The game of Euchre

By John W. Keller, 1887

Miscellaneous Variations - CHAPTER 9

The variations of Euchre already given are the forms in which the game is most frequently met with. They illustrate the cardinal principles of the game, as well as its best and most popular elements. It is not surprising, therefore, that they should have encountered such general popularity. But there are still other variations of Euchre, some of which have been received with considerable favor, and some have been relegated to oblivion. Among the former is French euchre

French Euchre.

In this form of Euchre only twenty-four cards are used, all below nines being thrown out.

Four persons play the game, partners sitting opposite each other, as in the regular four-handed game of Euchre.

The allotment of partners and the deal are decided by cutting, as in the regular game; and the cards are dealt according to the rule already given, but no trump is turned.

When the deal has been completed, each player, in turn, beginning with the eldest hand, has the right to bid for the privilege of naming the trump; and that player making the highest bid is entitled to name the trump. For instance, if A and B are playing against C and D, and it is A's deal, with C holding the eldest hand, C has the first bid. He bids to make three tricks. B, who is A's partner, and therefore sits immediately to the left of C, must then bid or declare that he will not bid. But unless he bids more than three tricks, his bid is worthless; for C has already bid three tricks, and B cannot supersede him without bidding more than three tricks. If B bids four tricks, however, he supersedes C in the right to make the trump. Then comes D's turn, and he must bid more than either C or B in order to make the trump. And finally, if none of the foregoing players has bid five tricks, the bid comes to A, who may name the trump by bidding higher than any other player.

If any player, the eldest hand for instance, bids five tricks, that ends the bidding for that deal; for five tricks are all that can be made, and no player has the right to bid exactly the same number of tricks that a preceding player has bid. In other words, if two or more players bid the same number of tricks, and no higher bid has been made, the right to name the trump belongs to the player first making that bid.

Each player has but one bid for the trump. When the trump has been disposed of to the highest bidder, and he has named it, the play begins with the eldest hand leading. The game then proceeds according to the rules of the regular four-handed game of Euchre, except so far as scoring and lone hands are concerned. Lone hands cannot be played.

Should either side make more tricks than are bid, it cannot count the tricks in excess of the number bid. For instance, if a side bids three tricks, and makes five, it can count only three.

A player winning the making of the trump by his bid must, with the assistance of his partner, make the number of tricks bid, or else be euchred. In the event of a euchre, the opposing side is entitled to score all that the side making the trump would have scored, had it been successful. For example, if a side bids five tricks, and fails to make them, the opposing side is entitled to score five points.

Fifteen points constitute the game in French Euchre, and each trick counts a point.


Napoleon is a French variation of Euchre, and in some respects resembles French Euchre. It is played with thirty-two cards, - all below the sevens being left out, - and by any number of players under seven.

Each player plays for himself.

The deal is settled by cutting, as in the regular game; and the cards are dealt from right to left, two cards at a time to each player, and then three, or three at a time to each player, and then two.

After the cards are dealt, no trump is turned; but each player has a chance to bid, beginning with the eldest hand, and progressing in turn to the left until the dealer is reached, who has the last bid unless some other player shall have bid five points, and thus ended all competition.

After' the eldest hand has bid, each succeeding player must bid more, or pass. Or, to make the rule more comprehensive, each player must bid more than any preceding player, or pass.

The player who bids to make the most tricks names the trump, and all the other players combine to defeat him.

The player making the highest bid always leads. If he should lead a card without naming the trump, the card led is understood to be the trump.

A player must make all the tricks he bids, or else be euchred. In the event of his making all the tricks he has bid, he is entitled to collect one chip for each trick from each of his opponents. But if he fails to make all the tricks he has bid, he must pay to each opponent one chip for each trick he bid. For instance, if a player bids three, and names the trump, and makes these three tricks, he can collect three chips from each of his opponents. But if he fails to make three tricks, he must pay three chips to each of his opponents.

The value of the chips must be settled by the players before the commencement of the game.

If a player bids to make all five tricks, and succeeds, the payment from each of his opponents is double, or ten chips. This play is called Napoleon.

In all cases where the bid is less than five tricks, the payment is one chip for each trick taken.

If a player should bid any number less than five, and, after having made the number of tricks he bid, should continue to play, his opponents may compel him to play for the entire five tricks; and in the event of his failure to make five tricks, he loses the game, and must pay five chips to each of his opponents. And even if he should succeed in making five tricks under these conditions, he would not be entitled to collect ten chips from each of his opponents, because he did not declare Napoleon, and did not set out with the intention of making all five tricks, as his bid shows. Therefore, if he succeeds, he can collect but five chips from each of his opponents.

