from the publisher 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.|
|Desperation loner in next
October 19, 2007
Our correspondent Todd Martin wrote from London, Ohio:
|Last Thursday night in live league play I had three Ohio loners
[i.e., euchred] in six games.
I broke my own record!
But Im fine with that. As you and Fred Benjamin have stated in your books, when behind considerably, go alone! In one game earlier this week we were down 7-0, then 7-4, then 8-4, then 9-4, then 9-5, and then we tied it up at 9-9. What got us to 4 and 9 were two of my extremely thin, and I mean extremely thin, loners in next. On one of them the ace of hearts was turned down, and I marched alone with the jack and ace of diamonds for trump, with king and queen of clubs and king of hearts outside. On the other the jack of spades was turned down, and I went alone on king-queen-ten of clubs with king of hearts and queen of spades outside. If we had not been behind a bunch, I would not have made such calls. But, no balls, no babies!
I know you have a section in The Columbus Book of Euchre on going alone and have written internet columns on next, but do you have anything on the next loner?
Interesting subject. I did write a
column in which the player in first chair marched on a next loner without
either bower (four diamonds and the king of spades); and I said in that column,
Try it sometime; you might like it.
The column was titled Next: Ya gotta
believe! (April 1, 2005).
Another recommended next loner (without bowers ace and king of
diamonds in trump, with ace of hearts, ace of clubs and king of spades outside) is
cited in the same column. Desperation
loners in next are not presented in that column as a general recommendation,
Just as close in point as recommendations, however, might be my written warnings to the dealer about the possibility of facing a loner in next by his left-hand opponent. For example, I wrote in the next-to-last paragraph of Double Suited, Part 2 (July 5, 2002) that if as dealer you dont discard a jack of hearts to pick up a club for ace-king-nine of clubs and king-nine of diamonds, you are a sitting duck in next and likely for a loner.
And in Double Suited, Part 1 (June 28, 2002), we stop 9 opponent loners in 100 hands by picking up a ten of clubs for queen-ten of clubs and ace-king-ten of diamonds. It is not reported how many of those stopped loners were in next; but its implicit, since the dealers hand is void in next.
The Columbus Book of Euchre says, If you are behind 9-1 and desperately need a lone sweep to get back in the game, there is no limit to what might work. That pretty much says it all, as far as Im concerned; and Im not convinced that the suit or the position is particularly relevant. If you are in first chair and next is as good as youve got, well, sure. Next works best there, for a loner when you are in dire straits, for all the other reasons it works: If you dont have a certain bower in next, its more likely to be in your partners hand or buried than in an opponents hand; and what cannot hurt you can help you.
But the prescription for a desperation loner applies to green also, and to every player at the table.
Natty Bumppo, author,
|You have a partner July 6, 2007
To the right of the dealer I held the jack, king and ten of diamonds, the king of hearts, and the king of clubs. The dealer turned down the ace of hearts. (That might not have been too wise. Had she picked it up and thrown away her queen of spades, she would have held ace-queen of hearts with ace of clubs and ace-queen of diamonds outside. But what she did or didnt do is not the subject of this discussion.)
My partner held the jack of hearts, the jack, queen and ten of clubs, and the king of spades. And he called: Clubs. It made sense to him. It was his best suit.
But he had only one sure winner in clubs. The left-ace out against him plus an ace and a king or queen in off suits could have blown him away.
Diamonds were next; my partner had the left bower, and he had reason to believe that the opponents, having declined a big red ace, did not have the right bower. He had a sure stopper in both black suits; so he could have passed safely enough. Maybe even euchred a club or spade call by his opponents going across.
Well, we made a point. But it was not because my king of hearts had been promoted to ace status by the turndown.
My partners hand (left of dealer)
Dealers partners hand
(ace of hearts turned down)
It was because the left bower (jack of spades) and nine of clubs were buried.
The dealer had to cough up her singleton ace of clubs on the first trick (I was stripped,
too); and her partner had no clubs to begin with.
My partner could have called diamonds. It was next; we had both bowers, and it was unstoppable, no matter what the opponents held. He didnt know that, of course (even though he had reason to count on me for the other bower). It was mid-game, by the way, with a close score; no one was going out or gaining a big leg up on one point, or even on two.
