There is such a variety of opinion about the bridge that the writers do not feel confident enough to express any decided view about the matter.
It is a complicated question from a mathematical point of view, and they have never kept any record for a long enough period of time to be of any practical value.
They doubt, however, the expediency of keeping the bridge strictly.
If, however, the bridge is to be kept at all, it should be kept always, and in the same manner; otherwise you deceive your partner.
There is a growing tendency to abolish the bridge. The writers remember distinctly not long ago when every one kept the bridge; now the same players take their chances with two lay aces, or the ace and another in trumps. This, however, is purely a matter of taste, and is not offered here as an arbitrary rule.
Naturally, some hands will make four beyond a doubt; but it is much harder to get an imperfect lone hand through against two good players than against two inferior ones; hence the better the players, the less is the value of the bridge against the ordinary lone hand.
It is impossible to absolutely define a “lone hand.” With the score three-all, four-all, or any score in your favor, do not risk a light lone hand. It is our opinion that a great many points are lost by not taking your partner with you for a march.
With the score four-one or four-two against you, you may take a desperate chance.
If your opponents keep bridges tolerably strictly, you must, of course, be more careful if they have passed.
The eldest hand has the best position to play a lone hand, and the dealer the next best.
The second and third hands have the weakest positions for lone hands, especially the third hand, if the turn-up is the trump, since if the third hand declares to play alone it has become an established custom for the dealer to discard next in suit, and for his partner to lead it to him. The third hand should take this into consideration before playing alone. This is the only case when the original lead of next in suit has any significance.
In playing against a lone hand, you should lead from a short suit or suit of equals, if possible, and the fourth card you play (supposing always the lone hand to take the first four tricks with trumps) should inform your partner what suit you mean to keep. For example: Clubs are trumps. Eldest hand has two small trumps, queen of hearts, and queen and seven of spades. Lead the queen of hearts. The dealer, who is playing alone, ruffs the heart and leads both bowers and the ace of trumps. On the fourth trick you play the seven of spades; your partner, holding the ace of spades and the ten of diamonds, should throw away the ace of spades and keep the ten, thereby attacking the lone hand in all three suits.
Example: Clubs are trumps. The eldest hand has the king of clubs, the king of hearts, the ace and seven of diamonds, and the ten of spades. Lead the king of hearts, throw away the ten of spades as early as possible, and play the seven of diamonds on the fourth trick, thereby informing your partner that you are keeping a diamond.
If you lead from equals,—as king, queen, or queen, knave,—and your opponent takes the trick with a card of that suit, throw away all your other cards, however high, and keep your second one of that suit. This applies always against the dealer, and usually against any other player.
If the eldest hand holds the ace of hearts and the ace and king of spades (the trump being a club), lead the ace of hearts and advertise the command of the spade suit by throwing away the ace as soon as possible.
An exception: For third hand, supposing the dealer to have taken the first three tricks without showing a lay card and to have led a winning trump for the fourth trick. If your partner's fourth card is a lay king, and you hold one card of that suit and one of another, neither of which suits has been ruffed, keep the card of the same suit as your partner's king on the fourth trick.
With an assistance you may play a lone hand with less strength than otherwise.
Should your partner declare to play alone, and you have a fair trump hand with no weakness in lay suits, it is good play to take it from him.
The following cases are offered to illustrate some of the fine points in the game. Opportunities for making some of these plays occur frequently, and every ambitious euchre-player should be familiar with them. The easiest way to follow them is to place the cards on the table as shown below.
A coup is when you depart from the ordinary established rules of play, with certain reasons for each special case. Do not hesitate when attempting a coup. Consider what the play of your adversaries means, as well as that of your partner.
Bear in mind that coups are justified only in exceptional cases.
In all these cases A and C are partners. A is the dealer, and the discard is supposed to have been properly made.
First Trick.—B leads knave of diamonds, C plays the seven, D ruffs with the ten of clubs, and A throws away the eight of spades.
Second Trick.—D leads the ace of spades, A ruffs with the nine of clubs, and both B and C follow suit.
Third Trick.—A leads the right bower and catches the ace and king from B and D, while his partner throws his small diamond.
Fourth Trick.—in this case A will win whether he leads the ace or king of hearts; but his play should be the king, since his partner cannot help him in any way, and B might hold the left bower and pass the king of hearts, when he would ruff the ace.
Remarks. —If A goes over the ten of trumps with his right in the first trick, he will be euchred. This is the simplest coup, and is in constant use. It is not good euchre to do this when your partner has assisted.
Remarks.—B leads the right through the assisting hand, C plays the ace, D the seven, and A should play the king. If A plays the queen to give information to his partner, B should at once continue with the eight of hearts, and thus effect a euchre. If A plays the king, B's natural play would be to lead the ace of clubs, whereby A and C make their point. Few cases arise when you should conceal information from your partner, but this is one of them.
Score, four to three in favor of A and C. C assists.
First Trick.—B leads the ten of hearts, C plays the right, D the king, and A the seven.
Second Trick.—C leads the ace of clubs, D plays the ten, A the eight of clubs, and B the king.
Third Trick.—C leads the ace of spades, D plays the king, A ruffs with the nine of hearts, and B plays the nine of spades.
Fourth and Fifth Tricks.—A leads the left, thereby drawing all the trumps, and continues with the winning club.