from the publishers of
The Columbus Book of Euchre
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|Presented here are archives of euchre columns by Natty Bumppo, author of The Columbus Book of Euchre, published on line.|
|Lesson in next December 19, 2003
A member posted the following query in the Yahoo! forum Euchre Science:
You are sitting in first chair; the score is 8 to 8; you hold the ace of diamonds, the ace and king of clubs, and the queen and ten of hearts, and the king of diamonds is turned up by the dealer and down. What do you do?
Hand left of dealer
(king of diamonds turned up and down)
The forum member said he called hearts (next) and led one and got
euchred, thereby losing the game on that hand.
He did not recommend it.
I, too, played this hand calling hearts and leading one.
And these are the results I got:
We scored one point 15 times.
We scored two points 4 times.
We got euchred 6 times.
That looks like a net of 23 points to 12 in favor of calling next on this hand, and four outright wins of the game (but six outright losses). Pretty good, Id say.
But lets take a deeper look at the results: I did not throw out hands on which the king of diamonds would not have been turned down, in this minisimulation.
Of the six euchres, four probably would not have occurred because the diamond would have been ordered or picked up. On two of these the dealer had both red bowers; on another, his partner had both red bowers and the ace of hearts.
Another euchre depended on the dealers counterintuitive lead of the left bower to draw a second round of trump after taking the first round with the ace, not yet having seen the right bower, and having other good leads. And the sixth depended on his leading the right bower to draw a second round of trump, which also could be seen as counterintuitive, since he did not have the aces I held.
So you have to throw out at least four of those euchres, and maybe all of them. I think throwing five of them away is fair enough.
Then, there was one hand we scored a point on in which the opponents should have ordered the diamond; so, that, too, has to be thrown out. The adjusted results:
We scored one point 14 times.
We scored two points 4 times.
We got euchred once.
Thats a net of 22 points to 2 in favor of calling next on this hand, and four outright wins of the game against only one outright loss.
I think the guy who posed the problem made the correct call, even if he would not do it again. Call next and lead it, even at 8 to 8.
Calling next with only a couple of little trump is risky at 8 points because a euchre will knock you out. Next (the other suit of the same color turned down), in general, is as much a defensive call as an offensive call the idea may be as much to stop a loner, by getting euchred, as to score. That defense does not work, of course, when the euchre ends the game.
But next is an offensive call also, based on intuition and percentage. The reason it often scores is that the dealers team did not have the bower or bowers they needed to feel comfortable with the suit turned up; therefore, your partner might have one or both of the bowers.
In the hand outlined above, at 8 to 8 it may be your last chance to take control of the game; and hearts are the best trump you have. Your aces of diamonds and clubs would rank only third in their respective suits as trump, but they are bosses in their respective suits if something else is trump. Its do or die at 8 to 8. I say do it.
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Power seat December 5, 2003
First hand of the game. HootOwl dealt and turned down a king of hearts.
Had he picked it up he would have had ace-king-ten of hearts and ace-ten of spades that is, two-suited with three trump to the ace-king and a kicker off color.
(if he had picked up a heart)
Not to mention that his partner had the right bower.
HootOwl didnt know that, of course; but it would not have been unreasonable to
count on his partner for one bower or the other or, that failing, dropping both bowers
from the opponents in one lead.
Partners failure to order did not mean he had no help. As it turned out, he had also the 10 of diamonds -- which meant that he was sitting on next; and he held three spades, for a probable stopper in one of the black suits.
You guessed it: LittleCubbie, on HootOwls left, went alone in clubs and made it. 4-0 off the bat. Nice start.
Its just a good reminder of the power in the hands of the dealer. He had a likely point in hearts by himself (he had a nearly sure point with his partners help, and a possible march); he had no defense to next, the most likely call on his left; and he gave up control of the hand. And so what if he had got euchred picking up the heart? 2-0. Big deal. Hed have been still in the game. Scoring is not the only reason to make trump.
A dealer must remember that his partners pass is not a sign of weakness. A good partner will almost always pass a marginal holding in the up card (and sometimes a good holding) because (1) he has no control of the lead (unlike his partner, who gets to play last) and (2) many a dealers loner has been queered by an overeager partner.
Two-suited? Three trump? Ace-king high in trump? Ace-x outside in the other color? Pick it up. And go alone with it if you're in a pinch.
P.S. HootOwl was rated 1930 advanced. Hed be a candidate for Stone Idiots, but he admitted his error.
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Cheaters and obstructors
November 21, 2003
I did not want to believe this. But I believe now that cheating is rife on line. (Think stock market.)
Recently, playing euchre on Yahoo! I have received IMs (instant messages) from other players at the table. Thats a sign. Yahoo! used to flag IMs in the chat line, with something like dimwit123 has sent a private message to numbnock789. Apparently Yahoo! now has given that up because, what could it do? With AIM, ICQ, and the (ahem!) telephone. Damned if Yahoo! is going to get outsold by Ma Bell and her babies.
In a game just last night something smelled bad off the bat: I was dealer and got a hand decent enough to pick up, with three trump (spades) to the ace, and a king and jack of hearts outside. But the player in third chair ordered me up, and went alone. My partner led the ace of diamonds, and the loner sluffed the ace of hearts (making my king good, among other things). Turned out my partner had the right bower, too.
About that time I got an IM from someone in the lounge warning me that our opponents were scammers. Ha! Ha! One of them had a 69 per cent winning percentage; the other, 82 per cent. When later in the game the previous loners partner called alone with a donation, I figured that they were IM-ing and I said so. But they he or she admitted that they were the same person and had come in with two personae through the back door (their screen names were doing_u_lol and bushong37, if you want to look them up or avoid them).
Also recently, in a game of hearts on Yahoo! I received an IM from another player telling me what cards he was passing to a third player. I didnt even know the guy. I typed in the chat line, NO PRIVATE MESSAGES NO CHEATING, PLEASE. I also identified the offending player. And he left.
It is extremely difficult to find a substitute player in a game of hearts on line, especially in a game to 100 points (which is what we were playing), because it is such a long game. So, as host of the table, I invoked a robot to play the departed cheaters hand.
And another player refused to play with the robot. He demanded a forfeit or else, he would take his allotted three minutes to play at every trick.
And, taking a look at his record, I understood why: He had ten wins and one second place out of eleven games played.
There is no way in the real world anyone will win ten games out of eleven in hearts, and place second in the eleventh. Hearts is a game for three or more players, without partnerships. On line it is a game for four again, without partnerships. At random you win 25 per cent. If you are really good, you might win a third of your games or a little better against inferior competition, but not against your peers. Ninety-eight per cent? (counting the second place as three-fourths of a victory). I dont think so. Not even in a sample of only 11 games.
In a forfeit at hearts, you get a win, or first place, added to your record if you are not the one forfeited, regardless of what place you were in at the time of the forfeit first, second, third or fourth and an add-on to your rating significantly less than what you would have got if you had actually won the game. You get a second place if you are the one forfeited with a deduction from your rating no more than if you had lost in a full game (the rating deduction is the same in a full game whether you place second, third or fourth). Why not forfeit if you are losing hopelessly, and that is the only penalty?
And the players in the middle say, No bots, please. Of course.
Stalling in euchre is pretty severe, at three minutes a trick. But in hearts at 13 tricks to a hand, and in a 100 point game with no more than 26 points scored in a hand (and that many highly unusual) it could mean virtually all day: Five or six hours to finish the game, easily.
In this case, however, we had a solution: The fourth player who was not involved in the cheating or the obstruction had a commanding lead, about 20 points. And I was pretty far behind. So, in order to teach the forfeituremonger/obstructor a lesson, I began eating all the hearts and queens of spades I could, to help the leader win in less than an hour. I threw the game to the only remaining honest player at the table, and announced in the chat line that that was what I was doing.
And thus it was I the player who blew the whistle on one cheater, and thwarted another who was labeled a cheater (by the obstructor, of course, and by a friend he had invited to the table to replace the robot).
The initial cheater was bambam01956; the obstructor was U_Kiss_My_Ass in case you want to look them up or avoid them. I have misplaced the screen name of the obstructors invitee; sorry.
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Its bower, not
bauer November 7, 2003
Because its on the internet, its got to be right. Right?
The site linked (in case it is no longer up) said:
Euchre is a trumping card game, originating in Germany. The word euchre means farmer, and so the game is thought to originate in the rural areas.
