Cards portal Matching Fishing Rummy Shedding Accumulating Trick-taking Other card games

Ruff and Honours

Origin England
Family Trick-taking
Players 4
Skills required Tactics and Strategy
Cards 52
Deck English
Play Clockwise
Playing time 25 min.
Random chance Medium
Related games
Trump, Whist

Ruff and Honours was an English trick-taking game that was popular in the 16th and 17th centuries; it was superseded in the 18th century by Whist.


Ruff and Honours is covered in Cotton's The Compleat Gamester 1674 where it is described as being commonly known in all parts of England. At the time Randle Cotgrave thought the name was just a synonym for Trump. The game was also known as Slamm, a less popular form was called Whist, and it was closely related to Ruffe and Trump described by Francis Willughby.

Francis Willughby speculated that Trump was an earlier simple trick-taking game without the ruff and honours. The Complete Hoyle Revised points out that references in literature and correspondence to games of Trump, (shortened form of Triumph), have been traced back to the 15th Century in England. Over 500 years there have been many names and variations in rules but all the games were trick-taking games for four players playing in pairs, using the standard English pack with the trump suit selected by an up-turned card.

Cavendish and others state that Ruff and Honours was a descendant of the French game Triomphe (M.Eng. Triumph, Trump). Triomphe, known as French Trump in England, was a five-card game using a shortened deck, an up-turned trump card and played either in partnership or singlehandedly with 2-7 players. Triomphe is mentioned in Bernadine of Sienna's sermon "Ye Tryumphe" (1522). Ruff originally meant strongest suit, and games using this term go back to the mid 15th Century, judging by a reference to the game of Roufle (M.Fr. Roffle, earlier Romfle (1414), from It. Ronfa).


The game has been reconstructed from Cotton's Ruff and Honours and Willughby's similar Ruffe and Trump

Read more: