The game of Euchre
By John W. Keller, 1887
Progressive Euchre - CHAPTER
We now come to a form of Euchre which has attained vast popularity in social circles, not because it requires greater skill to play it, but because its character is so generally and thoroughly sociable. Progressive Euchre parties are agreeable alike to the expert Euchre player and to the novice: for, while the former would doubtless prefer a well-contested rubber in a quiet corner, he will find here such accompanying diversion that he will be tempted to forgive the lack of skill that he will find in both partners and adversaries; on the other hand, the novice will find his ignorance shielded to a degree by the jollity and merriment that usually prevail on such occasions. Indeed, Progressive Euchre is generally but little more than the pretext for the congregation of good-natured people for an evening's amusement.
The game is really regular Euchre played by an unusual number of people, who constantly change their tables and partners in regular order. Hence the name.
The first thing necessary for a game of Progressive Euchre is the selection of a congenial company. After that the tables must be arranged in order, and numbered from one upwards to as many as are needed; and the number needed equals the number of players divided by four, as four players occupy each table.
After the tables have been arranged, the partners are allotted. A simple and effective way of doing this is to mark cards or slips of paper with the numbers of the tables, and place two of each number in two separate bags or baskets, - one for the ladies, and the other for the gentlemen. It is presumed in this arrangement that an equal number of each sex is present. Then let each player draw a card or slip. He or she will find the number of his or her table written thereon, and must be seated accordingly; for instance, if a player draws a card marked No. 1, he^ knows that his place is at the first table. No. 2 means the second table, etc. The result will be that two gentlemen and two ladies will be found at each table. Of these a lady and a gentleman should play as partners against a lady and a gentleman.
When the partners have been seated at their respective tables, the game begins, the rules of the regular four-handed Euchre governing the progressive game.
The joker may be used if it be agreed upon before the game begins; but lone hands, laps, slams, jambone and jamboree are barred. The object of barring lone hands is to make all the games at the respective otables as nearly equal in point of time as possible.
The players at table No. 1, or the "head table" as it is usually called, govern the game so far as the time for playing each game is concerned. That is, when the players at the head table have completed their game, all the players at the other tables must stop whether they have completed their games or not. In order to facilitate matters, the head table is furnished with a bell, which must be rung when the game at that table is finished. At the sound of this bell the play at all the other tables must stop, no matter what the status of the game may be, and the several winners must progress.
Progression means simply the act of the winners of a game going from a lower to a higher table, and there changing partners. The highest table is the head table, or No. 1, the next highest is No. 2, and so on down through the entire number of tables that may be in use; the greater the number marking each table, the lower the table in progression. For example, suppose that there are four tables in use, and that they are numbered respectively 1, 2, 3, and 4. No. 1 will be the first or head table, and No. 4 will be the lowest.
When the players at the head table have finished their game, they ring the bell. Instantly the play at the other tables ceases, and progression begins. The winners at No. 2 progress to No. 1, where they find the losers in the game that has just been ended at No. 1. The players that have come up from No. 2 must now change partners with the players remaining at No. 1, before the next game is played. For example, suppose that A and B progress from No. 2 to No. 1, and there find C and D. Ordinarily A and C will be men and B and D women, as a man and a woman always play partners in Progressive Euchre, when the number of men equals the number of women. Therefore, in the case cited, A would take D for his new partner, and C would take B, and they would form the quartet playing at the head table for the second game of the series. Now the two winners at No. 3 must progress to No. 2, and change partners, and play with the defeated side remaining there. Likewise the winners at No. 4 must progress to No. 3, change o partners with and play with the losers remaining at % No. 3. And so the progression of the winners continues from a lower table to a higher throughout the whole number of tables that may be in use, with the solitary exception of the winners at the head table or No. 1. These must progress to the lowest table, and change partners, and play with the losers whom they will find there. This completes the cycle; and the game keeps revolving, as it were, the winners always progressing and changing partners, and the losers remaining stationary, until the game ends.
No play can be made at any table after the bell at the head table is rung. If a game at any table should be incomplete, the side having the most points are the accredited winners, and must progress to the next higher table.
If the two sides at any table should be tied when the bell is rung, - that is, have an equal number of points each, - the tie must be settled by cutting the cards, the side cutting the lowest card having the right to progress and winning the game. Here, as in all phases of Euchre, ace is low.
If the players at any table should finish their game before the bell is rung at the head table, they must wait until the winners progress, as only one game can be played between the soundings of the bell.
The time for a game of Progressive Euchre should be fixed before the game begins, either by naming an hour at which the game shall stop, or by specifying the number of games that shall be played. Otherwise some of the players, particularly the losers, will prolong the game indefinitely.
Each player is furnished with a blank card, upon which it is expected that he or she will keep a correct tally of the games won by himself or herself. These games are summed up in the end, and the player who is found to have won the greatest number is presented with a prize. The player having won the least number of games is also presented with a prize, which is known as the "booby" prize.
Ordinarily two first prizes are given, one to the lady winning the greatest number of games and one to the gentleman winning the greatest number of games. It also occurs sometimes, that second prizes are given respectively to the lady and gentleman coming out second best in the game. But the number of prizes, and their value, depend upon the means and inclination of the host, who always furnishes them, unless the game is played by a regularly organized club, as is the case very often. In such an event the club is its own host, and can furnish as many and as costly prizes as it desires.
It may occur in the formation of a Progressive Euchre party, when the ladies and gentlemen do not number equally, that two gentlemen or two ladies may have to play as partners. In that event, when such partners progress, and change partners, the change must be made by cutting the cards as in regular Euchre.
A variation in Progressive Euchre is to count the points made and not the games. The bell at the head table still regulates the progression, and it is still rung at the completion of a game of five points by the players at that table; but the players at the other tables may continue to play until the bell rings, even though one side may have made more than five points. When the bell rings, however, all playing stops,-progression ensues at once, and the partners are changed as before, the side at any table having the most points being the winners. But instead of counting games, each player keeps a correct tally of the points he has made, and the prizes are awarded according to the number of points, no account being taken of the games. The advantage of this method is that no breaks occur in the playing, and that it admits of the lone hand either ordinarily or in the railroad form as the players may agree. Its disadvantage is the cumbersomeness of the tally.