It is closely related to a French game called La Manie. It requires the understanding of the concept of a trump suit (like bridge), but if you have played Uno, its not much of a stretch. . . .
This is some of the most ignorant stuff I have ever read. For starters, there is not the slightest concept of trump in Uno, which is a sophisticated Mattel copyright version of crazy eights (or dirty eight, as we called it in my home town). A trump card is a card of a superior suit that will take a trick of any other suit no matter how high the card of the other suit or how low the trump card. There are no tricks in Uno, let alone trump. Uno is not a trick-taking game.
The realbeer.com essay goes on:
. . . The Jack of the trump suit (the left bauer (bauer means barn)) is the highest card, followed by the Jack of the other same-color suit (the right bauer) . . . .
Besides getting the bowers (bauers) backward, here is an erroneous definition of Bauer. Bauer is German for peasant, or farmer. We find this in the message posted to the forum:
[On] Babblefish . . . bauer does come back as farmer, and a farm is a bauernhof. Barn comes back as stall in German. . . .
OK. The babblefish.com free translation page renders Stall to stable, from German to English, and barn to Scheune, from English to German.
But there is no such word as euchre in German, and there never was. And euchre does not mean farmer, in any language.
And, as the forum post ultimately acknowledges, Bauer does not mean barn in German (nor does it in any other language). It does mean farmer or peasant, and in German its the jack in a deck of cards.
The realbeer.com site linked may be a joke (but its not very funny and, whether or not meant as humor, reflects a dearth of scholarship. The euchre forum post, too, may have been a joke; but a fair number of readers took it seriously).
Further: Bauer must be capitalized and so must Scheune, and Stall, and Bauernhof even in the middle of a sentence. Theyre German nouns.
Rather complete etymologies tracing bower to Bauer and both euchre and joker to Jucker are presented on pages 7-9 and 77 of The Columbus Book of Euchre.
The game of euchre is of Alsatian origin, not German. Alsace historically has bounced between Germany and France like a Ping-Pong ball. Most of Alsace was even independent briefly in the 13th century. Although Alsace became part of Germany in the late 19th century (from the Franco-Prussian War, 1871, to the end of World War I, 1918), and again during World War II (1939-1945), it is now part of France; and most of Alsace was part of France at the time of the invention of the Alsatian game Jucker about the turn of the 19th century. Jucker is pronounced roughly the same as euchre; and, although it is an archaic German word that meant carriage horse, it probably denoted a surname in the name of the game.
Alsace is largely bilingual. Although most Alsatians speak German (or, at least, a German dialect), they do not consider themselves Germans and, by and large, never did. There is a loose historical consensus that the game known as euchre originated among the Pennsylvania Dutch, and the Pennsylvania Dutch were largely southwestern Germanic peoples including Alsatians.
So, although euchre has roots in the Alsatian game Jucker (see David Parlett, The Oxford Guide to Card Games), its not German. There is a little French and Spanish thrown into the game, too. And since the game of euchre is essentially of American origin in its present form, and the word Jucker has been Anglicized (or Americanized) to both euchre (through the French écarté) and joker (from the American wild West, no French at all, thank you), it makes little sense not to Anglicize (or Americanize) Bauer also, to bower which is by far how most playing card writers and Hoyle encyclopedias spell it.
If we must purify, by spelling bower Bauer, then let's go all the way: Lets spell euchre Jucker (and joker Jucker. See page 8, The Columbus Book of Euchre.
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Green, next, and idiocy October 17, 2003
The dealer turned down a club; and BringIt, on his left, called not next, but hearts (i.e., green) and led the jack of spades (i.e., the right bower in next).
I was his partner, and I was sitting there with both left bowers in next and in hearts, both guarded and I would have appreciated a next call. In the alternative I would have liked at least a trump lead in what was called. I wanted to help.
(left of dealer; club turned down)
BringIts left hand opponent (the dealers partner) took the first trick with
the king of hearts and led the ace of clubs drawing my jack (my left bower
in next) to take his second trick.
Fortunately for our side his next lead was another club, and not a diamond.
I got in with the real left bower and led the nine of hearts to
BringIts right bower. (BringIt
shed a little diamond on the second club lead; and I had a diamond, too.
The dealer did not have any, and my nine of hearts lead drew his only trump).
BringIt had the ace of trump in reserve and managed to make his point, but we were lucky. When I complained about the jack of spades lead, BringIt explained that he did not want to strip me of trump, that he was thin. If that was the case, he should have called next, not green, if he called at all; and still he should have led trump and low trump, if he had more than one.
He had a black bower; so next was his proper call anyway, if he called at all. And he had a bower in the other color guarded in either suit (he was fortunate to find both other bowers in my hand). He had the power to euchre; he had the power to help his partner.
The only ace BringIt had was the ace of hearts; but that, too, is an argument for next, not for hearts: Its the boss of its suit, and off color. As trump, its only third in rank. True, BringIt had only one spade (the right bower, if he had called it); and he had two hearts. But, with the club turned down, the ace of hearts was as likely good for a suit trick as a trump trick, if not more likely. I am not going to go into the many, many reasons to call next; they are the subjects of other columns and a lengthy discussion in The Columbus Book of Euchre. Suffice to say that it is a call for your partner as likely as for yourself, and it pre-empts the opponents making trump green (and BringIt had both green suits stopped, as did I. A euchre was lurking).
The proper call was next or pass (particularly in a game of stick the dealer, and this was); and the proper lead was trump if he called it.
BringIt had a 2017 rating on Yahoo! and is now enshrined as one of Borf Books Stone Idiots.
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Exposing your hand: The penalty
October 3, 2003
When a player exposes two or more cards of his hand prematurely
And these were the replies (out of a whopping response of 15 voters in the two groups combined counting only once the votes of those who voted in both groups):
 There should be no penalty (its just bad manners): 2 (13%).
 The cards should remain exposed and be
played at the earliest
 The cards should remain exposed and be
played at the direction
 The cards should remain exposed and be
played at the earliest
 The remainder of the tricks should be
forfeited to the offenders
Obviously there is no majority. There is not even a plurality: The second option tied with the fifth.
We can analyze a little further, however.
Both the first two options, not just the first, really suggest no specific sanction. The last three options give the offenders opponents real sanctions for the infraction. Looking at the results that way, you find a slight majority in favor of sanctions.
It was the lack of a specific rule on the subject in Hoyle (i.e., in commonly accepted rules published in card game encyclopedias) that inspired the poll. Ultimately, of course unless euchre finds itself governed by a tight-fisted international association, something it has resisted for well more than a century-and-a-half it will continue to be a matter of house rules.
Or tournament rules. Competent tournament directors seeing a need to address the issue will continue to address it in tournament rules, as all good tournament directors do in all issues of potential controversy.
With the majority (with whom I voted), I favor a real sanction.
Most players observe a sanction for reneging (typically, two or four points for the offenders opponents, depending on whether they were going alone).
Most observe sanctions for leading and playing out of turn (typically, allowing the offenders opponents to call the lead or the play of the exposed card cf. options Nos. 3 and 4 above).
Option No. 1 (Its just bad manners) is fine for people playing for fun, and not for blood, honor or money.
I do have a problem with option No. 2 (largely technical): What is the rule when either or any of two cards or more can be legally played on one trick? Who decides? Its a real question e.g., if it is a choice between two cards of one suit, or between a suit card and a trump card, it is not always the lower that is of least advantage to the offender. Further determination is required. That leads to options 3 and 4 (and there is a bit of the same problem with No. 4).
I favor Option No. 5 over options 3 and 4, as I stated previously, because I believe that the exposure of multiple cards is more egregious than the exposure of only one card that it is tantamount to reneging.
The Columbus Book of Euchre did not previously address the issue of simultaneous exposure of multiple cards, but it will in the future. The recommended rule will be option No. 5 above: When a player exposes two or more cards of his hand prematurely (except when going alone, or showing up or showing out), the remainder of the tricks in the hand are forfeited to his opponents.
Remember, though, we are talking about rules of games, not about laws of states or nations, or treaties of the world. The rules of games always are subject to agreement and convention among those playing, and thus the rules laid out in books and instruction pamphlets are hardly ever really more than recommendations (Ill bet there are lots of Monopoly players out there who dont realize that the Parkers Brothers rules dont require you to put tax payments under Free Parking).
