Natty Bumppo’s euchre columns from the publishers ofThe Columbus Book of Euchre Return to index of columns
 Presented here are archives of euchre columns by Natty Bumppo, author of The Columbus Book of Euchre, published on line.
 Second hand low – December 13, 2002 A reader calling himself “Scolar2” pointed out, in regard to last week’s column, that if mypartner had not trumped the first trick, I wouldnot have been euchred. Second hand (Don’s)

 What to lead – December 6, 2002 Here’s a hand I thought I blew on Yahoo! last week: I dealt myself the ace and king of diamonds and the jack, king and nine of spades; and I turned up the nine of diamonds. I picked up the little diamond and discarded the nine of spades.

 Shouldn’t happen (my mistake) – November 29, 2002 Several readers pointed out an error in last week's column, “Shit happens”: If Becky had ruffed Mary’s ace of clubs with a bower, drawn one round of trump with her other bower, and then led her ace of diamonds, the only way Joe could have euchred her would have been by holding all three other trump (the ace of trump with two “guards”) – the probability of which, I now think, was not much more than 1 per cent, if that. If Joe holds the ace of hearts and only one other trump, he loses his lower trump to Becky’s trump lead and has to use his ace of hearts to take her ace of diamonds, making her king of hearts good (or let her take her third trick with the ace of diamonds. Mary’s only trump was drawn by the bower lead). I made three errors in calculating the probabilities, too – one of which a reader caught, the other two of which I caught myself. Two minor but essential factors were left out of the calculations: The lower numbers of hearts and spades (three each) than of clubs and diamonds (four each) left in the 14 cards remaining unseen, and Mary’s void in spades, making her a greater magnet for the missing hearts than Joe (both these rendered Joe’s probability of euchring Becky less than calculated, whichever way Becky played it). I made another, rather large error in the calculation of the probability Joe held the ace of hearts and one other heart only (this was one of the two mistakes I caught myself. But this error does not factor heavily in the scenario as revisited, since the ultimate question – as the astute readers pointed out – was whether two trump, not one, underlay Joe’s ace of hearts). The upshots are that the probabilities of winning the point on the two ways Becky might have played the second trick were a lot closer than reported, and that the way she played (ruffing with her king of hearts instead of with a bower) had the lesser, not the greater, probability of success. My revised calculations show her winning the point about 92 per cent of the time by ruffing with the king, about 99 per cent of the time by ruffing with a bower. I have referred the calculations to a professional mathematician – my brother, “Dr. Math” – for greater certainty of probabilities; and I invite other mathematicians among you as well to calculate the odds. With a 92 per cent chance to win even with the lesser probability play, Becky or her partner still might say “Shit happens” when they get euchred; but, clearly, Becky could have played it better – in fact, 7 per cent better if the alternative probability was, in fact, 99. Natty Bumppo, author,The Columbus Book of Euchre Borf Books http://www.borfents.com Box 413 Brownsville KY 42210 (270) 597-2187 [copyright 2002] [next]

 Shit happens – November 22, 2002 Becky and Bart clawed their way back from a 7-1 deficit to tie the game at 7-7 (Bart's lone march at 7-2 was particularly helpful), and then from a 9-7 deficit to tie it again at 9-9. Becky had the deal, turned a jack of hearts, picked it up, and said “gg” – which is the proper thing to say anyway at 9 to 9, I guess, win or lose, since it’s the last hand, and if you subscribe to that phony courtesy chat (I prefer the attitudes of Ty Cobb and Unser Choe Hauser, who considered their opponents the enemy). But Becky was not saying it just as a matter of courtesy. She thought she had the game nailed down. She held both bowers, the king of hearts (trump), the ace of diamonds and the king of spades. She had discarded the king of clubs. The lead, from Joe, on her left, was the jack of spades, which Becky's partner, Bart, covered with the ace of spades; and things were looking pretty good. But Joe’s partner, Mary, trumped with the 9 of hearts and Becky had to follow suit with her king of spades. Mary led back the ace of clubs, and Becky trumped in with the king of hearts ’ losing it to Joe’s ace of hearts (Bart had to follow suit). Joe then led the nine of diamonds; Bart, having neither diamonds nor trump, sluffed the ten of spades; Mary trumped in with the queen of hearts; Becky had to follow suit with her ace of diamonds, and school was out: Becky was euchred on the old 1-2-3 punch, and she and Bart lost the game they had fought so hard to stay in. Becky said, “Wow!”; but Bart said only, “Ca ca pasa” (which, I think, is roughly the Mexican translation for “Shit happens”). [See correction] Joe’s handBart’s hand Mary’s hand Becky’s hand (dealer)
