January 12, 2006

Today's Euchre Puzzle

You and your partner are down 8-6. Everybody passed on the up card, A♠. You are on dealer's left and have the bid and first lead. You're holding J♦ J♥ A♣ J♣ 9♣.

Do you bid? What suit? Do you go alone? Feel free to comment before reading about what I did, which appears after the jump.

I went red and took my partner with me. I was a little concerned about being euchred if I went alone (either opponent having three trump and no clubs would have done it), which would have ended the game, and I thought I had a better shot of marching with my partner than without.

Turns out I could have gone alone. It played out exactly like I'd hoped: nobody had three trumps or three clubs, and I took all the tricks without any help from my partner. No matter - we ended up winning the game later anyway.


Posted by Chris at January 12, 2006 02:55 PM

Category: Euchre

I'd probably call diamonds/hearts and go alone leading red jacks then AJ9. The clubs is the hard part obviously. Just hope your partner had a couple clubs. :)

Posted by: paul at January 12, 2006 07:29 PM

I'd also go alone in either diamonds or hearts. Lead the two jacks, hopefully draw out the rest of the trump, and then the Ace, Jack, and Nine.

Of course, I usually take a lot of risks when I play, so take that into account.

I think the safe routes would be to:

1. Play the same as above but not alone and possibly take all five tricks.
2. Call clubs and get a fairly easy three-trick score (depending on your partner to grab one of the off-suiters in case one of the clubs doesn't walk). But where's the fun in that?

Posted by: jim in MI at January 12, 2006 08:09 PM

Clubs isn't a safe route; "count on your partner for at least one" is a damned lie-- it's true except when it isn't. Whenever Lady Luck delivers the seemingly powerful combo of the right bar and ace of trump, she almost always delivers the left into the hands of the other team...the bitch. Going red, leading both bars, then throwing the ace is the only safe bet here.

Going alone is the real gamble part of that. Without the partnerial support, you may lose the ace trick; but if you don't, it's only the unlikely event that the same person is holding the high two or three of the remaining clubs that stands in your way of winning the game. (Unless you play that you have to be in the barn first).

I'd have gone for it. And probably lost. If Ferguson were reading this, he'd probably already have the probabilities worked out by now... :)

Posted by: chess h at January 12, 2006 11:01 PM

LOL I missed that he WAS reading this... my bad.

Posted by: chess h at January 12, 2006 11:06 PM

As a native of Indiana (where Euchre is the unofficial state pastime -- basketball is the official one), I think I can say that you should call hearts or diamonds, but not go alone. Going alone with less than three guaranteed tricks could be cause for physical assault.

Likewise, not calling something with that hand might also get you hurt.

Calling clubs is tempting, but that other bauer is hanging out there somewhere just waiting to steal the lead from you, and then you are screwed. Of course, you could call clubs and lead with the nine, hoping to draw the spade early and steal the lead back later. That would take some cojones, though, because if it goes bady, your partner would be perfectly justified in beating you senseless with a summer sausage.

Some people in Indiana take Euchre VERY seriously. And, yes, I have played cards with some of those people. I live in Iowa now, and hope that they don't find me. :)

Posted by: Jim of St. Grimblefig's Monastery at January 12, 2006 11:50 PM

Great comments, everybody. I think I'll leave this open a little while longer (although I think about all my regular readers have checked in already).

Another couple of data points -
o it was a casual game; my wife and I (who almost never play as partners) vs. my neighbors
o my left opponent is a very aggressive bidder; the bid would almost certainly not have made it to my wife.

Posted by: Chris of Dangerous Logic at January 13, 2006 08:17 AM

I would've called either red suit, but not gone for the loner unless I had a really strong feeling that I should go it alone. Not being there to read the body language is a big detriment to the decision making process....

Posted by: Susie at January 13, 2006 11:37 AM

Reading body language, Susie?

You must be one of those people Jim (who, BTW, used to live very close to where you now work) moved to Iowa to escape from! :)

Reading body language is pretty low on the priority list the way we play euchre in my neighborhood; it's kind of problematic when you're juggling your cards in one hand, your beer in the other hand, and your cigarette in your other other hand.

Posted by: Chris of Dangerous Logic at January 13, 2006 12:05 PM

Either red suite not alone would be my bet. But I've been known to call it alone and been killed

Posted by: David at January 13, 2006 02:04 PM

Two clubs from an opponent was sufficient to stop going alone. Since you had 9 and J, if either opponent had two clubs, at worst they play the 10 to your A, and then your J is beat by any other club.

Posted by: paul at January 20, 2006 02:46 PM

Id call spades as a safe route, you have none meaning ur partner must be loaded.

Posted by: Card at February 13, 2006 09:21 AM