It will be seen from this, that a player should be careful not to lead a card after having made all the tricks that he has bid. He should then turn his cards down, and collect his winnings, as he has done all that he set out to do.

Each player must play the number of tricks he bids, unless some other player out-bids him. He has but one bid, and he must stick to whatever he bids.

A trick once turned cannot be examined until the end of the game.

A revoke forfeits the game.

In all other particulars, - following suit, playing out of turn, exposed cards, etc., - the rules of the regular game of Euchre govern Napoleon.

The number of cards used in playing Napoleon is sometimes varied according to the number of players engaged in the game. If four or less are playing, all cards below the nines are thrown out. If seven players should engage in the game, the sixes are added to the regular Euchre pack of thirty-two cards, so that there may be enough cards to give each player his complement. And it has happened, that, when six are playing, two of the sevens have been discarded so as to deal out the entire pack. These variations, however, depend entirely upon the humor of the players, the only absolutely necessary one being the addition of the sixes in order to allow seven players to engage in the game.

Another variety of Napoleon is sometimes called "six-handed Euchre." Six players engage after having formed two partnerships of three members each. These partners are seated alternately, and the game is identical with French Euchre except in these particulars: -

The game is usually twenty-five points.

Two of the sevens are discarded from the pack, so that all the cards are dealt out.

When a bid is made, the suit on which the bid is based must be declared; but1 it is not necessary to lead the suit declared, although that suit is the trump suit, and must be remembered as such.

The winning side can score no more than the number of tricks bid, although it may make more in playing out the hands.

If the side making the bid fails to make the number of tricks bid, the opposing side scores the number of tricks bid.

Set-back Euchre.

The last and probably the least popular variation of Euchre, of which I shall treat, is known as Set-back Euchre. The name is- derived from the character of the game, for any player failing to make what he undertakes is set back just that much in his score.

Set-back Euchre may be played by two or more players, and the object of the game is to get rid of points; each player starting out with a score of five points, and that player winning the game who first wipes out his score.

Ordinarily the score at the commencement of the game is indicated by a cross, thus: X. As the process of "wiping out" develops, the center of this cross is first wiped away, leaving the four points to be wiped out one after the other. This method of scoring is rather primitive, to say the least; and unless the players should have a board and a piece of chalk, or a slate and pencil, the practicability of wiping out would be decidedly questionable. There is really no legitimate reason for the existence of this cross to the exclusion of other methods of scoring; and as it savors rather of "the bar-room" than of genteel society, I would recommend numerals as being quite as effective and fully as simple.

As in three-handed Euchre, each player plays for himself; and when any player orders up the trump, or makes it, or takes it up, all the other players combine to defeat him.

If a player adopts or orders up the trump, and takes three tricks, he is entitled to diminish his score by one point. If he makes a march, he may deduct two points from his score. But if he is euchred he is set back two points; that is, two points are added to his score. o

If any player fails to take a single trick, he is set back one point. But if a player thinks his hand is so weak that he cannot take a single trick, he may throw up his hand, and thus save himself from being set back.

Sometimes the interest in Set-back Euchre is enhanced by making a pool to be won conjointly with the game. This is done by each participant placing a chip in the pool at the beginning of the game. The value of these chips may be anything that the players agree upon. Whenever any player is euchred, he has to put an additional chip in the pool, and at the close of the game the winner takes everything.

Like most other games at cards, Set-back Euchre has its variations, although it is a variation itself. Sometimes it is allowed a player to "declare " to take all the tricks, and if he accomplishes this to give him the game, no matter what his score may have been previous to the time of "declaring;" but if this player fails to take all the tricks as he "declared," he is set back just as many points as he had previous to his "declaration." For instance, if a player has a score of six points, and he "declares," and makes all the five tricks, he wins the game and the pool; but if he fails to take all the five tricks, he is set back six points, making his score twelve, and he must pay another chip into the pool besides. The player who declares to take all the five tricks has the privilege of making the lead, unless he should be the dealer, to whom this privilege is denied.

Still another variation of Set-back Euchre stipulates that when any player is euchred, he is not only set back two points, but his adversary or adversaries, as the case may be, are allowed to deduct two points from their score.

When Set-back Euchre is played for a monetary consideration, it sometimes happens that the players will agree to pay a certain sum to the winner for every point that each has to go when the game ends. This is usually in addition to the amount staked on the issue of the game. For instance, if the amount staked on the game should be two dollars for each player, the agreement for points would probably not be more than twenty-five or fifty cents for each point. Even at this rate, however, the tax might be heavy, as each loser must have at least one point to wipe out when the game ends, and some of them generally have many more.

But these variations, as in the case of all variations that have not become fundamental laws by usage, cannot be played unless agreed upon by the players previous to the opening of the game,

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