Euchre: It's Sophistimocated! | Letters | Chicago Reader

Euchre: It's Sophistimocated! 

Dear Reader,

I too played euchre while at a midwest college, and I was excited to read Ted Kleine's take on the card game as played by midwest-college grads in Chicago bars [February 28]. But I found the article's "farmer's cards" slant offensive. With all respect to the stoic German farmers who immigrated with the game, euchre as played by my college crowd required more sophistication and acumen than Kleine's article gives it credit for. The game was the subject of vigorous and scholarly debate over the role of luck or skill in the successful bidding and playing of each hand. We did not make mooing sounds or use expressions like those that Kleine observed, such as "in the barn." We had more learned euchre customs. After a successfully played hand, erudite female partners frequently invoked the power of the Egyptian goddess Isis as they swigged their beer and high-fived across the table. Often, as in literature, our euchre banter included well-chosen similes and analogies such as "Euchre is like sex--if you have a good hand, you can go it alone." More than one inspired player boasted that he fully intended to pen a regular column on the subtleties of euchre in the college literary magazine, just as soon as he finished this next joint. Kleine also missed the role of sophisticated deceit in euchre. This includes "stealing the deal," where, sanctioned by Hoyle, cunning euchre partners retain the dealer's advantage by distracting their intoxicated opponents from demanding their right to deal the next hand. Then of course there is the ever present use of illegal "table talk" to influence a partner's bid. "Table talk" often became the subject of endless debate and fistfights.

It is not like the Reader to treat a subject superficially. I hope that when you address the subject of euchre again you will go beyond the cow-college diaspora to present the full anthropological record of the card game euchre.

John Knox


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