## Card game

I designed the card game WYSIWYG (pronounced WIZ-ee-wig) almost 20 years ago. The challenge I set myself was to come up with a two-player trick-taking game that I would enjoy playing. At that time, there were practically no commercial two-player trick-takers around and the traditional ones had fallen out of favour. Today, however, there are quite a few games which meet this description and many of them have achieved popularity, thanks to some clever and innovative mechanics. So why should you, the reader of this fine periodical, bother checking out this older design? I believe there are a couple of things that distinguish WYSIWYG from these other titles. First, my game can be played with an ordinary deck of playing cards, so no special equipment is needed. Perhaps more significantly, it was designed to appeal to folks who enjoy serious trick-taking games: things like Bridge, Spades, Hearts, and Pinochle. The cute gimmicks that the newer games introduce are nice and change things up in a way that give them broader appeal. But if you like the basics of hard-core trick-takers, I think you will find a lot to like in WYSIWYG.

The name, by the way, comes from the early days of personal computing and is an acronym that stands for “What You See Is What You Get." During the late 1980’s and 1990’s, when graphical interfaces were still new, having the image on your monitor match the one that you printed out was a major feature for a PC app. Such apps were given the descriptor of WYSWIG. Since, in my game, prior to each trick, the players see the cards they will choose between to replenish their hands (as opposed to one or both of them being hidden, as is the case in most similar games), this seemed like an appropriate title.

I have not done a very good job of promoting my game over the past couple of decades, so a reasonably thorough description is needed. If you want even more detail, the complete rules can be found at the game’s entry on BoardgameGeek (the most recent rules are labelled WYSIWYG 3.0). But the following should be enough to get you playing.

WYSIWYG is a trick-taking card game for two players. It is played with a normal deck of 52 cards. The cards in each suit rank from Ace (high) down to Two (low). After each player is dealt their cards, a hand proceeds in four separate phases. First, each player evaluates their hand and announces the total. Then, bidding takes place to establish the hand’s trump suit and objective. Next, the players play to tricks, with the winner of each trick replacing their card with their choice of one of two exposed cards and the loser receiving the other card. Each trick taken in this phase is worth one mark. This continues until the deck is depleted. Finally, the players play out the remainder of their cards to tricks, each of which is worth two marks. If the player who set the trump suit has earned marks at least equal to a goal based upon the two hand evaluations and his bid, he wins the hand. Play continues until one of the players scores 80 points.

Here is how each hand plays out. A dealer is chosen (which alternates between the two players for each hand) and she deals 13 cards to each player. The rest of the deck is then set aside. Each player must then evaluate their hand. This is a number of points based on an estimate of the quality of your starting hand, which is called your

Now the players will bid for the right to name the trump suit. The player with the lower Eval starts the auction, or, if they are tied, the dealer does. Each bid is a number, which must be higher than the bid your opponent just made. The first bid must be at least 15. The players alternate saying something, which is either a bid or a pass. When a player passes, their opponent wins the bidding for the amount of their last bid.

The player who wins the bid (called the Declarer) then names a trump suit, or decides to play the hand in No Trump (with no trump suits). Her opponent then has the option of doubling the bid, if he thinks she has bid too high. If this happens, the declarer can either accept this (and the hand is played at doubled stakes) or bid

Finally, the declarer figures out how many marks she will need to win the hand. She calculates her Goal, which is found by adding her Mod to the amount of her winning bid. So, for example, if the last numerical bid was 23, bid by a player with a Mod of -5, the Goal would be 18 marks (23 + (-5)).

The hand consists of 26 tricks, with each player playing one card to each trick. The rules for the first half of the hand are slightly different than for the second half of the hand.

Prior to each trick of the first half, the top two cards of the deck are exposed. The winner of the previous trick then leads a card to the current trick. For the first trick of the game, the declarer leads.

Any card can be led to the trick. Then, the other player must play a card. If possible, he must play a card of the same suit as the led card. If he does not have such a card, he can play any card in his hand.