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Exposing your hand
September 19, 2003
The player to the dealers left ordered up the nine of diamonds and led trump; the dealer played a low club; the leader accused the dealer of reneging, and the dealer exposed his entire hand to show that he had no diamonds (he had discarded the card ordered up).
The dealer did not renege, but he did commit an infraction by exposing his hand. Whats the penalty?
The Official Rules of Card Games published by the United States Playing Card Company says, An exposed card must be left face up on the table and must be played at the first legal opportunity. And thats all it says on the issue in its presentation of the rules of euchre.
That rule was inherited from whist (as was the whole game of bridge, along with its rules). But in the rules for whist and bridge there are further stipulations, such as that when the team of the player with the exposed card has the lead, the opponents can require or forbid the lead of that cards suit. That, in a nutshell, is also the euchre rule for leading or playing out of turn; but that rule, in either case, really addresses only the exposure of one card, not the more egregious exposure of multiple cards or of an entire hand.
Joseph Petrus Wergin proposed the following rule in Euchre According to Wergin: If a player, for any reason whatsoever, lays his cards face up on the table, the opponents may declare them all exposed cards and the offender shall play the cards as they are called. This rule is not applicable to a lone hand. . . . (The lone hand is exempt, of course, because a loner in euchre, like a declarer in bridge, helps only his opponents by exposing his cards.)
But that rule, like the rule in Official Rules of Card Games which really was designed to cover the exposure of only one card, after all does not carry a sufficient penalty: Exposing cards gives illegal information to the partner; and the partner can take advantage of that information in playing to the opponents leads, as well as on his own lead when he does not have the suit called or called against. And the play of exposed cards may be dictated by the cards themselves: Giving the opponents the call may not give them a remedy at all.
A better rule would be, If a player not going alone exposes two or more of his cards prematurely except when showing up or showing out his team forfeits the remainder of the tricks in the hand.
(Exposure of only one card prematurely is either leading out of turn or playing out of turn, covered by other rules. Showing up is playing two or more cards at once that cannot be denied e.g., leading the top three trump at once, saying, Contribute three apiece, please." Showing out is either claiming the remainder of the tricks by showing that you have all the bosses, or pitching in a hand of nothing but losers, or pitching in at a trick score obviously coming to 3 to 1, when the fifth trick will be meaningless. Even showing up and showing out may not be allowed in tournament play among strangers, of course, although both are common practices in games among acquaintances. And there are specific rules governing, and thus even allowing, showing up and showing out in whist. By extension the same is true of spades, which is but a variant of whist with a fixed trump suit and simpler scoring.)
Forfeiture of the remaining tricks seems very harsh, commented John McLeod, proprietor of the Card Games web site. It could, in effect, result in a penalty of 2 points even 4 points if an opponent is going alone.
But its no harsher than the penalty for reneging an infraction that, like exposing the cards, might be committed quite innocently (and rules of card games in general do not distinguish between intentional and accidental or negligent infractions, for to do so would require inquiries, maybe even jury trials, that could delay the games indefinitely). And if the offenders team already has taken a trick at the time of the infraction, the penalty is effectively only half that of the penalty for reneging. When I made these points, Mr. McLeod replied, I think you're right. . . . I agree with you.
And if the penalty is harsher than one you would find in whist, bridge or spades, it should be. There are 13 tricks in each of those games; there are only five in euchre: The advantage of the exposure of more than one card (but fewer than all) to the offenders partner is correspondingly diluted in those other games, and the advantage of exposure of a whole hand to the opponents is correspondingly enhanced. (And in bridge, the declarer is always going alone, in effect, and thus helped even more by the knowledge of exposed cards, and less in need of a penalty.)
Polls on the subject followed in two of the Yahoo! euchre groups; results in next column.
P.S. Remember what got this discussion started: A player exposing his hand to refute an accusation of reneging. Mr. McLeod suggested (tongue touching cheek, I think) that a sharp penalty for exposing cards could open up a brand new ploy for those rogues in Columbus: A deliberately false accusation to entice an opponent to expose his hand!
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Discarding the card ordered up
September 5, 2003
I received an interesting query last month from John McLeod, the proprietor of the Card Games web site. He said that a correspondent of his had reported a euchre hand in which the player to the dealers left had ordered up the nine of diamonds; the dealer had discarded; the maker had led the right bower; and the dealer, at his turn, had played a low club.
The player who had ordered accused the dealer of reneging, and the dealer exposed his hand to show that he had no trump he had discarded the nine of diamonds.
My correspondent asked two questions, Mr. McLeod reported: (1) Is it legal for the dealer to discard the card ordered? (My answer was yes I can find no rule against it anywhere), and (2) What happens next? If a player falsely accuses another of reneging, do the points for the hand go to the accused side? (My answer was no there is no penalty; you have to play out the hand.)
What is the correct procedure? Was the dealer wrong to expose his cards to prove his innocence? I could not find any discussion of this in The Columbus Book of Euchre, and I would be interested in your comments.
On question No. 1 Mr. McLeod is absolutely right: There is no rule limiting the discard. In fact, if the lead player orders up and goes alone, there are cases in which it would be foolish for the dealer to keep a singleton trump, since the maker will most likely lead trump and take it.
Mr. McLeods correspondents second question and Mr. McLeods own questions are more interesting. Mr. McLeod was correct also in answering that there is no penalty for a false accusation of renege, and that the hand must be played out (a challenge of renege may be made at any time, but resolution of the challenge must await the play of the entire hand, always. To determine the matter at the time of the challenge would require illegal exposure of cards not played, or illegal exposure during the play of tricks taken, or both.)
And Mr. McLeod and I thus agreed that the dealer had committed an infraction not in discarding the card ordered up, but in exposing his hand. It is true also that the matter of exposing a hand has not been fully addressed in The Columbus Book of Euchre. I left it rather in the category of things that simply are not done things you could get cut or shot for.
There are penalties for exposing your hand suggested in some Hoyle encyclopedias and in Euchre According to Wergin, but they really are not sufficient (cutting or shooting would be more appropriate). Well get to those suggestions, and to suggestions for a better rule, in the next column.
Natty Bumppo, author,
|The ten of clubs August 15, 2003
Heres the answer to the question in the August 1 column: Why is leading the ten of clubs the only way to euchre the dealer?
The setup, again, is, dealer picks up to hold right bower and ace of spades in trump, with king, ten and nine of hearts outside. Sitting to his left you hold left bower and king and queen of spades, with ace of hearts and ten of clubs outside. The dealers partner holds the ten and nine of spades, with ace and king of clubs and queen of diamonds outside. Your partner holds no trump but only the ace, ten and nine of diamonds, the nine of clubs, and the queen of hearts.
You can take another look at the setup, and play with it, in Gerry Blues Euchre Laboratory.
If you lead the ace of hearts, the dealers partner trumps it; and his ace (or king) of clubs and partners right bower are good all day for the point. (But heres a little mistake I made August 1: You could euchre on this lead if the dealers partner led back the queen of diamonds and the dealer failed to trump your partners ace of diamonds, allowing you to ditch your ten of clubs on it. But both the dealer and his partner would have to be asleep at the wheel for this to work. And a reader Tom Ten OClock Scolar pointed out, the dealer would have to make also a third mistake, by trumping your partners lead to the third trick.)
If you lead trump, the dealer is sitting on you with an end play: All he has to do is go one higher, whichever you lead; he still has the boss, and his partners ace of clubs is still good (or small trump if the dealer leads back a heart). Doesnt work.
Your hand (left of the dealer)
But if you lead the ten of clubs, the dealers partner takes it with the ace or
king and has to lead through his partner.
If he leads a spade (trump), it sets up your own spades and ace of hearts for three tricks if the dealer finesses his ace of spades (you take it with the left bower and clear trump with your next lead) or if he plays his right bower and leads back his ace of spades. If the dealer plays his right bower, however, and leads a heart instead of his last trump, he still makes the point, since his partner can trump your ace of hearts. (Tom Ten OClock Scolar says that the dealer must play that way anyway, given your partners void in trump and thats true if he is playing for only one point, or to avoid a euchre. But playing for two, he does not know what you and his partner hold.)
If the dealers partner leads his queen of diamonds, your partners ace forces trump from the dealer. If he ruffs with the ace of spades, you can overruff with your left bower; but you will still lose your ace of hearts to a trump in the dealers partners hand. If the dealer ruffs with the right bower, you ditch your ace of hearts and cash your three trump for the euchre. If the dealer ducks your partners ace of diamonds, you can ditch your ace of hearts; and you will be sitting on the dealer with two good trump out of three for the euchre if, as Tom Ten OClock Scolar points out, the dealer does not duck again on the third trick. All the dealer has to do to preserve his point on his partners diamond lead, in sum, is the usual and logical thing: Ruff your partners ace of diamonds with the ace of spades. But you can score a euchre here if the dealer plays wrong twice.
