Hoyle's Games Modernized/Euchre
Euchre may be played either as a two-, three- or four-handed game, the latter being the most popular form. For greater facility of explanation, however, we will commence with the two-handed game.
Euchre is played with the "piquet" pack of thirty-two cards, consisting of the ace, king, queen, knave, ten, nine, eight and seven of each suit. The above is their rank in play, subject to the qualification that the knave of the trump suit for the time being is known as the "Right Bower," and takes temporary precedence of all other cards. The knave of the opposite suit of same colour (e.g. of diamonds when hearts, or of spades when clubs are trumps) is known as the "Left Bower," and ranks next in value. The Left Bower is considered for the time being to belong to the trump suit, so that if this card is led, the trump suit, and not its own, must be played to it.
The players having cut for deal, five cards are dealt (by twos and then threes, or vice versâ, at the pleasure of the dealer) to each player. The eleventh card is turned up by way of trump. If the non-dealer thinks his hand good enough, with the suit of the turn-up card as trumps, to make three tricks, he says, referring to that card, "I order it up." This fixes that suit as trumps. The dealer discards the worst card of his own hand, placing it face downwards under the pack, and the turn-up card is thenceforth considered to form part of his hand. He does not, however, actually take it into his hand until the first trick has been played.
If the non-dealer does not consider his hand good for three tricks, or is of opinion that he would be likely to gain by a change of the trump suit, he says, "I pass," and the dealer examines his own cards from the same point of view. If he thinks his hand is good enough with the subsisting trump suit to make three tricks, he says, "I take it up," and proceeds to place, as before, one card under the pack. If he does not think his hand safe for three, he says, "I turn it down," and places the turn-up card below the rest of the pack. This annuls the trump suit, and the non-dealer has now the option of saying what suit shall be trumps. He considers what will best suit his hand, and says, "Make it hearts" (or otherwise, as the case may be), accordingly.
If he decides to "make it" of the same colour as the previous turn-up card (e.g. spades in place of clubs, or hearts in place of diamonds), he is said to "make it next." If otherwise, to "cross the suit."
If, even with the privilege of making the trump what he pleases, he doubts his ability to win three tricks, he again "passes," and the dealer "makes it" what best suits him. If he too has such a bad hand that he thinks it safer to "pass" again, the cards are thrown up, and the deal passes.
The trump suit having been "made" by the one or the other player, the non-dealer leads a card, and the dealer plays to it, the two cards constituting a "trick." The second player must follow suit if he can, subject to the qualification that (as already stated) if the Left Bower be led, a trump must be played to it. The higher card wins, trumps overriding plain suits; and the winner of the trick leads to the next.
The player who has "ordered up," "taken up" (save in obedience to order), or "made" the trump, thereby tacitly undertakes to win at least three tricks. If he makes less than this number, he is "euchred," and his opponent scores "two." If he makes three tricks he wins "the point," and scores one. Four tricks are no better than three, but if he make all five he wins a "march," which scores two. The non-challenging player is not under any obligation to win, but scores if his adversary fail to do so.
Five points constitute "Game."
Where four players take part, two play in partnership against the other two, partners facing each other, as at Whist. Five cards having been dealt to each, and the twenty-first turned up by way of trump, the elder hand (i.e. the player to the left of the dealer) declares whether he will "order up" the trump card or "pass." In the latter event, the option passes to the dealer's partner; but he expresses it in a somewhat different manner, inasmuch as he is dealing with a friend instead of an enemy. If he thinks his hand good for two or more tricks he says, "I assist." This is considered a call to his partner (the dealer) to take up the trump, which he does accordingly, he himself having no choice in the matter. If the second player passes, the option rests with the third player, who "orders it up" or passes, as his hand may warrant. In the latter case the dealer decides for himself whether to take it up or turn it down. If the trump has either been ordered up or taken up voluntarily by the dealer, the play proceeds as in the two-handed game. If, on the other hand, the dealer "turns it down," the players, beginning with the elder hand, are invited in succession to "make it" what they please; the challenging party in either case being bound, in conjunction with his partner, to make three tricks, under penalty of being euchred.
A player with an unusually strong hand may elect to "go alone." In such case his partner turns his cards face downward on the table, and leaves the "lone hand," as he is termed, to play the game singly against the two opponents.
