Player A – 4♣, 3♣, 2♣, J♦, 10♦, 9♣, 8♥, 8♠, 6♣, 4♥, 3♥
Player B – K♣, K♥, K♠, 9♠, 7♠, 7♥, 5♠, 5♦, 2♦, A♦
Conditions – First hand of the game and knock is the 10♠ which means the hand is played for double value.
General Comment – From the appearance of these two hands, Player A could knock and win his hand within two plays while Player B would have to go at least three plays. He would have to pick one of his runs as well as a small card. In two plays Player A could also pick two runs which, with his one already melded run, enable him to go down after two picks. Therefore, on the surface, Player A has the best of the deal.
Play of the Hand:
Player A – Discards the 9♣ as his highest unrelated card.
Player B – Picks from the deck the Q♠. He now has the problem of discarding. Because of the fact that his opponent’s first throw was the 9♣, Player B then has to find out why. Was it the highest unrelated card in his opponent’s hand? If so, chances are that he has some combination higher than a nine. It certainly isn’t the kings since you as Player B already have the kings. It could be the queens, jacks, or 10’s or any combination of them. The 9♣ may also be a salesman. Player A may be looking for the 9♦, 9♥, or the 9♠. He may need it for a lower combination such as 7 and 8. He may also need it for the 10 and Jack. If he needs it for the ten and Jack, he would also need the queen in the same suit. He may also need the queen for the pair of queens. If Player B were to throw the Q♠, and his opponent takes it, he will have increased his own problem, since he has only minor control over the card. He would not know if his opponent picked it for queens or for the 10♠, J♠, Q♠ run. If it is for the 10♠, J♠, Q♠ run he does have some control over the fact that he has both ends of such a run protected. If it is for queens, then he would not know whether on the next throw he could throw the 9♠ if he were fortunate enough to pick the seven. So the card poses some problems. Now you have to look at the advantages and disadvantages of the discard at this point being the 9♠ rather than the Q♠. Since the 9♣ has been thrown by his opponent, Player B knows that he is not saving nines and therefore, it cannot be used that way. If his opponent is holding the 10♠, J♠, and the 9♠ is taken, he would have a layoff with the Q♠. Of course, his opponent could be holding the 8♠ – 10♠, but in this case he still has a layoff with the 7♠. He also knows that his opponent most likely will not discard the 8♠ for some time, so the combination of 7♠ -9♠ is relatively valueless to him. Since he has definite control by throwing the 9♠ rather than the Q♠, he decides to make that his discard.
Player A – Goes to the deck and buys the K♦. The K♦ is a basically useless card to him at this point in the game. He is certainly not interested in picking a four-card run. It is also at this point relatively safe since he has some control over it. He knows that if his opponent picks it, it could only be for the Kings. He throws the K♦.
Player B – He has his first major decision to make in this hand. Should he pick the K♦ for a four-card meld or not? What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing this? The advantage in this case in picking the K♦, and throwing the Q♠ is tremendous. In so doing, he is not giving up any possibilities of buying his second run. He would also put himself in the position of being able to knock immediately on picking his second run, and he has five possible cards that will allow him on his next pick to knock. By figuring the number of cards that are presently in play, he can deduce the number of cards in the stock and figure the odds on his picking a knock in the very next pick or in the next two or three picks. The fact that his opponent may use a live card at this point is secondary, since he is anxious to knock as fast as he can and win this hand. The Q♠, although it is a live card, can only be used for queens. So Player B would, at least, have the knowledge of what the card is used for and would not be getting himself in trouble. So his obvious play at this time, because of the great odds in his favor is to pick the K♦ for a four-card meld and throw the Q♠. There are many cases where it is not to your advantage to pick a fourth card on a run but you’ll see that in following hands.
Player A – Draws the Q♥. He knows that his opponent is holding Kings. Most likely the K♥ is tied up with the Kings, therefore the K♥, J♥ can be eliminated. He knows from the Q♠ just thrown that his opponent is not saving Queens. Therefore, the only combination he should be concerned with now is the 10♥, J♥. However, even though his opponent has picked one card, Player A is in no position to play this hand defensively and start protecting. He has no choice but to throw the Q♥ which, although a useless card to him, it is also the safest card he has to throw.
Player B – Going to the deck, he pulls the 6♥. Now he has to evaluate the advantages of keeping the 6♥ in his hand against any other card in his hand, regarding the opportunity to knock quickly. The 6♥ only adds one way to the combination. There is another card which he can throw from his hand which will not give up any more than one way while at the same time be a little safer and that is the 5♦. It does not make sense to throw the 7♠ because if he does he is giving up three possibilities to improve his hand, the two other sevens, and the 6♠, while gaining only the 8♥. The 5♦ however only has two possibilities, the 5♣, and the 5♥. He still has the 5♥ as a possibility when he keeps the 6♥ so he is only giving up the 5♣. So, it is no more advantageous to hold the 5♦ than to hold the 6♥. It is safer to hold the 6♥ because while it can be used in a color run, the chances of its being used for a pair of fives are one to two as compared to the 6♥ being used in combination with a pair of sixes. In other words, there are three 6’s available to his opponent and he may be holding any two of them whereby the 6♥ would give him a run. There are only two 5’s available though and his opponent would have to be holding both of them in order to use the 5♦ for three 5’s. Therefore, Player B discards the 5♦.
Player A – Pulls from the deck the 8♦. Since he is still playing most aggressively in order to knock his hand as quickly as possible and Queens and 9’s have been established, he would be most foolish at this point to break his 10♦, J♦. In addition, neither the J♦ nor the 10♦ can be considered safe from his viewpoint since neither Jacks nor Tens have been played, nor has there been any indication that his opponent is not holding them. The mathematically safest cards at this point would be one of his two 4’s but throwing one of these would be giving up too much from his hand in the way of buying his second meld. He must, therefore, continue to play aggressively and throw the most useless card in his hand, which is the 6♣.
