The Schnapsen Log
Who Laughs Last (solution to second part)
Begin by counting the trick points your certain winners will bring you. In this case you can count only your two aces as certain winners. They will pick up a king and ten, bringing your trick point total to 55. Not enough. If you cash your aces immediately, Itell will win the remaining tricks and the deal (being sure to pull your ♥Q before trying to cash ♠A).
Since Itell’s trump control doesn’t make it seem promising that you will pick up any other tricks, your best chance is to try to position yourself to take the last trick. This is often the struggle in a tightly contested deal in which neither player has declared a marriage: both players jockey to win the last trick. In today’s deal you don’t stand a chance of taking the last trick unless you start attacking Itell’s superior trump length right now. You must make him trump. This means playing ♦A and ♦Q, resulting in the following position with Itell on lead:
Itell: (31 points)
You: (34 points)
Itell still has trump control, but it is important in the struggle for the last trick that you’ve equalized the lengths of your trump suits, as we’ll see.
Itell is now quite stuck. A spade lead gives you 14 extra points you weren’t counting on, enough to win when you cash ♣A. If he instead leads ♣T, you will lead your last diamond to force out his last trump, leaving you to take the last trick with the only remaining trump. The best Itell can do from the diagrammed position is to pull your trump with ♥T and then cash ♠A (collecting your ♦T), which brings his trick point total to 65. But then he is stuck with ♣T and you win the last trick with ♣A.
It’s an epic struggle for that last trick. And the last laugh on Itell.
© 2012 Martin Tompa. All rights reserved.