If the second player plays a card of the same suit as the led card, the higher of the two cards wins the trick. If, instead, the second player plays a card of the trump suit in response to a non-trump lead (which is only possible if he has no cards in the led suit), then the second player wins the trick. Otherwise, the first player wins the trick.

For the first 13 tricks, the winner of the trick takes one of the played cards and places it face down in her scoring pile. These cards are the player’s running total of marks. One card is placed, because each trick in the first half is worth one mark. The other played card is put out of play. Finally, the player who won the trick takes one of the two exposed cards (her choice) and adds it to her hand. The player who lost the trick takes the other exposed card and adds it to his hand. The winner of the trick then exposes the next two cards from the deck and leads a card to the next trick. This process continues for 13 tricks, until the deck is exhausted.

The second half of the hand is played much like the first half, except that the players do not replenish their hands after each trick. Additionally, the tricks are worth 2 marks apiece, so both played cards are added to the scoring pile of the player who won the trick. The player who wins the last trick of the hand takes the two played cards as usual and then adds one of the cards from the discard pile to their scoring pile (so that the last trick is actually worth three marks). Now that 26 tricks have been played, the hand is over and the scoring takes place.

The way the hand is scored depends upon whether the declarer wins the hand or not. She wins the hand if the number of marks in her scoring pile is equal to or higher than her Goal. If the number of marks acquired are less than her goal, she loses the hand.

If the declarer wins the hand, she scores a base of 25 points. In addition, she scores an additional point for every mark she achieved in excess of her goal. So if the declarer had a goal of 17 and she accumulated 19 marks, her score would be 27.

If the declarer loses the hand, her opponent scores points. He scores 5 points if the declarer was one mark short of her goal and 10 additional points for each additional mark the declarer was short by. For example, if a declarer with a goal of 17 only acquired 13 marks, she is four marks short of her goal and her opponent would score 35 points (5+10+10+10).

All these points are doubled if the hand was doubled, for whichever player is scoring. If the declarer made a “game” bid in response to her opponent’s double, then the winner of the hand wins the game, regardless of the score up to this point!

After the hand is scored, another hand is played. The player who did not deal the previous hand deals this hand. The game continues until someone wins a game in which a “game” bid was made, or until one player’s total score reaches 80 points or more. That player wins the game.

So that is how you play the game. I thought you might be interested in how I came to design it.

Back in the year 2000, I was perusing my copy of

I did not see any reason to buck tradition, so I started the players off with 13 card hands. Obviously, there could be a huge variance in the power of those starting hands, so to be fair, I wanted a way to compensate for that, but how to do it? Well, trick-takers usually feature a trump suit and for mine, I wanted a player to name it, rather than it be a set suit or determined randomly. As a Bridge player, the obvious way of doing this was by having the players bid for the right to do so. The final bid would be used to determine the goal of the declarer. What if you modified that goal so that players who started with strong hands had to achieve more than those that started with weak hands? That concept, together with a way to evaluate starting hands, became another design feature.

Finally, I decided that I wanted the first half of the game to be more about gradually building your hand than about just scoring points. So I made the tricks in the second half worth twice as much as those in the first half. This also increased the tension of the game, since it was much harder to build up an impregnable lead.

All of this sounds easy and logical, but it took a while to achieve. In fact, there have been three major versions of the rules. Originally, I evaluated the hands using the Points Count used by most Bridge players: 4 points for an Ace, 3 for a King, 2 for a Queen, and 1 for a Jack. But when I took this point count and added the length of the longest suit, I found it overstated the value of the hands. I dealt with this by using a table to determine the modification for each hand. This was obviously less than ideal, but it took me a while to figure out how to avoid the need for a table. I realized that if I changed the hand evaluation to 3-2-1 points for an Ace, King, or Queen, it did accurately reflect the value of the hands. This also made sense, since Jacks aren’t that important during the early stages of the hand. Implementing the changes this alteration led to (and finally getting rid of that annoying table) led to the second version of the rules. Finally, a couple of years ago, I realized that the method I used to calculate the hand modifications was unnecessarily obtuse and pretty hard to teach. In addition, the game was taking longer than I wanted it to—maybe I have learned the value of faster paced games over the last 20 years. I came up with a way of streamlining the hand Mod calculations and making it more likely that the game would not drag on for too many hands. I now have a game that I am fully satisfied with and that is much easier to learn and play. Hopefully, you will agree.

