1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Euchre

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EUCHRE, a game of cards. The name is supposed by some to be a corruption of écarté, to which game it bears some resemblance; others connect it with the Ger. Juchs or Jux, a joke, owing to the presence in the pack, or “deck,” of a special card called “the joker”; but neither derivation is quite satisfactory. The “deck” consists of 32 cards, all cards between the seven and ace being rejected from an ordinary pack. Sometimes the sevens and eights are rejected as well. The “joker” is the best card, i.e. the highest trump. Second in value is the “right bower” (from Dutch boer, farmer, the name of the knave), or knave of trumps; third is the “left bower,” the knave of the other suit of the same colour as the right bower, also a trump: then follow ace, king, queen, &c., in order. Thus if spades are trumps the order is (1) the joker, (2) knave of spades, (3) knave of clubs, (4) ace of spades, &c. The joker, however, is not always used. When it is, the game is called “railroad” euchre. In suits not trumps the cards rank as at whist. Euchre can be played by two, three or four persons. In the cut for deal, the highest card deals, the knave being the highest and the ace the next best card. The dealer gives five cards to each person, two each and then three each, or vice versa: when all have received their cards the next card in the pack is turned up for trumps.

Two-handed Euchre.—If the non-dealer, who looks at his cards first, is satisfied, he says "I order it up," i.e. he elects to play with his hand as it stands and with the trump suit as turned up. The dealer then rejects one card, which is put face downwards at the bottom of the pack, and takes the trump card into his hand. If, however, the non-dealer is not satisfied with his original hand, he says "I pass," on which the dealer can either "adopt," or "take it up," the suit turned up, and proceed as before, or he can pass, turning down the trump card to show that he passes. If both players pass, the non-dealer can make any other suit trumps, by saying "I make it spades," for example, or he can pass again, when the dealer can either make another suit trumps or pass. If both players pass, the hand is at an end. If the trump card is black and either player makes the other black suit trumps, he "makes it next"; if he makes a red suit trumps he "crosses the suit"; the same applies to trumps in a red suit, mutatis mutandis. The non-dealer leads; the dealer must follow suit if he can, but he need not win the trick, nor need he trump if unable to follow suit. The left bower counts as a trump, and a trump must be played to it if led. The game is five up. If the player who orders up or adopts makes five tricks (a "march") he scores two points; if four or three tricks, one point; if he makes less than three tricks, he is "euchred" and the other player scores two. A rubber consists of three games, each game counting one, unless the loser has failed to score at all, when the winner counts two for that game. This is called a "lurch." When a player wins three tricks, he is said to win the "point." The rubber points are two, as at whist. All three games are played out, even if one player win the first two. It is sometimes agreed that if a score "laps," i.e. if the winner makes more than five points in a game, the surplus may be carried on to the next game. The leader should be cautious about ordering up, since the dealer will probably hold one trump in addition to the one he takes in. If the point is certain, the leader should pass, in case the dealer should take up the trump. If the dealer "turns it down," it is not wise to "make it," unless the odds on getting the point against one trump are two to one. With good cards in two suits, it is best to make it "next," as the dealer is not likely to have a bower in that suit. The dealer, if he adopts, should discard a singleton, unless it is an ace. If the dealer's score is three, only a very strong hand justifies one in "ordering up." It is generally wise in play to discard a singleton and not to unguard another suit. With one's adversary at four, the trump should be adopted even on a light hand.

Three-handed (cut-throat) Euchre.—In this form of the game the option of playing or passing goes round in rotation, beginning with the player on the dealer's left. The player who orders up, takes up, or makes, plays against the other two; if he is euchred his adversaries score two each; by other laws he is set back two points, and should his score be at love, he has then to make seven points. The procedure is the same as in two-handed euchre.

Four-handed Euchre.—The game is played with partners, cutting and sitting; and the deal passing, as at whist. If the first player passes, the second may say "I assist," which is the same as "ordering up," or he may pass. If the first player has ordered up, his partner may say "I take it from you," which means that he will play alone against the two adversaries, the first player's cards being put face downwards on the table, and not being used in that hand. Any player can similarly play "a lone hand," his partner taking no part in the play. Even if the first hand plays alone, the third may take it from him. Similarly the dealer may take it from the second hand, but the second hand cannot take it from the dealer. If all four players pass, the first player can pass, make it, or play alone, naming the suit he makes. The third hand can "take it" from the first, or play alone in the suit made by the first, the dealer having a similar right over his own partner. If all four pass again, the hand is at an end and the deal passes. The game is five up, points being reckoned as before. If a lone player makes five tricks his side scores four: if three tricks, one: if he fails to make three tricks the opponents score four. It is not wise for the first hand to order up or cross the suit unless very strong. It is good policy to lead trumps through a hand that assists, bad policy to do so when the leader adopts. Trumps should be led to a partner who has ordered up or made it. It is sometimes considered wise for the first hand to "keep the bridge," i.e. order up with a bad hand, to prevent the other side from playing alone, if their score is only one or two and the leader's is four. This right is lost if a player reminds his partner, after the trump card has been turned, that they are at the point of bridge. If the trump under these circumstances is not ordered up, the dealer should turn down, unless very strong. The second hand should not assist unless really strong, except when at the point of four-all or four-love. When led through, it is generally wise, ceteris paribus, to head the trick. The dealer should always adopt with two trumps in hand, or with one trump if a bower is turned up. At four-all and four-love he should adopt on a weaker hand. Also, being fourth player, he can make it on a weaker hand than other players. If the dealer's partner assists, the dealer should lead him a trump at the first opportunity; it is also a good opportunity for the dealer to play alone if moderately strong. If a player who generally keeps the bridge passes, his partner should rarely play alone.

Extracts from Rules.—If the dealer give too many or too few cards to any player, or exposes two cards in turning up, it is a misdeal and the deal passes. If there is a faced card in the pack, or the dealer exposes a card, he deals again. If any one play with the wrong number of cards, or the dealer plays without discarding, trumps being ordered up, his side forfeits two points (a lone hand four points) and cannot score during that hand. The revoke penalty is three points for each revoke (five in the case of a lone hand), and no score can be made that hand; a card may be taken back, before the trick is quitted, to save a revoke, but it is an exposed card. If a lone player expose a card, no penalty; if he lead out of turn, the card led may be called. If an adversary of a lone player plays out of turn to his lead, all the cards of both adversaries can be called, and are exposed on the table.

Bid Euchre.—This game resembles "Napoleon" (q.v.). It is played with a euchre deck, each player receiving five cards, the others being left face-downwards. Each player "bids," i.e. declares and makes a certain number of tricks, the highest bidder leading and his first card being a trump. When six play, the player who bids highest claims as his partner the player who has the best card of the trump suit, not in the bidder's hand: if it is among the undealt cards, which is ascertained by the fact that no one else holds it, he calls for the next best and so on. The partners then play against the other four.