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Subject: How long does it take for Tichu to become enjoyable? rss

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Mark McEvoy
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The best simplifications, IMHO:

1. Completely stop caring about point cards. The points won and lost in them is usualy insignificant compared to the points won and lost in Tichu calls and 1-2's.

2. Under most circumstances, when you lead the MJ as a single, call for the rank of card you passed to your left (assuming clockwise play, right for CCW play).

3. If you want to count cards, start with just the top 6 (Ph, Dr, 4 A's). Hell, I sometimes lose track of the A's and I still have fun.

4. If you've got a strong hand, give your opponents your two worst singletons (unpaired and not part of a straight) and your partner your best useless-to-you card (usually your highest non-ace/Ph/Dr singleton) or the Dog. If you've got a weak hand, still give your opponents your two worst singletons and your partner your best card (Ph > Dr > A > MJ > K > Q...)

5. When deciding whether or not to call 'Tichu', count your winners (cards or distinct sets-of-cards that should take their tricks - Dr is a winner, each bomb is a winner, each Ace is a winner less one for each of Dr/Ph you don't have, Ph is a winner if you also have Dr, provided you're not counting on the Ph to complete a set), and your losers (each set of cards you can play together that will not likely win its trick is a loser - group them as necessary to reduce this number), and Tichu's usually a good call right before your first play if, after that play, you will have at least as many winners as losers.
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Sean McCarthy
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That's great advice, though you usually shouldn't count high singles as losers (or winners). You can often play them on an opponent's card.

In general, if you are deciding which of two (sets of) cards to play, you should play the lower one.

When determining whether your hand is "good" or not (for the purposes of choosing whether to pass your partner a good card or a bad card) consider that there are six of the top cards. If you have two of them, that's above average. One is below average. If you have just one you should usually pass it, while if you have two or more you should usually keep them.
 
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David F
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Very good advice in here. I'll reiterate that as a beginner, just try to go out as fast as you can, and think about how you want to play cards to win tricks at the most beneficial time. All the other scoring rules are just ways of balancing it out for players who were dealt weak hands. Once you understand how to go out quickly (which entails knowing when to pass and when to play, when to break a set up etc), then you can worry about the point cards and what to do when you have a horrible hand (e.g. your highest card is a J or Q).

To stop an opponent's Tichu, if you have a sure winner (Bomb, 2 A's etc), just wait for the Tichu player to try and win a trick he was sure he would win, then surprise him with your Bomb, pair of Aces, or higher 7-card straight. This is most devastating if you can predict when he's playing his 2nd-last card set, because most players like to go out by keeping a winner and a loser as the last two card sets, and using the winner to win the trick and lead the loser and go out. But don't fret if you can't stop a Tichu, because the player is going to have much stronger cards than you 95% of the time. With more experience, you can also let the Tichu player go out very quickly, if you feel your team has no chance, then gang up on the remaining opposing player to pick up most of the point cards.

If your opponent goes Grand Tichu and you have the Dog, pass it to him.

If you like Bridge, you'll definitely like Tichu in time.
 
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Chia Richardson
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For passing conventions, point values, and special card functions the Files section has some usefull player aids that might help ease the brain hurting . . .
 
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Aaron Fuegi
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thatmarkguy wrote:
4. If you've got a strong hand, give your opponents your two worst singletons (unpaired and not part of a straight) and your partner your best useless-to-you card (usually your highest non-ace/Ph/Dr singleton) or the Dog. If you've got a weak hand, still give your opponents your two worst singletons and your partner your best card (Ph > Dr > A > MJ > K > Q...)


Minor point in reply to a good list but if you have a strong hand, pass your partner your third-worst card (so if you are passing opponents 2 and 3 and also have a 5 and a Jack, pass your partner the 5). Also, if you don't have many singles, splitting a low pair to the opponents is often a good idea and guarantees you won't be filling 4 of a kind bombs.

A few other simple comments (read http://scv.bu.edu/~aarondf/Games/Tichu/frame_strategy.html if you want more detailed advice):

Always play the Dog at your first opportunity unless you have a VERY good reason not to.