Let me finish things up by going through parts of a sample hand, which will illustrate how the game is played, as well as let me point out some tips for success. Suppose that Amy and Ben have just started a game. Here are their hands on the first deal:

Amy: Q♠️, 7♠️, Q♥️, J♥️, 9♥️, 8♥️, 5♥️, 4♥️, K♦️, 10♦️, 9♦️, 3♦️, 7♣️

Ben: K♠️, 9♠️, 4♠️, K♥️, 6♥️, J♦️, 8♦️, 5♦️, A♣️, K♣️, 10♣️, 8♣️, 2♣️

Amy’s Eval = 0 (no Aces) + 2 (1 King) + 2 (2 Queens) + 6 (6 card suit) = 10

Ben’s Eval = 3 (1 Ace) + 6 (3 Kings) + 0 (no Queens) + 5 (5 card suit) = 14

Amy’s Mod = 10 – 14 = -4

Ben’s Mod = 14 – 10 = +4

Amy, who has the lower Eval, opens the bidding at 15. The players alternate bids until Ben bids 20 and Amy has to decide whether to raise or pass. She has a fairly weak hand, but at least she has a six-card trump suit which is pretty solid. More to the point, her hand has very little defensive value (no Aces and only one King) and her Hearts may be worthless if Ben wins the bidding and selects Clubs as the trump suit (the most likely choice, since Amy has only one of them). If she bids 21, she will have to take 17 marks (her bid, adjusted by her Mod, would be 21 – 4 = 17). This might be a challenge, but her good trump suit should help. She decides to take a chance and bids 21.

Now, Ben has a choice. If he raises Amy and bids 22, he will have to take 26 marks (22 + 4), which is just about two thirds of the total marks in the hand. He has a good hand, but he is not sure if it is that good. Moreover, with high ranking cards in all four suits, he figures he should do well defensively in whatever suit Amy chooses as trump. So he decides to pass. Amy wins the bidding and names Hearts as the trump suit. She has a Goal of 17 marks. Ben’s Hearts are his weakest suit, so he is not certain he can stop Amy from meeting her goal and decides not to double.

The top two cards of the deck are now revealed. They are the 10♠️ and the 3♠️. Amy now has to lead to the first trick. Even though one of the revealed cards is clearly better than the other, she is not that enthused about either of them. And the player leading to a trick tends to be at a disadvantage. If a low or medium ranked card is led, the second player can usually win the trick easily, often by playing a card just higher than the led one; if a high card is led, the second player can just play their lowest card of the suit, saving their good cards for later. Taking all this into account, Amy decides to lead the 7♣️. Playing this card leaves her with no Clubs and as long as things stay that way, she will be able to use her Hearts as trumps to capture any Club lead her opponent makes, if she wants to. Ben sees no reason not to take the trick with his 8♣️. He adds 10♠️ to his hand and Amy takes 3♠️. Ben then takes one of the two cards played to the trick and places it face down in front of himself, to show that he now has one mark. The other card is discarded.

The next two cards from the deck are revealed and they are the Q♦️ and the 7♠️. The former is a nice, but not essential card, so Ben decides to lead 10♣️. He would like to set up his Clubs as a side suit, so by leading 10♣️ he will either strip a low Club from Amy’s hand, or lose to a high card (either J♣️ or Q♣️). With one of those high Clubs removed from consideration, Ben’s Club suit would look considerably more formidable. Amy, of course, has no Clubs, so she must decide whether to win the trick by playing a trump card or not. Q♦️ would be a good card to add, as it would help her build her side suit (Diamonds, in this case). This can be an excellent source of marks during the second half of the hand. A common ploy is to draw your opponent’s trumps and then establish your side suit by playing cards of that suit until your opponent has played all his high cards. Then, you regain the lead (probably by trumping one of your opponent’s leads) and then keep playing your side suit until it runs out. So this would be a nice trick for Amy to win.

