Steve Brown’s Game: Round 3(1)

Before continuing with the game, I wish to highlight the situation in column 4: we have two Queens but no Jacks. This means if we do not shift the Ten of Spades soon, there is always a long-term danger of a Queen shortage later in the game (if all other things are equal). This explains why I was keen to “balance” column 4 in the previous round by moving one of the Jacks onto the Queen of Spades. To make matters worse, both Queens in column 4 are the same suit, which means we don’t need much bad luck to reach a situation where completing a suit of Spades becomes really difficult. We would prefer the Queens to be different suits. This may all seem trivial but I’ve been on the wrong end of too many close games – so I know that little details can make a big difference in the long run.

At the start of round 3, I recommend you should start thinking about overall game plans – even before making obvious moves (assuming the game isn’t close to trivially won or trivially lost). No need to rush – your obvious moves will never run away from you, and I assume you weren’t playing to win in the fastest possible time. Example plans may be

  • Pick a suit (e.g. clubs) and focus on moving that suit to the foundations.
  • Turn over as many cards as possible and hope to have a clearer idea of how to proceed in round 4.
  • Get as many in-suit builds as possible and hope to have a clearer idea of how to proceed in round 4.
  • Some mixture of the above three plans.

With apologies to Kevin Rudd, plans don’t have to be spelled out in detailed programmatic specificity: nobody expects you to write a Ph. D. on how to maximise your winning chances for a specific game state. But you should have some rough idea of what you’re hoping to achieve.

Note that round 3 was dangerously close to a “auto-deal”. If the Four of Clubs in column 8 were (say) another Five then dealing a new row is literally the only legal move. At least we have two turnovers (counting one turnover for an empty column) and a couple of in-suit builds.

Unfortunately, we’re not close to completing any suit. Yes, we might establish the K-Q-J-0-9-8-7 of Diamonds – if we were willing to shift the Ks in column 1 and burn an empty column. Alas, the lower half of that suit doesn’t look promising. So, we have to play on general principles: continue working on turnovers, empty columns and in-suit builds. But also look out for unexpected ways to “change the flow of the game” if an opportunity presents itself.

Steve points out this deal brought out the last Queen as well as a pair of Aces. With only three Twos versus six Aces, Steve has good reason to be worried.

  • Move: gh, jg,fj,fd → Ks

I beg pardon of the reader who was expecting more moves in a single post, but I thought it was worthwhile to talk about general long-term planning rather than individual moves. Unlike DJDJDDJKDK or the Wikipedia version of Spider Monkeys, I believe this digression can actually help improve your game 😊

2 thoughts on “Steve Brown’s Game: Round 3(1)

  1. So with the King of spades, we instantly have 2 spaces to work with, which is often cause for a big smile, but not here, not really.

    You have said how concerned you are with column d and the 2 queens of spades. But the truth is, there are no receiving jacks OR kings. To clear the space we need 2 kings and 1 jack, for 3 cards total. If we get a single jack we have a Q in column e to put it on. We hope it resolves later, but solving it now doesn’t really help us.

    Column i seems best left alone. It holds 2 of those extra aces we don’t want to see.

    I thought about trying to open up column e, in hopes of a club suit. But we’re missing both the 8 and the 5.

    Nothing here looks promising really, but having argued against d, e, and i, a is what’s left. I would aim for moving the King in column a into the space. It uncovers a receiving 4, which could well be useful. The move lets us get pretty far along in the diamond suit. The only card we’re missing is the 5, and the other diamonds aren’t buried deeply. We can get a decent start on hearts if we can get that queen from column a onto the king in column h. We can’t put that king in the space yet, but still it’s a priority to get at least the 3-5 off that pile. You (GM) really don’t like to expose aces anyway, which argues againt column c. So I would work on column b: move that ace of clubs to the space, move the 6 to expose a card, and still have a space to move the 3-5 off of column a, and leave there for now a king of spades followed by a mess of diamonds.

    gf, get space
    ja, get space
    bg, lose space,
    bc (uncover) — which of course could cause plans to change
    ac
    a(2) = f(4)

    If nothing else we can do bj to uncover another card.

    I don’t like that I’ve turned column c into a sort of junk pile. If we do manage to take off diamonds, then column a can become a source of turnovers too.

    That’s the best I can do. But I’m expecting to be shown the better plan and hope to learn from it.

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    1. I agree, the two empty columns are not always what they’re cracked up to be – and we don’t get much more than a single turnover per empty column.

      The main benefit of empty columns here is the long-term advantage of knowing these columns will never contain any face down cards for the remainder of the game. But I agree this is clutching at straws.

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