Left in the lurch
Is to be abandoned or placed in a difficult situation without help, dates from the 16th century. It derives from an old medieval board game of French origin called lourche or lurch that was last played in the 17th century. It was similar to backgammon but the rules have now been lost. The game had a ‘lurch’ position from which it was impossible to win the game, just as crib or cribbage has. A crib player may be left in the ‘lurch’ position if he or she is not halfway round the board as the winner finishes. Even so, lurch is a word hardly used these days except in this one expression.