 It didn’t have to happen. Becky knew the ace of hearts was out somewhere, and that if it was on her left, there was a chance of losing that second trick and getting euchred if she trumped in with the king of hearts. If she had trumped in with one of her bowers, she would have got a guaranteed trick to put out the fire, and the lead she needed and craved. Since the opponents had already used a trump, she had a fair chance to draw the ace (if it was out and not in her partner’s hand) with her remaining bower. The odds were very good: One trump had been used, and she had three. There were three left, and four places for them to be: In her two opponents’ hands, in her partner’s hand, and in the deck. The odds that the ace and another trump were both in one opponent’s hand were slim. In fact, you can compute them. The probability the ace was in Joe’s hand was 4/14 (four cards left in his hand divided by 14 cards yet unseen – four each in Joe’s and Bart’s hands, three each in Mary’s hand and the deck), or 28.5 per cent (there actually were four cards in the deck, but Becky had seen one of them). The probability the ace in Joe’'s hand was guarded, if he had the ace, then was 9/13 (three trump left times three chances to get one equals 9, divided by the number of cards left, 13), or 69.2 per cent; and the probability he held the ace guarded then was the product of those probabilities, or 19.8 per cent, or about one in five. Not real high. Since Mary was down to three cards, the probability she held the ace guarded was less – 3/14 times 6/13 equals 9.9 per cent. The sum of the two probabilities is 29.7 per cent; and that means that 71.3 per cent of the time, or more than seven times out of ten, Becky will draw the ace (if it’s out) with her remaining bower if she trumps Mary’s ace of clubs with a bower. Those are pretty good odds. Now, let’s compare that to the probability Becky’s king of hearts will take the trick: That would be the inverse of the probability Joe has the ace of trump and a void in clubs. The probability he has the ace, as we have seen, is 4/14. There are four clubs out (we have seen Mary’s ace, and the king has been discarded); so the probability Joe has a void in clubs with his three remaining cards is 9/13 times 8/12 times 7/11. Thus the probability Joe has the ace of trump and a void in clubs equals 4/14 times 9/13 times 8/12 times 7/11 equals 8.4 per cent. The inverse of that is 91.6 per cent, and that is the probability Becky’s trumping with the king of hearts will take the trick. Considerably better odds than the 71.3 per cent probability of winning the hand by trumping in with a bower – in fact, they’re 28.5 per cent better. So that’s the play she made, and she got euchred for it. Hindsight is 20/20. If Becky had used a bower to take the second trick, and her other bower to lead the third trick, she would have drawn both the ace of trump from Joe and the queen of trump from Mary; and her king of hearts and ace of diamonds would have been good for the fourth and fifth tricks (her third and fourth tricks), and the point and the game. This was a rare hand: You can’t compute these probabilities in the heat of battle; and the play Becky made, we know now, statistically, is on average 28.5 percent better than the play that would have won the game for her. That’s why "“Shit happens” is about as good a moral to this story as any. But there’s another moral: If you feel that you have to gloat, don't gloat before you have 10 points. You may have to eat your words. And it tends to piss off the Euchre God (even when you gloat after you have taken the game, He can come back to haunt you). I would never urge anyone to be polite in a game – euchre is not pretty – but you can be discreet. This hand is set up for you here on Gerry Blue’s Euchre Laboratory if you want to play with it. Natty Bumppo, author,The Columbus Book of Euchre Borf Books http://www.borfents.com Box 413 Brownsville KY 42210 (270) 597-2187 [copyright 2002] [next]