Unfortunately, she will have to play a trump to do so. The danger with using trumps like this is that she runs the danger of eventually losing control of the suit—that would happen if Ben, at some future time, winds up with more trumps than she has. This would allow him to draw trumps and then win tricks using his established side suit (which looks like it will be Clubs)—this could well lose her the hand. Since she began with 6 trumps, the chances of this happening are lower than usual, but she still has no idea how many trumps Ben began with. So she decides, better safe than sorry, at least for now. She plays her newly acquired 3♠️ (remember, if she cannot follow suit, she can play any card) and Ben wins the trick. Naturally, he adds Q♦️ to his hand, buttressing that suit. Amy settles for 7♠️. Ben again adds a face down card to his pile; he now has 2 marks and Amy has none. But it is very early yet and the first half of the hand is often more about setting up your hand for the second half than about scoring marks.

The two revealed cards for the third trick are the 10♥ and 5♣️. Ben wants to win this trick, to add another trump to his hand. Another Club is nice, but with Amy void in the suit, hardly necessary. The problem is, he cannot guarantee winning the trick. Either of his Kings might well do the job, but Amy might have started with the Ace in the suit of the card he leads, making this a risky play. Besides, he’s not sure he wants to play such a high card at this early stage, even to acquire a trump. He decides to lead 2♣️. If Amy wants to win, she will have to use a trump, largely negating any advantage of her adding the trump to her hand. And at this stage, of course, 2♣️ has the same chance of winning the trick as A♣️ does. Amy decides that this is a good time to trump the lead. Yes, she loses a trump, but she gets one right back (a considerably better one) and keeps Ben from adding it to his hand. As a side benefit, she maintains her void in Clubs. So she plays 5♥ (let Ben think this is her lowest trump; anytime you can possibly mislead your opponent, do it), winning the trick. She adds 10♥ to her hand and Ben takes 5♣️. She then takes one of the played cards and places it face down, for her first mark.

The two combatants continue playing in this fashion until the deck runs out of cards. At this stage, 13 tricks have been played and the first half of the hand is over. From now on, the players do not replenish their hands. Additionally, the winner of a trick takes both played cards and puts them face down in front of them, to show that the trick is worth 2 marks. Do not forget to add a third card as a bonus for winning the last trick of the hand.

At the end of the hand, the two players add up the cards in their face down piles. Amy has 19 cards (that is, 19 marks). Since her goal was 17 marks, she has won the hand. This is worth a base of 25 points to her, along with one extra point for each mark she exceeded her goal by. Since she had two extra marks, her score is 25 + 2, or 27 points. She places 27 points next to her name on the scoresheet. She is well on her way toward the 80 points she needs to win the game, but Ben will undoubtedly have something to say about that!

If you have the chance to try WYSIWYG out, I hope you enjoy it. Here is a scoresheet you can use to make it easier to track things. Feel free to make as many copies as you want. ◾️

The name, by the way, comes from the early days of personal computing and is an acronym that stands for “What You See Is What You Get." During the late 1980’s and 1990’s, when graphical interfaces were still new, having the image on your monitor match the one that you printed out was a major feature for a PC app. Such apps were given the descriptor of WYSWIG. Since, in my game, prior to each trick, the players see the cards they will choose between to replenish their hands (as opposed to one or both of them being hidden, as is the case in most similar games), this seemed like an appropriate title.

I have not done a very good job of promoting my game over the past couple of decades, so a reasonably thorough description is needed. If you want even more detail, the complete rules can be found at the game’s entry on BoardgameGeek (the most recent rules are labelled WYSIWYG 3.0). But the following should be enough to get you playing.