If a player "going alone" is lucky enough to win all five tricks, he scores four (instead of three) for the "march"; but if he make three or four tricks only, he scores one for the point in the ordinary manner.
Here each plays for his own hand. The value of the march and point are the same as in the two-handed or four-handed game, but if the challenging player is euchred, each of his adversaries scores two points. If this should carry them both "out," the elder hand is the winner. To avoid this, which is hardly a satisfactory termination for the younger hand, another method of scoring is sometimes adopted, the points for the euchre being deducted from the score of the euchred player, who is "set back" accordingly. Should he have made no points towards game, he is considered to owe the points for the euchre; so that a player, standing at love when euchred, has seven points to make before he can win.
Marking the Score.
The method of scoring at Euchre is somewhat peculiar. The score is usually kept by means of spare playing cards, a three and a four (of any suit) being used by each side. The "three" face upwards, with the "four" turned down upon it, indicates one (however many pips may chance to be exposed). The "four" face upwards, with the "three" turned down upon it, indicates two. The face of the "three" being uppermost counts three; and the face of the "four" being uppermost counts four.
Another method of keeping the score is by means of a cross × chalked at the outset of the game on the table beside each player. "One" is scored by rubbing out the centre of the cross, leaving the four arms still standing, and these in turn are rubbed out, one for each point which the player becomes entitled to score.
The hints for play which follow are borrowed, with slight modification, from the American Hoyle. They refer more especially to the four-handed game.
HINTS FOR PLAY.
Passing and Ordering Up.
No prudent player will order up the trump unless his hand is sufficiently strong to render his chances of success beyond reasonable doubt. There are cases, however, when there would be no imprudence in ordering up upon a light hand. For instance, supposing the game to stand four and four, and the elder or third hand to hold an ordinarily good show of cards in the trump suit as turned up, with nothing better in any other suit, then it would be proper to order up, for, should the trump be turned down, your chance of success would be lost. If you are euchred, it does but give the game to those who would win it anyhow in some other suit.
If the player is elder hand, and a suit should be turned in which he receives both bowers and another large trump, and he has also two cards of the suit corresponding in colour, it is his best policy to pass; for the obvious reason that if the dealer's partner should assist, he would be enabled to euchre the opposing side, and, if the trump were turned down, his hand would be just as good in the next suit. Having in such case the first opportunity of making the trump, he could "go alone," with every probability of making the hand and scoring four.
Elder hand holding the Right Bower, ace or king, and another small trump and a card of the same colour as the trump suit, should pass; for if his adversaries adopt the trump, he will, in all probability euchre them; and if they reject it, he can make the trump next in suit, and the chances of scoring the point are in his favour.
As a general rule, the elder hand should not order up the trump unless he has good commanding cards, say Right Bower, king and ten of trumps, with an ace of a different suit, or Left Bower, king and two small trumps. The player at the right of the dealer should hold a very strong hand to order up the trump, because his partner has evinced weakness by passing; and if the opposing side turn down the trump, his partner will have the advantage of first call to make a new trump.
Two court cards usually form a good "assisting" hand, but where the game is very close it is advisable to assist, even upon a lighter hand. If, for instance, the game stands four and four, the first hand will naturally order up if the suit turned is the best in his hand. The fact of his having passed is, therefore, an evidence of weakness.
When, as dealer, and assisted by your partner, you hold a card next in denomination to the card turned up (whether higher or lower), play it as opportunity offers. If, for instance, you turn up the ace, and hold either the Left Bower or king, when a chance occurs play the Bower or king, and thus inform your partner that you have the ace remaining. The same policy should be adopted when your partner assists and you have a sequence of three trumps, the trump card being the smallest of the three. In such a situation, play the highest card of the sequence; this will inform your partner that you hold the remainder of the sequence, and enable him to shape his play accordingly.
As a general rule, always assist when you can win two tricks.
Taking up the Trump.
