or, player with highest score after set number of rounds wins. In event of a tie, continue play until one player has more points than all others. Players who are tied for lead would continue playing, while those who had less points would end play (are eliminated).
  2. Dealing: There is no dummy hand. Cards are dealt to players instead. The minimum number of cards in a hand is seven. If there aren't enough cards in deck used to play, cards less than 10 should be used. First nines then, then eights, etc... This is done to raise number of cards to at least seven in a hand. There also should be at least one card remaining to determine trump suit. Deal passes clockwise from player to player after each round.
  3. Order of bidding: Player who won the most amount of points in the previous round would bid first. The next player, clockwise, would then state bid. This continues until all players are done bidding. Bids are then recorded (or recorded when said). Note:If all players bid null, then all players bids are counted as a regular bid of zero. Each player would lose one point for each trick they take.
  4. Order of play: Player who bid highest would go first. A null bid is considered negative in evaluating who goes first. In event two or more players bid the same, the player with the most points amongst the tied players in bidding would go first. In event of still a tie, the player dealing cards would go first. Order of playing card then proceeds clockwise. After the first trick is won, the player who won the trick would then play a card, and again, the next player, clockwise, would play a card.



If a play bids null or regular bid the maximum amount, the player has the option to double. For example, if there are possible tricks, if the player bids a null 7 (bids 7 points to take no trick) or bids 7 (bids to take all 7 tricks), the player
can bid null double (take no tricks) or double (take all tricks). When a player bids double or null double, the player either wins or loses 14 points. Else, play continues the same. A double is the highest amount one can bid. A null double is the lowest one can bid.

Tougher Solitaire scoring:

A player scores no points if they take more tricks than they bid, rather than subtracting one from their bid total, as is normally done.  The object of the game is to finish the game with a positive score.  This adjustment makes for a much more challenging, and arguably meaningful, solitaire game.


I originally got bored of the usual solitaire type games. I found they had too much luck. One night while I was waiting around, with only a deck of cards, I came up with the idea for this game.  I played it a few times and found out that it played well and was an interesting variation. I eventually got around to playing it with someone else and found that it also played well. Over time, rules for doubling and modification on the null rules came into play.

By the way, the name "Oneonta Whist" comes from the first place this game caught on, SUNY Oneonta college in SUNY New York.  The Whist part of the name comes from the fact that the trump suit is determined at random by a card being turned over, as is done in regular Whist.

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