**Rules for WYSIWYG***Summary*WYSIWYG is a trick-taking card game for two players. It is played with a normal deck of 52 cards. The cards in each suit rank from Ace (high) down to Two (low). After each player is dealt their cards, a hand proceeds in four separate phases. First, each player evaluates their hand and announces the total. Then, bidding takes place to establish the hand’s trump suit and objective. Next, the players play to tricks, with the winner of each trick replacing their card with their choice of one of two exposed cards and the loser receiving the other card. Each trick taken in this phase is worth one mark. This continues until the deck is depleted. Finally, the players play out the remainder of their cards to tricks, each of which is worth two marks. If the player who set the trump suit has earned marks at least equal to a goal based upon the two hand evaluations and his bid, he wins the hand. Play continues until one of the players scores 80 points.

*The Deal and Hand Evaluation*Here is how each hand plays out. A dealer is chosen (which alternates between the two players for each hand) and she deals 13 cards to each player. The rest of the deck is then set aside. Each player must then evaluate their hand. This is a number of points based on an estimate of the quality of your starting hand, which is called your

*Eval*. Each Ace in the hand counts 3 points; each King, 2 points; and each Queen, 1 point. To this high card total, add the length of the longest suit in the hand. The sum is your Eval. Each player announces their hand’s Eval and then determines their*Mod*for the hand, which is just their Eval minus their opponent’s Eval. So if Amy has an 11 point Eval and Ben has a 16 point Eval, Amy has a Mod of -5 and Ben has a Mod of +5. This information is noted on the scoresheet.*Bidding*Now the players will bid for the right to name the trump suit. The player with the lower Eval starts the auction, or, if they are tied, the dealer does. Each bid is a number, which must be higher than the bid your opponent just made. The first bid must be at least 15. The players alternate saying something, which is either a bid or a pass. When a player passes, their opponent wins the bidding for the amount of their last bid.

The player who wins the bid (called the Declarer) then names a trump suit, or decides to play the hand in No Trump (with no trump suits). Her opponent then has the option of doubling the bid, if he thinks she has bid too high. If this happens, the declarer can either accept this (and the hand is played at doubled stakes) or bid

*game*, which means the winner of this hand will win the game, regardless of score.Finally, the declarer figures out how many marks she will need to win the hand. She calculates her Goal, which is found by adding her Mod to the amount of her winning bid. So, for example, if the last numerical bid was 23, bid by a player with a Mod of -5, the Goal would be 18 marks (23 + (-5)).

*Play of the Hand*The hand consists of 26 tricks, with each player playing one card to each trick. The rules for the first half of the hand are slightly different than for the second half of the hand.

Prior to each trick of the first half, the top two cards of the deck are exposed. The winner of the previous trick then leads a card to the current trick. For the first trick of the game, the declarer leads.

Any card can be led to the trick. Then, the other player must play a card. If possible, he must play a card of the same suit as the led card. If he does not have such a card, he can play any card in his hand.

If the second player plays a card of the same suit as the led card, the higher of the two cards wins the trick. If, instead, the second player plays a card of the trump suit in response to a non-trump lead (which is only possible if he has no cards in the led suit), then the second player wins the trick. Otherwise, the first player wins the trick.

For the first 13 tricks, the winner of the trick takes one of the played cards and places it face down in her scoring pile. These cards are the player’s running total of marks. One card is placed, because each trick in the first half is worth one mark. The other played card is put out of play. Finally, the player who won the trick takes one of the two exposed cards (her choice) and adds it to her hand. The player who lost the trick takes the other exposed card and adds it to his hand. The winner of the trick then exposes the next two cards from the deck and leads a card to the next trick. This process continues for 13 tricks, until the deck is exhausted.

The second half of the hand is played much like the first half, except that the players do not replenish their hands after each trick. Additionally, the tricks are worth 2 marks apiece, so both played cards are added to the scoring pile of the player who won the trick. The player who wins the last trick of the hand takes the two played cards as usual and then adds one of the cards from the discard pile to their scoring pile (so that the last trick is actually worth three marks). Now that 26 tricks have been played, the hand is over and the scoring takes place.

*Scoring the Hand*The way the hand is scored depends upon whether the declarer wins the hand or not. She wins the hand if the number of marks in her scoring pile is equal to or higher than her Goal. If the number of marks acquired are less than her goal, she loses the hand.