If the dealers partner leads his other club, there is not much you can do: If the dealer ducks and you take the trick with a trump, the dealer is sitting on you with an end play. If the dealer trumps, you still have to lose your ace of hearts to the dealers partners small trump, even if the dealer trumps only with the ace and you take it with the left bower.
Your best hope, considering all the above, is that the dealers partner leads a spade and the dealer either finesses his ace or plays the right and leads the ace. Your second best is that the dealers partner leads the queen of diamonds and catches the dealer asleep at the wheel.
The dealer can short-cut all this nonsense on the first trick, by the way, by trumping his partners good club and leading a heart (but Tom Ten OClock Scolar says that this, too, would be nonsense!).
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Leading to the right bower August 1, 2003
Heres the setup take a look at it in Gerry Blues Euchre Laboratory before you read any further.
A jack of spades turns; and you, sitting left of the dealer, bite your tongue and pass. You hold the left bower and king and queen of spades, with the ace of hearts and ten of clubs outside (it was that ten of clubs that made you bite your tongue).
The dealer picks up the right bower to go with his ace of spades and king, ten and nine of hearts. His partner holds the ace and king of clubs, the queen of diamonds, and the ten and nine of spades.
Your partner holds the queen of hearts, the nine of clubs, and the nine, ten and ace of diamonds that is to say, nothing.
You want to lead your left bower, but you know better. You think about leading your king of spades, but you prudently abandon that idea, too. You decide to lead your ace of hearts.
But the only way you can euchre the dealer is by leading your ten of clubs. Why?
Play with it. Youll see (and youll need a little help from the dealer and his partner). Answer next time.
Natty Bumppo, author,
Your hand (left of the dealer)
| Borf Books http://www.borfents.com|
Brownsville KY 42210
(270) 597-2187 [copyright 2003] [next]
Meetup July 18, 2003
Heres a new web site weve all been waiting for: http://euchre.meetup.com.
If you will go there or to http://www.meetup.com and type euchre in the search box you will find hordes of players just dying to meet up and play euchre with you, and probably two coffee shops, a hamburger joint and a book store designated as euchre meetup sites in your own town!
As of this morning Euchre Meetup had a whopping total of 273 players in the world signed up to meet up with you to play euchre. (Sources tell me that 270 of these are in Indiana, but I just dont believe that. Hoosiers are notorious isolationists.)
And heres the best news of all: This new web site has designated July 22 just four days from now as International Eurchre [sic] Meetup [sic] Day! At 7 p.m., to be more precise (time zone not indicated maybe its global or local). In Bowling Green, Ky., and 586 other cities! Lets see, thats . . . 1, 2, 3, . . . 2.15 cities per player! Well, so some of us will have to travel a little. . . .
Oops! We just typed in an Indianapolis zip code and got this message: Not enough Euchre Players near Indianapolis, IN can make it, so this months Meetup is cancelled [sic]. Join this topic by filling in the info below and well sign you up for next month.
But Meetup is growing very fast. Theyll even tell you that.
Lets help it grow: Theres a Suggest a Venue link at the bottom of the page. Lets not let McDonalds, Barnes & Noble, and Borders hog up all the euchre players. Suggest a venue! Suggest Borf Books. Our address is 1931 Willie Webb Rd., Brownsville KY 42210. All of you, please. Well have a great time, with or without Joe Andrews.
There is a drop-down query in the Suggest a Venue process asking for type of Venue. Use your imagination. We ask only that you not list us as a gay bar. Were in a dry county.
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Trumping partners ace July 4, 2003
Heres an interesting play, reported by a guy that no one knows (like the old Spanish priest in the Randy Newman song). His screen name is scolar2; his e-mail address is email@example.com (maybe its hidden after the @a); and he signs his messages Tom on Euchre Science.
He has not let the public know who he really is; but 2 times 4 plus 2 is 10, so
well just call him Tom (10 OClock) Scolar.
Heres his report:
After I turned down a diamond, my left hand opponent called clubs and led the right bower. I held the left bower and king and nine of clubs, and the king and queen of hearts.
My partner showed out, and my right hand opponent followed suit to the trump lead. The left hand opponent then led the ace of hearts, which took a trick, and then a spade that my partner attempted to win with the ace. My trumping it drew a Why did you trump my ace?! question from partner. My reply was, In order to get a euchre, its mandatory.
Well, hes right essentially. Dont be too quick to jump on your partner when he trumps your ace. Sometimes theres a reason.
Others pointed out, and Tom acknowledged, that it was not mandatory if Toms right hand opponent had played the ace of clubs on the first trick but he didnt.
Tom (and only Tom) pointed out that it was not mandatory if the left hand opponent had called on a cold right bower (and that, if the callers partner had three trump to the ace, it was even the wrong thing to do).
Also it is not mandatory if the left hand opponent has only two trump not including the ace.
But the first of those three scenarios was not the case (the callers partner did not play the ace of trump). In the third scenario, it makes no difference you get the euchre whether or not you trump your partners ace. Only in the second proposition of the second scenario is it the wrong play (callers partner with three trump to the ace), and thats too unlikely to bank on.
Tom exaggerated a little with the word mandatory, but trumping your partners ace in this situation is the only way to catch the callers ace of trump if he has it, and the only way to euchre the caller if he has the ace of trump and does not have to follow suit on your partners lead.
Toms partner went *POOF* when the game was over, but he should have stuck around. He had a good partner.
Heres the hand set up for you in Gerry Blues Euchre Laboratory if you want to see for yourself.
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Dumb luck June 20, 2003
Wilbur picked up the jack of hearts. My partner, Daniel, led the queen of hearts right into Wilburs mitts, stripping me of my unguarded left bower in the process (and taking nothing from Wilburs partner: The measly jack of spades is all that fell from his hand).
Wilbur led back the ace of hearts, catching my partners nine (and nothing signifcant from his own partners hand or mine the queen of spades and the jack of clubs, respectively).
Wilbur then led the ace of diamonds. Daniel took that, with his last trump, the king of hearts; and he cleared the board with the ace and nine of spades for the euchre.
Pretty smart, you say? Im not so sure. Lets look at what would have happened if Daniel had not led trump.
If he leads the ace of spades, everyone has to follow suit; and he gets the first trick off the top. Then he leads the nine of spades. Wilburs partner covers it with the queen; and I ruff with my unguarded left bower, forcing Wilburs right. Daniel still has all three of his trump; Wilbur has only the ace, and we still get the euchre.
Now lets change the scenario by just one card: Substitute the ten of hearts for the nine of diamonds in Wilburs hand.
Wilburs hand (dealer)
Not so unreasonable, to expect the maker to have three trump (particularly if hes
three-suited). Then the heart lead
does not work if the dealer resists his temptation to lead trump back to the opponent
who so boldly led it, and leads the ace of diamonds instead.
But an initial ace of spades lead by Daniel, followed by the nine of spades, still
achieves the euchre.
Whats wrong with leading losing trump on defense is (1) Daniel doesnt have a sure trump trick to begin with, with king high; (2) he renders his partners left bower useless; (3) he gives the dealer an end play on the first trick (knowing the dealer has the right bower, which his king or queen will not even force, necessarily), and (4) he tips off the dealer to set up an end play with his remaining trump on a subsequent trick, if he can, rather than to try drawing his opponents remaining trump.
A best case scenario would be seeing the two partners hands swapped i.e., mine for the dealers partners. Then the heart lead would strip the dealers team of the left bower (and, in the scenario dealt, force the dealers team to cough up both bowers or bower and ace in one trick). Thats the main reason to lead trump on defense, when theres a reason to strip the makers partner. Thats not what happened here, and there was no particular reason to believe it would happen (granted, though: Daniel did not know where the left was).
But lets look at what might be the worst case scenario: Go back to the original deal, and lets say that Wade, the dealers partner for whatever reason, prescient or perverse holds on to his spades instead of his higher cards. Instead of the jack or queen of spades, he throws his lone king of clubs on Daniels initial heart lead (he figures a lone king will lose to an ace, but a second card in a suit might be worth something). Lets say Wilbur, the dealer, thinking Daniel was bluffing, does lead the ace of hearts back; and Wade still holds doggedly to his spades, tossing his queen of diamonds (either because hes out to lunch, or because he reasons that his partner is more likely to need help across than in next).
