The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits


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Tired of working on my latest Factory, I fire up the robots for a few hands of bridge solitaire. I pick up the sort of hand you get in solitaire…

S:KQ7xxx H:A D:KQ62 C:xx 

(You get them because the computer deals out the hands, then swaps your hand with the best hand if you don’t happen to hold it).

Suprisingly, your robot partner opens 1 Heart. I bid 1 Spade and CHO bids 1NT. I bid 2 Diamonds (natural, forcing) and the CHObot admits to having two spades. I suspect four spades is cold and six spades is odds against, but I’m playing against robots and just goofing off. We’ll be light on points but maybe hearts will run (and I do have a sixth trump). Six spades it is.

I get the five of clubs lead and I don’t have time to wonder if I’ll be down before I won a trick because dummy is already tabled.

Dummy S:A9x H:KT9754 D:xx  C:Ax

Hand  S:KQ7xxx H:A D:KQ62 C:xx 

(Club 5 led by LHO)

That’s my type of opening … minimum. Well, I fly with the club ace and think. This is a decided underdog. Do I have any lines of play? In fact, I do see one. The nice thing about slam hands is that you usually don’t have a tangle of possible lines.

I win the club ace (naturally) and lead a heart to the ace. (Technically I should probably lead a spade the king and then cash the heart ace, but that’s a minor improvement and If hearts are 7-0 I think I would have heard something). I lead the spade king and then a spade to the ace, as spades break 2-2.

I needed that.

Next comes the heart king, pitching my losing club as LHO shows out. Uh, ok. I lead a diamond and it goes ten-queen-small. It looks like the diamond ace is onside.

I needed that, too.

But I also need RHO to have started with the ace and shortness (A, Ax, or Axx).

Nothing to do but lead a small diamond. LHO wins the 9 (RHO completing an echo!) and leads a club. I ruff the lub, ruff a diamond and … RHO plays the ace.

Score it up.

Once the diamond queen won, my odds were pretty good. RHO was known to have six hearts and two spades. Not much space for four diamonds and if he did have four, LHO had 8 clubs. I definitely think that would have been mentioned.

I also belatedly realize I missed another improvement.

If an honor had fallen on the second round of hearts, I would have had options. If RHO plays the honor I can play for him having QJx tight. If LHO shows up with an honor I could play for QJx tight or Hx. In the latter case I can run the HT for a ruffing finesse through RHO and (assuming it wins) get back to dummy with with a diamond ruff after losing the diamond ace and winning the other diamond, and pitch my last diamond on dummy’s good 9 of hearts.

I hadn’t considered it, but if the honor had popped up, I probably would have noticed. A minor demerit for not thinking about it ahead of time, but it turns out I had just enough luck on this hand.


Written by taogaming

September 24, 2017 at 9:25 am

Posted in Artificial Opponents, Bridge

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Playing in a Bracketed Swiss, our opponents are a solid pair. LHO is hyper-aggressive but backs it up with exceptional card play. (In fact, one of my best tournament weekends was partnered with LHO. I saw him make one questionable card play in two days, but hands that I would force to game opposite anyone else were mere invites with him). RHO is the solid citizen half of the partnership.

S: KJxx H:JTxxx D:Qx C:xx

I expected not to do much with this hand, when RHO opens, but the auction takes a turn….

-   -   1D  P
1H  2C   X* P    *Support Double, 3 Hearts
P! XX*   P  ?    ** SOS

LHO has gone for the jugular by passing the support double — this is IMPs, so he fully expects this to go down. Partner’s redouble indicates he agree.

Originally I would expect six clubs for partner’s stepping into a live auction, but he’s been frisky too. If he does have six clubs, they are terrible.

What else do I know? Partner should have exactly one heart (I doubt LHO would double with a fifth heart with RHO showing 3). If he had four spades and five clubs, I expect he would have doubled 1 heart. So, partner is likely 3=1=4=5. In that case, we’ll play in the seven card fit that lets the short hand ruff (maybe).

I bid 2 Spades. This gets passed to RHO, who doubles. Nobody has anything else to say.

LHO leads the heart Ace (Ace from Ace/King) and dummy is not what I’d hoped.