Player B – Obtains from the deck the 4♠. If he were to throw the 7♠ at this point, he would be giving up two ways to improve his hand, which are the other two 7’s. He would not be giving up the 6♠ because that would still give him a run. By retaining the 4♠, he would add to his hand the possibility of the 3♠ for a run, so that by throwing the 7♠ instead of the 4♠, he would also be giving up one additional way out of his hand. Also he would be throwing a card that is twice as safe as the 4♠. Of course he could always throw the 6♥, a safer card than either of the two. In fact, he knows from his opponent’s throw that his opponent cannot use it for 6’s. His opponent may have thrown the 6♣ as a salesman looking for the 6♥ because he may be holding the 4♥, and 5♥. In that case though, he knows he has a definite layoff. He can throwback the fourth King at this point and keep all possible ways in his hand. If he does this though, he is eliminating the possibility of his being able to knock with one pick. So it is not to his advantage. By throwing the 6♥ he is giving up two ways and adding one way with the 4♠. So, he is actually giving up one way just as he would be if he were throwing the 7♠. A 6♥ discard however would be a bit safer than the 7♠ because if his opponent should pick the 7♠, he would not know what his opponent picked it for. Taking this all into consideration, he decides to throw the 6♥.
Player A – Goes to the deck and picks the 3♠. The 3♠ is a very valuable card to him. It provides him with another combination or set of combinations because it gives him an opportunity to fill the three 3’s as well as to buy the A♠ or 4♠. In addition, it now gives him a combination of four cards adding up to ten points or less, which means that he also is now in a position to knock in one additional pick. Player A would thus like to keep the combination that his opponent is most likely to throw to, and retain the opportunity of picking the card to complete the combination from the deck. Obviously, it would be the top diamond run, since those cards have been established and the 4’s have not been. Now for the first time, he gives some thought to the safety of the plays that he is going to make. He does not want to give up this advantage by throwing his opponent cards that will enable him to knock before he can achieve the one pick he is looking for. In view of that, the card that is most unimportant to him at this time and the safest card in his hand is the 4♥. He knows that it cannot be used for a heart run and the only way it can be used is for his opponent to be holding both the 4♠, and the 4♦. He throws the 4♥.
Player B – Draws from the deck the J♠ which is a complete wild card at this point. It is considered wild in the sense that no jacks have been played. He does know that it cannot be used for a spade run since the Q♠, and the 9♠ have been played. Therefore the only way it can be used is if his opponent is holding Jacks. Now he must consider whether his opponent is the kind of player who at this stage in the game would be holding combinations of cards as high as jacks while throwing fours, or whether he is a safer player. It is an evaluation that he will have to make, and quickly. Secondly, if he holds this card, what card would he throw? There is no card he can throw without giving up a major portion of his chances to immediately win his own hand. In view of all the factors, plus the fact that this is the first game of the set, he discards the J♠.
Player A – He has a unique problem, because he doesn’t know if he should pick the Jack or go to the deck? What are the advantages and disadvantages? The most obvious and only major disadvantage is the fact that in doing so he loses a pick and loses his opportunity at the point to pick the Q♦ or 9♦ and immediately knock. He has a very relatively safe card to throw in the 4♣. He knows that his opponent cannot use it for 4’s, and he knows that the 6♣ is gone. He has the 2♣, so the 4♣ could only be used with the single combination of the 3♣, 5♣. Now what are the advantages? First, by picking the J♠ and discarding the 4♣, he has doubled his chances of knocking his hand in one pick. Up until now he had only two cards in the deck that would enable him to go down on the next pick, now he would have four. The pick would also put an added burden on his opponent who would now have to protect against the J♠. This means if he is the kind of player who only breaks from pairs, he has another Jack in his hand and Player A has him in trouble. Now that he can no longer safely throw the Jack, he will be forced to hurt his own hand by retaining the Jack. Player A must consider the fact that if his opponent did break a pair of Jacks and now picks a second Jack from the deck, he will know that Player A had picked a stiff on speculation. Knowing this gives him a tremendous advantage. He will then never break his pair and will simply wait for the Jack to be discarded. Of course, most players do not normally hold just two flat Jacks, but they do work the Jacks into color combinations. However, the advantages of picking the J♠ and throwing the 4♣ so far outweigh the disadvantages, that Player A takes that action.
Player B – Goes to the deck and draws the A♥. What good does this card do him? No good actually, because he still has to pick another run in order to be able to knock his hand. He could throw the A♥ away since it is of no use to hand, but a safer throw would be the A♦. At least he knows what his opponent can use it for, in addition to picking it as a low card to knock with. Since his opponent has just picked a discarded J♠, which is obviously for Jacks, Player B realizes that by this point in the game his opponent could be about ready to knock. Therefore, if he can avoid it, he will not throw any aces. If he throws the 7♠, 5♠, or 4♠ he would be giving up too many of the opportunities in his hand. His best bet is to throw one of the Kings. If he is fortunate enough to pick a seven he can still knock on the next pick. If he picks the 6♠, he can also knock on the next round. He is not really concerned with picking an Ace or the 3♦. The only card he can pick for a run that would not enable him to knock on the very next pick would be the 3♠. The odds are relatively slight against his picking this one card before any of the others. Therefore, the safest card to throw at this point would be one of the Kings, as long as the Queen or Jack of the color has already been played. He therefore discards the K♥.
Player A – Pulls from the deck the 6♦. This is a 100% safe card, so he discards it.
Player B – Goes to the deck and buys the 7♦. He discards the 5♠ and knocks with eight points. He wins only two points on the hand, but goes on the score in the first game.