The Schnapsen Log
Who Laughs Last (solution to first part)
As I mentioned in a previous column (and I will continue to remind you of this tip), when you are following to the last trick before the stock is exhausted, it is much simpler to first consider what happens if you duck the trick. The reason is that, if you duck, you know exactly what card you will draw: the face-up trump. If you think about winning the trick, you probably have to consider all the possible cards you might draw.
In today’s deal it seems attractive to duck anyway, so that you don’t break up that pretty royal marriage. In fact, you will pick up ♥J to give your marriage extra protection. You have a choice of ducking with either ♦Q or ♣A. If you duck with ♦Q, you will be in this position:
Itell: (39 points)
You: (5 points)
Unfortunately, Itell has two quick winners (♥T and ♦A), and will grin at you as he cashes them to win the deal. Add up the trick points to be sure you see why these two tricks are enough. (Your total should be 72.) The big problem is that, by discarding ♦Q the previous trick, you left your valuable ♦T unprotected.
The outcome is similar if you discard ♣A instead of ♦Q on the previous trick. You should go through the exercise of visualizing (or writing down) the position after that trick and counting up how many trick points Itell will accumulate from cashing those same two winners, ♥T and ♦A. (The answer is 73.)
In either case you will lose 2 game points, so ducking is a bad idea. You certainly won’t do any worse by winning the trick. (Notice how we could decide to win the trick without having to consider all the possible cards we could draw from the stock? That’s why you consider ducking first.) Don’t fall in love with your pretty royal marriage: go ahead and break it up to win this trick with ♥K. When you do this, it happens that you draw ♦A from the stock, and you are now in this position:
Itell: (26 points)
You: (19 points)
On lead: You
All right, now go ahead and plan the play for the rest of the deal, starting from this position. When you think you have a good plan, you are welcome to read my analysis.
© 2012 Martin Tompa. All rights reserved.