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Subject: When do you call Grand Tichu? rss

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Kevin O'Brien
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I have two related questions; a general one and a specific one:

(1) What do you consider sufficient to call Grand Tichu (that is, when you've only seen eight of your cards)?

My rule of thumb is three of the top six cards (Dragon, Phoenix, Aces).

(2) Given my rule of thumb, above, would you call Grand Tichu if you had the Phoenix, one Ace, and the rest of the cards looked OK/decent (let's say a couple of middling pairs) AND the current score is -145 to 245 and you're losing (that is, you are behind by 390 points, but the game is still young-ish)?

Essentially, what context allows the possible gain of making the Grand Tichu outweigh the probability of it failing?

I'd certainly be interested in the input of experienced and successful players!
 
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Usually I call Grand Tichu out of desperation - when the score looks really bad for my team and I have a hand that might let me finish first. On a score of -145 to 245 or similar, I simply wouldn't. In the endgame, when the score is 500 to 900 or so, it is surely a thing to consider. It's not so a matter of what cards you have, it's a matter of how many tricks can you take with your current hand of 8 cards? And what are the chances of improvement when the other 6 cards are dealt?

When I call (Grand) Tichu before the exchange of cards, I get at least an ace (or the Dragon or the Phoenix) from my partner; but also, I will get the Mah Jong or/and the Dog from the other team.
 
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David Goldfarb
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I'll strongly consider calling Grand Tichu if I have three of the top six...including at least one of the top two (i.e., I usually won't on three aces, I want two aces and either the Dragon or the Phoenix). It helps if I have in addition a face card or two, and it helps a lot if I have 4 cards in sequence, so that I have a decent chance of getting a straight. The state of the score won't matter much to me there. If the game is getting old and we're behind, I'll relax my standards a bit.

I might be wrong in my thinking, but it seems to me that normally you should be fairly conservative about calling Grand, because you're risking 200 points to gain 100. If you wait to see your back six and the pass, you might avoid calling a bad Tichu, and so avoid any penalty; but if after you see everything it turns out you do have a good hand you can still call and get 100. So I assign the whole -200 from a failed Grand to the Grand call, but only 100 of the 200 to the Grand, with the other 100 coming from the Tichu that was still possible. So a small Tichu needs 50% odds to break even, but a Grand needs considerably better.
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Brendan
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PzVIE wrote:
When I call (Grand) Tichu before the exchange of cards, I get at least an ace (or the Dragon or the Phoenix) from my partner; but also, I will get the Mah Jong or/and the Dog from the other team.


I'd be quite happy to receive the Mahjong from my opponents after calling Grand Tichu. Not only does it mean they can't wish away one of my aces without a chance for me to play a low singleton, but it also means that I get to decide what to lead and can freely play a low combination that I might not have a follow-up to. (In other words, when calling Grand Tichu, I'm generally not so worried about regaining the lead on a singleton. The possibility of playing 22444, getting beat, and then watching the other player go out with a long straight and another combo is much more worrying.)
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Chris Long
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PzVIE wrote:
When I call (Grand) Tichu before the exchange of cards, I get at least an ace (or the Dragon or the Phoenix) from my partner; but also, I will get the Mah Jong or/and the Dog from the other team.


That's a really bad idea. If my opponents called GT and I have the Mah Jong then I make sure that it is in the possession of whomever is going to lead into the GT caller. That way you can wish for an Ace and hamper the GT caller's chances. The Mah Jong is incredibly powerful against a GT caller. To give it away to that person is really poor play.

Just to get back to the OP's question... I pretty much want to see two Aces and either the Dragon or Phoenix. At that point I'll usually call GT. Of course, I'm sometimes hesitant when its the Phoenix because I've been screwed by that before. It also really helps if you have the Dog or MahJong in your hand. If I get either of those as well I'm much more likely to call it with an otherwise iffy GT hand.
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Kaiwen Zhang
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3 power cards should be sufficient, given a low number of singles. mahjong and dog are useful as well, since the mahjong will almost certainly wish an ace away while the dog will be passed to you.
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Curt Carpenter
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I find that ace + dragon/phoenix is generally enough (although phoenix is slightly weaker and I'll consider the other 6 cards more), as is dragon + phoenix (almost regardless of other 6 cards).

But I suppose it depends on what likelihood of success you require from your calls. Unless I'm winning by a comfortable margin and the

I don't wait to be in a big hole to call. I call on 0-0.
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Ron
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radynski wrote:
That's a really bad idea. If my opponents called GT and I have the Mah Jong then I make sure that it is in the possession of whomever is going to lead into the GT caller.

Depends. It's surely not the best choice, but giving away the MJ ensures that you don't give the caller a Bomb (this is otherwise only possible by giving away the Dog or a card from a pair). It's more or less the same as giving away a small single card (but you ensure that your opponent can't use it in a combination and must play it as a single card [except he's able to use it in a straight]).
 