LEAD LOW, WIN HIGH. Do not lead off Aces and stuff just because you can get rid of them. If you have singles or groups involving 2s (other than pair of a full house), play them at your first opportunity (although Dog even earlier). The game is very much NOT about getting down to like 4 cards if you can never get rid of those. Your high cards are valuable and not to be just thrown away because you can.

Play Aces as singles unless you are going to go out right after playing the pair or whatever. Kings mostly are played as groups if you have them but it depends but the great majority of the time it is best to split Aces.
 
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David desJardins
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dcjackso wrote:
How long does it take for Tichu to become enjoyable?


Could be forever. I guess you are probably a better judge than me of how you make up your mind, but I can't think of any game that I played several times and didn't enjoy, and yet later it really grew on me. First impressions are usually pretty sound, imho.

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Matthew M
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aarondf@bu.edu wrote:

Minor point in reply to a good list but if you have a strong hand, pass your partner your third-worst card (so if you are passing opponents 2 and 3 and also have a 5 and a Jack, pass your partner the 5).


If I have a very strong hand I would most certainly pass the Jack to facilitate a double out.

Quote:

Play Aces as singles unless you are going to go out right after playing the pair or whatever. Kings mostly are played as groups if you have them but it depends but the great majority of the time it is best to split Aces.


I don't necessarily agree here. A pair of Aces is considerably stronger than a single Ace if the Phoenix and/or Dragon are still at large.

-MMM
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Mark McEvoy
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aarondf@bu.edu wrote:
thatmarkguy wrote:
4. If you've got a strong hand, give your opponents your two worst singletons (unpaired and not part of a straight) and your partner your best useless-to-you card (usually your highest non-ace/Ph/Dr singleton) or the Dog. If you've got a weak hand, still give your opponents your two worst singletons and your partner your best card (Ph > Dr > A > MJ > K > Q...)


Minor point in reply to a good list but if you have a strong hand, pass your partner your third-worst card (so if you are passing opponents 2 and 3 and also have a 5 and a Jack, pass your partner the 5). Also, if you don't have many singles, splitting a low pair to the opponents is often a good idea and guarantees you won't be filling 4 of a kind bombs.


Hi Aaron! I love the strategy articles you've written on Tichu and agree with the vast majority of it, but this is one area where we diverge. In the described situation I (like Matthew below) would usually pass the J. For my hand, the difference between a low single and a mid single is probably negligible, and the low single actually has a better chance of being paired by my opponents' passes. Meanwhile the J probably helps my partner avoid last-out a lot better than the 5 does.


I often split pairs when convenient, but left that out of the 'simplifications' article deliberately, along with conventions, Grand Tichus, devious MJ wishes, and other more advanced tactics.
 
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David desJardins
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thatmarkguy wrote:
Hi Aaron! I love the strategy articles you've written on Tichu and agree with the vast majority of it, but this is one area where we diverge. In the described situation I (like Matthew below) would usually pass the J. For my hand, the difference between a low single and a mid single is probably negligible, and the low single actually has a better chance of being paired by my opponents' passes.


Matthew said only "if you have a very strong hand". With an ordinary "strong hand" it seems to me awfully aggressive to keep a 5 (say), and pass a Jack. Let's say you have

Dr A K Q J J T 8 8 7 7 5 3 2

If you pass 5 3 2, then you might end up with

Dr A A K Q J J T 8 8 7 7 3 2

after the pass (if you get 3 2 from opponents and A from partner). Do you really think that the difference from substituting the extra J for another 5 is "negligible"? I think it could, pretty often, be the difference of going out first, or not.
 
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Mark McEvoy
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Eh, I think the difference lies in the use of the word 'strong'. I wouldn't describe the hand you outline (prepass, one winner single and one winner set, everything else jack-or-worse) as a 'strong' one. Borderline at best.
 
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David desJardins
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thatmarkguy wrote:
I wouldn't describe the hand you outline (prepass, one winner single and one winner set, everything else jack-or-worse) as a 'strong' one.


The OP divided hands into two categories, "strong" and "weak". That's what Aaron and I were responding to. I think the example I gave is considerably stronger than the median hand. Are you saying that hand is "weak" and you would pass the Dragon from it??
 
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Mark McEvoy
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Y'know, you can probably nitpick every part of my reply if you really want to. Such is the nature of serving the request for SIMPLIFICATIONS.

