Monday, March 20, 2006

The lone ace lead

Euchre QOD: “Trump ‘em if ya got ‘em”

Euchre Haiku:
Partner leads an ace
Next opponent follows suit
The do decision

Euchre Palaver
“Trumping” – Playing a trump card on a trick in which a different suit was led. Also known as “ruffing”, this play requires that you do not have a card in the led suit. Since any trump is higher than any non-trump, this card will usually win the trick. That is unless someone trumps higher.

Savvy Strategies
Sometimes it happens that your partner has led an ace in an off-suit and the decision on what to play comes to you. Often you will have no choice because you’ll only have one card in that suit and you must play it. On occasion you’ll have more than one card in the led suit or you’ll have no cards in the led suit. In these cases, you’ll have to make a decision. Here are some thoughts on what you might do.

First, when you have more than one card in the suit.
1. Play your low card to set up the high one as a winner. Suppose you have some a King and a ten in the led suit. You should play the ten and save the King in the event that the suit gets led again. Similarly, if you have the Queen and nine, you should play the nine. It’s not likely that these cards will win later on but it’s good to leave open the possibility that the will.

When you are
void in the suit but have no trump
2. Play your lowest card in a long off-suit. This is a signaling play that a savvy partner will pick up on. Suppose you have an Ace and another card in a different off-suit. By playing the low card in that suit, you are signaling to your partner that you have an ace in that suit and you would like them to lead it. If you don’t have a doubleton ace, you should still throw your lowest card in your long suit. This tells your partner that you are long in the suit and they should be wary of leading it. It will most likely be trumped.

When you are void in the suit but have trump
3. Play a singleton in one of your off-suits. One of the Ten Commandments of Euchre states that you should “never trump your partner’s Ace”. This is excellent advice that you should almost always heed. If you have a singleton, you should play this card to void yourself in a different suit. Your partner will then see this and lead that suit hoping that you will ruff it.

4. Play a trump to win the trick. While many euchre partners will lash out at you if you trump their ace, it is not always wrong to do so. Here are some cases in which you should trump your partner’s ace.
A. You want the lead. If you have a particular strategy in mind and you need the lead to do it, then feel free to trump it.
B. All you have is trump. Not much choice here. But play a high one so your opponent can’t win with a small trump.
C. You believe your left-hand opponent is going to trump. Make sure you play a high trump so the left-hand opponent has to trump higher.

Follow these tips and you won’t do your partner’s Ace wrong.

League Night
Tonight is the final night of winter league euchre. We are in the top 6 teams and need to win 2 matches to make it to the finals. I feel good about our chances! We are the best team that is left and if our cards are good enough, we should win. Stay tuned for results tomorrow.

Euchre on the Web
- I don’t know who put together these rules but they’re terrible. Don’t follow them.


Kevin said...

It seems to me the partner knows no information when they've led Ace of diamonds, and you ruff a nine of hearts. It may be the case that you have the ace of hearts, are long in hearts, or have just voided yourself in hearts. In each case, you recommend the partner should act differently. I suppose when it gets back to the partner's lead, they mostly have to rely on the rest of the cards in the prevous trick, and what they have in their hand.

Perry said...

You are correct in that your partner won't know specifically if you have the ace in that suit, are void, or are just long in the suit. In the first 2 cases, you would want your partner to lead the suit that you've thrown. If you have the ace, then it may win. If you are void, then you can trump to win.

In the 3rd case, you aren't inclined to have your partner lead the suit but they'd just have to use info about the rest of the cards to adjust their play. These is probably least desirable.

Signaling in euchre is not an exact science. But if you pay attention to the cards you are throwing (and the one your partner throws) you could get a good idea about what you might want to play next.