What constitutes sufficient strength to take up the trump is a matter of considerable importance to the player. The object being to make a point, there must, of course, be a reasonable probability of securing three tricks, but the decision should, to a certain extent, depend upon the position of the game. If the dealer should be three or four towards game, while the opponents are one or two, the trump might be turned down, and the chances of winning the game still be not materially reduced; but if the position should be reversed the dealer would be warranted in attempting the hazard upon a light hand, as the prospects of defeat would be no greater than by adopting the opposite alternative. It is generally accepted as sound that three trumps, backed by an ace of another suit, are sufficient to attempt a point. If the game stands four all, it is better to take up the trump on a small hand than to leave it for the adversaries to make. With the game three all, it is necessary to be very cautious in adopting the trump with a weak hand, because a euchre puts the opponents out.
Making the Trump.
Should the dealer turn the trump down, the eldest hand has the privilege of making it what he pleases, and the rule to be generally followed is, if possible, to make it next in suit, or the same colour as the trump turned. The reason for this is evident. If the trump turned should be a diamond, and the dealer refuse to take it up, it is a fair inference that neither of the bowers is in the hands of your opponents; for if the dealer's partner had held one of them, he would in all probability have assisted; and the fact of the dealer turning down the trump also raises the presumption that he had neither of them. Then, in the absence of either bower, an otherwise weak hand could make the point in the same colour. For reverse reasons, the partner of the dealer would "cross the suit," and make it clubs or spades; for, his partner having evidenced weakness in the red suits, by turning a red card down, it would be but fair to presume that his strength was in the black suits.
Be careful how you make the trump when your adversaries have scored three points, and, as a general rule, do not make or order up a trump unless you are elder hand or the dealer's partner.
If one side has scored four, and the other side only one, such position is known as the "bridge," and the following rule should be observed:
To make the theory perfectly plain, we will suppose A and B to be playing against C and D, the former having scored four, and the latter but one. C having dealt, B looks at his hand, and finds he has but one or two small trumps; in other words, a light hand. At this stage of the game, it would be his policy to order up the trump, and submit to being euchred, in order to remove the possibility of C or D playing alone; for if they should by good fortune happen to succeed, the score of four would give them the game. If B were to order up the trump, the most that could be done by the adversaries would be to get the euchre, and, that giving but a score of two, the new deal, with its percentage, would in all probability give A and B enough to make their remaining point and go out. If, however, B has enough to prevent a lone hand, he should pass, and await the result. The Right Bower, or the Left Bower guarded, is sufficient to block a lone hand.
The elder hand is the only one who should order up at the bridge, for if he passes, his partner may rest assured that he holds cards sufficient to prevent the adversaries making a lone hand. If, however, the elder hand passes, and his partner is tolerably strong in trumps, the latter may then order up the trump to make a point and go out; for, by the eldest hand passing, his partner is informed that he holds one or more commanding trumps, and may therefore safely play for the point and game.
The elder hand should always order up at the bridge when not sure of a trick; the weaker his hand, the greater the necessity for doing so.
If your partner announce that he will play alone, you cannot supersede him and play alone yourself, but must place your cards upon the table face downwards, no matter how strong your hand may be. In order to avail yourself of the privilege of playing alone, it is necessary to declare your intention of so doing distinctly, and in plain terms thus, "I play alone"; if you fail to do this, and the adverse side makes a lead, you forfeit all claim to the privilege. You must also make the announcement in good time; if you neglect to do so, and the adverse side make a lead, or if you yourself lead before declaring your intention of playing alone, you lose the right, and your opponents may compel you to play with your partner.
In playing a lone hand, it is a great advantage to have the lead. The next best thing is to have the last play on the first trick. The elder hand or the dealer may, therefore, venture to play alone on a weaker hand than either of the other players.
When your opponent is playing alone, and trumps a suit led by yourself or your partner, take every opportunity to throw away cards of that suit upon his subsequent leads.
When, opposing a lone hand, you find that your partner throws away high cards of any particular suit, you may be sure that he holds high cards in some other suit; you should, therefore, retain to the last your highest card of the suit he throws in preference to any other card, short of an ace.
When the dealer takes up the trumps before the play begins, it is his duty to discard or reject a card from his hand in lieu of the one taken up. We will suppose that the ten of hearts has been turned up, and the dealer holds the king and Right Bower, with the ace and nine of clubs, and king of diamonds. The proper card to reject would be the king of diamonds. There would be no absolute certainty of its taking a trick, for the ace might be held by the opponents; whereas, retaining the ace and nine of clubs, the whole suit of clubs might be exhausted by the ace, and then the nine might be good. If the trump were one of the red suits, and the dealer held three trumps, seven of spades and seven of hearts, it would be better for him to discard the spade than the heart; for, as the dealer's strength is in the red suit, the probabilities are that the other side will be correspondingly weak, and the heart would therefore be better than the spade.
