Well, that didn’t last long. Hero got off to a bad start after Round 1 of Game 1 and decided to go all-in on a lousy hand, reasoning that if Hero’s chances of winning an individual game were less than 50%, then the chances of winning a long match would be rot13(fuvg) regardless.
I can see where Bart/Bug are coming from, but if the “protagonist” believes his chances of winning an individual game are less than 50% I think a better strategy is to be aggressive with even marginal advantages. For instance, Hero could insta-double if the initial game state allowed six guaranteed turnovers or a “good five”. That way, Hero would at least be fighting from a position of strength. If I had to play a 25-point match against Kit Woolsey or Paul Magriel, I would certainly consider a similar strategy – looking for any excuse to double from a position of strength. I would be less sure about accepting/refusing when my opponent doubles, but at least I would avoid any kamikaze redoubles unless the value of the cube is already enough to give opponent a win.
Bart has had a go at analysing the mathematics of an unbalanced match where Hero has, say, a 25% chance of winning a match to 5 and tries to equalise the match to some extent through judicious use of the cube. I will have more to say about this in a future post.
I don’t have much to say about the actual card-play. Hero had a reasonable position after round 0, managing to turn over every face-down card in column 7, albeit without getting the empty column. It’s hard to make bad decisions when we have very few face-up cards, no spaces, and all face-up cards are arranged in descending sequence. But after dealing a less-than-stellar 10 cards in round 1 the situation was already desperate. Rightly or wrongly, Villain immediately doubled the stakes and before we knew it, the number on the D-cube exceeded the number of points required for victory.
When you have a lousy position, the good news is it’s hard to make a mistake because your options are so limited. But we all know what the bad news is. Indeed, I couldn’t find any serious card-play mistakes by Bart or Bug for the entire game. Maybe Hero could have taken an extra turnover in round 3 at the expense of exposing two more Aces, but that’s always easier to say with hindsight. I think it was one of those games we were destined to lose. I’ve had similar games when playing with Microsoft Spider Solitaire and – dare I say it – I have no reason to believe this version is biased.
In the post-mortem, I will discuss in some detail why Villain doubled after we dealt the initial 10 cards in round 1. The TL;DR version basically says “I know from vast experience this is probably not gonna end well”.