If the declarer wins the hand, she scores a base of 25 points. In addition, she scores an additional point for every mark she achieved in excess of her goal. So if the declarer had a goal of 17 and she accumulated 19 marks, her score would be 27.

If the declarer loses the hand, her opponent scores points. He scores 5 points if the declarer was one mark short of her goal and 10 additional points for each additional mark the declarer was short by. For example, if a declarer with a goal of 17 only acquired 13 marks, she is four marks short of her goal and her opponent would score 35 points (5+10+10+10).

All these points are doubled if the hand was doubled, for whichever player is scoring. If the declarer made a “game” bid in response to her opponent’s double, then the winner of the hand wins the game, regardless of the score up to this point!

*Winning the Game*After the hand is scored, another hand is played. The player who did not deal the previous hand deals this hand. The game continues until someone wins a game in which a “game” bid was made, or until one player’s total score reaches 80 points or more. That player wins the game.

So that is how you play the game. I thought you might be interested in how I came to design it.

**Development**Back in the year 2000, I was perusing my copy of

*Hoyle’s Book of Card Games*(it is amazing what we did to amuse ourselves back before there was easy access to the Internet!). I came across a game called German Whist, a 2-player trick-taker, played in two halves, like many of its ilk. In the first half of the game, prior to each trick, one card was exposed from the deck. The winner of the trick got the exposed card, while the loser replenished his hand by taking the top card of the deck. This is similar to the procedure in Two-Handed Pinochle and other traditional 2-player trick-takers. This struck me as a missed opportunity. How much better would it be, I thought, if there were two exposed cards and the winner of the trick got to choose which card to take. No more instances of the losing player lucking into a great face down card and there would be the added bonus of deciding which tricks to try hard for. I did a brief search to see if such a concept was used in an existing game. When I came up empty, I decided to design a game that did use it.I did not see any reason to buck tradition, so I started the players off with 13 card hands. Obviously, there could be a huge variance in the power of those starting hands, so to be fair, I wanted a way to compensate for that, but how to do it? Well, trick-takers usually feature a trump suit and for mine, I wanted a player to name it, rather than it be a set suit or determined randomly. As a Bridge player, the obvious way of doing this was by having the players bid for the right to do so. The final bid would be used to determine the goal of the declarer. What if you modified that goal so that players who started with strong hands had to achieve more than those that started with weak hands? That concept, together with a way to evaluate starting hands, became another design feature.

Finally, I decided that I wanted the first half of the game to be more about gradually building your hand than about just scoring points. So I made the tricks in the second half worth twice as much as those in the first half. This also increased the tension of the game, since it was much harder to build up an impregnable lead.

All of this sounds easy and logical, but it took a while to achieve. In fact, there have been three major versions of the rules. Originally, I evaluated the hands using the Points Count used by most Bridge players: 4 points for an Ace, 3 for a King, 2 for a Queen, and 1 for a Jack. But when I took this point count and added the length of the longest suit, I found it overstated the value of the hands. I dealt with this by using a table to determine the modification for each hand. This was obviously less than ideal, but it took me a while to figure out how to avoid the need for a table. I realized that if I changed the hand evaluation to 3-2-1 points for an Ace, King, or Queen, it did accurately reflect the value of the hands. This also made sense, since Jacks aren’t that important during the early stages of the hand. Implementing the changes this alteration led to (and finally getting rid of that annoying table) led to the second version of the rules. Finally, a couple of years ago, I realized that the method I used to calculate the hand modifications was unnecessarily obtuse and pretty hard to teach. In addition, the game was taking longer than I wanted it to—maybe I have learned the value of faster paced games over the last 20 years. I came up with a way of streamlining the hand Mod calculations and making it more likely that the game would not drag on for too many hands. I now have a game that I am fully satisfied with and that is much easier to learn and play. Hopefully, you will agree.