 The “end play,” part 1 – November 8, 2002 The “end play” was not discussed in the first edition of The Columbus Book of Euchre or early printings of the second edition because it is not unique to euchre – it’s a ploy common to all trick taking games: Bridge, spades, Rook and the rest. But it is an important tactic to carry in your strategy bag. The idea is to engineer the lead to the opponent on your left to force him to lead into your “tenace” – two cards of a suit (usually trump) two or more values apart in rank (one of which normally is “boss” in the hand) – when you have no hope of taking all the tricks. A recent hand demonstrates how it works: Your partner, Debbie, the dealer, has turned down the ace of hearts; and the opponent on her left (on your right), Jared – sensing that Debbie is sitting on “next” (he’s right; Debbie holds the jack of hearts and two little diamonds, along with the nine and ten of clubs) – declines to call trump, even though he holds the jack of diamonds (the king and queen of clubs lurk in his hand, but no other diamonds). You call “across” in clubs, holding the right bower and ace, along with the queen of diamonds and the queen and nine of hearts. Jared leads the ten of hearts; and his partner, Blondie, takes it with the king of hearts. She leads back the nine of diamonds, which your partner, Debbie, grabs with the king of diamonds (kings rule!). Jared’s handYour hand Blondie’s hand Debbie’s (your partner’s) hand

 The Robin Hood of euchre – November 1, 2002 If you have visited Borf Books’ euchre links page, you may recall having seen a critique of Yahoo!’s, Pogo’s and Playsite’s player ratings systems (and the rest of them) in which it is stated, in part:
 “Speaking of the ratings, they are somewhat less than accurate. We have played on line with players with astronomical ratings who don't know enough to lead trump when their partner has called it; and we have played with players rated ‘intermediate’ and even ‘beginner’ who know a lot more about what they are doing. “We know how to massage and manipulate the ratings without ‘cheating’; and if you don’t, we’re not going to tell you – it’s bad enough as it is! We saw a team on Yahoo! on which one player was rated 35000-plus (that’s thirty-five thousand, not hundred) and his partner was rated -12000-something (that’s minus twelve thousand and change)! It was a hoot.”

 “Ordering at the bridge,” part 2 – October 25, 2002 “Ordering at the bridge,” we recall from last week, is calling a trump into an opponent’s hand when we have 9 points and our opponents have 6 or 7. And perhaps you recall also the discussion of the almost interminable discussion on the Yahoo! group Euchre Science of whether or not, and why, it was a good play, and the guy who kept insisting on mathematical or statistical proof. While they were blowing smoke, and fire and brimstone, over whether there was any scientific basis for “ordering at the bridge,” and arguing over whether games theory or statistical analysis was even appropriate to the discussion, another guy sat down at his kitchen table with a deck of cards and conducted a little empirical research. He set the score at 9 to 7 in favor of the team opposing the dealer, dealt a hand and turned a card. As stated last week, whether the card was a jack or not made no difference – that has nothing to do with “ordering at the bridge” under the postulation by the great euchre writer of the turn of the (20th) century, R. F. Foster. Then he looked at the hand to the left of the dealer. If it had a sure trick – a right bower, a guarded left bower, three trump to the ace, or four trump – he scotched the hand and dealt again. No need to “order at the bridge” when you have a sure trick (unless you’re ordering to score. And, again, here I use Foster’s precept to order unless you have a “sure” trick. Some say order unless you have a “pretty sure” trick. That’s not cautious enough for the classicists). If the hand on the left did not have a sure trick, our experimenter played the hand, twice – once ordering up, and once again passing. He played 50 such hands. He played each player’s hand “optimally” (“with hindsight aforethought,” he said). Although he took a lone march for the dealer’s team whenever he could, he did not allow any to depend on a “squeeze” play – i.e., defenders always saved the right cards, whether aces or tens. If it took a king or a jack to break a loner, even at the expense of sluffing an ace in another suit, the defender saved it. That is, our mad scientist cut the loners no slack; the only lone marches he reported were loners that could not be stopped. And here are the results, of the 50 “games.” First, the results of “ordering at the bridge”: – The order was euchred 40 times, or 80 per cent of the time (we sort of expected that, didn’t we?). – This means that 10 times, or 20 per cent of the time, the order scored (this is what is called a “Rushville stroke” in The Co- lumbus Book of Euchre. Didn’t expect that! Nice to have a partner). End of game when that happened, the ordering team won; the dealer