Continuing our game, after getting an empty column
- Move: gf, gh, di, di, d2=h1, fh → Qd
Technically, Steve should have turned over either column 3 or column 6 since the empty column isn’t running any time soon. But that’s only a minor quibble. It’s hard to imagine taking the hole in column 7 and regretting it later – we would need some ridiculous “parlay of events” to prove Steve’s play was a mistake. Constructing such a parlay is left as an exercise for the reader. A more serious concern is the failure to extract all the “safe” in-suit builds.
By safe, I mean reversible moves that don’t commit to anything (e.g. a move such as bc). In the diagram below I have highlighted two off-suit Q-J pairs. Note that if we could swap the Jacks then we build in-suit in Spades for free. In fact, a good habit to learn is to look for such opportunities as soon as you obtain your first empty column. It turns out swapping “d3=h6” is in fact possible and I was surprised Steve missed this. I will leave finding the correct moves as an exercise for the reader.
One may ask why Steve did not take the turnover in column 3 since that builds in-suit in Diamonds. I’m guessing Steve wants to keep the option of turning over the last card in column 10. In any case the Seven of Clubs is on the correct side of the supply-demand inequality between Sevens and Eights and we are one face-down card closer to a second empty column. There is little to choose between columns 3 and 6.
- Move: da, df, jc, je → 4s
Steve indeed turns over the last card in column 10. This shows good insight: If we don’t obtain a second empty column before the next deal, it is much easier to salvage a bad situation if we know the last card in column 10 is the Four of Spades. As a general principle, exposing the last face-down card in any column is worth more than an “average turnover” if all other things are equal (one important exception is when you are risking the dreaded one-hole-no-card scenario).
Still, exposing an extra Ace is less than ideal so it might be better to turn over column 3 after all. Note that this maintains the option of turning over column 10 (at the cost of our only empty column).