Answer Man

Answer Man: Getting ‘Arkansased’ can be a killer in euchre

Q. In regular, four-handed euchre, if a player goes alone, he tries to get five tricks for four points, but he has to get three tricks to get one point. If he fails to win three tricks, we around here say he has been “Arkansased” — just like the state. How did that term originate?

— Tom Eversgerd, of Germantown

A. I certainly hope your unsuccessful card-playing loner friends have lived to tell about their failures. They may not have been so lucky 150 years ago in some parts of the country.

As least, that’s what Charles Henry Wharton Meehan wrote when he published what may have been the first comprehensive book of euchre rules. Meehan was head of the law library of the Library of Congress and son of John Silva Meehan, who ran the Library of Congress from 1829 to 1861. But the younger Meehan also must have been a devotee of your favorite card game, because in 1862 he published “The Laws and Practice of the Game of Euchre.”

“No sedentary game is more popular or so generally played for amusement in domestic circles throughout the widespread ‘eminent (domain)’ of the United States as Euchre — the Queen of all card-games,” he wrote in the preface. “But few, we regret to say it, possess less printed authoritative reference for consultation. ... To supply this deficiency, in an humble way, the ensuing pages, sanctioned by ‘very noble and approved good masters,’ are tenderly tendered.”

Fortunately for us, this was no desert-dry book of rules and examples. Meehan was a colorful writer who managed to include a number of fascinating anecdotes, including the one that may explain your mystery. On page 46, he starts by explaining the ins and outs of going it alone. As you know, if the player fails to win three tricks, he is “euchred,” which, in everyday language, means to be “done in” or, in some circles, to be cheated or swindled.

Well, folks in some parts of the country apparently didn’t take kindly to players suddenly going it alone only to wind up handing valuable points over to the opponents. As a result, Meehan notes, they were really “done in”:

“In playing the game on the Mississippi River, if the player who plays alone is euchred, the steamer is stopped at the first landing and the unlucky player is put ashore. In the State of Arkansas he is carried out to be hung in the first adjacent tree, without benefit of clergy. But in a more refined and better established order of civilization, a hearty laugh against him is the only penalty he has to endure for the misplaced confidence on the cards — except those four points to the game of his opponents.”

As I said, I trust your unsuccessful partners are winding up with just a red face sans rope burns, but apparently the term lives on from those wilder days of the Old Midwest. If you want more evidence, you can find it in John Franklin Swift’s 1878 book, “Robert Greathouse: A Story of the Nevada Silver Mines.” In it, Swift writes of a stagecoach driver who tells of meeting a stranger after he boarded a riverboat at Napoleon, Ark.

“ ‘Euchre was the gentleman’s game,’ said the driver with a grim smile. ‘I had never seen it played before. And when the stranger said that in that game the jack took the ace, and pulled out a six-shooter and stuck it right into my face to prove it, I told him that I had no doubt it was all right. But I did not want to play any more at a game where an ace wasn’t a better card than a bare-legged jack, and I never have from that day to this.’”

So, if you’re ever in Arkansas, you might want to stick to a friendly game of checkers or tick-tack-toe. If you’re interested in reading Meehan’s original book of rules for euchre, you can buy it on amazon.com or read it online in its entirety at www.archive.org/stream/lawandpracticeg00meehgoog/lawandpracticeg00meehgoog_djvu.txt.

Q. What has happened to Angie Mock on KTVI-TV? I have not seen her for a while.

— K.B., of Belleville

A. Nor will you in the future — at least not on Fox2. After blowing into St. Louis from Oklahoma City in March 2011, Mock left last month, apparently to pursue her true love: anchoring.

After graduating from St Cloud University in Minnesota in 2002, Mock took sports anchoring stints in Austin, Minn., and Lincoln, Neb., before moving to Missoula, Mont., where she anchored sportscasts on weekends along with starring on a weekly coach’s show. Then, at KOKH Fox25 in Oklahoma City, she co-anchored the four-hour morning show.

I suppose she hoped her anchoring star would continue to rise in St. Louis, but it didn’t pan out. She started on the graveyard shift as the anchor of Fox2 News from 4-5 a.m., but she was shifted to prime-time reporting in January 2014 with only limited work as a fill-in evening anchor. While a station spokesman told me that Mock “enjoyed reporting,” she “left to pursue outside anchoring opportunities.” There’s no hint of future plans yet on her LinkedIn page, and entries on her Fox2 Facebook page end after Jan. 23.

Today’s trivia

What kind of feathers are used to make Big Bird’s costume on “Sesame Street”?

Answer to Sunday’s trivia: Talk about a player who gave 110 percent! On Aug. 4, 1982, Joel Youngblood started his day at Wrigley Field in Chicago, where his two-run, bases-loaded single gave his New York Mets a 3-1 lead in the third inning. But in the fourth, he was told he had been traded to the Montreal Expos, so he immediately packed his bags and flew to join his new team in Philadelphia. That night, he entered the Expos-Phils game in the sixth inning and singled off future Hall-of-Famer Steve Carlton to become the first man to play for two teams in two different cities in one day.

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