Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dr. Wictz Question: Hidden Tips for Newbies

Many games, old and new, have hidden hints to help newbies play the game better.  I want your help to create a list of hidden hints for Newbies in board and card games. I will kick the list off by explaining an old Euchre adage: “Turn down a bower and lose for an hour.”  (With a Michigan accent bower and hour rhyme).

To understand the adage you need to know the adage is a hint on when to violate the four Euchre commandments taught to new Euchre players:

1. Do not over trump your partner.

2. If you are starting a round lead with your highest non-trump card.

3. Do not draw out your partner's trump if you cannot take enough tricks on your own to win the round.

4. Do not call trump unless you have 3 trump cards and at least one is either the left or right bower.

As I mentioned in my Classics Lecture: Communicating With a Partner Through Game Play - Euchre, New Euchre players are taught a set of conservative Euchre strategy to help them better communicate with their partner.  I also mentioned that while useful for first time players, the four Euchre commandments are not always the best strategy.  “Turn down a bower and lose for an hour” is a hint to new Euchre players on when to violate the 4th Euchre commandment.

“Turn down a bower and lose for an hour” is an adage repeated every time a player flips up the right bower.

Normally when you are the dealer and your partner rejects a trump that means they do not think they have a very good hand in that suite.  This is particularly true when you deal since if they had a mediocre hand they would still call trump since they would know their partner at least had one trump card to support them.

The exception is when the dealer flips over the right bower.  Why, because an advance partner knows that if they cannot go alone and earn 4 points there is a higher expected probability that their partner can go alone.  But, for their partner to go along their partner has to call the suite up to be trump, so many times they will pass to give their partner, the dealer, the opportunity to call a loaner hand.

The advance player appears to violate a key rule of communication by not signaling their strength by calling a suite.  But tactically they are making the correct move.  Hence the need for the old adage “turn down a bower and lose for an hour” telling the new player to call up the bower as trump.

The adage is a hint to the new player when they are the dealer  that you should consider picking it up even if you have a weak hand with less than three trump cards.  This adage is not just an old Midwestern superstition.  The adage is a hidden strategy hint for newbies in case they do not realize there is a good chance I passed not because my hand is weak, but because there is a chance your hand is even stronger than my own.  So feel risky newbie and call trump since there is a good chance I, your partner, can support your weak hand.

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