and his partner lost. – The order stopped a five-trick loner 14 times, or 28 per cent of the time – each of which would have ended the game with a victory for the dealer and his partner. – The team that “ordered at the bridge” won the game 33 times (the 10 “strokes” plus 23 games it went on to win on the next deal) – i.e., 66 per cent, or almost two-thirds, of the time. Its 17 losses included three games in which the order nonetheless postponed defeat by stopping a five-trick loner. Since “stoppers” were played maximally for the defenders, you can say that “ordering at the bridge” favored the ordering team at least 72 per cent of the time (I am including in this calculation the three loners stopped when the dealer’s team went on to win on the next hand or hands anyway. Included also are the 28 per cent of the orders that stopped loners, which would have ended the games right then and there for the dealer’s team). These results do not mean that a dealer’s team will have a loner 28 per cent of the time. Here’s another statistic from the kitchen table: A flat one-third of the hands dealt – 25 out of 75 – were thrown out and not played because they gave the player to the left of the dealer a sure trick in the trump turned. Those hands reduce the dealer’s team’s loner percentage to 18.7 per cent. In the second place, a number of those loners would not have been called. Some of them would have been scotched by an order by the dealer’s partner, and some would have gone uncalled out of caution or timidity – e.g., king high in trump, and three-suited with only two trump, etc. But they were all there to be made if they were called (and among good players, most of them would have been called); and that is why you have to “order at the bridge.” Now, the results from passing: You already know 14 of them; the dealer’s team won on loners. As for the other 36 games, the dealer’s team won 12 of those. Thus the dealer’s opponents won only 24 of the 50 games, or 48 per cent, when they passed; they won 33, or 66 per cent, when they “ordered at the bridge.” ’Nuf said? This does not mean that a team leading 9 to 7, with the opponents dealing, wins only 48 per cent of the time it passes – because, again, the experiment did not include the one-third of the time the lead hand got a sure trick on the deal, or the unreckonable number of loners the dealer’s team failed to call. I am satisfied – not only from cautionary strategy, the wisdom of other strategists, and “two bites at the apple” logic, but also from the results posted above – that “ordering at the bridge” is the proper maneuver. I don’t care if I am already leading 9 to 7, I think it is pretty darn good to win two-thirds of the games in which I see a trump turned against which I have no sure trick. I get there by “ordering at the bridge.” And that winning percentage does not even take into account the undoubtably better winning percentage I will have when I include in the sample the number of turns on which I do have a sure trick. More statistics: On the thirty-six hands passed that did not give the dealer’s team a loner, the dealer’s team marched for two points anyway four times (you might as well have given them a euchre on those hands); and, although the dealer’s team pushed the score to 9 to 8 nineteen times, only two of the fifty games went to a third hand (four of the 9-8 games were won by the original dealer’s team on euchres on the next deal). How often you won when you had a sure trick and were not faced with “ordering at the bridge” was not part of the experiment; so we don’t know. But it would have to have been more than half the time, I am sure all would agree. So add just half of the 25 deals that were thrown out to the 33 times won “ordering at the bridge,” and you win at least 61 per cent of the times you are up 9-7 (33 plus 12.5 divided by 75). I would estimate that if you win 66 per cent of the time you do not have a sure trick in the suit turned (by ordering at the bridge), then you win at least two-thirds of the time you do have the stopper, and probably more. So, if you “play your cards right” (i.e., “order at the bridge”), you will win well over two-thirds of the times you are up 9-7 and have another deal coming after the present hand. [second of two parts] Natty Bumppo, author,The Columbus Book of Euchre Borf Books http://www.borfents.com Box 413 Brownsville KY 42210 (270) 597-2187 [copyright 2002] [next]

Lead low trump when going “next” – October 4, 2002
 A player asked in a forum on linethat I like to follow: “The dealerturns down the ace of hearts. Sit-ting to his left you hold the jack ofhearts, the king of diamonds, theking of hearts, the king of spades,and the ten of clubs; and you call‘next.’ What do you lead?”