Daniel eventually gets the lead and cashes his ace of spades, but he loses his nine of spades to one of Wades; and he doesnt get the euchre. If he had led his two spades from the beginning, however, the euchre was a cinch, as shown above.
If you want to make that last scenario a little more plausible, just give Wade the king and queen of spades instead of the queen and jack. Thats an equally likely result of the deal.
So, was Daniels leading loser trump on defense wise? Or was the euchre a bit of dumb luck?
You can study and play this hand on Gerry Blues Euchre Laboratory.
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Holding aces (revisited) June 6, 2003
Heres another hand illustrating Gary Martins principle to hold your aces on the opening lead.
The dealer picks up a diamond; and you, sitting to her left, hold the right
bower, the ace of spades, the ace of hearts, and the king and queen of
Turns out the dealer has three trump to the ace, with ace of clubs and queen of hearts outside. Her partner holds the left bower, both black bowers, the nine of clubs and the king of hearts. Your partner holds the nine of trump and four spades (all of them but the ace and the jack). Heres the hand set up for you in Gerry Blues Euchre Laboratory.
What's the most logical lead? Ace of spades, maybe? Its a singleton, off color.
But an opening lead of the ace of spades never results in a euchre. Try it.
So, ace of hearts? Its a singleton, too; but its next more likely to be trumped. And the maker is on your right, with the trump strength and the end play. I dont think so.
But, lets try it. Whoa! It flies! But you get the euchre only if you follow it with the king or queen of clubs (for your partner to trump). Theres no way to euchre the maker by leading both your singleton aces off the top.
But if you lead the king or queen of clubs (and save your aces), you always get the euchre. Your partner takes the opening lead with the nine of trump and comes back with a spade (the only suit he has left). If the maker trumps it, she still has to lose to your ace of hearts and right bower. If she ducks it (by sluffing the queen of hearts), you get the trick with your ace of spades and have the right bower behind it.
So, unusual distribution? Yeah. What does it prove? Nothing much except, an ace is not always the best opening lead. Its a little unrealistic to expect three tricks from a right bower and two outside aces. The chance any ace will fly is less than 50 per cent; so the chance both will fly is less than 25 per cent. To euchre you probably need help from your partner (thats usually the case anyway); and your partner will be reluctant to use his trump on either of your aces, even if he can.
You could cut the chances of your aces being trumped on the left by leading the right bower, but not on the right; and a trump lead would as likely strip your own partner as it would the dealers partner (in the case presented here it would strip both of them and set up the dealers trump and ace of clubs for the point). Not a very good idea.
By leading away from your aces you are giving your partner a chance to help while he still has trump. What made the euchre in this case was your partners ability to trump the suit in which you didn't have the ace. Heres a previous example. If one of your aces is good, the dealer eventually will have to lead to it (shes not going to sluff on the trick your partner trumps).
Gary Martin is the author of Euchre: How to Play and Win.
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Euchre n etiquette
May 23, 2003
Contrary to popular belief, there is an etiquette to cutthroat euchre. My Aunt Gin an avid player and a contemporary of Emily Post jotted down the following list of Donts shortly before she died last year at the age of 120 (some of these apply to euchre in general and some just to games on line):
1. Dont go alone on the first hand unless you have a solid loner. Five sure tricks, optimally. Three sure tricks and two highly probable tricks, at least. Going alone is rude to begin with; going alone on the first hand, doubly so. A marginal loner on the first hand, not made, just heartens the opponents and discourages your partner. Its not Desperation City at 0 to 0.
2. Dont trump your partners ace. Its not only a matter of good play; its also a matter of courtesy. When you have the hand wrapped up (three or five tricks in the bag), and your partners ace is on the table as a winner, dont trump it just because its a meaningless fourth trick, or because you have your own ace behind your trump, or because you have a bower you want to show off. Let your partner take the trick. Thats teamwork. You are showing up not only your opponents when you trump in that situation, you are showing up your partner also. Let him in on the fun; let him feel as if he participated.
3. Dont play a laydown loner from the bottom up e.g., king of spades (catches first trick), ace of spades, jack of clubs (trump now are drawn), ace of hearts (just for smarts), jack of spades. Or, it can be done even more rudely: Trump in with left bower; then lead ace of spades (as if the right were out); then king (as if the right were out); then ace of hearts; then right bower. Jesus! Trump in with the right bower and play down to the ace of hearts.
4. Dont say Good game (at the table) or gg or gga (on line) before the game is over, ever! How rude! Its a form of gloating. If you have it knocked, just say, Game, or Laydown, or Throw-in (or throw them in, at the table) if thats the case, or just play it out and let the losers say gg! And dont say Good game or gg or gga anyway if it wasnt. How rude!
5. Dont say, Fast game, please (fast game pls, on line). Have you ever noticed that its always the last one to sit down at the table who has no idea with whom he or she has sat down, or what their priorities or constraints may be who says that? And, do these idiots not realize that playing cards is a pastime? If you are looking for a sure fire way to slow down the game, just say, Fast game or Play faster, please. Doesnt Yahoo! do enough by itself to slow the game down?
6. Dont go brb on someone elses brb. He or she may be gone for half a minute, and you may be gone for three; and the rest of the players will be wondering whether you have been Yahoo!d (or are masturbating). When you leave your computer, say brb.
7. Dont sit down as a guest or watcher and engage one of the players in conversation. The players have the table (and the floor). Its OK to kibitz, but kibs should be seen and not heard.
8. Dont boot someone you have invited to your table just because he got there after the game started. How rude can you be? Invite and boot? Give the latecomer credit for enough intelligence to realize that there are four players there already playing, and to leave on his own. Or, let him stay and watch. What will that hurt? (Unless he yaks; then you can boot him.)
9. Dont narrate the game. You dont have to say nh, to partner or opponent, either one, after each hand; you dont have to say nt every time a loner doesnt take all five tricks, or the makers dont quite get euchred; you dont have to say ns every time a march is stopped; you dont have to say ty every time you receive a compliment.
And whats this gla and gle at the start of every game? Thats so phony. You dont really mean that. You dont want your opponents to have good luck; you want the good luck.
And, for Gods sake, dont say gj or wd when its simply the cards that score the point, and not the player. How stupid!
And dont say ne, ever, under any circumstances. There is no such thing as a nice euchre. Its nasty. (Oops! Maybe thats my mistake. Maybe ne means nasty euchre. But, thats redundant.)
Caveat: If you do these things, you will be recognized for what you are a woman.
10. And, for Christs sake, quit saying lol every time you speak. If I had a nickel for every time someone said lol when he was not laughing out loud, I would be richer than Bill Gates.
BONUS commandments (make it a dozen!):
11. Dont say, I sure saved your ass to your partner, or even, Your partner sure saved your ass, to an opponent, ever. It may be that the trump maker had reason to expect his partners help, or intuited it even two or three tricks worth or more (as on a call of next or across). Or that he received unexpected help on a donation or semidonation. It is simply good play, in either case. Euchre is, after all, a partnership game. Think about it.
12. Never apologize. This is euchre. Throw sp out the window. And if your partner says it, dont reply npp. The correct response is, That was pretty sorry, all right.
Natty Bumppo, author,
|The finesse May 9, 2003
The dictionary definition of a finesse is an attempt to win a trick with a card lower than one outstanding. What it really is, in so many words, is a guess that the card that can beat you is on your right and not on your left.
Its a ploy in bridge and spades (and Rook, and other trick taking games)
as well as in euchre; and its a way to steal a trick.
And even when you dont steal the trick, you put the lead
on your left, which is where you would like to have it when you dont
have it yourself.
Heres a hand in which the dealer (and trump maker) could have made two points instead of one if she had finessed. Kiki picked up the jack of diamonds to go with her king and ten; she had also an ace of hearts kicker, and a ten of clubs loser. Ally, on her left, led the queen of spades.
Kikis partner, ToadFrog, took the opening trick with the ace of spades (Jadzu, on Kikis right, had to play her king, as Kiki got to shed her loser); and ToadFrog led back the ace of diamonds.
