Psellos
The Life So Short, The Craft So Long to Learn

The Schnapsen Log

June 27, 2022

Two Last-Trick Problems (solution 2)

Martin Tompa

Concealed cards:
K
K
♣ A
AKJ

Your cards:
Q
AJ
♣ K
Q

Trump: ♣Q
Stock: Open, 1 face-down card
Game points: Tibor 1, You 1
Trick points: Tibor 24, You 34
Lead: K

In this problem, if you were to win the K lead with A, there are some good cards you could draw from the stock that allow you to win the deal quickly. But the draw that should worry you is J, after which you won’t take another trick. Since you only need 1 game point to win the game, if you can guarantee a win of the deal by ducking, you certainly should duck. But, as in the previous problem, the question is which card to discard.

The discard should be either Q or Q, to deprive Tibor of a winner in that suit. Remembering the tempo endplay lesson we learned from the previous problem, it seems the right choice is Q. This deprives Tibor of the entry K, and leaves Q in your hand opposite Tibor’s longer diamond suit, suggesting a tempo endplay in that suit. If you discard Q, Tibor will be left on lead in this position:

Tibor: (31 points)
K

♣ A
AKJ

You: (34 points)

AJ
♣ KQ
Q

Tibor’s best play is to cash ♣A and force you with K, putting you on lead from this position:

Tibor: (45 points)


♣ —
AKJ

You: (42 points)

AJ
♣ —
Q

You can cash both of your hearts, but that will only bring your trick point total to 61. After that, Tibor wins the last trick and the game. What went awry with the tempo endplay in diamonds is that Tibor’s play deprived you of all your trumps, and without trumps there is no tempo endplay.

Now let’s see what happens if you instead discard Q on Tibor’s K. He is on lead from this position:

Tibor: (31 points)
K

♣ A
AKJ

You: (34 points)
Q
AJ
♣ KQ

Tibor’s best play now is to force you by leading J. You in turn force him by leading J and he again forces you with K. Now you are on lead from this position:

Tibor: (44 points)
K

♣ —
A

You: (47 points)
Q
A
♣ —

When you now cash A, Tibor is squeezed. He can’t discard A, because that would give you a total of 69 trick points. So he must give up K, and your Q will capture his A anyway.

This is the play that I missed at the table. I was sure that discarding Q would lead me to a tempo endplay.

© 2022 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.

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Recent Columns

September
Sidestep a Few Landmines, Sep 2
June
Two Last-Trick Problems, Jun 27
May
More Extremes of Luck, May 21
April
Grasping at Straws, Apr 4
March
A New Scheme for Remembering Cards, Mar 23
September
As Luck Would Have It, Sep 9

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