How to play Grand

Discussion of hands from past BSkA tournaments (or other events) and how they were bid and played. Skat problems. General discussion of strategy and tactics.
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John McLeod
Posts: 138
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:26 pm

How to play Grand

Post by John McLeod » Fri Mar 18, 2016 6:37 pm

You are Vorhand, both your opponents pass, and after picking up the Skat you hold
C: -
H: AK7
This is hand 17 from session 1 of the London tournament on 27 Feb. It's rather clear that you should throw the K7 of hearts and play Grand. I'm sure all three players did that. But how will you play it?

There is a way that is 100% safe. Leave the jacks alone and lead your winners from the top. Eventually one of the opponents will trump something. If they then lead a club back (worst case for you) you trump the club and carry on leading winners. Eventually you get trumped again, but then the rest of the tricks are yours. The opponents make just two tricks with their jacks, and the absolute best cards they can get on these are three aces and a ten, for a total of only 45 points.

In the tournament everyone played Grand, but two people made Schneider while the third lost the game. I think the only plausible way to lose the game is to lead a jack, which is surely a mistake. If the jacks split you make Schneider of course, and you also make Schneider if the player who wins the first trick with the CJ returns a spade or heart to your ace, allowing you to draw the last trump.

But if the opponent with the other two jacks returns a club you have a problem. As the cards lie it is Hinterhand who has both the other jacks, takes the trick and returns the king of clubs. You could trump the CK and try to cash your winners. Since the suits break evenly you can make two spades, a heart and a diamond this way, but even with this piece of luck you only get to 56 points. The opponents then take the rest of the tricks. Alternatively you could throw a small diamond on the CK but then the opponents will keep leading clubs and your problems potentially get worse.

I wonder how the players who made Schneider managed to do it? Possibly they played the safe line and the opponents didn't put enough points in their two tricks, or possibly they led the risky jack and were lucky enough to get a spade or heart returned.

Mike Tobias
Posts: 333
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:49 am
Location: Kent, UK

Re: How to play Grand

Post by Mike Tobias » Sun Mar 20, 2016 9:00 pm

John McLeod wrote: There is a way that is 100% safe. Leave the jacks alone and lead your winners from the top.
That's the way I'd play it, it's a no-brainer

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