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Chris Long
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PzVIE wrote:
radynski wrote:
That's a really bad idea. If my opponents called GT and I have the Mah Jong then I make sure that it is in the possession of whomever is going to lead into the GT caller.

Depends. It's surely not the best choice, but giving away the MJ ensures that you don't give the caller a Bomb (this is otherwise only possible by giving away the Dog or a card from a pair). It's more or less the same as giving away a small single card (but you ensure that your opponent can't use it in a combination and must play it as a single card [except he's able to use it in a straight]).


Yeah, but singles are the one thing you can be pretty sure the GT caller will be able to win. More importantly though, passing away the MJ gives your opponent the choice, and with it some definite power. I almost never pass away any of the special cards, regardless of whether GT was called or not, because they are all useful in their own way.
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Curt Carpenter
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PzVIE wrote:
[Passing the 1] is more or less the same as giving away a small single card (but you ensure that your opponent can't use it in a combination and must play it as a single card [except he's able to use it in a straight]).

I disagree. If you're so concerned with giving a bomb (why?), you could just wish what you pass. But 1 is not the same as a low single because a) a low single doesn't let you make a wish, potentially harming the opponent, and b) 1 comes with a free lead, low singles do not.
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Aaron Fuegi
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curtc wrote:
PzVIE wrote:
[Passing the 1] is more or less the same as giving away a small single card (but you ensure that your opponent can't use it in a combination and must play it as a single card [except he's able to use it in a straight]).

I disagree. If you're so concerned with giving a bomb (why?), you could just wish what you pass. But 1 is not the same as a low single because a) a low single doesn't let you make a wish, potentially harming the opponent, and b) 1 comes with a free lead, low singles do not.


Entirely agree.

Passing the 1 to an opponent is an incredibly bad thing to do. I don't think I have ever done it in thousands of games. It would take a very strange hand to consider it such as Straight Flush, Straight Flush, all 4 Specials. I would compare giving the 1 to an opponent to giving a King to him in terms of trying to avoid it.

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No one in this thread has mentioned bombs as a factor in deciding whether and when to call GT.

I've certainly had opponents call (and make) GT on the strength of a bomb (and other high cards, of course).

Any thoughts on how the holding of a bomb should factor into a GT call?
 
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gillum wrote:
Any thoughts on how the holding of a bomb should factor into a GT call?


Personally I don't really consider it much. It's happened several times over the years where I've had two bombs in my hand and not been able to make my Tichu call because the rest of the hand is just too disjointed. I'd feel much better about having power cards in my hand than about having a bomb.
 
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gillum wrote:
No one in this thread has mentioned bombs as a factor in deciding whether and when to call GT.

About the same as the dragon.

The thing about getting the dragon is that you know no one else has it, but when you get a bomb, the other high cards are still out there. So you're basically stomping on the dragon or ace or something. Which is still exactly one lead. The surprise factor can be valuable, but less so when the tichu caller than when the tichu buster in my experience.
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curtc wrote:
gillum wrote:
No one in this thread has mentioned bombs as a factor in deciding whether and when to call GT.

About the same as the dragon.

The thing about getting the dragon is that you know no one else has it, but when you get a bomb, the other high cards are still out there. So you're basically stomping on the dragon or ace or something. Which is still exactly one lead. The surprise factor can be valuable, but less so when the tichu caller than when the tichu buster in my experience.

I don't dispute the importance of retaining control and gaining the lead.

But with a bomb you aren't relying on the lead of a single - and, by playing it, you shrink your hand by 4 or more cards (rather than just one).

radynski wrote:
It's happened several times over the years where I've had two bombs in my hand and not been able to make my Tichu call because the rest of the hand is just too disjointed.

The other day I had two bombs (four 2's and AKQJT) and missed my Tichu (did not call GT). My RH opponent had a lot of power and bomb of four 4's. My partner had four 5's (it was one of those hands), but he didn't play it at the right time and then led a full house or something unhelpful like that.
 
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Jeff Chunko
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Yeah, Curt's point is key here. Every high card you have is one the opposition does not. Face cards in sufficient quantity can be promoted to be winners even as singles. A bomb doesn't help in that same way.
 
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Sean McCarthy
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As a concrete example: If you have dragon phoenix ace, you're winning 3 tricks. If you have bomb phoenix ace, your ace gets dragoned - you're only winning two tricks with those cards.

That's an oversimplification but it illustrates the drawback of having a bomb over a dragon. The bomb has other advantages, of course.
 
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When I call Grand Tichu:

If I have a particularly skilled partner and/or I'm having a good day, I'll call it on any two of the highest six (i.e. two As, A+Dragon, A+Phoenix, Phoenix+Dragon) and sometimes even on A/Dragon/Phoenix+KK.