In play myself, I have at least four categorizations of hands, adding such templates as "Borderline/Hopeful" (usually a fragile hand that has a low number of actual winners but well-setted cards and the fate of the hand will be highly dependent on the pass and possibly the MJ call) and "Strong support" (usually two winners, one of which I give to partner, but the rest of the hand is too scattershot to compete - and, ideally, the Dog) . But I avoided these in my SIMPLIFICATION post, and made it black and white, "Do this with strong, do this with weak". Of course if you explore the grey areas between the black and white of a simplification you'll find the soft spots where the logic doesn't hold.


Yes, in that hand I'd pass the 5, because it's a borderline hand and I really need all the help I can get. But explaining all that would kinda undermine my attempt to simplify. Sorry.
 
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David desJardins
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I'm sorry you think that I'm "nitpicking". But I think the simple rule should be to pass the three worst cards from hands that are "stronger than average", and to pass the best card to partner from hands that are "weaker than average". I agree that it makes sense for more advanced players to have more gradations, and to vary this advice. But I'd rather give new players a rule that applies pretty well to the top 50% of hands, than give them a rule that really only applies well to the top 10-20% of hands, and leave them confused on all of the slightly-above-average hands that are much more common.

(I tell people that a "strong hand" is one that has at least two of the top six cards. All of the rest of hands are "weak hands". I think that's a pretty good, simple rule, that works well in practice for a variety of reasons.)
 
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Aaron Fuegi
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I agree with David on this and honestly think it a pretty rare hand I would pass my partner the Jack over the 5 (I'd actually be significantly more likely to pass him a King or even an Ace from a really good hand - a card which could seriously help him as opposed to the Jack which is just usually an easy card to get rid of). The other reason I don't like giving new players the advice to pass the Jack over the 5 is that the reason to do it is to go for 1-2s and I really think new players should not be worrying about 1-2s almost at all (at least until their partner has already gone out on a hand) as it will lead them to do a fair number of generally pretty bad things if they do.

Best or 'third worst' is just a simpler and more internally consistent rule (strengthen the already strong hand and don't worry about the weak hand).

 
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Nataline VF
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dcjackso wrote:
Any tips from Tichu-lovers on how to go about enjoying getting the snot knocked out of me by Tichu vets on every hand, and/or trying to parse everything that's going on into more easily learnable units?


Hi Daren:

No wonder you're not having fun! You are trying to do way too much right now.

Mark and Aaron offered up some good advice. For now, focus on going out and worry about the detailed ins and outs of passing when you get more comfortable with the game. As you can see by the discussion above, everyone has their own style of passing, and you will develop your own style as you get better.

With that in mind, try to pay attention to how your opponents are passing. If they are consistently passing you 2s and 3s, you might want to think about holding on to your 2s and 3s in the hopes of turning them into pairs. It doesn't always work, but it will help you get in the habit of always paying attention to your opponents' styles of card play, which in turn will likely help you become a better player.

The best advice I can offer is try to create a hand during the pass that can win back what it leads. If you have a low pair, try to keep a high pair during the pass so when you lead the low pair, you can win the lead back with the high pair. Then you can lead off with your low straight, win it back with your high straight, etc etc. This goes hand in hand with Aaron's advice: LEAD LOW, WIN HIGH.

I find that hand with depth is sometimes easier to play than a hand with breadth. This assumes you have some way of getting the lead at least once. If you have a mish mash of things, i.e. low triples, middling straight, high running pairs, it can be harder to play your cards because you become dependent on others to lead what you already have and have no way of winning back the lead.

This can also be where the fun comes in! If your opponents are passing on full houses and that's all you have, it's very satisfying to go out playing your full houses and watch them seethe with helplessness. Be warned though: Such hands can work just as quickly against you.

You asked about playing over your partner's tricks. If you are going to do so, it is generally better earlier in the hand rather than later and almost always ok the first few times singles are led. Unless your partner has called Tichu it will probably be fine to go over your partner's tricks late in the hand IF doing so means you get to go out first.

One rule worth remembering: If your partner leads something and a) has one card left, and b) the opponent to your right has passed, then you probably want to pass. This allows your partner the chance to go out if the opponent to your left passes.

Don't worry about calling Grand Tichu at this point.