S: 9xx H:x D:AKxx C:KJxxx

That’s definitely frisky. On the plus side, my diamond queen is pulling its weight. LHO quickly shifts to a trump and this goes to RHO’s Ace, and he then returns a small spade.

I could fly with the king and ruff a heart, but I think I’ve got a decent play to make it, so I finesse the jack. When it holds I ruff a heart, cross to the diamond queen, play the spade king (LHO discarding a club), then cash the diamond king, discard a club on the diamond ace, and ruff the fourth diamond with my spade jack (LHO discarding another club). I now lead a club, expecting LHO to fly with the ace, but he plays low.

Doggy-doggy-what now?

A quick review shows that RHO has shown up with only AQ of spades and queen of hearts (presumably), and the jack of diamonds, so he really kind of needs the club ace. (Update I just noticed — RHO could have KQ of hearts, but that would mean LHO ducked his club ace when he knows I have a singleton. Ballsy). I play the jack which does force the ace. RHO cashes the spade queen, but he’s snookered. If he leads the queen of hearts LHO can’t overtake (because I have the JT left) and a club gives me the king. I’ve scored 3 trumps in hand, a heart ruff in dummy, three diamonds and in the end I get the club king to make.

I later note to myself that if RHO had played his heart queen on the second round, he would have set me if I’d been unfortunate enough to have the Jxxxx of hearts instead of the JTxxx, because then he could lead through my hearts. In fact, the opponents have been somewhat spectacularly unlucky. If my partner had his bid, then likely he’d have the spade king and it would have been spade to the queen, ace and small, killing most of my value. And hearts didn’t have to break 5-1 (but if the don’t partner probably would have gone quietly … I hope). On the other hand, LHO left in a support double with QTxx of clubs in front of dummies suit (and no reason to believe his partner had any), and only a nine count, so that was probably a bit too aggressive.

We pick up a boatload of IMPs on the hand, but for naught as the opponents squeak out a victory. Unlucky.

Written by taogaming

September 11, 2017 at 4:50 pm

Posted in Bridge

Not much gaming

I did get a new high score in co-op Mage Knight with the TaoLing (264, playing Full Co-op conquest with 8/8/14 cities with the final being a 7+7 Megapolis). After our first terrible game we played a second time and won with a nice balanced setup (we were within 2 points of each other, which is good since you take the low score) and we won about halfway into the final day.

Other than that, playing Factorio and Desktop Dungeons, and  a touch of bridge.

Binge watched The Good Place. Quite enjoyable. May even pay to watch the second season on amazon.

Update (September 24th) — Scored of 270 against a 9/9/18 (9+9) conquest. Bought S2 of The Good Place.

Written by taogaming

September 3, 2017 at 9:34 pm

Posted in Session Reports

Another timewaster request open thread

Well, Factorio was a good suggestion from the crowd (even if I balked originally). I’ve been knocking out various achievements (although I doubt I’ll get the “finish in 8 hours” one), but I must admit I’m casting around for something new. I downloaded OpenTTD (since the train engine is the same as factorio) but its a bit too old school for me. So … what computer games are you playing? (Remembering that my computer is not a gaming computer).

Update — After trying the demo of Desktop Dungeons, I sprung for the game. I’m actually not terribly fond of the entire leveling/building system (which strikes as similar to a freemium game) but the actual puzzels have a “nethack in 20 minutes”  nature. Some of the tiny 5 piece puzzles are stumping me, and I suppose the building/unlocking means that they can slowly introduce new things.

Written by taogaming

August 29, 2017 at 7:13 pm

Media oh Media

I slogged the rest of the way through Iron Fist earlier this month just in case I needed it for the Defenders. (Iron Fist was really bad, mainly the writing. I actually liked the supporting cast, mostly).

Defenders had its moments (a few) and was better served as an 8 episode arc instead of 13, but still wasn’t great. So, while I’ve watched all of the Netflix series, I can’t say I can recommend them. I may give Punisher a pass (I wasn’t too keen on Daredevil S2).

Rick & Morty S3 is out, so that’s being watched of course. I’ll probably try The Good Place when it drops later this month. Other than that I’m not really into anything. I watched half of ep 1 of Ozarks, and I may continue. Watched the first two episodes of Dear White People, & etc etc. Lots of other things make the queue but don’t get watched. I am enjoying (slowly) the new season of Grace and Frankie. Lily Tomlin is a national treasure.