If I'm having an off day or my partner is relatively new, I won't call on just one of the highest six and usually not on two As or A+Dragon.

If I'm on the fence, I take into account potential for straights, boats, trips, ladders, and the Mah Jong.

I always call on A+Phoenix.

I don't take the following into account when calling Grand: my bombs or possible bombs, the Dog.

Also, when I call Grand and an opponent passes me the Dog, it helps me make a 1-2 more often than it prevents my Grand.
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David Goldfarb
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nickferris wrote:
I don't take the following into account when calling Grand: my bombs or possible bombs, the Dog.

I would think being dealt the Dog would be a plus, as you know you can give it to your partner.
 
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nickferris wrote:
Also, when I call Grand and an opponent passes me the Dog, it helps me make a 1-2 more often than it prevents my Grand.


Just a note that making/missing a Grand is a 400 point swing. Getting a 1-2 is generally about a 200 point swing. Often passing you the Dog will have no effect on either of these. If, when it does have an effect, it is 40% to make your Grand fail and 60% to give a 1-2 it would still be worth it.

Note that I am just noting the math, not that I am a big advocate for passing the Dog to a Grand caller. I do it much less than many people. I carefully consider if I think there is a good chance of it significantly helping a 1-2, if I think the Grand is beatable, and where the presence of the Dog will be most effectively in stopping the Grand. Sometimes giving that one lead to me (from Partner) or from me (to Partner) is far more important than costing the Grand caller a lead.
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Andy Latto
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aarondf@bu.edu wrote:
nickferris wrote:
Also, when I call Grand and an opponent passes me the Dog, it helps me make a 1-2 more often than it prevents my Grand.


Just a note that making/missing a Grand is a 400 point swing. Getting a 1-2 is generally about a 200 point swing. Often passing you the Dog will have no effect on either of these. If, when it does have an effect, it is 40% to make your Grand fail and 60% to give a 1-2 it would still be worth it.

If you are close to getting a 1-2, you're probably getting almost all the points except possibly the dragon, so getting the 1-2 is more like a 125 point swing than a 200 point swing, making the argument for passing the dog to the Grand Tichuer rather than his partner even stronger.

However, the risk-reward profile here is affected by the score. If you're way ahead, letting your opponents get a Grand Tichu is not so bad, as long as you get some card points, because you'll get to 1000 before they will. So in this circumstance, passing the dog to the partner of the Grand Tichuer can be a good idea.

I learned this the hard way, after being ahead 535 to -535 in a game, and managing to lose, when my opponent's two grand-1-2 hands erased 800 points of my lead.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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David Goldfarb wrote:
nickferris wrote:
I don't take the following into account when calling Grand: my bombs or possible bombs, the Dog.

I would think being dealt the Dog would be a plus, as you know you can give it to your partner.

Anecdotally, I was curious about this and included this in my analysis of zillions of hands on bsw. It turns out that all things being equal (all things here being defined as exact set of cards K or higher, plus any bombs, ignoring everything else), the data appears to show that the success rate boost from having the dog in first 8 cards is... About nothing. Analytically, I agree that it seems like it should help. Perhaps people become overly reliant on partner getting a lead, when in fact they have no winners after the pass. Perhaps people overweight the dog when deciding whether to call. I dunno, just sharing that data point for what it's worth.
 
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curtc wrote:
David Goldfarb wrote:
nickferris wrote:
I don't take the following into account when calling Grand: my bombs or possible bombs, the Dog.

I would think being dealt the Dog would be a plus, as you know you can give it to your partner.

Anecdotally, I was curious about this and included this in my analysis of zillions of hands on bsw. It turns out that all things being equal (all things here being defined as exact set of cards K or higher, plus any bombs, ignoring everything else), the data appears to show that the success rate boost from having the dog in first 8 cards is... About nothing. Analytically, I agree that it seems like it should help. Perhaps people become overly reliant on partner getting a lead, when in fact they have no winners after the pass. Perhaps people overweight the dog when deciding whether to call. I dunno, just sharing that data point for what it's worth.

When I first read David's post, I thought he meant that, if you are dealt the Dog (in your first 8 cards), you may may add confidence to your GT call because you are assured that neither opponent can pass you the Dog (and that you could pass it away to your partner if you like).

But if the data don't show a benefit ...
 
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David Goldfarb
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That is what I meant: you can give the Dog to your partner, and that assures you won't have it, and it means that possibly your partner might be able to help you by winning a lead you couldn't and then playing it. I'm a bit surprised that that has no effect.
 
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Jeff Chunko
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Given that the most common way I see people playing when they have the dog is to play a winner asap and then dog their partner, I'm not surprised the effect isn't immediately visible. The dog is quite powerful, but it's much more subtle than the dragon.
 
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