But my partners best call would have been to pass. The dealers partner held ace-nine of spades and three little red cards. Had my partner passed, the dealers partner would have called spades (across) or passed. She probably would have been euchred in spades, giving us two points. Had she passed, I could have called diamonds myself. My king of hearts was now an ace, remember.
My partner could easily have been euchred on the club call. The dealer held the ace of clubs and the ace of diamonds. One more club and her ace of trump would have been guarded, for two tricks, and her partners ace of spades would have been their third trick, for the euchre (my only trump having been stripped on the first trick).
I dont argue with success; so, since we made a point, I did not say anything to my partner. But his decision to call clubs was myopic. It was based on what he held, and nothing else. He had a partner, and two opponents. He did not consider, at all, what the rest of us might have.
Heres another example. Different game, with different players, but same setting: My partner was in first chair, I was in third. We were down 9 points to 6. The dealers partner ordered a diamond, and my partner led: A little diamond. I did squawk about that, but I should have kept my mouth shut: Theres no point in arguing with failure, either, if it cannot be avoided; and we were dead ducks no matter what my partner had led.
But his explanation of why he led trump on defense was what lit my fuse. I didn't have any aces, he said, and I figured, what the hell.
Having aces is a better reason to lead trump on defense that not having any because the lead may strip the makers partner of the wherewithal to ruff the ace or aces. And what the hell is that my partners trump lead did not take into account, at all, what I, his partner, might have. What his lead did was strip me of the only trump I had (and himself, too), as the maker took the trick. It did not strip the makers partner (the dealer), who wound up with two trump on the order (no surprise).
The leader has to think that if he leads one of the many non-aces he has, and particularly if from a multicard suit, through the opponent who ordered, his partner may be able to use his trump to ruff and perhaps even to overruff the maker. Theres no chance of that when you strip your partner with a trump lead.
So: Much ado about nothing, you might say. We made a point on the first hand described, and we could not have defeated the opponents on the second.
But my partners play was utterly selfish in both instances. In both instances he considered his own hand, and his own hand only. For optimal play, you must think how your partner might help you, and call or play to him if it makes sense that he might help you. Thats what partners are for. Thats what next for my partner is all about. And thats how games are won, in the long run.
Natty Bumppo, author,
June 1, 2007
In the card game 7-up (known to some as high, low, jack and the game, or all fours) trump is made as in euchre not by bidding, but by turning the top card of the remainder of the deck after the cards are dealt. The age that is, the player to the left of the dealer can confirm the suit turned as trump simply by leading a card (i.e., by commencing play). *
But if he does not like the suit turned or thinks someone else might like it well enough to pay him to play it he can beg. His beg is to the dealer, who can establish the turned suit as trump by giving a point to each of the other players (its an individual game, not a partners game).
Or, the dealer can beg to his right. And so it goes, to the right. If no one gives, another round of cards is dealt; another card is turned, and its suit is trump no ifs, ands, buts, or begging (unless it is the same suit as before, in which case yet another round is dealt, until a new suit is turned).
So, whats this got to do with euchre (besides the turn of a card at the end of the deal, and the fact that cards are dealt in threes in 7-up)?
STD (stick the dealer), you understand, requires the dealer to call trump whether he wants to or not, whether he has a suit to call or not, whether he has a hand or not if everyone has passed the card turned up and if everyone else has declined to call trump on the second round.
Harvey by day a modest craps dealer in the casinos of Las Vegas, by night a jamoke from Buffalo who still likes to play euchre runs euchre tournaments for friends and acquaintances in his spare time. As you might imagine, some of Harveys invitees like to play STD (the diehards are from Detroit, Harvey observes), and some dont (some abhor it).
Harveys solution? (He likes to make everybody happy so theyll come back next week.) Its STD with a twist. The dealer can pass the deal if he does not want to make trump at the end of the second round, but he has to add a point to the opponents score for the privilege (half a euchre, in other words).
Now, I dont like that! But thats only because Im a curmudgeon. I have to admit that Harveys bridge of the STD dichotomy is highly creative. Lets give another hearty handclap to the Moses of Euchre.