 “Stick the dealer,” part 2 – September 27, 2002 Ryan Romanik wrote back:
 “When I’m in first chair, even in a game with ‘stick the dealer,’ I’m desperately looking for a reason to call ‘next,’ not for a reason to pass. Also, the second hand is sometimes more inclined to call with two medium strength holdings (lest his partner be forced into calling something ugly), which gives the first hand a greater tendency to call. We could probably go back and forth like this forever, using more and more levels of thinking. My experience is that STD doesn’t really discourage ‘next’ or ‘reverse next’ calls, and certainly doesn’t ‘decimate’ them, as you wrote in your book. “I think that much of the basis of our disagreement on the subject is the fact that you and I play different games primarily (subtly different, but different). As I recall, you play without STD whereas in Michigan STD is standard. So you notice things about non-STD that I don’t, and vice versa.”
 I agree that euchre with STD and euchre without STD are different games (and a little more than “subtly different,” but not as different as the games of hearts in which the deuce of clubs or the player left of the dealer leads, or in which you can or cannot break hearts or the queen of spades on first trick). I find euchre without STD more “macho” (ha! ha! Just had to say that. But I hear the converse already). I do hate that pre-emptive “STD p” apology (on line or off) by a dealer calling trump at the end of the second round. Three times out of four the dealer who laments “STD” when making trump on the second round should have thought about the situation a little harder on the first round. Just as I hate the excuse “had to try p” (or “sp had 3”) by a player who gets euchred (playing STD or not), and the pre-emptive “gotta try p” by a maker apologizing in advance. That is so pussy! You don’t “gotta” do anything, and you should have the moral integrity to accept the responsibility for the consequences of a bad or unfortunate decision. I, too, in first chair, and with or without STD, always look for a reason to call “next.” I will, on occasion and without hesitation, call “next” even without any trump at all under the proper circumstances (can’t do that in Michigan, can you!). But there are these marginal strong multisuit hands that, while not fully qualifying as “euchre hands” (because there is not an absolutely “sure” trick in every suit), yet give you an incentive to let someone else decide (particularly when you are having trouble finding that least little reason to call “next”). With STD I feel safer in general, on second round, in leaving the call to my partner because I assume that a prudent player in second chair is more likely to leave the call to the dealer. Ryan says that the “second hand is sometimes more inclined to call with two medium strength holdings (lest his partner be forced into calling something ugly), which gives the first hand a greater tendency to call.” That’s exactly when the second player should keep his mouth shut with STD, in my opinion. With or without STD, he may assume that the dealer has something in “reverse next.” If his own “reverse next” holdings are more or less equal and his hand as a whole is marginal, he should let the one who has to call (the dealer) make the choice (and the third hand will be more inclined to put the peril upon the dealer, by passing). The dealer’s partner, with the hand described, can support either call by the dealer. And what if the dealer turned down because he was “sitting” on “next”? His partner will scotch the hand if he chooses between two marginal suits in “reverse.” He should let the dealer decide. It is without STD that, at second hand, I am most inclined to pick a suit in “reverse.” I am trusting my partner to hold something; I am pre-empting a third-hand call (not infrequently a loner; and third hand, too – and perhaps more than anyone else – has a greater incentive to pass with STD), and I am punishing the opponents for not calling “next.” Which brings us again to “primarily different games”: I recommend that, on the first round, with a card turned for the plucking by the dealer, his partner should, as a rule, keep his mouth shut – that there is a reason for that unnecessary Canadian rule that requires the dealer’s partner to go alone if he orders. That strategy is out the window with STD. If you are in second chair in an STD game and see a pretty sure chance at scoring in the suit turned, you had better order it up. Don’t “stick yer partner”! (“STP”!) And so STD discourages not only “next”; it discourages loners, too. That’s another reason not to like it. It’s another reason to call STD less “macho.” The basic effects of STD are to enhance the incentives to order from second chair and to pick up the turned card on the first round, and to reduce the incentives to call on the second round from the first three chairs. The enhancement on the second chair on the first round reduces the dealer’s loners, and the reduction of the