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!