小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 儿童英文小说 » Whist or Bumblepuppy » LECTURE II.
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
LECTURE II.
THE LEAD.
——
“Dux nobis opus est.”—Eton Grammar.

“I pray thee now lead.”—Shakespeare.

The play of the entire hand often depends upon the very first card led, and the confidence your partner has that your lead is correct; whatever then your original lead may be, let it be a true and—as far as you can make it so—a simple lead: never lead an equivocal card—that is one which may denote either strength or weakness—if you can, lead a card about which no mistake is possible.[6] With the original lead, follow the books and lead your strongest suit; if you have nothing at all, do as little mischief as you can; in this pitiable condition the head of a short suit—as a knave or a ten—is better than the lowest or lowest but one of five to the nine; your partner, when he sees the high card led, knows at once (assuming he knows anything) that he will have[12] to save the game himself if it can be saved, and will take the necessary steps to that end. Though there is ancient and modern authority for this,[7] I am perfectly aware that (according to the latest theory) it is heresy; I am also aware, and the reflection gives me quite as much pain as the heresy does, that leading a long weak suit with a bad hand and no cards of re-entry is a losing game:
“Such courses are in vain
Unless we can get in again.”

[13]

to lead your longest suit when you are neither likely to get the lead again, nor to make a trick in it if you do, is a “short and easily remembered rule,” but is apt to bring its followers to grief; if I do so, I know perfectly well that after the game is over I shall probably be left with the two long cards of that suit, or I may have an opportunity of discarding one or both of them before that crisis arrives, but this is not the slightest consolation to me.

While on the subject of heresy, I may as well refer to another lead which has a special orthodoxy of its own. In all suits of four or more, containing no sequence, unless headed by the ace, you either lead the lowest, or, if you wish particularly to exhibit your knowledge of the game, the lowest but one; but from king, knave, ten, &c., you lead the ten, and if your object is a quiet life, you will continue to do so; if you want to make tricks the advantage of the lead is not so clear: if the second player holds ace, queen, &c., or queen and another, you drive him into playing the queen, and so lose a trick, which if you had led your lowest in the usual way, you might not have done.[8]

Against this you have the set off that by leading the ten you insure having the king-card of the suit in the third round, but it is scarcely worth your[14] while to go through so much to get so little; for such a lead pre-supposes your partner to have neither ace, queen, nor nine, and it is two to one that he holds one of them; if your partner’s best card is below the nine, the tricks you will make will be like angels’ visits, few and far between, whatever you lead; and why you should take such a desponding view of an unplayed suit I am not aware. The advantage of opening a suit in which you hold tenace is not so great as to oblige you to handicap it by sending the town-crier round with a bell to proclaim what that tenace is; late in the hand it is often advisable to lead the knave.

With ace and four small cards and a bad hand, when weak in trumps, I have found, from long experience, the ace to be a losing lead, and being distinctly of the impression that for the ordinary purposes of life, 13/4 = 2, as I am not always anxious to proclaim the exact number of my suit, I generally lead a small one.

I am aware that the suit does not always go twice, or even once; but that is the fault of the cards, not of the equation.

Of course, if, for any wise purpose, you feel you must have one trick, take it at the first opportunity, irrespective of Cocker or any other authority.

N.B.—When you, second, third, or fourth player have won the first trick, whatever you may think,[15] you are not the original leader, and your lead then should be guided by your own hand; if it is a bad one you are under no compulsion to open a suit at all, one suit is already open, go on with that; if it also is a bad one, one bad suit is a less evil than two bad suits, or opening a doubtful one in the dark; return through strength up to declared weakness, or if it was your partner who led, why should you show a suit unless you hold a good sequence or strong trumps? Return his suit, yours will be led sometime; whatever you won the trick with, he is in a better position to defend himself as third player than if he had to lead it again himself.

In returning your partner’s lead, if you had originally three, you return the higher of the two remaining cards; in returning through your adversary’s lead, if you hold the third best and another, play the small one, for your partner may hold the second best single and they would fall together.

Whenever you hold a suit with one honour in it, to lead that suit, if you can avoid it, is about the worst use you can make of it. Should you fail to see this, devote ten minutes—not when you are playing whist, but on some wet half-holiday or quiet Sunday afternoon—to thinking the matter over; even if you have a suit of king, queen to three, why not be quiet? If anybody else opens the suit you will probably make two tricks, if you open it yourself, probably one; there is no hurry about it, you can always do that,[16] but why you should go out of your way to lead a suit in which you hold four to the knave or five to the ten is incomprehensible.

