Steve Brown’s Game: Round 0(1)

Here is the start position of Steve Brown’s game, which also appears in the previous post of this blog.

The observant reader has no doubt tried to assess the opening game state and concluded it’s worse than average. We have a run of length four (0987, mixed suits) and not much else. That’s three turnovers, which is less than average (just below 4). Given we also have two Aces showing, this definitely qualifies as a “bad three”.

With limited options available, the opening moves require little explanation:

Move: ea → Kc

Move: be → Ah

Move: af → 5s

Move: jf → 9s

The first interesting moment occurs after the fourth move. Steve explains he has a choice between “jf” (the actual play) and “da”. He chose jf because neither move was suited and the 7c is higher in rank than the 4d. Although Steve found the correct play, I don’t buy this explanation. The correct reason is that column 6 is already impure and there is no danger of losing a turnover if the next card is a Jack. Whereas “da” costs a turnover if the next card is a Six. Assuming no in-suit builds are possible, the higher-rank logic only applies when you have a full sequence like 9-8-7-6-5-4-3 rather than 9-8-K-K-K-4-3.

In general, when reading the entire book, I found that Steve sometimes struggles to articulate his thoughts properly and I’ve seen a number of strange typos such as “loses” instead of “losses”. Still, let us withhold judgment on Steve’s overall ability until the end of the game.

Move da → 3d

Move da → Qs

This completes a disappointing round 0. Steve mentions that on average he will expect to turnover 12 cards in round 0, which is exactly double the six turnovers he has in this hand. The sample size is small (306 games) but I can’t accuse Steve of not keeping careful records.

From my experience, the real game starts in round 1, not round 0. With 50 cards remaining in the stock, it’s almost impossible for a half-decent player to make a fonumental muck-up and Steve is well aware there is plenty of opportunity for a reversal of fortunes (in either direction). This hand is no exception if you pardon the terrible cliché. In Backgammon/Among Us terms, round 0 is equivalent to memorising the correct plays for opening rolls and replies and it’s extremely rare for the luck-o-meter(TM) to surpass the “refuse-doubling-cube” threshold from the viewpoint of a Crewmate or Impostor.

One thing I should mention: the stock is read from left-to-right. That means the next 10 cards will contain two more Queens (as if we don’t already have enough problems in this stupid world).

6 thoughts on “Steve Brown’s Game: Round 0(1)

  1. I’m trying to get oriented to a new format and new task, and it’s basically going OK. I wonder if The Bug is listening in or going to join us. Certainly hope so, consistent with his own needs and life situation, of course. I miss his warmth and humor, and not just someone else to offer an opinion.

    I do own the book and took it off the shelf. However, my assumption is that you are not going to expect people to look at the book at all as you do this exercise. The differences in formatting are already a bit disconcerting, so I hope I can put it aside.

    But in looking at your first post I’ll tell you what is giving me the most trouble is that I’m seeing all this information that I would ordinarily not be able to see when playing Spider sans Undo. With all the cards showing, we surely have at the least the same capabilities as we would have if we could use Undo (that is, assuming perfect memory and planning). I trust you are going to never take advantage of that information in terms of what play to choose next.

    Now of course with a little brain work, I can try to teach myself to ignore what I can see but am not supposed to see, but it’s hard. Psychology has shown many times over the power of “automatic processing” that you cannot turn off.

    If you could do a bit more programming, and mask out the identities of the cards that I as a person playing the game would not be able to see, I’ll have a much easier time following! It could perhaps be a final “post-processing step” you use just before posting to the visible blog, so as not to require any change to the underlying code?

    I agree with you on Steve having a bad explanation for why he chose the move he did there.


    1. Your wish is my command. By masking the identities of cards, do you mean graying them out or replacing the letters and numbers with question marks?

      I am aware of the difference of formatting/notation but I was concerned most folk will find Steve’s notation too cumbersome.

      BTW, I also miss the company of IM Bartacus.


      1. So it’s time for me to use my moniker to the utmost, and thunder “but I am Bartacus!” It’s the bug who’s yet to reappear. To thunder in jest, that is. I don’t care much just what you replace the unknown cards with, though I’ll put in a plug for something that is not distracting like little gremlin icons. A gray box would be great, or an empty box. Question marks OK, and are semantically easiest to understand (though I think the expected audience of 2 or 3 or 5 people if we’re lucky will catch on quickly enough), but sharp signs (#) or At signs (@) would visually be more distinct from actual letters/numbers than question marks.


      2. I thought I had done a “Hola Hola” post last night but must be a little rusty on exactly how to activate the “Post Comment” button.

        Hola Hola Master Chi-Yuen and Esteemed Scholar Bart and any lurkers who have returned.

        I am glad this is starting up again but in two weeks I go back to the USA for most of August. I will work on how I can comment while on TDY but it seems like it will probably be sporadic.

        Right now I am off to see the Dr. to get shot up full of wonder drugs and will post to this level of activity this afternoon.


  2. Well, that was fun……….exceptin’ the needle part. It was an IM shot and us Full Figured Fellows need a little more length to the needle to insure getting down into the meat.

    4SSSSansZKey wise, I hopped right on board with moving the 7 first. My thought was a six sets us up with at least two more turnovers, while Col 6 is already a miss-matched-mess and one more oddball card shouldn’t do much harm at this point in time.

    I should think that things is going to get a bit more interesting right about here.


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