Steve Brown’s Game: Round 1(1)

Here is the start position, which also appears in my blog previous post.

Bart has kindly requested I redact the value of hidden cards to make it “more realistic” from the viewpoint of the player. Here is the game state after Steve reluctantly deals the first row of cards.

This is a dire state of affairs, much like our previous game involving a doubling cube and a similarly depressing round 1. I think an impostor Among-Us blob would be justified in sending a doubling cube over (assuming of course it is possible to double without revealing whose side you’re on!). We have only two guaranteed turnovers and most columns require more than one good card to get a turnover.

  • Move: gd,hd,ha → Jd

This is an interesting decision. The obvious option seems to be jg,jg which builds in-suit in Hearts and avoids exposing an Ace in Column 7. Moreover column 10 is one step closer to getting our first empty column. But Steve gives a valid reason for his play: column 8 is more difficult to turnover because we need a Jack and a King, whereas column 10 only requires a Jack because once we shift the Ten of Hearts, there is always the option of immediately shifting the Nine of Spades. Getting the more difficult task out of the way is a useful principle for expert play, and Steve shows good insight here.

However, if this were Among Us then I would vote “jg,jg” and let the whole world know that Steve is sus. Apart from the advantages listed, it also keeps some degree of flexibility. For instance, we keep the option of ca or da. At least Steve exposes a good card.

  • Move: da, hd → 7h
  • Move: ad, ja, jd → 8s
  • Move: jd → 2c

Although the next move is obvious, I wish to take stock and assess our chances. Our situation has improved quite a bit – we still have two turnovers and are getting closer to getting an empty column. We also have a small amount of flexibility (e.g. moves like fa,eh) and given our poor start we might need every advantage we can get. It’s a pity the 5-4-3 in Column 1 is buried under a rot13(xvat) but we can’t do much about that.

As an extra bonus, I get a chance to confirm that both IM Bug and IM Bart are both happy with the new format (gray question marks) before pushing forward.

NOTE: for inexperienced players, it is useful to observe how Steve is able to increase in-suit builds with “supermoves” despite the lack of an empty column.

I think it’s good practice to assess our game state regularly, even if the next move is obvious since it will improve your feel of how well or badly a game is going. If you’re willing to accept a Backgammon doubling cube centred at ‘2’ then your position isn’t that bad.

Well, that’s all folks and here’s looking forward to More Of The Same, coming soon to a place near u if you excuse the numerous terrible clichés!

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

  1. First, the format is a great improvement. Thanks! It still does take some mental manipulation for me to turn the board sideways, and to deal with the symbols. If I really get intrigued by a position, I’ll be tempted to take out 2 decks of real cards and set up the situation that way.

    I do have a concern about your suggested opening play — hasn’t the potential second turnover disappeared? Seems like we’re counting on that ace under the jack for our 2nd turnover so we have to move the jack away first — somewhere or other.

    My own opening suggestion was: gc, jc, jc. It shares with Steve’s the idea of moving that jack first, but I put it on c instead of d. I figure if you’re going to put it on a pair of queens, much better to junk up a column with 5 unturned cards instead of 3. After that my strategy shifts over to GM’s. Steve also uses up the king, which could be useful soon. I don’t get this “do difficult tasks first” thing when we’re desperately trying to get turnovers and spaces.

    Once we set aside the doubling cube (and we did, right?), assessing how the game is going in absolute terms is interesting but not directly related to improving your game, right? But I’ll go along and participate in that side of things too. For the little it’s worth, the “evenness” index is just 0.29, which is pretty good, and the counts:

    Remaining: A 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 T J Q K
    74 left. 5 6 7 6 7 7 6 6 5 5 6 2 6

    Except for those 4 extra queens, the count of adjacent ranks is never off by more than one.

    I think the next plays are hd, gi, which I say explicitly because what is obvious to one may not be obvious to all.


    1. Hi Bart, actually I should have said jg,jh instead of jg,jg. Note that (1) there are two Tens and (2) our Jack-Ten is suited, so we don’t lose the second turnover after all. I also agree with junking up a column with 5 unturned cards instead of 3 – now is not the time to worry about one-hole-no-card.

      Assessing how well a game is going could be relevant to improving your game. For instance in Round 4 you might have a choice between a “safe” and “risky” play. If you assess the game is going well then better to play safe (e.g. ensure 2 turnovers). If the game is going badly then risky plays become more attractive (e.g. hope to complete a suit but risk only getting 1 turnover) etc.


      1. I see your points and end up agreeing with you on everything. Thanks for elucidating further.


  2. I am out here in Bazzaro World. I made a post, but cannot find it, so I tried to post again and am told that I already made that post. I am not sure that some Ancient Mariner such as me should be attempting 4SSSSansZKey before learning how to post or how to find said post.

    So I will just try it again.

    Well, Well, lets see here. We certainly have an abundance of Queens, which puts this hand right equal to the Social Status of the USA right now.

    I don’t like both double Queens. Furthermore I don’t like the entire position.

    We can get a turnover in G and a further turnover in either H or J.

    I think I would go for a turnover in J for two factors. There are only three cards above J as opposed to four in H. And I think the King in A could be used to break up one of the double Queens, which negates moving the Queen out of H.


    Now, which turnover to take first? I would uncover first in J on the idea that if an Ace shows up I would like to continue to attack J.

    .ja,ja = turnover

    No help?

    .gi = turnover

    We need some fortuitous turnovers.

    Well, lets post and see how the others read this mess.


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