Where you have two of one suit and one of another to discard from, always discard the suit in which you have one only, for then you may have an opportunity to trump.
Where the dealer has been assisted, it is a common practice to lead through the assisting hand, and frequently results favourably; for in the event of the dealer having but the one trump turned, a single lead of trumps exhausts his strength, and places him at the mercy of a strong plain suit. It is not, however, always advisable to lead a trump; for, if the elder hand hold a tenace, his duty is to manœuvre so as to secure two tricks; but this is an exceptional case. The proper lead must be determined by the quality of the hand, and the purpose to be accomplished. The elder hand, holding two aces and a king, with two small trumps, would, of course, lead trump through the assisting hand; for the only hope of securing a euchre would be dependent upon the success of the non-trump suits, and they can only be made available after trumps have been exhausted.
Where the dealer takes up the trump voluntarily, the elder hand is, of course, upon the defensive, and to lead a trump under such circumstances would be disastrous.
Should your partner have turned up the Right Bower, lead a small trump as soon as you can; by so doing you will be sure to weaken your adversary's hand.
When your partner makes the trump, or orders it up, lead him the best trump you hold.
When you hold the commanding cards, they should be led to make the "march"; but if you are only strong enough to secure your point, cards of other suits should be used.
When opposed to a lone hand, always lead the best card you have of another suit, so that the possibility of your partner's retaining a card of the same suit with yourself may be averted. If the card you lead is of an opposite colour from the trump, so much the better; for if a red card should be trump, and an opponent plays alone, the chances are against his holding five red cards. Besides, if the lone player did hold five red cards, it would, in like proportion, reduce the probability of your partner having one of the same suit, and give him an opportunity to weaken the opposing player by trumping.
The exception to the above rule is when you hold two or three cards of a suit, including ace and king, and two small cards in other suits; in this case your best play would be to lead one of the latter, and save your strong suit, for your partner may hold commanding cards in your weak suits, and you thus give him a chance to make a trick with them, and if this does not occur, you have your own strong suit as a reserve, and may secure a trick with it.
When playing to make a lone hand, always lead your commanding trump cards first, reserving your small trumps and other suit for the closing leads. When you have exhausted your commanding trumps, having secured two tricks, and retaining in your hand a small trump and two cards of another suit, lead the highest of the non-trump suit to make the third trick, then your trump. For instance, suppose that hearts are trumps, and you hold the Right and Left Bowers and ten of trumps, and ace and nine of spades; lead your bowers, then the ace of spades, following with the ten of trumps and nine of spades. The reason for playing thus is obvious. You may not exhaust your adversaries' trumps by the first two leads, and if either of them chanced to retain a trump-card superior to your ten, by leading the latter you would, in all probability, be euchred on a lone hand.
Holding three small trumps and good plain cards, and desiring to euchre your opponents, lead a trump, for when trumps are exhausted you may possibly make your commanding plain suit cards.
When you make the trump next in suit, always lead a trump, unless you hold the tenace of Right Bower and ace, and even then it would be good policy to lead the bower, if you hold strong plain-suit cards.
When you hold two trumps, two plain cards of the same suit, and a single plain card of another suit, lead one of the two plain cards, for you may win a trick by trumping the suit of which you hold none, and then, by leading your second plain card, you may force your opponents to trump, and thus weaken them. With such a hand it would not be good play to lead the single plain card, for you might have the good fortune to throw it away on your partner's trick, and ruff the same suit when led by your opponents.
When your partner has made or adopted the trump, it is bad play to win the lead, unless you possess a hand sufficiently strong to play for a march. If your partner assist you, and has played a trump, and you have won a trick and the lead, do not lead him a trump unless you hold commanding cards, and are pretty certain of making the odd trick or a march, for your partner may have assisted on two trumps only, in which case such lead would draw his remaining trump, and, in all probability, prove fatal to his plans.
Having lost the first two tricks and secured the third, if you hold a trump and a plain card, play the former, for, in this position of the game, it is your only chance to make or save a euchre.