Harvey doesnt call it giving (the term used in 7-up). He calls it surrender.
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Helping your partner sort his hand
May 4, 2007
I received a four-page handwritten letter from a 70-year-old player in suburban Detroit named Bob Wilson. He said he had learned to play euchre at the age of 6. Id like to report that Bob got his euchre degree at Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana, where he went to college but he implied that he was the teacher there.
Actually he put it a little more modestly than that: No, I dont have 64 years of experience playing euchre. Many of those years, mainly in college, I played with guys who knew less than I did about the game; so I had the same experience over and over.
One matter Bob addressed in his letter was the principle not to open a defense against a player going alone by leading an ace unless you have two aces. The reason is, Don't squeeze your partner.
The squeeze play is a continued lead of trump or other winners by the maker, forcing one or both opponents to discard one of two possbile winners on the fourth trick (or, rarer, one of three on the third trick), not knowing which one is needed to save for the fifth trick to stop a march.
If you have one non-trump ace and your partner has the other two, and it comes down to a squeeze play to make the loner, your partner is the one squeezed if you open with your own ace: Which ace does he discard on the fourth trick, and which does he save for the fifth? But if you lead a suit other than that of your ace, it will go to one of your partners aces right away (if he has two), and hell know which to save if his first is trumped (and your ace, of course, is saved for the fifth trick, by default).
If you have two aces, on the other hand, your partner can have but one (and know to keep it); and you avoid being squeezed yourself by leading one of your aces.
So, Bob takes this situation a step further: If you have two aces and the lead against a loner, which ace do you lead?
Well, if one of your aces is backed by the king, Bob reckons, surely you lead the other.
Because: If it does not take the first trick, and when it comes time to discard on the makers trump leads, what do you discard? Why, the other ace, of course. That tells your partner you have that suit stopped (with the king), and it tells him to save another suit for the fifth trick. (We already knew, of course, that if you had only one ace, and it was backed by the king, you discarded it during the squeeze play, to let your partner know you had the suit stopped.)
Bob calls this helping your partner sort his hand. I had not heard that expression before, and I like it. Any partner who does not help me sort my hand is not a good euchre player, Bob wrote.
And he described what I call the squeeze play as forcing the defense to sort. Nice terminology.
Fred Benjamin, in his book Euchre Strategies, says you should always open a loner defense with an ace, even if you have only one, to give your doubleton a chance to stop a squeeze play at the end of the hand. He reasons that (1) it is more likely that your doubleton contains a winner than that your partner has two aces, (2) you avoid finessing your partners good doubleton by leading your ace, and (c) your partner, if he has only one ace or none, surely will save his own doubleton if you do not lead through it; and what evidence is there that your doubleton is any better than your partners?
The answer is, if you have a king-high doubleton, it is at least as good as any your partner has. Many euchre experts believe you can treat a king-high doubleton as a second ace in your hand for the Dont lead an ace unless you have two principle. You lead the ace on first trick and sit on the loner with your K-x. But if you dont have even a king-high doubleton to go with your ace, defer to your partners doubleton (which might be a pair of aces, after all). If you lead from your longest suit (even if it is only a doubleton), you mnimize the risk of finessing your partner. Dont lead your ace. Help your partner sort his hand.
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Why euchre is more fun than poker March 16, 2007
Perry Romanowski posted an article in his Euchre Universe blog titled 6 Reasons Why Euchre Is Better Than Poker." In a post to the Yahoo! group Euchre Science, he boiled them down as follows (and reordered them a little):
1. Poker is boring.
1. Poker is boring.
Granted unless you are playing real poker, for real stakes. Like the farm.
I disagree. There is more skill required to play good poker than any other card game except, perhaps, bridge. But its not card playing skill. See No. 7 below.
Granted. But see No. 1 above, and No. 6 below.
Harvey Lapp, the Euchrelinks web master, Las Vegas dealer and author of the Ten Commandments of Euchre, had this to say about that: I know quite a few good people that play the game occasionally. They are the bottom of the food chain in the poker room, but definitely not criminals.
