Post-Mortem Analysis – Round 2

Link to round 2 is here

Link to PMA Rounds 0 & 1 is here

I believe the team made a significant error on the very first decision. What usually happens is the most interesting decision of a round occurs immediately after dealing ten new cards. Subsequent decisions are usually easier because much of the important analysis has already been taken care of.

Red suggested “ge,gd,if,ie,ie”. I don’t like this option on two counts: first, we expose the Ace of Diamonds. Secondly, we lose the important Seven of Spades in Column 8, together with several in-suit builds such as K-Q of Clubs. This would later turn out to be important.

“Hang on”, you say. “Doesn’t the alternative play expose the Ace of Clubs in Column 5?”. To which I reply, “yes, but not all Aces are equal. We anticipate it is difficult to avoid exposing the Ace of Clubs. After all, an empty column is an empty column – so if we don’t take it now, there’s a good chance we’ll be taking it later. Whereas if we found an excuse to not turn over Column 9 then there’s a decent chance the Ace of Diamonds stays buried for some time”.

I like Blue’s option of “hd,fj,fj,ha,hj,(d1=h3), hf”. That results in the following position before turning over column 8.

Game State after Blue’s option

By not messing with the low cards in Column 9 we retain much more flexibility with other low cards in columns 2,3,5. True, having a King in column 6 rot13(fhpxf) after we worked so hard for that empty column, but the worst-case scenario says we still have atomic runs in columns 5 and 7. That’s plenty as far as our chances of winning back an empty column are concerned.

The other problem with Red’s play is that by not sorting out column 8, we risk “one-hole-no-card”. Note that there are very few columns that can be turned over at the cost of only one column – and therefore a strong chance we will run out of things to do once all cards in column 9 are face-up. And sure enough, this is exactly what Red had intended all along:

We have an empty column after “ed”. If we could ask an innocent child to extend his hand and hold the Six of Hearts for a few seconds then everything is happy and we can turnover a card in column 8.  Unfortunately, someone would probably accuse us of cheating – this sort of “injustice” is typical when your position is not flexible enough to withstand bad cards.

Red was also entertaining thoughts of almost-completing the Diamond suit but the team managed to avoid that trap, correctly diagnosing it was not worth chasing the Diamonds when the likely reward is exposing a relatively useless Queen. So Red did not get everything going his way. Still, the game was very close in the end, so Red only needed to sneak a few bad ones past the team to achieve his nefarious ends.

In summary Round 2 was a great success – for the impostor. The sharp-eyed reader may have noticed Red pointed out the problem after the damage had already been done (Red was hoping when he tries to rectify the situation after the damage is done, it only makes things worse, and it makes him look like a good guy 😊) And having an excess of even-numbered cards certainly didn’t help Team Good!

KNOWLEDGE BOMB: if you ever find yourself in a situation where you can’t turn over any cards despite having one or more empty columns, there is a fair chance you failed to extract maximum value from a position of strength. Use the zee-key (after the game is over, obviously) to find out where you could have played more strongly.

2 thoughts on “Post-Mortem Analysis – Round 2

  1. Thanks for this. I fear the entirety of this reasoning might be just at the limits of what I can fully “get”. I can see your points, except for one…

    The red play resulted in “one hole no card” after uncovering 3 cards. Isn’t the blue play going to be susceptible to the same thing after 4 cards? Both plans leave us with one more space to uncover, but there is no other column with face-down cards where a card can be uncovered by the use of just one hole, is there?


    1. Hi Bart,

      It is true the Red play does not entirely solve the one-hole-no-card problem.

      However, from my experience any column headed by an off-suit KQ tends to be “difficult”. Whereas with 32A4T, one can hope to pick up useful cards (like a Jack,Five,Three) by the time column 8 is done.

      If I had to pick a single reason to criticise Red’s play, exposing an Ace is more significant than the one-hole-no-card problem.


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