Calling Trump

I learned how to play Euchre during my freshman (and only) year at Allegheny College. I can’t remember if it was the senior who lived by himself in the dorm across the hall or one of my three roommates who taught me . If the latter, I’m betting it was Fredrick J. Boyle III. In any case, it quickly became my preferred card game to the exclusion (when I had my way) of all others.

Once I finished my year at Allegheny I returned home to begin my near decade-long lapse in post-secondary education. This is when I taught my three siblings how to play—along with any friends willing to learn. It turned out to be ingenious foresight since the game would become a type of glue, binding us together as we grew into adults and went our separate ways.

For many years, whenever all of us were together, we’d play at least three rounds of Euchre. That was essential in determining if there was an ultimate winner or an ultimate loser. There’d always be one or the other but never both since an ultimate winner indicated someone (and their partner) won every round while an ultimate loser meant someone (including their partner) lost every round. Three rounds is what it took to make sure each player played with each other as a partner.

My claim to fame as a Euchre player was to, invariably, call trump. It really wasn’t 100% of the time but the probability was high, if the call got around to me (especially a second time), of me calling trump. I put a good bit of responsibility for the hand on my partner, expecting them to have my back. The thing I like about Euchre the most is that it is very simple and there are very few cards. Once you have a group of players that know how to play it comes down to risk-aversion and luck of the deal. The game can go on without a great deal of thought which allows room for conversation, joking, reminiscing and, generally, enjoying each other’s company.

I can’t wait until we’re all together again. It’s been too long and I’m dying to call trump.

Posted in Essays