There are only two exceptions to this rule, viz. when you have assisted your partner, or when he has adopted the trump and still retains the trump card in his hand. In the former instance you should lead the plain card, trusting to your partner to trump it; in the latter case you should also lead the plain card, unless your trump is superior to your partner's, and your plain card is an ace or a king, in which case you should play a trump, and trust to the plain card to win the fifth trick.
The reason for this play is manifest. If your opponents hold a better trump than you do, it is impossible to prevent their winning the odd trick, and, therefore, the euchre or point; but if they hold a smaller trump, your lead exhausts it, and you may win the last trick with your plain card.
This position frequently occurs in the game, and we recommend it to the attention of the novice.
Never lose sight of the state of the game. When the score is four all, adopt or make a trump upon a weak hand.
When the game stands three to three, hesitate before you adopt or make a trump upon a weak hand, for a euchre will put your adversaries out.
When you are one and your opponents have scored four, you may risk trying to make it alone upon a weaker hand than if the score were more favourable to you.
When you are elder hand, and the score stands four for you, and one for your opponents, do not fail to order up the trump, to prevent either of them from going alone. Of course, you need not do this if you hold the Right Bower, or the Left Bower guarded.
When playing second, do not ruff a small card the first time round, but leave it to your partner. Throw away any single card lower than an ace, so that you may afterwards ruff the suit you throw away.
When your partner assists, and you hold a card next higher than the turn-up card, ruff with it when an opportunity occurs.
When third player, ruff with high or medium trumps, so as to force the high trumps of the dealer.
When your partner leads the ace of a plain suit, and you have none, do not trump it; but if you have a single card, throw it away upon it.
When second hand, if compelled to follow suit, head the trick if possible.
When you cannot follow suit or trump, throw away your weakest card.
This is a version of the game suitable for mixed gatherings. The party play in fours, each pair of partners consisting of a lady and a gentleman. The first table is known as the "head table," and the last as the "booby" table, those between being "second," "third," and so on. The head table is furnished with a bell, and the host provides a supply of cardboard or paper stars in three colours, say gold, red, and green.
Two packs of cards of different patterns are taken, and a sequence from ace upwards, equal to the number of tables, is selected from the club and spade suits of each. These are shuffled, face downwards. The ladies draw from the one pack, the gentlemen from the other. The lady and gentleman whose cards correspond play together, and the number of pips gives the table at which they are to play.
The bell being struck, play begins, and continues till one pair of partners at the head table has made five points, when the bell is again sounded. All play then ceases, but the scores already made stand, and decide the result of the games.
The winners at the head table each receive a gold star, and keep their seats for the next game. The losers are transferred to the booby table, and the winners at the second table take their places; being in turn replaced by the winners at the third table, and so on. The losers at all but the head table keep their places, but exchange partners with the newcomers at the table. The winners at the inferior tables receive each a red star, and the losers at the booby table a green star.
At the close of play the lady and gentleman having the largest number of stars of a given class each receive a "prize." In the event of a tie for a gold star prize, the number of red stars held by each player decides. If this again is a tie, the competitor with the fewest green stars is the winner.
In the case of ties in points at any table when the bell is sounded, the holders of the most tricks toward the next hand are the winners.
- 21 ^ De la Rue & Co.
- 22 ^ The elder hand may "propose," i.e. ask for cards, as often as he pleases. If the dealer is not content with his own hand, he will give cards, but after the first proposal, it is entirely at his own option whether or not to do so.
- 23 ^ For some further rules, defining the position and obligations of bystanders betting on the game, see the work of "Cavendish" referred to at p. 53.
- 24 ^ A still higher trump is sometimes by agreement introduced in the shape of a blank card, backed like the rest of the pack which in this case consists of thirty-three cards. This is known as the "Joker," or "Best Bower," and takes precedence even of Right Bower. If the "Joker" chance to be turned up, the card next in order decides the trump suit.
- 25 ^ Under the more modern practice the player having the later call can play alone in place of his partner. Only a very strong hand, however, would justify his doing so.
- 26 ^ There is no English Code of Laws for Euchre. The accepted American Code was compiled in 1888 for the Somerset Club, Boston, Massachusetts, by Messrs. H. C. Leeds and James Dwight. It will be found reprinted at length, by their permission, in the Book of Card and Table Games.