Jadzu played the nine of diamonds; and now Kiki had the opportunity (if not the obligation) to decide whether or not to finesse. If Jadzu had the left bower, Kiki could let her partners ace of diamonds take the trick and try to catch the left later with her right. Only if Ally, on her left, had the left bower and unguarded did it make sense for Kiki to go up with the right.
Kiki played the right bower; Ally played the queen of diamonds, and Jadzus left bower eventually stopped the march. Had Kiki let ToadFrogs ace of trump fly, ToadFrog would have led back the ace of clubs, taking Jadzus king and Allys queen (along with Kikis ace of hearts or Kiki could have trumped in safely with her king at that point); and then he would have led the jack of clubs. At that point Jadzu is damned if she does and damned if she doesnt: She can play the left bower and lose it to Kikis right, and the last trick to Kikis king of diamonds; or she can duck again, and let Kiki finesse again, to take the trick with her king of diamonds and come back to grab the left with the right. In either event, Kiki holds the keys playing behind Jadzu.
Kiki made a point, but she could have made two. In bridge or spades or Rook, it's a 50-50 guess where the hurter is. In euchre, its a better bet: The left bower could be buried (we assume that Kikis partner, ToadFrog, does not have it because he did not lead it; he led the ace. We give him credit for being a good player until he proves otherwise). The finesse is a stronger play in euchre (and pitch) than in other trick taking games: In bridge, spades and Rook (and four-handed pinochle) the missing card will be in one hand or the other.
And if the guess is wrong? Big deal, Kiki still wins a point. She gives herself an end play by ducking: Ally has to lead into her right-king.
Note also that it would have done Jadzu no good to have laid her left bower on ToadFrogs ace of trump unless she had the king, or had reason to believe her partner had the king guarded. The former was not the case, and the latter had poor odds.
You can look at this hand graphically, and play with it, in Gerry Blues Euchre Laboratory.
It would work even better if Kiki had had the ace and her partner had led a lower trump (even the king, say). Then Kiki could have taken the trick herself, with the ace, and come back immediately with the right bower to catch the left: Schools out.
Sometimes there is good reason not to finesse: For example, if Jadzu had shown out of trump on the second trick, you know she does not have the left; and its necessary to go up to catch Allys left bower if she holds it unguarded. Or, say your partner led the queen instead of the ace; and both the left and ace are out to get you: Youll probably catch one of them with the right bower; and if your ace of hearts does not catch the next trick, it will force out the remaining trump. The finesse is not a play for every season, but it was for this one.
Its a play that can work on defense, too, particularly when the maker is on your right.
Think of it as an end play with a risk (youre in the middle).
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Hot bot April 25, 2003
At someones suggestion, I played a game in a social lounge on Yahoo! I was blessed with a loner on the first deal, and my partner quit the table in the middle of my march to a 4-0 lead. Not wanting to squander that, I invoked a robot.
Diamond turned down? Call hearts
He wasnt real bright, of course. He called
trump a couple of times with nothing but a king or a queen.
But he got euchred only once.
And he was helpful. His very first play was an ace lead that stopped an opponents loner.
And midway through the game, my right hand opponent turned down a jack of diamonds, leaving me with ace and nine of clubs, ten of diamonds, and ace and queen of spades and no next to call. So I called next hearts. Both my aces held, and the bot had some hearts; so we made the point, even though the opponents had more hearts, including the ace and the right bower.
The best part of it was this:
Since my partner was a bot, I didnt have to hear him sneer,
And because my partner was a bot, I didnt have to hear my
We won, 10 to 3.
When first I told this story, one listener quipped, You must have been playing with Bot 1, 2 or 3, cause Bot 4 and Bot 5 have messenger!
Ha! Ha! Yup, it was Robot3! . Hes the best one. . . .
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Trumping a loner April 11, 2003
Here are two examples from the same game why to trump your partners ace when defending against a loner.
In the first hand, Mailman, the dealer, picked up the ace of diamonds to go alone, with the right bower and ten of trump to go with it and the ace and queen of clubs outside.
Rin_Tin_Tin, the opponent on his left, led the ace of hearts, from a holding of three hearts and the king and nine of diamonds. Rins partner, Jaguar_Lady, held the ace, queen and nine of spades, the king of clubs, and the queen of diamonds; and she cut her partners ace with her lone queen of trump.
The Jaguar_Ladys defense
That wasnt any better for the trick than Rins ace of hearts:
The Mailman overtrumped with the ace of diamonds and took the trick.
But then he was unable to draw the outstanding trump:
Rin_Tin_Tin was sitting on him with the king and nine of trump which would have been
wholly unguarded had the Mailman not been forced to cough up his ace of trump.
The Mailman had to settle for a point. It was
a sure 4-point loner without Jaguar_Ladys intervention.
Here the hand is set up for you on Gerry Blues Euchre Laboratory.
On the next hand it was Rin_Tin_Tins deal; and he went alone: In hearts, with both bowers and queen of trump, and the ace and ten of spades outside. His left-hand opponent, Bagman, led the ace of clubs from a holding of three clubs plus ace and ten of hearts (trump). The Mailman sluffed the nine of diamonds; and Rin trumped in with the queen, drew trump, and led his spades for four points (the Mailman had only one spade; Bagman, as noted, none).
But the Mailman had the king and nine of hearts. If he had trumped his partners ace with his king of hearts, he would have forced Rin_Tin_Tin to overtrump with a bower, giving the Bagman a guarded ace.
Heres that one in the Euchre Lab.
Note that although the Mailman had the nine of hearts also, cutting his partners ace with a nine of trump would have done no more to force a trump from the loner than the ace of suit that was led. It would have been a mere waste of trump. Playing the king is what would have stopped the loner. This is the extreme example of Dont send a boy [girl] to do a mans [womans] job, or, If you cant play with the big boys [girls], stay home.
Note also that these two consecutive hands amounted to a six-point turnaround for Rin_Tin_Tin and his partner: The three extra points they did not lose to the loner on the first hand, and the three extra points they did win (but should not have) on the second.
Natty Bumppo, author,
Stone Idiots Nos. 12 & 35 March 28, 2003
Behold the first player to earn more than a paragraph among Borf Books Stone Idiots at euchre:
My partner, Colt, picked up a club on the first hand; I grabbed the first trick with a suit ace, and I led the right bower stripping the maker, my partner, of his only trump. Yes, we were euchred.
She didnt go alone!
I had four hearts, he explained.
When Im all red, someone else is going to be all black.
Perhaps it had not occurred to him that it might be his partner or the guy in third chair
who might be all black (chances 2 out of 3 if the major premise was correct) or that
his partner at least would have a guarded bower in both black suits, as I did.
Two hands later my partner called spades trump. Watch him for diamonds! I warned the opponents.
They laughed, but it was true: My left hand opponent led the queen of diamonds, and Colt took it with the ace of diamonds and led back a diamond. Fortunately there were enough spades in my hand to save the point.
OK, you say; no major damage. Maybe his reasoning was not so hot, but he had reasons. Maybe, even, he had great powers of deduction or intuition as to what I held.
Three hands later I called next, in diamonds, and led the ten of diamonds away from my left bower. My left hand opponent took it with the ace as Colt played the queen. Colt then trumped the next trick with the right bower, and my left was good for a second trick but that was all she wrote: Another euchre. The opponents were ROFL at this point.
Somehow, nonetheless, we managed to be leading 9 to 5 (dont ask) when the deal came back my way and I turned the ten of diamonds, holding the nine of diamonds, the king and queen of spades, the ace of hearts, and the ten of clubs. Came three passes and, just to make sure the worst case scenario of 9 to 9 on their deal did not occur, I picked up the ten of diamonds and tossed the ten of clubs. It was easy: Colt held the ace of diamonds and the right bower. We took four tricks to win the game as our opponents hit the floor LTAO, one more time, at Colts passing up the diamond (yes, that was the only jack he had; and he had nothing significant in any other suit his jack of diamonds was not even guarded as a left bower in hearts).
Im just having fun, Colt explained (but, at my expense? Well, I left alive).
Colt had a 2233 rating on Yahoo!
But hes not the latest stone idiot: The latest rated 1719 on Yahoo! (thats advanced, you know) had the left bower, ace, king and queen of trump and an outside ace (off color), and the lead and did not go alone.
Natty Bumppo, author,
A debate has been raging on the Yahoo! group Euchre Science regarding whether
trumping your partners ace is the correct and likely play in a certain situation.