**Example of play**Let me finish things up by going through parts of a sample hand, which will illustrate how the game is played, as well as let me point out some tips for success. Suppose that Amy and Ben have just started a game. Here are their hands on the first deal:

Amy: Q♠️, 7♠️, Q♥️, J♥️, 9♥️, 8♥️, 5♥️, 4♥️, K♦️, 10♦️, 9♦️, 3♦️, 7♣️

Ben: K♠️, 9♠️, 4♠️, K♥️, 6♥️, J♦️, 8♦️, 5♦️, A♣️, K♣️, 10♣️, 8♣️, 2♣️

Amy’s Eval = 0 (no Aces) + 2 (1 King) + 2 (2 Queens) + 6 (6 card suit) = 10

Ben’s Eval = 3 (1 Ace) + 6 (3 Kings) + 0 (no Queens) + 5 (5 card suit) = 14

Amy’s Mod = 10 – 14 = -4

Ben’s Mod = 14 – 10 = +4

Amy, who has the lower Eval, opens the bidding at 15. The players alternate bids until Ben bids 20 and Amy has to decide whether to raise or pass. She has a fairly weak hand, but at least she has a six-card trump suit which is pretty solid. More to the point, her hand has very little defensive value (no Aces and only one King) and her Hearts may be worthless if Ben wins the bidding and selects Clubs as the trump suit (the most likely choice, since Amy has only one of them). If she bids 21, she will have to take 17 marks (her bid, adjusted by her Mod, would be 21 – 4 = 17). This might be a challenge, but her good trump suit should help. She decides to take a chance and bids 21.

Now, Ben has a choice. If he raises Amy and bids 22, he will have to take 26 marks (22 + 4), which is just about two thirds of the total marks in the hand. He has a good hand, but he is not sure if it is that good. Moreover, with high ranking cards in all four suits, he figures he should do well defensively in whatever suit Amy chooses as trump. So he decides to pass. Amy wins the bidding and names Hearts as the trump suit. She has a Goal of 17 marks. Ben’s Hearts are his weakest suit, so he is not certain he can stop Amy from meeting her goal and decides not to double.

The top two cards of the deck are now revealed. They are the 10♠️ and the 3♠️. Amy now has to lead to the first trick. Even though one of the revealed cards is clearly better than the other, she is not that enthused about either of them. And the player leading to a trick tends to be at a disadvantage. If a low or medium ranked card is led, the second player can usually win the trick easily, often by playing a card just higher than the led one; if a high card is led, the second player can just play their lowest card of the suit, saving their good cards for later. Taking all this into account, Amy decides to lead the 7♣️. Playing this card leaves her with no Clubs and as long as things stay that way, she will be able to use her Hearts as trumps to capture any Club lead her opponent makes, if she wants to. Ben sees no reason not to take the trick with his 8♣️. He adds 10♠️ to his hand and Amy takes 3♠️. Ben then takes one of the two cards played to the trick and places it face down in front of himself, to show that he now has one mark. The other card is discarded.

The next two cards from the deck are revealed and they are the Q♦️ and the 7♠️. The former is a nice, but not essential card, so Ben decides to lead 10♣️. He would like to set up his Clubs as a side suit, so by leading 10♣️ he will either strip a low Club from Amy’s hand, or lose to a high card (either J♣️ or Q♣️). With one of those high Clubs removed from consideration, Ben’s Club suit would look considerably more formidable. Amy, of course, has no Clubs, so she must decide whether to win the trick by playing a trump card or not. Q♦️ would be a good card to add, as it would help her build her side suit (Diamonds, in this case). This can be an excellent source of marks during the second half of the hand. A common ploy is to draw your opponent’s trumps and then establish your side suit by playing cards of that suit until your opponent has played all his high cards. Then, you regain the lead (probably by trumping one of your opponent’s leads) and then keep playing your side suit until it runs out. So this would be a nice trick for Amy to win.

Unfortunately, she will have to play a trump to do so. The danger with using trumps like this is that she runs the danger of eventually losing control of the suit—that would happen if Ben, at some future time, winds up with more trumps than she has. This would allow him to draw trumps and then win tricks using his established side suit (which looks like it will be Clubs)—this could well lose her the hand. Since she began with 6 trumps, the chances of this happening are lower than usual, but she still has no idea how many trumps Ben began with. So she decides, better safe than sorry, at least for now. She plays her newly acquired 3♠️ (remember, if she cannot follow suit, she can play any card) and Ben wins the trick. Naturally, he adds Q♦️ to his hand, buttressing that suit. Amy settles for 7♠️. Ben again adds a face down card to his pile; he now has 2 marks and Amy has none. But it is very early yet and the first half of the hand is often more about setting up your hand for the second half than about scoring marks.