incentive to call from second chair on the second round reduces the duty to call “next” on a margin from first chair. Reduction of the first hand’s duty to call on the second round is an incidental effect of the reduction of the second hand’s incentive. The reduction of the third hand’s incentive to call on the second round offsets the reduction of the first hand’s duty to call somewhat, but not much; it is more a matter of discretionary deferral by first hand to third hand. Thus it remains correct to call “next” from first chair even with STD, but it is not as imperative. Maybe the word “decimates” is pretty strong language; but its original meaning was to reduce something by 10 per cent, not to 10 per cent (or its present usage, “to destroy a great proportion of”). So, it’s not an obliterative word like “negates,” or “nullifies,” or “erases” (or “obliterates”!). That’s my story, and I’m st-stickin’ to it! [second of two parts] Natty Bumppo, author,The Columbus Book of Euchre Borf Books http://www.borfents.com Box 413 Brownsville KY 42210 (270) 597-2187 [copyright 2002] [next]

 “Stick the dealer,” part 1 – September 20, 2002 Ryan Romanik wrote:
 “Why, in The Columbus Book of Euchre, do you say that ‘stick the dealer’ (or ‘screw the dealer,’ as some spell out ‘STD’) counteracts ‘next’ and ‘reverse next’? If anything, I think it would reinforce it. The only possible effect that STD could theoretically have on the dealer is to incline him to make looser calls, out of fear of being ‘stuck.’ So if he turns down a card when STD is being played, he will on average have a next bower less often. “Note: In Michigan, we almost always play ‘screw the dealer.’ But as you point out, pass hands are rare, and I do not loosen my calling requirements from the dealer’s chair. But I don’t see how it counteracts ‘next’.”
 The answer lies in what the dealer’s partner should be doing. With “stick the dealer,” the dealer’s partner should lay off not only on first round but also on second round, and leave marginal choices to the dealer – because STD gives the third hand an incentive to lag also. So much for “reverse next” or “across,” which is the principle urging the dealer’s partner, on second round, to call the color opposite that turned down if the player on his right does not call “next” (the other suit of the same color turned down. “Reverse next” is a weaker tactic than “next” to begin with, but is an absolute squelch of a third-hand loner). In short, the dealer’s partner has more incentive to lag with STD; and the main reason to call “next” from first chair in the first place is to pre-empt a call by the dealer’s partner. And there’s another way STD discourages “next” and “reverse next”: Let’s say you hold a “euchre hand” – i.e., a guaranteed trick in every suit – and a fair shot at two tricks, in first or second chair, either one. If there is no STD, you probably should call trump lest the deal be passed. But with STD, you know that the deal cannot be passed; and you lie back for a euchre or a choice by your partner if you sit to the left of the dealer. If you are the dealer’s partner, you should pass and let him choose the suit (you’ve got the third hand stopped anyway, and maybe even euchred if he calls; and you have help for your partner in all three suits available). There just is less incentive for first and second chair calls in general with STD, and since the usual most logical calls from those positions are “next” and “reverse,” respectively, there is less likelihood and less reason for those calls. I agree with Ryan’s conclusion that the most likely (I would not say “the only possible”) effect of STD on the dealer is to encourage him to pick up thinner (and there is concomitant pressure on his partner to order thinner, too), but I don’t see that the possession or not of either bower is necessarily a strong factor in the decision. For example, the dealer probably should not turn down a two-suited hand that includes three little trump and no aces, and maybe not even a two-suited hand with only two little trump and an off suit headed by an ace. And because there is more pressure in general on all sides, and particularly on the dealer’s side, to make trump on the first round, the very opportunities to call “next” and “reverse next” are reduced. By the way, this is the kind of writing that could turn my “pamphlet” (as Joe Andrews and his disciples like to call The Columbus “Book” of Euchre) into a dull, 1,000-page technical reference manual for \$40 a copy that no one would buy! [first of two parts] Natty Bumppo, author,The Columbus Book of Euchre Borf Books http://www.borfents.com Box 413 Brownsville KY 42210 (270) 597-2187 [copyright 2002] [next]

Not a stone idiot – September 6, 2002
 The dealer is on your right; you getthe king and queen of hearts and theking, ten and nine of spades; and thedealer turns the ace of spades. Youremember “not to order up anythingyou can't catch”; you bite your tongue and pass, and you begin to drool overthe coming euchre.