Here is the situation:
You are behind 9 to 8; the dealers partner has ordered up the queen of hearts; you have led the queen of clubs; the dealers partner has covered it with the ace of clubs, and your partner has taken the trick with the nine of trump (the dealer having followed suit with a small club). Your partner has led back the ace of diamonds; the dealer has followed suit again, and the question is whether you should or will trump your partner's ace of diamonds, if you can.
This hand was set up from your partners point of view,
Your partners hand (third chair)
First two cards played on first trick
|not yours: His hand consisted
of ace of spades, ace and ten of diamonds, and left bower and nine of hearts (trump).
Here it is set up for you on Gerry Blues Euchre
Laboratory: Click on Play to
get to the table; then click on Deal to fill in the hands.
You can fiddle with the makeup of the hands; but you should leave the queen of hearts and
a club in the dealers hand; you should leave a diamond in the dealers hand to
reduce the incentive to trump your partners ace, and I recommend that you leave the
right bower and at least one other trump in the dealers partners hand to make
his order credible.
The initial question was whether your partner should trump your opening queen of clubs lead with his nine, or with his left bower. A majority of participants in the debate agreed that the nine was the proper ruff, since the dealer was likely to have a club and you and your partner would need the left bower later for the slim chance of euchre to save the game. Most agreed also that your partner should lead back a diamond, in an effort to draw a trump from the dealer that you could overtrump (or to create an end play in case the dealer took the trick).
There was some debate on which diamond your partner should lead, however: The ten or the ace? Most agreed that the ace was not too likely to take a trick, and that the best chance of euchre lay in your trumping in to force the right bower out of the dealers partners hand. That argument favored the ten of diamonds, which most agreed you would be more likely to trump than the ace. But the worst case scenario would be seeing the dealer or his partner take the ten of diamonds with the king or queen: Hence the argument for leading the ace.
And thence began the debate about whether you should, or would, trump your partners ace of diamonds, even if the dealer did not trump it. Good arguments were made on both sides of this proposition. I hold with those who favored trumping the ace, particularly if you could do so with the ace or king of hearts, in an effort to force the right bower from the dealers partner and not allow him to claim the trick with a measly ten of hearts.
If you want to see or follow the debate, it begins with the results of a poll, which segues into threads titled Poll results, Leading trump on defense and Trumping partners Ad. The debate on whether to trump your partners ace of diamonds begins at message 2059.
But that debate is not what this column is about. What this is about is the comfort of having a partner who thinks about what to do (and usually makes the right decision) not one who trumps his partners ace simply with a Get em while ya can mentality, or who leads trump on defense because Sometimes it works, or who leads his next ace simply because Its the best card Ive got.
What really inspired this column was another remark made by a regular contributor to Euchre Science, at message 1993, suggesting that the higher you go on the euchre spectrum the less and less a superior player will hold a greater advantage over another. . . . Skill and mistakes will [more] greatly benefit the higher end euchre player (against a lower end player).
Im not sure I agree with that. I have found that I can win much more consistently among good players than among numbnocks. That is, in a nutshell, what my column on method euchre was all about. When I try to play smart among numbnocks, I find myself losing. Good play is based in large part on rational reactions to situations; and when the players you are reacting to are not behaving rationally, you often wind up drowning in the slough of dementia with them.
The Euchre Science contributor wrote also, Don't get me wrong; mistakes play a role for the high end euchre players as well. But mistakes at that level are far and few inbetween [sic] . . . .
Again, I disagree: I find that I can beat better players consistently because they make more mistakes at critical junctures they are more aggressive; they take more chances; they donate more often; etc. I love getting into games with players who think they are good because they are aggressive. The higher the echelon, the more conservatively I play; and the more conservatively I play, the more I win. The reason is, the higher the echelon, the more I can rely on my partner to do the right thing, and the fewer risks I have to take.
Heres an example (besides the one above, that initated this essay): Im sitting in third chair with the jack and ten of diamonds and the king and queen of hearts, and a black king; and the nine of diamonds is turned up. Many an aggressive player will order that up. I dont want to: I have one sure trick and a pretty good shot at a second; but I am relying heavily on my partner for a trick or two if I order, and I might be ordering the nine up to a hand with the left bower and one (or even two or three) other trump and a black ace. Id rather sit on my hand and try to euchre the dealer if he picks up, and trust my partner to call next if the dealer doesnt pick up. Hearts is a better suit for us for two reasons: (1) I have more, and (2) we dont have to give a trump to the opponents.
If I can trust my partner to call next if theres any way, I can pass that nine of diamonds comfortably. If I am playing with idiots and especially if one of them is my partner I pass up that nine of diamonds at my peril. If theres any way to call next can sometimes mean calling it even without any. For example, if the dealer has turned down that nine of diamonds and my partner is sitting there with two black aces but no hearts (and no black jacks) or with a full house or farmers hand I still expect him to call hearts, under most circumstances; and if he is a good player, he will.
Another example: Im in second chair. If I am playing with a good partner, I can trust him to pick up a bower when he is the dealer (if he does not have all three other suits stopped), and I can keep my mouth shut with a moderately good hand to the card turned (so as not to spoil my partners loner if he has one). Conversely, when Im the dealer, I do not have to interpret my partners pass as lack of help in the suit turned.
Its all about trusting a partner in whom you have confidence. Thats how to win at euchre. Its a partnership game. Thats one of the things that make it different from poker, and hearts, and rummy; thats a major reason that euchre like bridge, and spades, and rook is a greater game of skill and less a game of chance (poker is a game of skill, but not of skill in card playing its a game of skill in human relations).
You just cant rely on such things in the lower echelons. In the lower echelons you have to order bowers to your partner, for Christs sake. Even many competent players do not fully understand why you should rarely do that if you have a good partner. But I see dealers loners queered every day by orders from second chair, sometimes even more than once a game.
If I have a good partner when I am the dealers partner, I have to have a true sod buster to order, bower or not. Theres a reason for that silly Canadian rule that you have to go alone if you order your partner. In effect, that Canadian rule forces you to play well in second chair (and thats not good either; it takes a piece of strategy out of the game).
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Lead trump, damn it! February 28, 2003
Our friend Ryan Romanik likes to say, Lead the right bower, damn it!
I like to say just, Lead trump, damn it! when its called for,
as in . . . .
Early in the game the jack of hearts was turned up on my left, and I held the jack of diamonds, the ace and ten of hearts, the ace of spades and the ten of clubs.
I ordered it up, of course in a heartbeat. Ill take a nearly sure point nearly any time I can get it when I see no better prospects, and theres no point waiting for next (which might not be called anyway) when you have three trump in the suit turned, a sure trick and, probably, three tricks in your hand alone, even when the trump turned is the right bower.
All I needed was a trump lead to drain the dealers partner, and to put the dealer in the lead to me for an end play. But my partner led the king of clubs. Damn! I thought. Caught him dry. He had to know to lead a heart if he had one, I figured: He had a 2330 rating on Yahoo!
So: His king of clubs was cut by the dealers partner with the queen of hearts. The dealers partner then led the ten of spades through my ace; it was cut by the dealer with the king of hearts, and school was out.
When I finally gained the lead on the third trick, and forced out the right bower with a trump lead, my partner lets call him Dimwit coughed up the nine of hearts: He had one.
If he had simply led trump to the partner who called it, we would have taken three tricks easily (and maybe four).
One of Harvey Lapps Ten Commandments of Euchre is: V. Thou shalt leadeth trump to thine partners order. Is that so difficult to understand? To heed? To obey? Where is the pleasure in the sin?
Like, Dimwit thought I had ordered thin and thought we could make the point only by cross-ruffing? I dont order thin in third chair, as a rule; and neither does any other good player. I was trusting my partner to play correctly, and he should have trusted his. Thats part of the deal in good euchre play, and particularly with good players.
So, maybe he thought I was donating when I ordered the right bower to an opponent? He still should lead trump. In the first place, I dont donate in third chair, as a rule; and neither does any other good player. In the second place, I rarely donate early in the game; and neither does any other good player. And, finally, even if I had donated, its unlikely that Dimwits king off color is going to save a losing situation. Go for the score. Trust your partner.
Dimwits the newest entry on our Stone idiots page. Like, where did he get his 2330 rating at K-Mart?
Lead trump, damn it!
Natty Bumppo, author,
An ace off suit and off color is not always the best initial lead on defense, even if it comes
from a singleton or doubleton. This hand
illustrates the point:
Blauer, the dealers partner and your left-hand opponent, has called clubs trump on second round (its a little unconventional; the nine of spades was turned down), and you hold ace and king of diamonds, queen of hearts, and queen and ten of spades. Your inclination is to lead the ace of diamonds.
