One From a Barbú Tournament
SF-style Barbú, you have only Fantan left.
CHO owes you a double. Family doubles are prohibited.
Aces are low. You do not have to call a card you have.
What is your base card?
If all three double you, whom do you redouble, if anyone?
Today's panelists: Barry Rigal, David Caprera,
Walter Hamilton, Joel Wooldridge, Adam Wildavsky,
- I hate these problems (I always get them wrong and worse,
I can usually be convinced of my error too...)
Oh well; my thinking is that I want to play early on to get oppo to open up
the suits for me (I do not mind passing in mid ground). I'd play from the
Not RHO; he heard LHO.
CHO... and LHO though I could be persuaded that this was silly. Easier on
- [who has never played Barbu!] Should 8 be my base? My guess
is that this is a good hand. I rewhack LHO and CHO. Unless RHO
is bluffing, their double should be legit.
- I'd lead the A. As for redoubling, I'd
only redouble someone with a lesser score. [Since it's
the last round, Walter is playing to the score, but given
that this was a tournament, that doesn't really work. --Jeff]
- 5 is base. I redouble all who challenge my almightiness.
-  sounds right to me. Holding no Kings a low start card is called
for. Calling one I don't hold lets me hide my intentions. 3 would be
too low I'm not worried about getting my Aces played. Those who
double me are going with the odds that I'm a priori unlikely to have
been dealt a good Fantan hand, but this is a good one.
This isn't a lock hearts might not come out soon enough. But if
the K and Q of hearts are split it would take quite a parlay to
finish worse than second.
- TC said she would start with five, and points out that there's not nearly enough
info to decide whether to redouble, since at this stage we must know the scores
and what games are left. She said in general she wouldn't redouble anyone if
there are multiple doubles, though, because if there's a very good hand out
there, this hand could easily finish third or fourth. I agree with her that
while it's not a bad hand, it can become terrible if it loses control.
- JEFF AT THE TABLE
- Ace lead, redoubled the forced double.
- WINNING ACTION
- Here's the whole hand:
On this hand, a 5 lead will almost certainly
let LHO win. An A or 2 lead will probably
make it a 50/50 guess between you and him.
A 3 lead will let CHO randomly choose who
wins. RHO is always coming in 3rd.
In real life, one called a 9 (!) and won.
Two called 2s, each reaching a 50/50 guess.
One got it right, one wrong. I called an
Ace, reached the guess, and guessed wrong.
CHO, of course, comes in last and RHO comes
in 3rd. The only real issue is whether you
- JEFF UPON REFLECTION
- Lew Stansby, Kit Woolsey,
and I discussed this hand after the tournament.
They plumped for a 5 lead, but after significant
simulation and lots of thought, I think an ace is
likely still to be best. You'd like to get spades
on the track early, but it's even more important to
get to your aces. You have a lot of control cards
in your 9s and 10s; it's much more important to make
those be stoppers later in the play than to be able to
pass early. (And the play of this hand demonstrates
that.) Perhaps a 3 might produce the best of
both worlds, but the A guarantees a major will get
played and probably will see to it that a bunch of
major suit cards get played quickly. That's good.
Upon reflection, I think I still like the A lead.
On the actual hand, I think a 3 will be likely to
be the winner, but oddly, it concedes control to
CHO (!) who doesn't really care. If he tries to
have fewer cards in the end, you'll likely win.
If he plays randomly, you'll come in 2nd. An Ace
or 2, however, gives you control. ...without
any information with which to use the control, but
I know the right answer about redoubling, but then
again I've seen the hand. The logic is pretty clear,
though. CHO has to be redoubled; his double was forced
and his hand is awful. (He had all four Kings.) LHO
might have been taking a chance, but was under the
gun, so probably has the 2nd-best hand at the table.
RHO may have doubled because she heard LHO double.
LHO's having a double increases the odds considerably
that her so-so hand (she actually had a very good one,
but hypothetically speaking) would be better than mine.
Therefore, you should redouble CHO and RHO. Second
choice is to redouble everyone, but that's very risky.
Perhaps it matters which base card you pick. If you
pick a 5, you are likely to come in first, but may
manage last. If you pick an Ace, you will never come
in last, but there's a small chance you'll come in 3rd.
In practice, I'd bet on 1st or 2nd and expect LHO to
be the one competing with me for 1st, so the middle-of-
the-road choice is to redouble everyone but LHO. All
in all, nothing's wrong, but I think the best expectation
comes from leading an ace and redoubling RHO and CHO.
But not by much.
Nov. 13, 2002