I would add that, even if you cant be arrested for playing euchre, you can be cut or shot for playing poor euchre. In my experience thats worse than being arrested, and also it shows that euchre can breed criminals.
Poker plays emotions, but emotions do not play good poker. See No. 2 above, and No. 7 below.
That is a bit of a myth. Natty Bumppo does not play poker very well, however. To play poker really well, you have to play for real stakes, and be ready to risk the farm (or get the other players to think you will risk it). And I dont like risking the farm.
Actually no one can play really good poker in a penny ante or pocket change limit game. See No. 3 above.
7. Poker is not a card game it is a parlor game played with cards. Cards are not played in poker, they are merely shown. What are played are wits, psychological tricks, emotions, and human foibles.
8. Tournament style Texas Hold Em is not poker. I play that once in a while, too, because my friends think its cool. But I dont like it at all. Why it isnt poker is that the hands are not played for real money (see No. 3 above). The only money at risk is the buy-in, which is something you can afford (the proof being that you bought in). Really boring.
9. Euchre is more fun than poker because in euchre there are legal (and therefore arguably ethical) ways to bend the rules which is why euchre is a lot more fun at a card table than on line, where you cant renege, or play out of turn, or steal the deal, or engage the Muncie ploy or the Brownstown maneuver.
Natty Bumppo, author,
|Bid euchre 102 January 12, 2007
We usually think of bid euchre, or buck euchre, as a game for three players, when you cant find a fourth. But it can be fun for four players, too (or even more for five or more players, just add cards to the deck, beginning with the eights).
My friends and I were all sore at one another the other night: No one wanted to play with anyone else as his partner, but we all wanted to play euchre. So Ron suggested that we just play four-handed bid euchre.
In the standard three-player vesion of bid euchre, you deal four hands one of them as a widow. If the player to the right of the dealer does not like the hand dealt to him, he may trade it for the widow (sight unseen). If he declines the trade, the dealer may trade his hand; and if the dealer, too, declines, the age may trade. Then the bidding begins and it really is bidding in bid euchre (hence the name). The age declares how many tricks he will take if he is allowed to name trump (or no trump, which is normally allowed in bid euchre). Or he can pass. Then the next player may outbid him or pass, and then the dealer may outbid or pass; and the bidding continues until there are two passes beyond the last bid (and some play that you can bid six, even though you wont make it, in order to prevent a march by a player who has bid five). The player with the high bid declares trump (or no trump, which is a safe call only for the player with the lead if you do not have all four suits stopped).
Each player begins with 15 points, and you get a point off your score for each trick you take. Game is zero. You are euchred and go up five points if (a) you get to call trump and fail to make your bid, or (b) you are merely playing and fail to take a single trick. To avoid a euchre as a player who did not get the bid, you can decline to play a hand but only if you have more than five points.
With four players, you still deal four hands, right? And you wind up with the same stock of four cards remaining as in three-handed bid euchre (and you do not turn the top card of the stock, in bid euchre).
And so we dealt, and B. Woods who some say is the Brightest of the Killer Bs still wanted to swap his hand. Even though there was no full hand to trade for.
So, heres what we came up with after a little argument (I was the only one opposed to swapping at all): The player to the left of the age (opposite the dealer, in a four-handed game) could keep one card and trade the rest of his hand for the stock. If he declined, the player to his left (on the the dealers right, in a four-handed game) could trade, and so on to the dealer and the age, as in three-handed bid euchre.
The effect of trading is a bit like the effect of a 24-card deck as opposed to euchres original 32-card deck: It empowers the hands, and makes a tougher game. We found that it seemed also to delay the game which is fine, if you like to play euchre i.e., making it harder to win.
And then Chris the Clever came up with a couple of variations on the new theme:
1. Allow the swapper to keep as many of the
cards in his original hand as
1(a). Allow other players, in turn, to trade for unclaimed cards in the stock.
2(a). Allow the turned card to be included in
the swap (whether or not
2(b). Do not allow the turned
card to be claimed in the swap (whether
He won, of course.
Try it. You might like it.
One way or another.
Natty Bumppo, author,
Over hamburgers sold!