But look what happens if you do:
Blauer trumps it with his king of clubs (everyone else follows suit including Blauers partner, with the jack of diamonds). Blauer then leads the king of spades (the suit his partner turned down). Your partner covers it with the ace; but Blauers partner, Stony, trumps it with the ten of clubs (you have to follow suit, of course). Stony then leads the queen of diamonds (Hey, that suit worked before!); you lay down your king; Blauer takes it with the left bower; and Blauers partner takes the rest of the tricks with the right bower and ace of trump, for two points.
OK, lets try something else. Lead your queen of spades or queen of hearts and see what happens.
If spades, Blauer has to lay down the king and your partner plays the ace; if hearts, your queen is still good after three plays. But Stony still takes the trick, in either event, with the ten of clubs.
Not aware that diamonds are a girls best friend, Stony then leads the right bower
trump, to the partner who called it. He takes
the trick, of course, including his partners king of trump and your partners only
trump, the queen (you sluff the ten of spades); and now he leads the jack of diamonds.
You play your ace; Blauer cuts it with the left bower, and your partner follows suit with
the nine. Blauer then leads the ten of hearts;
your partner covers with the king; and Stony has to use his teams last trump, the ace,
to take the trick (as you follow with your queen of spades or queen of hearts, depending
on what you have left after the opening lead).
Now all Stony has left is the queen of diamonds, and guess who gets to claim it with his
king? Thats right, you do; and Blauer &
Co. score only one point.
This must be what Gary Martin means by leading a nine to save an ace, a suggestion he makes at pages 24-27 of his book, Euchre: How to Play and Win (Martin, Fort Wayne, 1982). Martins book is one of the best published on euchre in the last century. He says, at page 25, A lone ace is better kept until after a trump is led i.e., until a number of trump have bit the dust. He does not fully explain, but this hand may fill in a blank.
It is worth noting here also that the only thing that keeps Blauers team from marching is leading trump. So, thats not always the best policy for the team that made trump, either. And it is one of those rare instances in which leading trump on defense would stop the march even though there is no quickly apparent reason to lead trump. But, you didnt have any.
You can play with this hand in Gerry Blues Euchre Laboratory (while youre at it, lead the queen of hearts and see what happens). If you want to try it with a singleton ace instead of a doubleton, just swap Wests king of diamonds (yours) for Easts jack of hearts (your partners). Same thing.
Natty Bumppo, author,
|The marginal hand January 31, 2003
Here is an example of what is simply a well played marginal hand.
The dealer picked up a club and held right, queen and nine of trump and king and ten of hearts.
He did not know it, but the player on his right held a lone ace of trump; and the opponent
on his left held the left bower guarded and both red aces.
The hand set up for you on Gerry Blues Euchre Laboratory.
The left-hand opponent took the opening trick leading the ace of hearts, as everyone else followed suit. Here was the dealers first good play: He threw not his ten of hearts, but his king. His partner had played the queen; and his right-hand opponent, the jack. At that point, the ten was as good as the king. The dealer false carded the king to discourage a second heart lead, on which his partner could be overtrumped (if he had trump at all).
But the opponent on the left was out of hearts anyway; and he led his ace of diamonds, which the dealer took with his nine of clubs (trump). Now, what to lead? Either the right bower or the ten of hearts would draw trump; and, the ten might draw trump from an opponent only. But the right bower would draw from everyone, and thats what the dealer led. It made the left bower good on his left, but it stripped the right-hand opponent of his lone ace of trump.
Then the dealer led the ten of hearts. The opponent on his left either had to go up with his left bower or play second hand low again, hoping his partner (and not the dealer) had the queen of clubs, the only trump not yet shown. Because the ten of hearts was good and the dealer did have the queen of clubs, the dealer made his point either way.
Go to the lab and play it different ways. Youll wind up OK playing the ten of hearts instead of the king on the first trick, but if you lead anything but the right bower and ten of hearts, in that order, on third and fourth tricks, youll find trouble.
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Pajonsero January 17,
A player we know as Tim, and known as Pajonsero on the Yahoo! tables, has taken issue with going alone, playing to 10 points, and just about everything else: He wrote in a post to the Yahoo! group Euchre Science:
|I do not think loners should be a part of a game of euchre|
up to 10 points. If there are going to be loners in the game
of euchre, I think the game should go up to 15 or possibly
even 20 points.
For that matter, I think that the game of euchre without
|Tim suggests that there is too much luck in the game, pointing out that a good evenly dealt game of euchre often comes down to a single mistake e.g., you should have gotten 2 points but only got 1. He points out that a lone march is worth 40 per cent of the points required to win a game of euchre. He wrote:|
|If I am going to play a game of skill, and be good at a|
game of skill, I want to win because of my skill. . . .
Not because of better cards.
That is why I advocate a longer game of euchre, and
The moral of the story: The longer
the game or series,
Tim has a point: We believe that the basket
in the game of basketball should be raised to 15 feet.
When it was established at 10 feet more than a century ago, we didnt have corn flakes,
Wheaties, Zulus and 7-feet-tall Chinamen.
Height did not matter quite so much when you had to shoot up at the basket instead
Euchre used to be played with a 32-card deck (or at least a 28-card deck) instead of the 24-card deck usually used today, and most card game encyclopedias still call for a 32-card deck. And the winning score used to be (and still is specified in encyclopedias) as little as 5 or 7 points. And the Bennie a joker as third and best bower was an option (and still is in England and the encyclopedias). Talk about luck. Reducing the deck to 24 cards, if it did nothing else, put more power in every hand, on average.
Well, Tim maybe you dont really like euchre. Maybe you should play more spades or bridge.
In a famous interview at the Elks Club in Rushville, Indiana, half a century ago, the best poker player in town, a guy named Jerry, was asked whether luck or skill was more important in a game of cards. Give me the cards, he said without hesitation, and Ill use shit for brains.
We here at Borf Books sorta like the game the way it is, Tim, but just because the United States Playing Card Companys invented game 500, based on euchre, did not really take off a century ago does not mean that you cannot invent a good new game based on euchre. Call it pajonsero!
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Wait for next January 3, 2003
Bidhogg (an aptly named player if ever there was one) held both black bowers and nothing else (well, nine of diamonds and king and ten of hearts); and, on the first play of the game, sitting to the left of the dealer, ordered up the queen of clubs. Fortunately, his partner held the ace of hearts.
There was absolutely no reason to order. Bidhoggs
next (spades) would have been every bit as good if the queen of clubs had been
turned down (better, actually, since thats one fewer trump for the dealer.
And, sitting to the left of the dealer, Bidhogg had first shot to call if the clubs had been
turned down. Partners ace of hearts
saves that scenario also).
Moreover, by ordering up, Bidhogg forfeited an opportunity to euchre the opponents (who, for all he knew, had good enough clubs to call and, for that matter, maybe even good enough to euchre him when he ordered like, all five other trump in one hand, or four trump to the ace with an ace kicker, etc., etc.).
So, big deal, you say; Bidhogg scored a point? The point is, he could have done the same or better with next; and he blew a chance to euchre the opponents for two points.
This order earned Bighogg the new top spot on Borf Books list of Stone Idiots. He had a 1949 rating on Yahoo!
For the record, the dealer, Johndoe1999ca, held (after the order) the queen and nine of clubs (trump), the jack and ace of diamonds, and the ten of spades. The dealers partner, Deeziedee, held ace of clubs, nine of hearts, king of spades, and king and ten of diamonds; and Bidhoggs partner, Fanubartek, held, in addition to the ace of hearts, the jack of hearts, the king of clubs, the queen of spades and the queen of diamonds. Fanubartek had dropped his jack of hearts on the second trump lead, to signal his partner (but Biddhoggs lead of the ten of hearts at third trick was probably correct in any event). After taking the third trick with the ace of hearts, Fanubartek led back the queen of spades; and it was good for the fourth trick. He then led his queen of diamonds, and it fell to Johndoes ace. No matter; there was no way to squeeze five tricks out.
Go look at the hand and play with it on Gerry Blues Euchre Laboratory. Its set up the way it was called; but you can change the trump to spades and give the dealer the ace of spades in place of the queen of clubs or change anything else you want and see what happens.
Natty Bumppo, author,
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