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The rules of the game


Libba Smith

Stick the dealer, no kitty. Always lead with the right. Never trump your partner’s ace. Always take a trick when you can. Score with a six and four of the same suit. If you don’t understand those first few phrases, stop reading immediately — just kidding.

Many will tell you that euchre, the simple Midwestern card game, is one entirely of luck with no skill. But euchre is about playing skillfully with the hand that luck has given you. It’s also about statistics, but I won’t get into that now. More than anything, though, it’s about having fun with your friends and spending hours talking about nothing.

I am well aware that this is already too much of a convoluted cliché for people who have no clue how to even pronounce the word euchre, but I know that when I look back fondly on my time at Wooster I will always think of this game. I have played euchre every day for years. I have played with many partners, from novices to seasoned pros, in many dorms, houses and tables in the library and at all times of the day and night. More often than not, I’ve laughed so hard I’ve cried. As sad as this may sound, I have probably passed more pleasant hours playing a card game most often associated with old people than doing anything else.

You can learn a lot about a person from how he or she plays a hand of euchre. Does he always play with his eyebrow when considering a move? Is he a little reckless with risky calls? Can you always count on her to take one trick? Does he try to be sneaky and steal the deal? Does he often violate the unspoken contract of the game and quit in the middle? Does he always put his card on the table with confidence even if he knows it’s a bad card? Do they always milk the cow in the barn? Does he play as if he already knows he isn’t going to win? Will she always, always offer the cut? Will he just cut it himself?

I know all of my best friends’ playing styles, and even if our philosophies don’t always match up, I can still predict their moves and count on them to know mine. I have learned that it’s fun to play with new people, but I will always prefer a game with the people I’ve already played with in hundreds of games before.

My grandmother always cuts short our phone conversations because she says that these are the best times of my life and I need to go and enjoy them. I have been so fortunate to find wonderful friends here at Wooster who are willing to spend the best times of their lives with me, especially because they also get a little too excited at the sight of a deck of cards.

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