Psellos
Contemporary Development With Functional Programming

The Schnapsen Log

July 3, 2020

Grab the Brass Ring (solution)

Martin Tompa

Concealed cards:
AQ
ATK
♣ J

Your cards:
KJ
Q
♣ A
Q

Trump: J
Stock: Open, 1 face-down card
Game points: Tibor 1, You 2
Trick points: Tibor 20, You 34
On lead: Tibor

When Tibor leads ♣J, you can guarantee yourself 1 game point by discarding Q. Tibor would then be on lead from this position:

Tibor: (25 points)
AQ
ATK
♣ —

You: (34 points)
KJ

♣ A
QJ

Tibor will cash A now in order to surpass 33 trick points, after which all the tricks are yours. (If he doesn’t cash A, you will score 2 game points by winning your 3 tricks in clubs and diamonds. On the third, Tibor will be forced to discard one of his big cards and you will have accumulated at least 34+11+3+2+3+4+10 = 67 trick points.)

Before you duck, you should ask yourself whether you can do better by winning Tibor’s ♣J with your ♣A. That would put you on lead with a trick point total of 34+11+2 = 47.

What are the possible cards you might draw from the stock? If you draw either Q or K, you will win 2 game points immediately by declaring your marriage. If you draw either ace, you will win 2 game points by cashing Q and your ace, for a trick point total of at least 47+3+2+11+3 = 66. The only other card you can draw is T, leaving you on lead from this position:

Tibor: (20 points)
AQ
AK
♣ —
J

You: (47 points)
KJ
TQ
♣ —
Q

This is the most interesting position arising from this deal. You have two possible elimination plays, but only one of them works. For either of them, you have to start by pulling Tibor’s trump in order to eliminate it as a safe exit card.

Tibor: (20 points)
AQ
AK
♣ —

You: (52 points)
KJ
TQ
♣ —

Now you could exit with a heart and force Tibor to open up the spade suit, or exit with a spade and force Tibor to open up the heart suit. It doesn’t do you any good if Tibor opens up the spade suit, because you will only get 7 additional trick points from that suit. You need him to open up the heart suit, where you will get 14 additional trick points, just enough to reach 66.

So you exit with a spade. Does it matter which of your spades you use as an exit card? Think about it before reading on.

Your fail-safe exit card is K. After winning this, Tibor can cash Q and A, reaching 54 trick points, but then he has to lead K and you win 1 game point.

What goes wrong if you try to exit with J? Tibor is clever enough that he will see the tricky unblocking play of winning this trick with the A.

Tibor: (33 points)
Q
AK
♣ —

You: (52 points)
K
TQ
♣ —

The beauty of playing an “unnecessarily high” card is that it creates a safe exit card for Tibor, the Q. Now you are the one who is forced to open up the heart suit and Tibor wins the deal.

Going back to the beginning, the summary is that, if you win Tibor’s ♣J lead, there are 4 cards you can draw from the stock that will give you 2 game points, and 1 card (T) that will give you only 1 game point (if you execute the elimination play with care). This is a better outcome than ducking his ♣J lead, which gives you 1 game point.

© 2020 Martin Tompa. All rights reserved.


Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus

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.

Subscribe

Getting Started

Links for Schnapsen and Sixty-Six

Links in German

Links in Hungarian

Recent Columns

July
Grab the Brass Ring, Jul 3
June
The Last Trump, Jun 11
December
Planning To Win the Last Trick, Dec 26
October
How To Open a Suit, Oct 8
September
The Horns of a Dilemma, Sep 4
August
Compelling Opponent, Aug 14

Archives

2020
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012