It is not generally known (or if it is, it is never acted on, which comes to the same thing) that neither in the ninety-one laws of whist, nor in any of its numerous maxims, are you forbidden to play the third round of a suit, even though the best card is notoriously held by your opponent. It is a common delusion to fancy that when a suit is declared against you, you can prevent it making by leading something else, whereas you merely postpone the evil day, and do mischief in the interval. Many feeble whist-players are unwilling ever to let their opponents make a single trick; now this is unnecessarily greedy; under no circumstances, at short whist, is it imperative to make more than eleven. Allow your adversary to have two, it amuses him and does not hurt you.

“It is less mischievous, generally, to lead a certain losing card, than to open a fresh suit in which you are very weak.”—What to Lead, by Cam.

With trumps declared against you be particularly careful how you open new suits; surely when you have just succeeded in knocking your partner on the head in one suit, you might give him till the next hand to recover himself, instead of trying to assault him again the very next time you get the lead.[9]

[17]

Changing suits is one of the most constant annoyances you will have to contend against; queer temper, grumbling, logic, and so on, if sometimes a nuisance, are sometimes altogether absent, but the determination to open new suits for no apparent reason—unless a feeble desire on the part of the leader to see how far the proceeding will injure his partner can be called a reason—is chronic.

Never[10] lead a singleton unless you are strong enough in trumps to defeat any attempt either of your adversaries or your partner to get them out, in which case it might be as well to lead them yourself; whether you lead a sneaker or wait for others to play the suit, the chance of ruffing is much the same, and the certainty of making a false lead, and the nearly equal certainty of deceiving your partner are avoided.

When a singleton comes off it may be nice, it is certainly naughty; when on the other hand you have killed your partner’s king, and he has afterwards got the lead, drawn the trumps, and returned your suit, should the adversaries make four or five suits in it,[18] you must not be surprised if he gives vent to a few cursory remarks. To succeed with a singleton, (1) your partner must win the first trick in the suit, (2) he must return it at once, (3) on your next opening another unknown suit, he must again win the trick, and the odds against these combined events coming off are something considerable. Per contra, he will probably be beaten on the very first round, and even if he is not, it is extremely likely that he will either lead trumps—unless he is aware of your idiosyncracy, when he will never know what to do—for what he naturally imagines is your strong suit, or open his own; at the same time, just as there are fagots and fagots, so there are singletons and singletons, and a queen or knave is by no means such a villainous card as anything below a seven. “The very worst singleton is the king.”—Cam.

With five trumps and no cards, lead a trump: you have made a true lead, you have led not merely your strongest suit, but a very strong suit, and if your partner has nothing, you will lose the game whatever you play, but you will lose it on that account, and not because you led a trump; if you open any of the plain suits you will make a false lead, and it is two to one that the adversaries hold any of them against your partner. You will often be told by the very people who will tell you to lead from five small cards in a plain suit, that to lead a trump from five is too dangerous, but if you inquire in what way it is[19] too dangerous, and receive any satisfactory reply, you will succeed in doing what I have never done.

With five trumps and other cards, a fortiori lead a trump.

Towards the end of the game, you will find it laid down by some authorities that if you hold nothing and have an original lead, you should lead your best trump; now if that trump is of sufficient size to warn your partner that it is your best, this lead may not, under the circumstances, be much more injurious than any other; but an original trump lead is usually supposed to indicate great strength either in trumps, or in plain suits, and if your partner infers from the size of your trump that your lead is from strength, and acting on that inference returns it, it is about the most murderous lead that can be made; having been two or three times the victim of such a lead is almost as good a reason for not returning trumps as sudden illness or not having one.

If he holds seven tricks in his own hand he can make them at any time, and any attempt of yours, however able, to deceive him at the outset will (to say the least of it) not assist him in doing so.

Why add an additional element of confusion to the game? Why should your partner have to say to himself as well as “Strong cards or strong trumps?” “Perhaps nothing at all.” He is compelled to wait about to see what is the meaning of this lead, time is lost, and an opportunity let slip which may never[20] recur. The Bumblepuppist will here observe that time was made for slaves; but the apophthegms on this subject are more numerous and contradictory than he is aware of.

