Let The Game Begin

Bart wanted to Mulligan. Schistocerca wanted to play.  With the vote 1-1, I decided to flip a coin as a tie-breaker: Heads we mulligan, tails we play. If the coin somehow balances on its side, then I get to choose.

Heads it is – we take the Mulligan.

Before we count minimum guaranteed turnovers, in-suit builds or move any cards, I would like you to meet the players.

There are a number of strong players in this group but some of the others are a bit rot13(fuvg) – and that’s being generous. Fortunately, the readers (Bart, Schistocerca Americana, and anyone else who joins in mid-game) play the role of captain. Barring trivial decisions, these players can only make suggestions and it’s up to the captain(s) to evaluate these suggestions and choose the optimal line of play – or suggest their own 😊

“Two of Spades onto the Three of Clubs” squeals Yellow.

“YELLOW IS SUS!” shouts Dark Green.

“I was joking,” replies Yellow. “Of course, we all know that if I rot13(shpx) up the first move then I would get ejected faster than you can say At First Blush Our Brilliant But Incredibly Nasty Sudoku Elicits Rude Word From Simon! (7)”

Confused looks from half the team (who have obviously never heard of Cracking The Cryptic).

“We have four guaranteed turnovers,” says Pink. “Dark Purple, you’re the mathematician. Is that better or worse than average?”

“The expected number of turnovers is 3.97,” says Dark Purple. “Therefore 4 is above average. But you can also crunch the numbers and say the median number of turnovers should be between 4 and 5, therefore 4 is worse than average”.

“But we digress,” replies Black. “The difference is small. I would be more swayed by other factors, such as number of in-suit builds, number of Aces and Kings … and don’t forget to calculate outs i.e. probability of getting a good card and increasing our minimum guaranteed tur-.”

“Obviously we start with <hi>” says Blue.

Everyone agrees except Yellow and Pink. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long for the team to teach Yellow/Pink the standard notation for moves with columns represented by letters a-j reading from left to right.

Blue gets the honor of making the first move. He shifts the Ace of Spades onto the Deuce of the same suit, revealing the …

“I hope it’s not a King,” says Dark Green.

“<sarcasm> always the cheery one </sarcasm>” says Red.

To be continued . . .

5 thoughts on “Let The Game Begin

  1. Master Chi-Yuen, Wow, doubling up homework this week. Not that my curt answer of “Play, always play” was preceded by a long period of intense cerebral back and forth but what happened afterward in the welcomed and wonderful analysis led by Esteemed Scholar Bart has left me reeling. I am still trying to get my antennae around picking up that much sought after six. I have absolute confidence that Esteemed Scholar Bart’s number crunching technique is correct but……Pick up the Six ??? It just seems so incorrect. And youse guys have no idea of how much easier it is for us Schistocerca to roll two dice instead of three; not to mention rolling thrice instead of twice unless the Hexad Trifecta is hit on the opening Mulligan roll. I call your attention to our tiny little arms and almost no hands.

    Also I am currently engrossed in the very preliminary stages of trying to appraise my capability of showing people who play SS but not 4SSS SansZKey that they can indeed prevail without looking 20 moves into the future or needing at least a B-minus in Statistics-101.

    Meanwhile my mentors are happily pointing out a .0007 gain in probability.

    And it’s not a digression if I start elsewhere.

    I am excited about his hand and new format because I think perhaps it is just what I need to improve my game. And it starts immediately. My opening play consists of first doing in suit builds, top to bottom, then moving on to contaminations top to bottom. Blue says, “Obviously we start with .hi.”. Obliviously I am missing something obvious.

    I would start with the spade five on the spade six.

    Am I the only one to have a vision that with 12 Kolorfull Kibitzers, two Coaches and a Master providing direction and resolving tie breaks we might spend the better part of three years playing this hand? I would love to still be around in three years while maintaining the ability to sit upright and take nourishment without help. Where do I sign up?


    1. Spade 5 on Spade 6 is certainly reasonable. It builds in-suit and we have a second off-suit Six. But the same advantages apply to the move “hi” and also means we are working on a column with one fewer face-down card. Not to mention we also have a second Five. Therefore all signs are pointing to the move “hi”. This is why I thought the opening move was “trivial”.

      In practice of course most of the time we end up building in-suit with 6-5 and 2-A of Spades in the first two moves. But you never know when the “one percenter” turns out to make an important difference!


      1. I didn’t reply initially because I agreed that it was obvious. And maybe I didn’t sign up to be notified of further replies because I was not nudged to do so? Anyway, I’m seeing your comments now for the first time.

        Along with GM’s reasons, I would also once again bring in my concept of “market value”. There are two receiving 2s but only one ace to go on a two. The market value of receiving 2s is low, so we should buy low. Even though there are two 6s, there are also two 5s that want to go on a six, so their market value is higher.


    2. Also, the reason for building from top to bottom is apparent when you have for example 8-7-6-5 off-suit. But this reason doesn’t apply when the 8-7-6-5 are all the same suit. Therefore when we build in-suit it doesn’t matter whether we do top-to-bottom or bottom-to-top or random-to-random. Moreover, if you have (for example) 9-8-3-2 off-suit there is no good reason to build from top-to-bottom. If all other things are equal then you may as well flip a coin.


      1. Learned Master, this Humble Hop-Hopper thanks you for your tutelage. I officially change my opening move to Acey Ducey, Spade City.

        Your last example of 9-8-3-2 unmatched allowing a variance from the strict top to bottom sequencing is something that I had already begun to incorporate into my play, slowly. I will continue to look more closely at this and also I will begin to search for reasons to prioritize in suit builds.


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