Euchre (pron. ˈjuːkə) is a very popular card game in Cornwall. It appears to have originated in Alsace, where it was called Juckerspiel. This game in turn is thought to derive from the French card game Triomphe, which in turn derives from a 16th century Italian card game called Trionfi — very probably the source of the English word trumps. Still with me?
Euchre is a four-handed trick-taking game which uses (at least in one version) a 25 card pack, comprising A K Q J 10 9 of the four usual suits, plus another card — which is a kind of super trump. This was called the Jucker in the Alsatian game. In modern euchre it is usually called the benny in English.
Euchre was probably introduced into the USA by German and/or Cornish settlers in Michigan and gradually spread over the country. At some point, some card manufacturer thought it was a good idea to include a special card for the jucker/benny — previously a deuce was used for the purpose. This they did and it came to be called The Joker — presumably a corruption of the word Jucker. The design of the joker card is thought to be based on that of The Fool in the Tarot pack.
Some remaining mysteries (to me at least):
- where did the very odd spelling of euchre come from
- what does the word Jucker mean?
- why is the game so popular in Cornwall?