British Euchre

British euchre includes the introduction of the Benny card as high trump, for added complexity. This is another game played with four players divided into two teams with partners sitting opposite one another. You'll need a pack of twenty-five cards consisting of the ace, king, queen, jack, ten, and nine in each suit and an additional Benny card, which is either a joker or 2. The trump suit has eight cards ranking from high to low as: Benny, Right Bower (jack of the trump suit), Left Bower (jack of the same color as the trump suit), ace, king, queen, ten, and nine. Each of the other suits has five or six cards ranking as normal. The goal in each hand is to win at least three of the five tricks in the hand, earning your team points. The team that scores ten or more points wins the game.

Dealing the Hand

The first dealer is selected through a process where you each cut the deck. If you cut the highest card, you become the dealer, and the deal rotates clockwise after each hand is played. You deal the deck clockwise, giving each player a group of two or three cards face down in any order. You then deal clockwise again, giving any player who was dealt two cards in the first round three cards in the second, and vice versa. You turn up the next card in the pack face up and this up card is used as a basis for selecting the trump suit. The last four cards are left face down and are not used.

Picking the Trump Suit

After dealing, it's time to pick the trump suit. If the Benny is turned up and you're the dealer, your team automatically becomes the makers. You must choose the trump suit before looking at your cards. You then pick up the Benny and discard a card from your hand. If the Benny is not turned up, the player to your left may choose to accept the up-card suit as the trump, accept the suit as trump and “go alone,” or she can pass. Choosing to go alone means that the player's partner does not play in this hand. This continues around the table until the trump is selected or the dealer passes.

If the up card is selected as trump, you (as the dealer) pick up the up card and add it to your hand, discarding one card face down, and begin playing tricks. If all four players pass on the up card, it is turned face down. The players then have the option to make any suit trump, other than the up-card suit. Starting with the player to the dealer's left, each player can pass or name a trump. If you all pass during the second round, the cards are thrown in and the next player deals. If a trump suit is selected, that player's team becomes the “makers” and the opposite side becomes the “defenders.” At this point any of the other players may choose to “go alone” as well.

Playing the Tricks

If all four players are in the game, the play begins with the player to the dealer's left laying his first card. If one player is playing alone, the person to that player's left leads first. If two players are playing alone, the defender leads.

The first player to lead may lay down any one card in his hand face up on the table. Play continues clockwise around the table. When it's your turn, you must follow suit, if you can, by playing one card of the same suit that was led. If you cannot follow suit, you may play any card. The trick goes to the player who played the highest card of the suit led, unless a trump was played, in which case the highest trump wins. The winner of each trick starts off the next one.

What does Bower mean?

Bower is derived from the German word Bauer, which means a farmer or peasant and is also a word for the jack. Through the years, the third-highest-ranking card has been called a knave, a jack, a Bauer, and a chevalier.

After all tricks have been played, the hand is scored. If your team is the makers, you score one point if you win three or four tricks. You score two points if you win all five tricks (four points if one player of your team is going alone). If you take fewer than three tricks, you are “euchred,” and the defenders score two points (four points if one of the defender's team is going alone). The game is normally played to five, seven, ten, or eleven points.

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