Dan Barlow - Tip #8

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Endgame problems of the type we've looked at in the past are not only instructive, challenging puzzles, they're also a realistic form of cribbage solitaire. Simply set up the given position on your cribbage board, pull out the correct cards and pretend you're sitting across from one the game's superstars in the finals of a big tournament. Can you stand the pressure?

Problem 1: You need seven to go out, your opponent needs sixteen. You deal yourself A-4-4-5-7-9. Hoping for a 10 cut, you pitch the 7-9. The cut is an 8, so your crib will put you out, but only if your opponent doesn't go out first.

The Play So Far

Opponent You
6 A (7)
7 (14) 4 (18)
6 (24) ?

a. You can score 29 for four with your 5 now. Do you?

b. Would you play differently if your opponent needed fourteen?

Problem 2: You need sixteen to go out, your opponent needs only two. You deal yourself 4-6-6-7-8-10, and pitch the 4-10. The cut is an A.

The Play So Far

Opponent You
10 6 (16)
9 (25) 6 (31)
3 ?

a. Do you play the 7 or the 8?

b. What do you play if the opponent needs three?

c. What do you play if the opponent needs six?

Solutions

1a. No. If opponent's last card is a 6, 7, 8 or 9, opponent has already won. If it is anything else, opponent has lost, unless it is a 2. If it's a 2, opponent needs to peg two more holes; and if you make the count 29, opponent will. Note that an A gives the opponent the same total as a deuce; but with an A, opponent can't peg two holes, no matter how you play. Besides, if opponent had an A, he/she would have paired your A.

1b. Yes. You no longer care if opponent has a deuce -- if so, he/she's won. Now you're worried that opponent has a 3 and needs to peg two more holes, so you must make the count 29, not 28.

2a. Play the 8. You fear that opponent's last card is a 7. If it's anything else, your play will not affect the outcome.

2b. Play the 7. Now you're worried that opponent's card is a 4.

2c. Play the 8. Playing the 7 will cost you the game if opponent's last card is a 5.

- Text copyright 2002 by Dan Barlow. All rights reserved.

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