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

Other columns by Joe Andrews:
The Top 10 Common Mistakes by the Novice Player
(Applies to "live" games only)

This month we go back to basics. If you are a professional player, you might want to skip this section of the column!

# 10: Mixing up the Left (Bower) with the suit of the same color -- It really is amazing how many beginner players have trouble with this aspect of the game. On rare instances, I have seen some seasoned players make this mistake as well! For those who are just learning, let me review. Suppose the dealer picks up a Spade, thus establishing Spades as trump. You hold the Jack of Clubs, and the 9 of Spades, King and Queen of Diamonds, and the 10 of Hearts. You are seated to the left of the dealer. You lead your King of Diamonds, and the dealer wins the Ace. Now he leads the Right (Bower), and you follow with the nine-spot. Dealer then tables the Ace of Spades, and you, in a forgetful moment, decide to toss a "meaningless" ten of Hearts. You must have been thinking that you had a singleton Club, and no more Spades. This constitutes a revoke (renege), and your opponents are awarded two points. Furthermore, you had the guarded Left (Bower), and still give up the equivalent of a March. Always pay attention to the Left. Place it on the far right of your hand if you have to!

# 9: Discarding too early -- Suppose the dealer picks up the top card, after three passes. You have two plain-suit Aces, and want to drop one of these Aces on the table ASAP. However, you do this BEFORE the dealer has made the discard. Now, the dealer has the right to discard anything he wants. You may rest assured, that he will be voiding the suit of your led Ace, if he possibly can. Wait for the dealer to make his discard before you make your opening lead.

#8: Calling out of turn -- Know who the dealer is, and bid in rotation. You do have the right to ask who the dealer is for a given hand. On a same level, is leading out of turn. Most live events enforce a two penalty for either / both of these infractions.

#7: Passing with three trump -- A lot of players just love the idea of "bushwhacking," which is the setting of a trap (for the dealer) with three trump. If you are sitting to the left of the dealer, and you hold any three trump, order up to the dealer. I know that Q, 10, 9 of trump are pretty shabby, but three trump are still three trump! If you pass, and the dealer turns down the up card, you will also be forced to pass, as your aforementioned three-card suit is now rendered somewhat useless. (Yes, I know, it takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to order the Right -- if that is the up card -- into the dealer's hand!) And on occasion, you will get burned. However, Euchre is not a game for the meek. Do not pass with three trump!

#6: Going alone with 8 or 9 points -- It's easy to be cheesy! Nothing will rile your partner more than declaring a Loner when your side can win the game with a March, or 1 point (when you are sitting with a score of 9). There are rare instances when calling a Loner in this situation will apply -- too infrequent to worry about here.

Comment -- don't declare a Loner with a score of 8 / 9 points.

#5: Failure to trust your partner -- When void in a side suit led by your right-hand opponent and sitting in second position, you would do best to discard and trust the trick to your partner. This is especially true early in the play of the hand. The discard will be very helpful in directing partner's next play. There are some exceptions, which will become familiar to you as you acquire experience. (For those who love hindsight analysis, there will be those times when you do not trump, and partner will not have the Ace, and you will be asked why did you let that trick go by!)

#4: Leading trump (when defending) -- If the opponents have named trump, why accommodate them with trump leads? A rare exception occurs when you hold three solid trump (A, K, Q) and a side Ace, and are sure of a natural trump trick.

#3: Leading an Ace against a Loner -- This is one of the worst possible plays, and often squeezes partner if he is holding the other two plain-suit Aces. A good lead against a loner is a singleton spot card, or the top of a sequence such as K, Q or Q, J of a plain suit.

#2: Attacking their Master Trump (when you are the maker of trump) -- If you are on lead and have taken two tricks, and you hold one of the two remaining trump, and the "missing" trump is higher than your last trump, you must shift to another suit. A side plain-suit Ace is ideal. Partner may have to help. Of course, if the missing trump is in the "kitty," you are in the clear!

#1: Revoking (reneging) -- There is no excuse for failing to follow suit. If caught, you will get burned every time. Warning -- beware of a defender who trumps the first lead of \ a side suit. Watch his discards for the balance of the hand. And always be sure to follow suit when possible.

Honorable Mention -- Using the lesser of two trump when presented with a third-seat trumping scenario. If you hold the

Left -- small, K and 9, A and 10, etc., of trump (or any two non-sequential trump), and the next player has followed suit or played a low trump, and you are void in your partner's led suit, use your higher trump to ruff. It may very well force a key trump from the dealer's hand. The Bridge and Spades players often describe the play of a small trump as "sending a boy to do a man's work."

Thank God for Internet play! A lot of the aforementioned scenarios can never take place in online competition.

Euchre will be a lot more fun when you play with a regular partner, and you'll learn more about reading the cards, psychology of play, and when to take the offensive.

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