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Preference Rules

   To play Preference download Net Preference for Windows.

   1. Purpose of the game

   Preference is a three player card game from Europe, which is similar to bridge, euchre, and five-hundred. The rules and scoring vary slightly, according to local custom. Net Preference allows opponents to play "Sochi", "Leningrad" and "Rostov" version of Preference.
   Preference is played with 32 cards: the A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8 and 7s from a standard 4-suit 52-card deck are used. The cards are dealt two at a time to each player face down, with two cards dealt face down to form the widow. The widow should not be the last two cards dealt. Deal rotates clockwise.
   The main purpose of Preference is to win more final scores than opponents. The game is usually played to 60-90 summed bullet points of all players (it is the pool limit*3) and is made up of a number of hands. Each hand consists of three stages - the bidding, the whist and the play. After hand is over new bullet, mountain and whist points are added to a pool and new final scores are calculated.

   2. The bidding

   Beginning with the player to the dealer's left and proceding clockwise, each player has the option to bid or pass. The bidding is used to determine the number of tricks and trump suit for a contract. The bidding is done in an auction format beginning at 6 Spades and continues with the following suit order: Spades, Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, No Trump. Once a player passes, he is out of the auction for the hand. If two players are competing for a contract, the bidder following the passed player may, for any bid higher than 6 Spades, declare the same bid as his opponent and take over the current bid. If a player feels that he is able to take no tricks, he can bid misere. This bid falls 9 Spades in the auction. If no players bid on a hand, it is called all pass. Once the auction is complete, the widow is opened for all players and high bidder gets those cards in his hand. Then, he discards two cards face down and declares a contract. This contract must be equal to or higher than the highest bid.

   3. The whist

   In a contract hand, the declarer's opponents, beginning at declarer's left, must either whist or pass. A whist is an attempt to play for a portion of the remaining tricks, according to the following scale:
   If both opponents choose whist bid their obligation is to win that number of tricks together. If a player chooses pass bid he undertakes no trick obligation. In this case the opponent who chose whist bid will play both hands.

Number of tricks in Contract Number of tricks needed for whist
6 4
7 2
8 1
9 1
10 0
Misere 0

   Before the game beginning you should decide:
  • Who is responsible if both opponents choose whist in 8(9) tricks contract and the declarer takes 10 tricks: both or last whist player.
  • Whist in 6 spades contract is obligatory for the defenders or not.
  • Whist is Greedy or Gentlemen.
  • Whist is Responsible or Half-responsible.

   4. Play of the cards

   The person to the left of the dealer leads the first trick, and play rotates clockwise. Each player must follow suit, if possible. If he cannot, he must trump, if possible. Otherwise, he may discard any card from his hand. The player who wins a trick leads the next trick.

  • Contract Hands

  •    If only one player whists, the whisting player must decide at the beginning of the first trick to "open cards" ("down") or "close cards" ("up"). If he chooses "down", then both he and the passing player lay their hands face up on the table, and the whisting player plays both hands (the passed player becomes a "dummy", like the declarer's partner in bridge.) If he chooses "up", then each player plays his own hand with none laid on the table. If both players whist, the hand is played "up".

  • Misere Hands

  •    The hand is played as a no trump hand and usually is played "down" by the opponents.

  • All Pass

  •    If no players bid on a hand, the hand is played as no trump, with the object of taking as few tricks as possible.
       Usually in "Sochi" and "Leningrad" versions: one card from the widow is turned over to determine the suit of the first trick. The widow card cannot win the trick, and a player void in the suit of the widow card can discard any card from his hand. Once the first trick is complete, the second widow card is turned over to determine the suit of the second trick. The player to the left of the dealer follows each widow card, and leads for the third trick, regardless of two wins the first and second tricks.
       In "Rostov" version: widow is close and the hand is played as a no trump hand without a widow. The player to the left of the dealer leads for the first trick, then player who wins the previous trick leads for the next trick.

       Before the game beginning you should decide:

    • Widow should be open or not.
    • How the opponents can exit from all pass rounds: what minimum bidding level is on the each all pass round.
    • What kind of progression is used when mountain (whist) points for each taken trick are added to the pool.
    • How many bullet points for null tricks taken and mountain (whist) points per trick taken.

       5. Game scoring

       There are three types of points in Preference: bullet points, mountain points, and whist points. Bullet points are awarded for the successful completion of a contract, mountain points are penalty points, and whist points keep track of a player's score relative to each opponent. Before the game, the players agree on a number of bullet points (pool limit) to which they will play.

  • Contract Hands

  •    A successful declarer receives bullet points according to the following scale:

    Number of tricks declared Bullet points
    6 2
    7 4
    8 6
    9 8
    10 10

       If the declarer does not make his contract, he receives no bullet points and receives mountain points for each trick he is short according to the following scale:

    Number of tricks bid Mountain points for each trick short*
    6 2
    7 4
    8 6
    9 8
    10 10

       *The points are multiplied by 2 in "Leningrad" version.

       The whisting players score whist points against the declarer according to the following scale:

    Number of tricks bid Mountain points for each trick taken*
    6 2
    7 4
    8 6
    9 8
    10 10

       *The points are multiplied by 2 in "Leningrad" version.

       If the whisting player does not make his whist, he receives the same (Responsible whist) or divided by 2 (Half-responsible whist) number of points per trick in his mountain points. Passing players do not receive whist points and do not risk earning any mountain points.
       If the declarer does not make his contract, each opponent (whisting or passing) earns additional whist points against the declarer according to the above scale for each trick that the declarer was short.

  • Miser Hands

  •    If a miser bidder is successful in taking no tricks for the hand, he receives 10 bullet points. If he is unsuccessful, he receives 10 ("Sochi" and "Rostov") or 20 ("Leningrad") mountain points for each trick taken. There are no whist points in a miser hand.

  • All Pass

  •    For the all pass hand, each trick taken is worth 1 or 2 mountain points ("Sochi" and "Leningrad") or 3-5 whist points ("Rostov") and result is multiplied by number according to the round and progression. If somebody does not take tricks, he receives 1 or 2 bullet points.

  • Final Scoring

  •    When pool limit is estimated the game is over and final scores is calculated. Preference is a zero-sum game, so the scoring procedure listed here is designed for ease of computation. First, subtract the smallest of the three player's mountain points from each mountain. Since mountain points are equivalent to 10 whist points, multiply each mountain by 10. Then, find the average mountain score and subtract each player's mountain from this average. Add to this each player's whist points against his opponents and subtract each opponent's whist against the player for the player's final score. (The scores should add up to 0.) The highest score is the winner. When played for money, a scale of 2 to 5 cents a point is usually used.

    More Rules ...

       You can find Preference rules on the John McLeod page "Rules of Card Games: Russian Preference". This is a very comprehensive library of the rules of hundreds of card games on the Web.

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