By Joe Andrews, author of "The Complete Win At Euchre"

Other columns by Joe Andrews:
   
The History of Euchre
Euchre is a classic card game that is currently enjoying a revival. Its simplicity and speed make it attractive to card players who have limited time, and its balance of luck and skill gives both novices and experienced players reason to think they can win! Unlike Spades, Hearts, Bridge, Whist, Cribbage, (to name a few) which have a nice clear lineage, Euchre is a card game that features has a murky and disputed history. My research revealed at least ten sources, and more confusion regarding the explanation about the origin of this game. The "historians" discussed in this section represent some of the outstanding card game authorities of all time. I leave it up to the readers to draw their own conclusions.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, versions of Euchre that differ slightly from the modern game, were very popular in Europe. John McLeod of London, England, card game expert and connoisseur, maintains the website www.pagat.com, a treasure trove of information on all card games. David Parlatt, an esteemed authority on card game history, attributes the roots of Euchre to the Alsatian game, Jucker. Other card historians, including Catherine Perry Hargrave, argue that Euchre evolved from the French game �cart�, a descendant of the Spanish game triumph. An early version played in England and France during the mid-1700s was called "ruff," a term still used by Bridge and Spades players to mean the act of trumping when void in the suit led.

Euchre was modernized and brought to America during the Napoleonic era, although controversy persists as to how and with whom it arrived. Renowned Bridge expert, Charles Goren, and the great Bridge author George Coffin, both claimed that Euchre was popularized by the Pennsylvania Dutch. One piece of evidence supporting this theory is that the Euchre term "bower" is similar to the German word "Bauer", meaning "farmer" (as well as "pawn" in chess, incidentally). However, both Hargreave and John Scarne, the noted poker expert and author of The Encyclopedia of Card Games, are of the opinion that Euchre was introduced by the French in Louisiana, and later traveled up the Mississippi River to the northern states. - And on it goes!

Around 1850, jokers were first added to playing-card decks in the U.S. for specifically for use in the game of Euchre. Today, a joker is no longer used in the form of Euchre practiced by most U.S. players, but it still serves as the highest trump in the British version of Euchre.

A little over 100 years ago, when the popularity of Whist was fading and Poker was somewhat limited to riverboats and the Old West, Euchre was the most popular card game in the United States. A few decades later, it was eclipsed by Bridge. The United States Playing Card Company (Bicycle cards) tried to sustain Euchre in the 1920's and 30's with specially prepared decks of of custom cards and by creating games with rules based on those of Euchre. During the 1930s and '40s, contract Bridge was all the rage. Pioneers like Goren, Oswald Jacoby, and Fred Sheinwold promoted tournaments, and the American Contract Bridge League grew rapidly in membership. The recent aging of the Bridge population has resulted in a decline for Bridge. Other games, meanwhile, also began to gain fans at Euchre's expense. These included Spades (the # 1 partnership card in the U.S., Canasta (a huge craze from 1948 to 1955), and Bid Whist. The last 20 years has also seen the popularity of the World Series of Poker. Nonetheless, Euchre still has retained a core following. It is a game which is easy to learn, fun to play, and a good challenge.

Today, Euchre is played "live", primarily in the midwest (most notably in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois,) as well as western Ontrario, Canada, and in the Florida and Arizona retirement communities. It is also, an "on line" favorite. The growth of Safe Harbor Games provides a nice haven for devotees of this game.

Today, Euchre still has legions of loyal fans around the country, and thousands of new players.

Try it - you'll like it!

PS - Check out my Euchre book - a guide for players of all abilities!

 

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