Wistful for Whist

A leather Whist marker produced by the English...

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My grandparents used to play a card game called Canasta. They hosted Canasta parties one night a week. As a kid, I enjoyed being at their house, with all their friends, and substituting in for someone who needed a partner.

I never knew anyone else who played the game. And I haven’t played Canasta since those days when I was eight or ten years old. It was kind of strange that the only card game I really knew was a game no one else had even heard of.

Of course, I eventually learned other card games. But one game I’ve never played and have never known others to play is the game of Whist. I first heard of Whist reading a biography of my favorite American President, Theodore Roosevelt. He played Whist. Knowing him, I’m convinced it must be a card game worth playing. So, though I’ve never played, I am sort of “wistful for Whist.”

A little Googling reveals that there are Whist games for play on the internet, and software versions of the game. I’d like to know whether any of my readers:

  1. have heard of Whist;
  2. have played Whist;
  3. like the game of Whist;
  4. have a favorite card game other than Whist;
  5. have played Whist online;
  6. have played a software version of Whist;
  7. have played Canasta.

About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

10 Responses to Wistful for Whist

  1. Alex says:

    Played Canasta with my grandma and siblings a lot. Loved it. Now I’ve forgotten how to play. I was on a bridge club in high school with a bunch of other jocks 🙂 One of the best card games I’ve ever played. The other bests would be: Casino, Cribbage, and Pinnochle (single deck).


  2. Doug Geivett says:

    Hi Cam,

    Sounds like we had some youthful experiences with the old folk in common. I do remember, though, that high balls weren’t served at my grandparents’ Canasta parties. It would have been coffee or tea, or lemonade.

    So TR is your friend, too. And you learned of Whist from him. That’s an interesting coincidence, as well.



  3. cam says:

    1. have heard of Whist; Yes. Also from my friend Theodore Roosevelt.
    2. have played Whist; No
    3. like the game of Whist; Don’t know.
    4. have a favorite card game other than Whist; Rummy?
    5. have played Whist online; No
    6. have played a software version of Whist; No
    7. have played Canasta. Ha Ha! You too? Grandma would let me play. She would help me a little, I never was real good. But it was cool playing with the older folks. They drank “high balls” ????????. I drank 7-Up. They STILL had the advantage!!


  4. Karen Cheney says:

    Hey Doug, Canasta is my favorite game. Why, you ask, because it is the only game that I can beat both Steven and Joshua. We have taught many a couple how to play. When we were first married and living in Idaho we had friends that taught us and we were hooked. Oh my, we had such fun evenings playing and it caught on. We still play once in a while, maybe this evening – it could be a birthday present from my hubby to play with me! Haha! I have heard of Whist and when I watch some English period movies that is mentioned. Have always wondered about it, never played! Well, if we are ever in the same room again we could play!!!


  5. Doug Geivett says:

    Hi Ken,

    I’m sure TR enjoyed Whist as an import from Great Britain. He was a world traveler, from his youth.


  6. Doug Geivett says:

    Gary, we should have played Euchre sometime.


  7. Doug Geivett says:

    I remember cribbage, with the little pegboard.


  8. Ken says:

    Doug, my family played Canasta growing up. I learned it at about 10-14 years old and haven’t played it much since. We alternated between that and pinochle. I assumed Whist was a British game until hearing from you that T.R. played it. I’ve only heard of Whist from watching the Horatio Hornblower episodes, so this is probably a case of hasty generalization.


  9. Gary says:

    I’ve heard of Whist, played it, and liked it. It didn’t seem to me that there was much strategy involved, but perhaps I was just ignorant. I have not played Whist online or a software version. My favorite card game is Euchre, which is a quintessential Midwestern card game. I have played Canasta. My mother taught me how to play, and we played once in a while. My grandparents also played Canasta, but Pinochle was probably their favorite game.


  10. bethyada says:

    Heard of it. Similar to 500 which I can play and bridge which I cannot. Also played cribbage with my granddad when I was a kid, can’t remember the rules.

    Have heard of Canasta and seen it being played as a kid. Played with more than 1 pack of cards and 3s were important.


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