The two revealed cards for the third trick are the 10♥ and 5♣️. Ben wants to win this trick, to add another trump to his hand. Another Club is nice, but with Amy void in the suit, hardly necessary. The problem is, he cannot guarantee winning the trick. Either of his Kings might well do the job, but Amy might have started with the Ace in the suit of the card he leads, making this a risky play. Besides, he’s not sure he wants to play such a high card at this early stage, even to acquire a trump. He decides to lead 2♣️. If Amy wants to win, she will have to use a trump, largely negating any advantage of her adding the trump to her hand. And at this stage, of course, 2♣️ has the same chance of winning the trick as A♣️ does. Amy decides that this is a good time to trump the lead. Yes, she loses a trump, but she gets one right back (a considerably better one) and keeps Ben from adding it to his hand. As a side benefit, she maintains her void in Clubs. So she plays 5♥ (let Ben think this is her lowest trump; anytime you can possibly mislead your opponent, do it), winning the trick. She adds 10♥ to her hand and Ben takes 5♣️. She then takes one of the played cards and places it face down, for her first mark.

The two combatants continue playing in this fashion until the deck runs out of cards. At this stage, 13 tricks have been played and the first half of the hand is over. From now on, the players do not replenish their hands. Additionally, the winner of a trick takes both played cards and puts them face down in front of them, to show that the trick is worth 2 marks. Do not forget to add a third card as a bonus for winning the last trick of the hand.

At the end of the hand, the two players add up the cards in their face down piles. Amy has 19 cards (that is, 19 marks). Since her goal was 17 marks, she has won the hand. This is worth a base of 25 points to her, along with one extra point for each mark she exceeded her goal by. Since she had two extra marks, her score is 25 + 2, or 27 points. She places 27 points next to her name on the scoresheet. She is well on her way toward the 80 points she needs to win the game, but Ben will undoubtedly have something to say about that!

If you have the chance to try WYSIWYG out, I hope you enjoy it. Here is a scoresheet you can use to make it easier to track things. Feel free to make as many copies as you want. ◾️

*WYSIWYG is a card game in the tradition of other great two-player trick-taking and bidding games, such as*Slam

*(Sid Sackson, 1951) and*Bridgette

*(Joli Quentin Kansil, 1970), both of which are explicitly versions of Bridge for two. While the designer does not identify WYSIWYG as "Bridge for two," it is well adapted to fill that role.*

*WYSIWYG is the first actual card game that we have covered in*Abstract Games

*. Card games are abstract games, too, and the fact that most of them involve luck does not preclude them from consideration—see my discussion after Mitchell Thomashow's "Random in the Abstract." A second game with cards, Marrakesh, is also included in this issue.*

*WYSIWYG 's designer, Larry Levy, has spent a large part of his life playing, designing, and writing about games. 15 or so of his designs are included in the*BoardGameGeek

*database. Almost all of these only use items easily found around the house, such as normal playing cards or standard dice. Probably the best known of his designs is Deduce or Die, a challenging pure deduction game. A redesigned version of this will be published in 2020 by*BoardGameTables.com

*as Loot of Lima, with the new version having recently finished a successful Kickstarter campaign, with all of its stretch goals met.*

Larry is one of the jury members for theInternational Gamers Awards

Larry is one of the jury members for the

*, one of the hobby’s most prestigious game of the year awards. He has also administered the*Meeples Choice Award

*for the*Spielfriek

*users group for the past 15 years. He has written for a wide variety of periodicals and websites, including*Counter

*magazine and the*Opinionated Gamers

*website. He says he is thrilled now to add a quality magazine like*Abstract Games

*to that list. ~ Ed.*