Translated from French by Alexandra Igna (2020)


This game was born, as its name suggests, in Boston, in the United States, during the siege of this city, in 1773, during the War of Independence. It is a derivative of whist. It has three main variants:

1- Each player plays for his own account.

If, when examining his game, the player is under the impression that he can perform eight lifts on his own, he announces: "independence", and he then plays alone against the other three players. If he feels that he cannot do the eight lifts alone, but if he can do them with the support of another player (for example: five tricks in his hand and maybe three raised at another), he announces: "I ask". One of the three other players can then answer him: "I support", and the two players are associated with the move in question. Finally, a player whose play is weak says, "I pass. "

2 - The object of the game is to make eight tricks (either eight tricks in isolation, or five plus three tricks). If the applicant has completed the eight levies in question, he wins a certain number of cards; otherwise, he is penalized, and must give each of his opponents a certain number of cards, to sanction his "fall".

3 - The Jack of Diamonds, also called boston, is the strongest card in the game (it is higher than the Ace of Trump). The boston has known many variants (for example, the French boston, the Breton boston), and in particular variants in which the announcements are quite complex, with the player asking his opponents if they are willing to carry out a well-defined number of tricks ( and not just eight, whihc is the case of the single Boston). A form derived from both Boston and whist is color whist, which is an extremely interesting game, a direct precursor to bridge. Finally, there is a variant of the three-player whist, in which the games of a fictitious fourth player are spread out, which is called the "dumb": this "dumb" is in a way the ancestor of the "dead” at bridge.

We will not dwell on the rules of these games. We will simply notice some of their original features:

It is a team game, whether we are talking about the whist or the boston (even if, in certain cases, the association is temporary like in boston). As the partners ignore each other's games, just as they ignore those of their opponents, it is necessary to consider a whole series of tactical means which allow, by deduction, each player, to hypothetically reconstruct the game of his partner and those of his opponents. The whist and the boston are therefore games of calculation, in which the chance only plays at the time of the distribution. As we can assume that whist players will play this game a very large number of times in their life, we can say, statistically, that the number of favorable distributions will be met in the same proportion as the number of unfavorable distributions, less on a large number of data. Therefore, a player's earnings depend, essentially, on his deductive skills. Another originality of the whist is the double mark, using dots and using cards. The points sanction, in a way, the course of the game itself: having honors, having performed a certain number of tricks, etc. The cards are what we could call the “financial sanctions” of the game. We will find this in bridge, where we distinguish the points of the sleeve from the points of penalty and points of honors.

The three whist brings in, as mentioned earlier, a fictional fourth player, that is a "dead" or dummy player. In modern bridge, the "dead" is not a fictitious player: at the auction stage, he is a very real player, as we will see soon.

We have just spoken of "auctions". Again, the originality of the whist, in its Boston form, should be emphasized: before playing a move, the players offer a sort of bet to their opponents. They announce the number of tricks they intend to make, taking into account their games. We will see that this phase of the game, which is not very important in whist, is crucial in bridge.