Don't worry about what to wish with the Mah-Jong; for now, just wish for what you passed to the left.

If you are still figuring out how the special cards work, don't even worry about counting cards. Although this is something you need to start doing ASAP, at least with the aces, phoenix and dragon.

Mark said it already, but it is important enough to be repeated: DO NOT WORRY ABOUT POINTS. TRY TO GET OUT AS SOON AS YOU CAN. It's a very happy day in Tichu Land when you stop being the idiot at the table who automatically gets handed the dragon after its been played. This means you have earned their respect! They are afraid that you will go out next! Mwahahahaha! You have POWER! You have INFLUENCE! All of their base are belong to you!! Thump your chest and make Tarzan noises!! You can have FUN inventing a new happy dance when you go out before your opponents!



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David desJardins
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Metaphora wrote:
If they are consistently passing you 2s and 3s, you might want to think about holding on to your 2s and 3s in the hopes of turning them into pairs.


Of course, that does have the problem that even when it "works", they have given away their 2s and 3s so your pass is turning their 4s or 5s (which are higher than your 2s or 3s) into pairs or triplets.
 
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Greg Jones
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I was taken aback by your question. I think I found it enjoyable within a game or two. Maybe it just isn't the game for you. That said, I had already learned a climbing game before, so I had the very most basic of strategy down.

Reading a little of your post, my overall advice is to take it easy. Instead of trying to learn all those things in one game, try to only learn one at a time.

dcjackso wrote:
Trying to count cards


Keep in mind that the most basic counting necessary in Tichu is just the Aces and the Phoenix and the Dragon. It's not like Bridge. In Bridge, since you have to follow suit, a King or Queen can frequently win a trick, once the Ace of that suit has already been played. In Tichu, an Ace or better will usually win single-card tricks. If you count all the Aces and better, then you know when Kings have a chance to come in and win. It's also easier than Bridge because you only have to count the number of Aces played, not which.

I've heard of more advanced players counting 5s, 10s, and Kings. Don't ask why.

dcjackso wrote:
when you'll keep the points from a trick or when you'll give them to an opponent


You only give the cards to an opponent if the trick is won with the Dragon. If you don't remember to, someone will remind you.

dcjackso wrote:
(and which opponent)


Your choice. There is no really reliable way to choose which one. Don't worry about it.

dcjackso wrote:
which cards are worth +/- points and how much


You don't need to know. Ignore the points from cards. The best way to play when you're new, and most often when you're experienced too, is just to try to get rid of your cards as soon as possible (or of course help your partner to do so). Why? Obviously you want to do that if you called Tichu, or if your opponent called Tichu so you can deprive them of 100 points. If nobody calls Tichu, still you want to go out first. If both your opponents go out first, they get 200. Without going into detail about how points are awarded, the player who goes out first stands to get some extra points, and the player who goes out last in fact never gets any points, though their partner might get some of their points.

dcjackso wrote:
which player gets which other player's tricks at hand's end


Just let the experienced players tell you what to do when the hand is over. The previous comments about ignoring the points explain why you don't need to worry about this rule for the purpose of strategy and tactics.

dcjackso wrote:
which card (if any) to call for with the Mah-Jong (sp?)


For a new player, always ask for the card you passed left. That's because you know that player has one. If they don't have the card you ask for, you might end up forcing your partner to play a card as a single that they wanted to player as part of a multi-card hand.

dcjackso wrote:
when to call Tichu or Grand Tichu


One way of thinking when you're new is not to call. Just play to try to finish first. After a number of hands you'll get an idea of what kind of hands are likely to succeed in that.

Another approach if you have an understanding partner is just to use your best guess and not worry if you miss a few Tichus.

dcjackso wrote:
which cards to give to your opponents (and which opponent)


I should think it's pretty obvious to give bad cards to your opponents. As to which opponent, it doesn't matter that much. Experts have some conventions that marginally improve their odds. If you are annoyed by having to memorize those conventions, just tell your partner you're not going to play by them.

dcjackso wrote:
and which cards to give to your partner


If you want to keep it simple at first, always give your best card to your partner. Really you should keep it if you think you'll call Tichu, but of course, as a new player, you're not really sure how to know when to call Tichu, never mind how to predict if you'll call Tichu when you haven't seen three of your cards yet.

dcjackso wrote:
I end up worrying less about "playing well" and more about just limiting the damage I'm doing to my partnership on every hand. Playing Tichu is more work than fun, definitely.