Howzabout you?

Update — The Americanized Death Note is terrible, but I watched it. The Tick is not great, but has a few quotable quips in each episode.

Written by taogaming

August 20, 2017 at 10:15 pm

Posted in TV & Media

Amazon one-day deal on board games

You probably already knew this (or missed it), but Amazon’s Gold Box has 100 board games for pretty decent prices. I mean, I’m not going to buy Grand Austria Hotel for $33 even (which reminds me: my review of Grand Austria Hotel is “Meh, would not buy even at $33”), but that’s a good price. (A careful perusal reconfirms my general curmudgeon-ness towards the current crop of Euros. I haven’t tried Isle of Skye, which is also on sale. In general, someone actively buying games will probably find a good deal, but if you heard about it from my web site, you are presumably way too late. Deal is only for Aug 18.

I might swing by Barnes and Noble since I hear they have Magic Maze … my review of Magic Maze: “B&N is right next to my favorite restaurant, and it’s hatch chili festival week.”

Still playing Factorio,  you still don’t care. Not much game news otherwise. I did try Century: Spice Road. It’s inoffensive.


Written by taogaming

August 18, 2017 at 5:02 pm

Posted in Misc

Back from a long layoff (Bridge)

I’m trying to pick up a North American Open Pairs qualification with Hank after a long layoff (nearly four months) and we’re both grinding some rust. Thankfully we both simultaneously forget a rare convention, but we’re also missing some fairly obvious stuff. About halfway into the game I think we are under 50% (in a weak field) when I pick up this fine collection.

S:KQJxxx H:AK D:AK C:Axx

I’m in fourth seat, but it is not to be. LHO opens 3 Diamonds and it goes pass-pass to me. I could bid 4S (or even 5S) but it seems to me that double and then bidding 4S is stronger. But is it strong enough? I double. LHO passes and Hank bids 4 Clubs. I could bid 4 diamonds and then bid four spades, but it isnt’ clear to me if 4 Diamonds is key card or “Try again.” I bid 4 Spades, which should be cold, but it doesn’t take much to make a slam. Perhaps I should bid 5S so partner will go with  nearly anything, but partner may still be broke and 5S may not make. It goes all pass.

LHO leads the 9 of hearts and dummy hits with:


               S: AT H:Txx D:Txx C:K97xx

Heart 9 led

               S: KQJ764 H:AK D:AK C:Axx

Damn. Slam is cold.

Too late to worry about that, focus on the hand. Can I make seven? I think so. Assuming that RHO has QJ of hearts (seems likely on the 9H lead) and LHO owns the QJ of diamonds (or even just Q or J, since RHO’s honor will drop) then neither opponent can hold onto three clubs in the run of the cards.

It’s technically a single squeeze — only one opponent can guard clubs — but I’m playing it as if it were a double. Putting my plan into action I win and run five spades (pitching three clubs from dummy) and then cash my diamond Ace +King (RHO shows out on the second one, as expected and LHO dropping the Jack) and the heart king (LHO shows out), both the Jacks have fallen.

Here’s the situation with four cards left:


               S: -- H:T D:T C:K9

D:Q + 3 cards                H:Q + 3 cards.

               S: 4 H:-- D:-- C:Axx

I haven’t been counting, just watching for the Q+J of both red suits. It’s a lock and I could claim, but its faster to play out. I lead the spade four and when LHO doesn’t pitch the diamond queen I pitch the diamond ten. RHO has to keep the heart queen, so also pitches something else. Each opponent has a red queen which means at most two clubs, so I go club to the king, club ace and good club. (LHO started with three clubs).

It’s a baby squeeze made obvious by the bidding and lead, but I’ll take it. Anything to show that I can sometimes do the right thing. Finding the squeeze salvages the board (75%) and despite our mistakes we have a big last round (including one gift) to qualify.

I also posted a rather more complicated (IMO) technical question to Bridge Winners, if you care.

Written by taogaming

July 30, 2017 at 7:46 pm

Posted in Bridge