Friday, May 05, 2006

Euchre book review - The Columbus Book of Euchre

Euchre QOD: “What do you care what your partner thinks?”

Euchre Haiku:
The lack of knowledge
Is inherent in euchre
Read books to learn more

Euchre Book Review:

Book: The Columbus Book of Euchre
Author: Natty Bumpo
Rating: 4 out of 5 chickens

Here at the Euchre Universe we thought we would try something a little different this Friday and review a euchre book. Since it’s the only one that I actually own and have read, today’s book review will be on Natty Bumpo’s The Columbus Book of Euchre.

I remember when I first ordered this book back in 2000. I saw an advertisement on the web and called in my order. I don’t think they had a website at the time. The person taking my order said I needed to send them a check before they’d send out the book. I asked, “how do I know you are not going to just cash the check and not send me a book?” He said, “how do I know you aren’t going to send me a bum check and get my book for free?” He made a good point so I sent my check and got my book within the week.

That story is reflective of the spirit of The Columbus Book of Euchre. Irreverent, unapologetic, and confident in the information put forth. Natty Bumpo is clearly a euchre guru.

At first glance, the book is not very pretty. It’s “hand-made”, staple-bound, and looks very much like it was originally printed from a computer and created from copies made at the local Kinko’s. The cover is made from red construction paper and the pages aren’t even cut to be flush. If you were expecting a glossy, flashy tome, this book is not for you.

However, if you are like me and can forgive the extraneous aesthetics you’ll find this is a darn good piece of work. Overall, I’d say this is an essential book for any serious euchre player to have in their library. It contains lots of useful information about the game of euchre. It is well-written, presents advanced card-playing strategies in an engaging manner, and is also pretty darn funny at times. (The few pictures that are included are hilarious.)

The second edition has 90 pages that are organized in a Preface, 3 chapters, an Appendix and Index. In the Author’s Preface a brief and interesting history of the origin of euchre is provided. What I like about this section is that it provides some info but is short. I didn’t buy the book to learn about history, I wanted some new strategies!

The first chapter starts off with definitions. If you don’t know anything about euchre the definitions won’t make much sense. And actually if you do know something about euchre the definitions will only make some sense. But they are funny and even helpful in understanding the information that’s presented later.

The next chapter, Rules, could’ve come first. Here is a good explanation of how you play this version of euchre. The version described here is how we play euchre in Chicago. It’s a very helpful chapter and even includes a section on irregularities and what to do when they happen.

The third chapter, Ploys and Axioms, is the heart of this book taking up nearly 30 pages. Similar to chapter one, it is arranged in an encyclopedic fashion organized in alphabetic order. It’s a strange way to organize the information since one entry does not build on another, but the information is great. You’ll find tips about what hands you should order, when to order, what to lead, when to go alone, how to play, etc. Incredibly useful stuff, if you can get over the odd arrangement.

The Appendix gives rules for different types of euchre games including two-handed and solitaire euchre. Those are excellent. I’ve tried both and they are pretty fun. Next is a review of other books on euchre. The reviews are funny if not a little harsh. I can’t really comment because I haven’t read the books that were reviewed. Finally, is a single page mention of computer euchre and the index. The section on computer euchre isn’t terribly helpful but that’s really not the focus of this book.

Overall, I liked this book. If you can get past the “homey” look and odd organization, you’ll discover a wealth of information that will make even the worst euchrehead better.

Euchre on the Web
Check out Natty’s website for lots of insightful and amusing commentary.

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