Euchre – Guernsey’s Card Game

War time Open Air Euchre Drive 20th July 1943

The card game of Euchre can arguably be considered Guernsey’s national game.

Across the island there’s a collective enthusiasm for the game that has resulted in leagues, clubs, Euchre drives and many a private euchre party. This love affair goes back a long way – even occupation by Nazi Germany couldn’t quench this love affair. Occupation newspapers were frequently full of Euchre League news. In July 1943, whilst the German Army grappled with the Soviets at the battle of Kursk, a week long open air Euchre drive attracting hundreds of players was held at Candie.

Before we look at how to play we should make one caveat – There can be quite a few variations in the rules & conventions of a Euchre game – so what follows is the most usual form played in Guernsey! Accordingly we beg your indulgence from any euchre fussbudgets reading this article 🙂


 What is Euchre?

Euchre is a trick taking type of card game and can be played with 2 or 4 people however it’s best and most usual for 4 participants, playing 2 against 2 as partners. In this article we only consider the rules for the four-hand version.

So here’s the low down on the game that’s gripped and continues to grip Guernsey’s card playing community.


 The Pack

The standard 52-card pack needs to be stripped down to make a deck of either :

32 cards [A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7 of each suit]
28 cards [7s omitted]
24 cards [7s and 8s omitted]

In some games, a joker is added.

In Guernsey Euchre is generally played with 32 cards plus the joker as per the United Euchre League site.


 Object Of The Game

The goal is to win at least three tricks. If the side that fixed the trump fails to get three tricks, it is said to be “euchred.” Winning all five tricks is called a “march.”


 Rank Of Cards

The highest trump is always the Joker, then the jack of the trump suit, called the “right bower.” The second-highest trump is the jack of the other suit of the same colour called the “left bower.”


If hearts were chosen as trumps then ranking would be as follows:

Trumps Others
Jkr Joker  
J “Right Bower”
Jack of trump suit
J “Left Bower”
Jack-same colour as trump
A Ace A
K King K
Q Queen Q
J Jack J
10 Ten 10
9 Nine 9
8 Eight 8
7 Seven 7
Example :If diamonds are trumps, the right bower is J♦ and left bower is J♥
 The remaining trumps, and also the plain suits, rank as follows:
 A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7.


 Card Values/Scoring

The following shows all scoring situations :

Partnership making trump wins 3 or 4 tricks – 1 point
Partnership making trump wins 5 tricks – 2 points
Lone hand wins 3 or 4 tricks – 1 point
Lone hand wins 5 tricks – 4 points
Partnership or lone hand is euchred opponents score 2 points

The first player or partnership to score 5, 7 or 10 points, as agreed beforehand, wins the game. In the 5-point game, a side is said to be “at the bridge” when it has scored 4 and the opponents have scored 2 or less.


 Playing The Game


    Agree on the 2 partnerships. Players each draw a card. The player with the lowest card deals first. Partners sit opposite each other.


    The cards are dealt clockwise beginning with the player to the left of the dealer. Each player receives 5 cards.

    The dealer usually deals by giving a round of 3 at a time, then a round of 2 at a time or visa versa. After the first deal, the deal passes to the player on the dealer’s left.

    On completing the deal, the dealer places the rest of the pack in the centre of the table and turns the top card face up.


    Beginning with the player to the left of the dealer, each player passes or accepts the turn-up as trump. Deciding whether to play or not is obviously dependant on the value and amount of possible trump cards you hold (see earlier section on Card Values).

    If the partner of the dealer decides they want the suit that was turned up then they are forced to “go alone” – that is without help from their partner, the dealer (see “going alone” below).

    If all 4 players pass in the first round then, each player in turn, starting with the player to the dealer’s left, has the option of passing again or of naming their preferred trump suit. The rejected suit may not be named.

    If all 4 players again pass in the 2nd round, the cards are gathered and shuffled, and the next dealer deals.

    Once a trump has been fixed play begins.


    If the player who fixes the trump suit believes it will be to their side’s advantage to play without the help of their partner’s cards (see the scoring advantages), the player exercises this option by declaring “alone” at the time of making the trump. The player’s partner then turns their cards face down and does not participate in the play. Otherwise the player calling the trump calls it “with help”. As mentioned before if it’s the dealers partner who calls the trump on the 1st round then he is forced to “go alone”.


    The opening lead is made by the player to the dealer’s left, or if this player’s partner is playing alone, it is made by the player across from the dealer. If possible, each player must follow suit to a lead. If unable to follow suit, the player may trump or discard any card. A trick is won by the highest card of the suit led, or, if it contains trumps, by the highest trump. The winner of a trick leads next.

Author: Robert

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