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Contemporary Development With Functional Programming

The Schnapsen Log

March 14, 2012

To Duck or Not to Duck

Martin Tompa

Welcome back to the Schnapsen table. We continue to warm up with some basic situations. You are playing against your nemesis Uncle Claudius when you find yourself in the following situation:

Unseen cards:
KQ
TK
♣ —
TQ

Your cards:
AT
AQ
♣ —
K

Trump: J
Stock: 1 face-down card
Game points: Claudius 4, You 5
Trick points: Claudius 17, You 28
On lead: Claudius

Claudius declares the spade marriage, resulting in a new trick point score of 37, and leads Q.

Following the lead to the last trick before the stock is exhausted, where you find yourself now, often poses the dilemma of whether to win the trick in order to accumulate valuable points or duck it in order to pick up that valuable trump. It is always simpler to first consider what happens when you duck. If you duck, there is only one possible position: you will pick up the face-up card, and your opponent will have the 5 remaining unseen cards. If you win the trick, on the other hand, you have to consider all the possible cards you might draw from the stock, and possibly analyze each of these cases separately.

Should you win or duck the trick today? When you think you have a good plan, you are welcome to read my analysis.

© 2012 Martin Tompa. All rights reserved.


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About the Author

Martin Tompa

Martin Tompa (tompa@psellos.com)

I am a Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, where I teach discrete mathematics, probability and statistics, design and analysis of algorithms, and other related courses. I have always loved playing games. Games are great tools for learning to think logically and are a wonderful component of happy family or social life.

Read about Winning Schnapsen, the very first and definitive book on the winning strategy for this fascinating game.

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Homework on Expected Values, Apr 26
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Thoughtful Actions, Mar 25
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