 If you need the math . . . – August 9, 2002 “I do not have to numerically calculate the odds in making a call. I usually know the odds (without referring to specific mathematical percentages). I know when I have a good chance of making a point, two points, four points, and making a set. I don’t always know the right card to lead; so sometimes you wing it, with the decision simply based on previous hands and experience. I have seen hands where one time you get set, and another time you make two points, as I am sure most of us have. I am a graduate of the Euchre School of Hard Knocks, and it just keeps on knocking; so I keep studying.” He’s right. If you need the math, you won’t be able to play cards. I post a lot of messages and columns pointing out the chances of getting a “perfect hand” on the deal, the mathematical advantage of calling “next,” the probability of this, the odds against that, etc., etc. But it’s not to get anyone to stop to calculate every time he or she is about to call or pass, or play a card. No one has time for that, and few have the equipment. Even fewer have the “photogenic mind” (as my lovely second ex-wife called it) to remember all the probabilities and odds posted on all the various holdings and combinations that may come around. I post such messages and columns not to get anyone to compute or calculate or remember them while he or she is playing cards, but to point out why certain plays work and others don’t, why certain hunches pay off and others are not so hot, why I recommend playing thus and not so. And, on occasion, I will discuss probabilities because someone has asked about the odds on a certain happening – like the guy from the college town who was giving a speech on euchre and wanted to know how often one could expect a “perfect” hand of J-J-A-K-Q of trump (but he never answered my question: Where does one give a speech on euchre?! ). I have long pointed out that trying to calculate chances in a card game is an exercise in futility. In my review of the book Wergin on Euchre (see also page 80, The Columbus Book of Euchre, 2nd edition), I wrote, “The author’s chapter on ‘Euchre Odds and Percentages,’ seemingly arcane, is but simple probability theory taught in freshman math. Anyone needing the chart will get lost in the shuffle.” And I wrote at page 46 of The Columbus Book of Euchre (2nd ed.), “The main difference between the good euchre player and the great player is the great player’s ability to subconsciously compute the favorable odds (my definition of intuition) on going alone on a mediocre hand, and then act accordingly.” The key words in that passage are “subconsciously” and “intuition.” Unlike the criticism of Wergin (whose book had not yet been published), that remark appeared in the original edition of The Columbus Book of Euchre, published in 1982 (at page 44). Dwend says, “Intuition is a good way to put it. I usually refer to it as a ‘gut feel.’ The difference for me is, intuition is a hunch based on experience; my ‘gut feel’ is much stronger than that and doesn’t happen as often.” Or, as my second lovely ex-wife might put it, “‘Intuition’ is from Venus; ‘gut feel’ is from Mars!” There is no table of “euchre odds and percentages” in The Columbus Book of Euchre, and there won’t be. The “odds and percentages” are curiosities and explanations, not tips on how to play. I have been criticized for having written a “pamphlet” and not a “treatise” explaining the finer points and mathematics of euchre. I have some serious questions about the market for a “treatise” on euchre, and I am happy enough with the label “pamphleteer.” It puts me in pretty good company. Thomas Paine and James Otis were pamphleteers. So were Daniel Defoe, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Sir Richard Steele, Jonathan Swift, and Voltaire. Just play the game. Natty Bumppo, author,The Columbus Book of Euchre Borf Books http://www.borfents.com Box 413 Brownsville KY 42210 (270) 597-2187 [copyright 2002] [next]

 False carded and sucked in – August 2, 2002 A poll recapitulated below, like all those I post, was inspired by an actualhand. My partner sat to the dealer’s left andcalled hearts, which was not “next” (thenine of clubs had been turned down). Wehad fewer than 9 points, and our opponentshad fewer than 8. My partner took the firsttrick with the right bower – taking the nineof hearts from the dealer’s partner and myown ten of hearts. The dealer showed out,sluffing the nine of diamonds. My partner took the next trick with theace of spades – the nine fell from dealer’spartner’s hand; I played the ten (my onlyspade), and the dealer played the king. My partner then led the jack of spades;the dealer's partner sluffed the king of clubs, and I held the king of hearts (a trump) andthe queen and ten of clubs. First trick Second trick First two cards of third trick My remaining cards (hearts trump)

