Thursday, October 06, 2005

Tichu (Passing strategy)

What cards to pass is an important part of Tichu strategy. When deciding what to pass, there are several goals that should weigh on one's decision. These are:

1)Enabling one of the two players in your partnership to be able to call Tichu with a strong chance of making it, if possible.

2)Eliminating hard to play cards (losers) from your hand, especially, low single cards.

3)Not passing the same card to a given opponent as your opponent passed them, setting them up with at least a double, and possibly turning a double into a bomb.

For goal number one, you should determine whether your hand is probably going to be strong enough to call Tichu. If it is, then you probably do not want to pass a winner (Ace, Dragon or Phoenix) to your partner. Instead, a good rule is to pass a relatively high single card, getting it out of your hand. This pass doesn't hurt your partner, and possibly gives them a high double or triple to use as a winner. If you need to pass your partner a lower single, it is justified in this case, as you are going to call Tichu. Your hope here is that your partner will help you out, and increase your chance to make a Tichu by passing you an Ace, Dragon, or Phoenix. However, if your hand is so overpowered that you could pass one of those winners to your partner and still have a very high chance of making Tichu, you should do it, in hopes that it helps them to go out 1-2 with you.

If your hand is not strong enough to call Tichu, then you will probably want to pass a winner to your partner, hoping to enable them to call.

For goal number two, you are passing two low single cards to your opponents in most cases. I should note that if you have a straight which has a couple extra duplicate cards in it, then those cards should be considered singles. For example, 8776554 should be considered and 87654 straight, and an extra 7 and 5 singles. The 7 and 5 would be good cards to pass to your opponents. In a case where you have only one or zero low singles, but you have a low pair, especially a very low pair like 2s or 3s, you should pass the low pair, one card to each opponent. One benefit of this is that it is not possible for you to have handed your opponents a 4 of a kind bomb.

For goal number three, you should develop a passing scheme with your partner. An example could be 'pass odd, low, left'. This would indicate that one is trying to pass an odd card left and an even card right, or barring that, the lower card left and the higher card right. If both players on a team do this, it minimizes the chance that you will each pass one of your opponents the same card. For example, if I am passing a 2 and a 3, and my partner is passing a 2 and a 3, we each pass our 3s left (to different players), and our 2s right to different players, so each opponent gets a 2 and a 3 from us. Without this rule, there is a 50% chance that we would have just passes one opponent a pair of 2s, and the other a pair of 3s, which is far worse for us, as those cards take less time to get out of their hands, and might create a bomb.

If one is passing two odd cards or two even cards, they pass the lower one left and the higher one right. While this isn't perfect, it is a greatly reduced chance of passing a duplicate card. Obviously, any system will work, as long as you agree to it with your partner ahead of time.

A couple notes on passing certain cards:
If you have the phoenix, and you aren't going to call Tichu, you should almost certainly pass it to your partner unless it is critical for something like a long straight for you, like 345P789, where without the phoenix you are left with a number of singles. This is because there is a significant chance it will enable your partner to make a straight out of some singles or to extend a straight, and can be a huge help in their calling Tichu.

If you pass the dog to your partner, it had better be because you are going to call Tichu. If you pass the dog to your partner, you may have just wrecked their Tichu. If you don't call one yourself, it could end up costing you 100 points. Of course, if after receiving the pass, your hand is wrecked and you cant make it, don't call it and lose another 100 points, but if your hand is such that the Tichu would be shaky unless the pass is good for you, you probably shouldn't pass your partner the dog. Instead, you might pass them a winner, hope they call Tichu, and help them by playing the dog yourself.

I don't recommend passing the Dog to your opponents, unless there is a player on their team that is just calling Tichu almost every hand. In that case, they could be using a plan of having the other player always pass that player their best card, to enable Tichu. Here, you could give the dog to the constant Tichu caller. Another exception, of course, is if an opponent has called Grand Tichu, or for some reason called Tichu before the pass. Here, you would always want to pass the dog to that player, since it is the lowest loser of all, and they must waste a lead getting rid of it.

The 1 is a card that you probably have no need to pass. Definitely don't pass it to your opponents, and there is probably no need to give it to your partner. One except ion is if someone has called Grand Tichu. Here, if you have the 1, get it to the player before the Grand Tichu caller, and have them play it and wish for an Ace. This 'wastes' an ace from the Grand Tichu caller's hand.

1 comment:

Brian said...

Nice summary of passing strategy. I'm thinking about trying out the strategy where one player in a partnership is the designated Tichu caller, and the game revolves around giving him the best cards. Have you seen this work much? Another option is switching designated Tichu callers every 2 or 3 hands. I think it's an intriguing possibility and I'm looking forward to trying it out.