Dan Barlow - Tip #13

Endgame discarding quiz

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You cad! You ordered that mind-reading course from the home shopping channel and instead of using your new power to help the country by interrogating criminals or becoming a spy, you're using it to try to win cribbage tournaments. Of course, the ability to read your opponent's mind doesn't help you get good cards or helpful cuts, so you keep ending with this same position. You need nine holes, your opponent needs a mere three, and he deals. You look into his deepest thoughts and discover that he has more than three points. Not only that, but you discover that you can peg nothing, no matter what cards you save and no matter what order you play your cards in. As you know his cards, it'll be easy to keep him from pegging three holes, but which four cards give you the best chance of coming up with nine points? The game is riding on your decision. No flushes are possible.

1. 2-4-6-8-10-K

2. 4-5-6-7-8-9

3. A-2-3-6-7-8

4. 2-3-4-9-10-J

5. A-4-5-9-Q-K

6. A-2-3-10-J-Q


1. You can score nine points only with the 4-6-10-K.

2. Any reasonable holding gives you many shots at nine points, but the holding that gives you the BEST chance is 4-5-6-9.

3. 2-6-7-8 is slightly better than A-6-7-8, as it wins on the cut of a 5.

4. You have more winning cuts if you save 2-3-4-9 than any other hand.

5. Save A-4-5-Q or (A-4-5-K). This wins if you pair the face card or cut a 5 or a 6. A-4-Q-K may seem equally good and 4-5-Q-K may seem slightly better, but not when you discount the benefits of cutting a J. If the cut is a J, not even your mind-reading abilities can keep opponent from pegging out.

6. Once again, you can't afford to cut a J. Thus, A-2-3-J is a loser. A-2-3-10 and A-2-3-Q win if you pair any of your cards, so you have twelve winning cuts. But 2-3-J-Q wins on the cut of a 2, 3, 10 or K or the right 5 or the right Q. That gives you fifteen winning cuts (fourteen if you are already holding the right Q).

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

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