 My botched loner – July 26, 2002 Results of a recent poll on line, basedon a true story: I deal and turn the queen of spades. I hold the left bower, the nine of spades, and the ace of hearts. Tim, my right-hand opponent, is the host, and can't sit still. As usual, he isout of the room doing something else. Ron, Tim’s partner, feels the urge togo, too – to the bathroom? Outdoors for a toke? Who knows? Laying downhis hand, he says, “Since this is not amoney game, can I just trust you guys?” My partner, Chris, just smiles. Taking advantage of my opponents’ absence hadnot occurred to me – but it does now. Ron’s hand is not available, of course;he has seen it (and will remember it). But Chris’ and Tim’s hands and thepack are; and I go fishing first in Tim’shand – and find all I will ever need:Right bower and king of spades. Play eventually resumes. “Hey!”cries Tim. “How come I’ve got onlyfour cards?” My hand on the deal Tim’s hand on the deal My hand after the pickup and theft Tim’s hand after the theft
 Oops! I had managed to slip only one, not both, of my little diamonds to Tim. Not only does Tim have only four cards, but I have six. What happens? That was the question in the poll (on the Yahoo! group EuchreScience), and here are the results: 87.5% The deal passes to Ron. [This is the correct answer. In the final analysis, it's a misdeal.] 25.0% Ron and Tim get 2 points. [No. There is no scoring penalty for a misdeal (or for cheating, for that matter). Losing the deal (or your life) is penalty enough.] 25.0% Tim shoots me. [No. Why would Tim shoot me? In the first place, there is no indication that Tim knows that I have stolen his cards. For all Tim knows, I have blown a pretty sure loner (and, in fact, I have blown a pretty sure chance at a point, and an outside chance at 2 points by euchring Tim). On top of that, I have lost my deal. Tim doesn't shoot me; he kisses me.] 25.0% Ron shoots me. [Nah, that would be ingratitude. Ron too cannot know there has been a theft (although he is highly suspicious), and he gains the same in the game that Tim does. And if he does figure out, or knows intuitively, what I have done, he realizes that it’s his own fault and that I have taught him a valuable lesson: Don’t trust no S.O.B. at a euchre table! Money game or not.] 25.0% Chris shoots me. [This is a plausible and righteous scenario, but it doesn’t happen. Chris’ smile has become a guffaw, and he is laughing too hard to hold a straight aim.] 25.0% Tim shoots Ron. [This is another highly plausible scenario; but it requires Tim’s knowing what hap- pened, which he doesn’t.] 25.0% I am 86’d from Tim’s house. [Not likely – see above.] 25.0% I am 86’d from Columbus. [This is another plausible scenario, but it will require a meeting of the City Council. If I were 86’d, however, it wouldn’t be for cheating; it would be for blowing the loner.] 37.5% Other – with posted explication, e.g.: “I . . . give Chris a look that says, ‘Don't say a word, because my pistol is pointed at you under the table,’ and I convince Ron and Tim that it was a misdeal all along.” – rromanik “Tim shooting Ron’s not a real option.[?] All the other ones but the deal simply passing are.[?] Cheaters never prosper, Natty.[?] Tsk, tsk, tsk." – Jed Taylor [Bracketed question marks mine. Tsk, tsk. Oh, well – Jed did not have the advantage of playing baseball for the Sandlot Dirties with Jim Garretson and me when he was a kid. “Cheating never wins!” Jim would proclaim. “But it helps!”] Two women voted that all three other players should shoot me, and that Ron should be shot too. But there were no voting options for shooting Chris or Tim! Why didn’t they vote also for “Other” and post their opinions that Chris and Tim too should be shot? (Maybe they were uncertain about Chris because of the ambiguous gender of his name, and forgiving of Tim because all he did was take a powder.) The morals: 1. Never, never, leave your opponents alone at a euchre table, money or not (in fact, the friendlier the game, the more likely they will feel entitled to cheat you). 2. Count your cards. Always. Constantly. Even when you are cheating. Especially when you are cheating. 3. Don't play euchre with women. They get too emotional. Natty Bumppo, author,The Columbus Book of Euchre Borf Books http://www.borfents.com Box 413 Brownsville KY 42210 (270) 597-2187 [copyright 2002] [next]

 Don’t trump your partner’s ace! – July 12, 2002 We’ll call them Dick and Jane – nothigh rated (1582 and 1316, respectively, on Yahoo!) – but this is too good to letgo unremarked.