I guess the trick is to find a partner who isn't worried about losing and understands that a new player will learn by mistakes.
 
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David desJardins
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morningstar wrote:
I should think it's pretty obvious to give bad cards to your opponents. As to which opponent, it doesn't matter that much.


I would have to disagree with that. I think if you randomly choose which card to pass left and which to pass right, that's a pretty large disadvantage. It's all relative, but it doesn't seem to me that agreeing to pass odd cards to the left and even to the right is all that complicated, and it makes a big difference.
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Greg Jones
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DaviddesJ wrote:
morningstar wrote:
I should think it's pretty obvious to give bad cards to your opponents. As to which opponent, it doesn't matter that much.


I would have to disagree with that. I think if you randomly choose which card to pass left and which to pass right, that's a pretty large disadvantage. It's all relative, but it doesn't seem to me that agreeing to pass odd cards to the left and even to the right is all that complicated, and it makes a big difference.


My point is that it's one of the least important rules of good Tichu play. It is the last a new player needs to learn. Would you rather have a partner who:

a) plays over hands you are winning
b) passes you bad cards every round
c) breaks your straight with a blind wish
d) passes against convention

Since the OP was frustrated with so many unwritten rules, I was trying to remove non-essentials from the list. None of the rules are that complicated, but taken together, they can be overwhelming.
 
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David desJardins
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morningstar wrote:
Would you rather have a partner who:
a) plays over hands you are winning
b) passes you bad cards every round
c) breaks your straight with a blind wish
d) passes against convention


I'd much rather have (c).
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DaviddesJ wrote:
morningstar wrote:
Would you rather have a partner who:
a) plays over hands you are winning
b) passes you bad cards every round
c) breaks your straight with a blind wish
d) passes against convention


I'd much rather have (c).

I don't mind (b) either. Let them keep their good cards more often, so that they can take the initiative, and perhaps even call tichu. The thrill of the game is in calling tichus; new players should do this as soon and as often as possible. I will often pass my best card to new players even from hands where I would usually go for tichu myself with experienced partners.

That will increase the chance of losing, but also the chance that they will want to play again. And if the number of players increases, in the long run, that is a win.
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Joe E.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
dcjackso wrote:
How long does it take for Tichu to become enjoyable?


Could be forever. I guess you are probably a better judge than me of how you make up your mind, but I can't think of any game that I played several times and didn't enjoy, and yet later it really grew on me. First impressions are usually pretty sound, imho.


OTOH, I've had exactly that very thing happen to me - there was one game I tried with my game group that I just didn't really get at first, and didn't actually enjoy until I'd played several games, though I played anyway because others liked it and I wanted to accommodate others. One day, though, something just clicked, and I suddenly "got" the game and found myself pretty much in love with it. It's since become my most-played game (at least since I began logging played games here), and one I now enthusiastically pester others to play. Looking back, I'm really kind of astounded to think I didn't care for it for a while.

That game, BTW, is Tichu.


Given this experience concerning this very game, my advice to the original poster - assuming that being able to appreciate the game is something you're genuinely interested in, of course - is simply to keep playing, Daren, if you do think there actually is any chance it'll grab you eventually; it did that with me, and I wasn't wild about it my first time, either. That said, I couldn't say what a reasonable number of chances would be to give it; at some point it simply won't be worth your time. I can say, though, that if you're still at the stage of expending effort just trying to remember all the rules and point values and so on, you at least "ought" to play it enough to reach the point at which you have all of that stuff down. Getting to the point where I remembered how everything worked was certainly a milestone in my own progression from Tichuphobia to Tichuphilia.

For more specific advice, I can offer nothing that improves upon the many fine "Tichu newbie" tips offered by others here. All of those are great ways for a beginner to stay afloat in the game while watching the vets and learning the ropes.
 
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Noreen Walsh-Esrey
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Daren, the one thing I haven't seen mentioned in this list is 6-player games. When you have two people to absorb the foolish mistakes we new players tend to make, it takes a little of the pressure off -- or at least that's how it felt to me.
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