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Six-Hand Euchre

GENERAL: Six-hand euchre is played with a double deck of 48


cards, nine through ace (note: this is the same as a pinochle deck).
It is a team game, with three persons against three. The two teams
are seated alternately, so that teammates are never next to one
another. All cards are dealt out, so that each person has eight.

BIDDING: The person to the left of the dealer begins the bidding,
which continues clockwise so that the dealer is always the last to bid.
A bid consists of naming a suit and a number of tricks expected to be
taken (e.g. two clubs means that the bidder expects that his team
will take two of the eight tricks if clubs are named as trump).
Because there is no suit preference as in bridge, any succeeding bid
must raise the level at least one. A player whose hand will not
support a raise in the bidding is permitted to pass. Bids are not
limited to a raise of a single level but may jump as high as the bidder
believes is justified. It is also possible to bid no trump instead of
naming a trump suit, and in such a contract the jacks do not function
as bowers, since there is no trump suit. Most six-hand euchre
players also employ a variation of the game in which upside-down
no-trump bids are permitted. Such bids are designated with the
name Little Nells, and, as the name implies, if the contract is
played at Little Nells, the nines become the highest cards, followed
by the tens, etc, with the aces being low.

When a contract is played with a trump suit, standard euchre


terminology and ranking applies. For example, if the contract is 5
spades, the highest trump is the jack of spades, commonly called
the right bower. The second-highest trump is the jack of clubs,
commonly called the left bower. The third-highest trump is the ace
of spades, followed by the king, queen, ten and nine.

A bid of eight is the highest bid, since there are only eight tricks to
be taken; however, a bid of eight can be overbid in two ways. First,
any player who believes that he can take all eight tricks by himself,
can call a loner, which is also known as shooting the moon. He is
permitted to discard two cards from his hand before the play begins,
asking each of his two partners to pass him their best card in the suit
chosen (including no trump or Little Nells). If a loner is played with
a trump suit, the two partners must pass their best card in the trump
suit, even if they think an outside ace or other card might be more
helpful. If the partners have no card of the trump suit, they may pass
any card of any suit. The player who has bid the loner then proceeds
to play the hand one against three while his partners sit out. If the
player shooting the moon is successful in taking all eight tricks, he
scores 16 points. The only bid higher than a loner is an
unassisted loner, in which the player says he can take all eight
tricks without discarding any losers from his hand or receiving any
cards from his partners. His partners again sit out and he plays the
hand one against three. A successful unassisted loner is rewarded
with 32 points.

THE PLAY: The person who has made the highest bid, winning the
contract, is the first to lead a card. Players must follow suit, and may
play a trump card only if they are void in the suit that has been led.
No player is required to trump and it is permitted (and frequently
wise) to discard when a player is void in the suit led. Because there
are two of every card, it frequently happens that a tie is apparent;
however, no ties are permitted and the first player to play the high
card in order is the winner of the trick (for example, at no trump, a
diamond is led and two different players play the ace of diamonds.
The first ace of diamonds takes the trick. In another example, if the
contract includes a trump suit and two right bowers are played, the
first one laid down takes the trick). Whoever wins a trick must lead a
card for the next trick.

SCORING: A cumulative score is kept for each team, and the first
team to reach 52 is the winner. If a deal ends with both teams
holding 52 points, the game continues, one deal at a time, until one
teams pulls ahead, in sudden death fashion.

The team that has won the contract receives a score equal to the
number of tricks taken, PROVIDED that the number bid is reached.
For example, a team that bids 5 hearts and takes six tricks receives
a score of six. A team that bids 5 hearts and takes four tricks (or
three, or two or one or zero) receives a score of minus 5. Whether
the team that won the contract is successful or not, the team that is
on defense always scores the number of tricks it takes. For example,
if one team bids 6 diamonds and takes six tricks, the other team
scores 2. If one team bids six diamonds and takes three, the other
team scores 5.

When a loner or unassisted loner is bid, as described above, the


bonus is awarded only when all eight tricks are taken, either 16 or
32. If fewer than eight tricks are taken, the bonus is subtracted from
that teams score: minus 16 or minus 32, as applicable. The team
playing defense scores only the number of tricks it actually took, just
as on a regular bid.