As a general principle, with the original lead and a very bad hand, it is advisable to efface yourself as much as possible. In such a case, I always have a strong desire to get under the table—I don’t know that it is contrary to either the laws or the etiquette of whist to do so—and I firmly believe it is a better course than leading the trey of trumps; at any rate it is not for the weak hand to dictate how the game should be played; and to step boldly to the front and lead a small trump from two, without a trick behind it, is in my opinion the height of impertinence.

At certain states of the score it may be imperative, in order to save the game, that you should place all the remaining cards, but that is another matter altogether, and if you want to go into it, read Clay on the subject (page 85), though he nowhere suggests that you should commence operations by placing thirty-eight unknown cards.

If your partner has led you a trump, and you—holding ace, queen, to four or more—have made the queen, return the ace; if you are playing Bumblepuppy return a small one, your partner thinking the ace is against him, is almost certain to finesse and lose a trick—then call him names. The reason assigned by the perpetrator of this[21] return is that as he originally held four he is compelled to play the lowest, and it curiously exemplifies his inability to apply even the little knowledge he is possessed of.

With ace, king only, it is customary to lead first the ace and then the king; there is no authority for such a lead,[11] and nothing to be gained by it, except that by leading in this way you probably prevent your partner from signalling in the suit, but if you like to burden yourself with a useless anomaly, you can make a note of it. We started with the hypothesis, that, in the ordinary course of nature, you have fifty years before you, and if you wish to embitter and shorten those years, you will invariably lead the lowest but one of five—it may be, and I am informed is, useful among a few assorted players, “chock-full of science,” but it is caviare to the general[12] and (unlike Wordsworth’s Creature)—
“Too bright and good
For human nature’s daily food.”[13]

[22]

For my part I only think it expedient to show five when, with reasonable strength on the part of my partner, I have a fair prospect of bringing in the suit.[14]

It is often better to keep the knowledge of mere[23] length of suit religiously to yourself. Length and strength are not always the same thing; why are giants generally so weak about the knees? Length is often only one element of strength and a very poor one at that, though it may be of use indirectly. With four or five low cards and an observant opponent, it is occasionally a good plan to bottle up the smallest. I have known this missing link so to prey upon that opponent’s mind as to cause him to forget matters of much greater importance.

In bumblepuppy all this is entirely different, you can lead anything you like, in any way you like; here the safest lead is a long weak suit, the longer and weaker it is, the less is your partner able to do you a mischief. With a weak partner, strengthening cards are either futile or dangerous: as he will in all probability at once disembowel himself, the result of leading them is on all fours with the Japanese Hari Kari; whereas if you lead him a small card he will finesse into his boots.

You should also be very particular to lead the lowest but one of five,[15] it creates confusion, and under cover of that confusion you may make a trick or two. From this point of view you will often find the lead of the middle card of your suit extremely effective.

[24]

As to play false cards for the purpose of deceiving your partner is considered clever, a very little practice will enable you to play them with facility. With all deference to Bret Harte, for ways that are dark, the Heathen Chinee is not particular, and for tricks that are vain, the Caucasian can give him points.
“For when he’d got himself a name
For fraud and tricks, he spoil’d his game;
And when he chanced to escape, mistook,
For art and subtlety, his luck.”

The ability to play false cards is not a proof of intelligence. (“Cunning is often associated with a low type of intellect.”—Report of Inspector-General of Military Prisons.)[16]

If you read your Natural History, you will find it is the weaker animals which betake themselves to anomalous modes of defence; though the cuttle-fish and the skunk may be much looked up to in their respective domestic circles, they are quite out of place at the whist-table.

It is also usual with ace to five or more trumps to lead the ace, and if you see—by killing your partner’s king, or by his failing to play one—that he has no more, to try something else, for you can change the suit as often as you please. It is a fine mental exercise for your partner to recollect the[25] remaining cards of four unfinished suits, all going simultaneously.

I often think, when I see this game in full blast, that whist-players are not sufficiently grateful to Charles the Sixth, or whatever other lunatic invented playing cards, for having limited himself to four suits; he might have devised six—but the idea is too horrible. “In the time of Charles the Sixth there were five suits.”—Field. This not only proves my ignorance but my position, for if five suits have been tried and found too much for human endurance, then six would manifestly have been quite too awful! Q.E.D.


欢迎访问英文小说网http://novel.tingroom.com

©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533

鲁ICP备05031204号