Steve’s Game – Summary

This was a well-played game by Steve. There were no major inaccuracies and he overcame a difficult start. He kept himself in the game and only after dealing the final 10 cards he had a good position for the first time. And he duly converted. Of course I would bet my Ph. D. thesis to a brick that Steve cherry-picked that game out of over 300+ games to demonstrate it’s possible to win even with a bad start. It is highly likely a fair percentage of Steve’s victories were walkovers after a good start.

There were a few inaccuracies like not realising he can get another in-suit build at no cost, or missing the fact some column had a 5 missing (easy to do when you have a sequence like 8-7-6-4-3-2-A). But there is no individual play that screams “ThIs GuY cAnNoT pOsSiBlY bE a GM”. If I had to give a single pointer for Steve to improve his game even further, I would choose the concept of “good and bad shape in individual columns”.

Steve has a good feel for the game. He can anticipate the Job 38:11 problem several moves in advance, and either he will find a way around the problem or at least avoid acting surprised when it does hit. He does not explicitly mention “one-hole-no-card” – but that’s merely one of many ways of explaining a concept that Steve is no doubt familiar with.

Steve was unable to get close to removing a suit before the last round – but not for lack of trying. The card gods decreed there would be no reasonable prospect of doing so before the last round – and then Steve showed his skill when it mattered most:  he found a plan that guaranteed the removal of a complete suit. It was relatively straightforward to verify removing the suit was not a trap, and victory was a mere formality.

The process of finding the correct plan at the start of round 5 is not trivial, and admittedly I glossed over that. Steve gives plenty of examples of finding a good plan in complex positions in other chapters of his book. I recommend you get the book (if you haven’t already done so) and study his thought processes for the examples given by him.

As for Steve’s book, my main criticism is that his notation for moves is very unwieldy. Yes, I get that he is trying to explain important concepts like “breaks, doors, locks, delaying, etc” but I am pretty sure there is a way to get his message across without resorting to clumsy notation. Apart from that, the entire book is an extremely useful resource for someone who is serious about improving their game.

Overall Strength

Overall, I would say Steve is GM strength, or close to it. Unfortunately it’s difficult for me to judge properly unless I had access to the moves in all of the 306 games he played.

2 thoughts on “Steve’s Game – Summary

  1. I wondered about the notation when I read the book. It seemed like the first half was teaching notation. I couldn’t easily see a way to teach it more succinctly, but didn’t try.
    You mention that you think he cherry-picked this game from a great many, and I suspect you’re right and I don’t think he ever said it was a randomly chosen game.
    One thing made me suspicious, though. Before the last deal, it was possible to remove a suit, something he explains in the book and that I was also able to find when asked to look for it. However, GM reports that he notes that the card underneath was not a good card. So it leaves me with a tiny little suspicion that maybe he was drunk one night and forgot he wasn’t supposed to use the Z key. And in this hand, after doing what he later thought was a superior play, he undid it and chose a line that yielded a better turnover. And later forgot he’d done it. I would never, ever accuse him of intentionally lying to us, but… people have memory lapses.


    1. I disagree with the drunk theory. Since Steve won the game, he was able to deduce the identity of every face-down care and could know that taking a turnover in column 1 would yield a king and lose the game.

      If Steve had lost, I assume he would count the game as a loss, use Z-key to work out the identity of every face-down card and analyse where he could have done better.


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