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Subject: Tichu Strategy Question rss

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Jason Williams
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A debate ensued after this hand and I'm curious what other players takes may be.

The opponent to my right called Grand Tichu. I had a strong hand and passed my partner the Wish so that she could take an ace.

My partner had the following hand: 10, 9, 9, 9, 6, 6, 6, 4, 4, 4, 2, 2, 2 and the Wish. So she had 4 triples, two singles and the lead.

Instead of leading the Wish and asking for an ace she led her triple 2s in hopes that she could rid herself of all her triples and then make the Wish.

I contended that it was very unlikely that against a Grand call that neither partner would have a triple above 9s to foil that plan and ruin our chance to take an ace.

Even in the best outcome, her triples go around, she make's the wish leaving herself with a single 10. The Grand player now has the lead and I think it's still unlikely that she goes out first in that scenerio.

I believe her best chance of going out first would be to lead the Wish and then hope that at some point a triple is led under her nines. She then takes control and continues to lead triples until she can finish with her 10.

Some of the debate revolved around the fact my partner had 4 triples, the contention being that increased the likelihood that no one else would have a triple. I know it's counter intuitive but wouldn't the exact opposite be the case?

Because she has no A, K, Q, J, 8, 7, 5, or 3s then the remaining players odds of having 3 are increased. Against a Grand call I believe it to be very likely that the opposition would have a triple with at least one of those face cards.

Any insight into this strategy question would be appreciate.

Thanks Jason.

PS in case you're interested my partner led the 2s, the Grand played 5s, I passed (even though I had 3 Kings because I figured my partner must have a plan...), the other opponent passed, and then my partner won the trick with her 6s.

Probably because of my accidental facial expression (it's only a friendly game so limited table talk is tolerated) my partner chickened out at this point and lead the Wish taking an ace. Eventually I went out first and my partner last. Interestingly a total of 7 natural triples excluding the Phoenix were possible (a full house was played instead).

The hand did elicit considerable conversation with the table consensus being that my partner's strategy was equally valid to my suggestion that the Wish should have been played first.

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Jeff Chunko
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I think her strategy was weak, but she abandoned it at the worst time. The fact that she was allowed to win the trick with her 6's means one of two things:

The opposition has no more trips.
The opposition has trips they don't want to play (aces or phoenix.)

In either case, leading her trip 4's is the right play.

But yes, I agree with your original analysis that she is unlikely to go out with her hand, unless you have the dog.
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Kevin Cachia
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If I have your partner's hand, I lead the Mah Jongg and make a wish. I might wish for an ace. Often in those situations I'll take a chance on a wish hoping I might break up a straight or force a premature bombing, so I might make a 7 or 8 wish in this case (not for the straight, which I would probably consider unlikely given my triples).

Anyway, I would look at my hand and think, I have nothing higher than a 10, I am not going out, what can I do to help my partner? I would consider it extremely unlikely my trips would make it through. Given that my opponent called a Grand, I consider it quite likely the Phoenix was in his first eight, and if not, then entirely possible his partner passed it to him. Therefore I would consider it even likelier that the caller could beat low trips, since he/she probably has the Phoenix and at least a pair higher than 9s.

No guarantees of any of that, but I would be surprised to go out with that hand. Oh, and the more I think about it, the more I think I probably would go ahead and wish for an Ace. Though that's no fun.

Kevin
 
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David desJardins
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I like the idea of leading the 222. Even though the Grand Tichu caller can probably win with a high triple, it might be very costly to his hand (AAPh?) and hurt him more than the 1 would. Leading the 1 and calling an ace isn't necessarily so bad for him, that's what he often wants, is to get in with his aces.

The idea of going out by having someone else lead a small triple and let you win seems really unlikely.

While it may be a friendly game, it seems you must have made a huge grimace to deflect your partner from the obvious continuation after her 666 wins! I would work on that, it really detracts from the game, I think.
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Matthew M
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I would also have tried leading with the trips, for the same reasons David has outlined. In addition to potentially being costly, it also has the potential to force the GT player to leave himself with a weak pair that he otherwise was hoping to play as part of a full house.

I used to think that wishing for an Ace was a great move against a GT call. The more I play the less I think of it. I'm much fonder of trying to go straight/bomb busting by calling for a mid-range card that I haven't seen.

-MMM
 
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Jason Williams
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Thanks for the feedback. I see now that a case can be made for both strategies.

I believe in this case another factor to promote the Wish strategy is the fact I passed my partner the Mah Jongg indicating I wanted the Wish made.

I like to think Tichu is a team game and against a Grand Tichu the pass should hopefully indicate a strategy. She gave me a King, communicating that she hoped I had the better cards.

I know it's not that simple, I'm just saying it should be a consideration. From my perspective, I desperately wanted her to make the wish for an Ace so I tried to tell her with the pass.

Matthew suggests Wishing with the intent of breaking up a bomb or straight. While I do try that against a regular Tichu call, I rarely do that against a Grand.

Something I didn't mention previously is that the Grand Tichu caller in this example is aggressive and will sometimes make a grand call with the Phoenix or Dragon and a single Ace.

Wishing away an Ace is conservative but never a bad play against an agressive player calling Grand Tichu. Odds are if they have multiple Aces you're in big trouble anyway.

Thanks again for the feedback. I'm still very new to this game and I'm still figuring out strategies so your insight is appreciated.
 
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David desJardins
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lonehand wrote:
I believe in this case another factor to promote the Wish strategy is the fact I passed my partner the Mah Jongg indicating I wanted the Wish made. I like to think Tichu is a team game and against a Grand Tichu the pass should hopefully indicate a strategy.


I don't think passing the 1 says much of anything about what you want. It says you don't have a low straight. Sometimes when you pass the 1 you find your partner with a long straight to the 1, and they go out despite the opponents having all of the high cards. I think that's the main message it sends, you hope it helps their hand.
 
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Jason Williams
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DaviddesJ wrote:

I don't think passing the 1 says much of anything about what you want. It says you don't have a low straight. Sometimes when you pass the 1 you find your partner with a long straight to the 1, and they go out despite the opponents having all of the high cards. I think that's the main message it sends, you hope it helps their hand.


Shouldn't the position be taken into consideration? I passed the 1 to my partner who plays immediately before the Grand caller. How else can I communicate to my partner that I want her to wish for an Ace?

I hope to refrain from grimancing as my future communication method.
 
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Jeff Chunko
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Lacking any other information, I find it's best for the person who plays before the GT to presume he'll be playing defense, and the person after the GT to try to go out. Unusual hands can certainly change this, but GT's are frequently made up of lots of low singles and lots of high cards. Being the first person to play on those low singles gives the following player the best chance to dump his losers for free.

That's why I pass/expect to get the 1/dog against a GT call depending on my seat.
 
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David desJardins
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lonehand wrote:
I passed the 1 to my partner who plays immediately before the Grand caller. How else can I communicate to my partner that I want her to wish for an Ace?


You can't communicate that to your partner. My opinion is that making the pass that you expect to be best for your combined partnership is usually more important than trying to convey information with your pass.
 
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Everett Scheer
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It's perfectly valid as a convention "If I(we) pass the 1 to the player immediatly before the tichu, I (we) want an A wish."

It's also perfectly valid to not perform that wish if you are passed the one, but think you can go out first some other way.

The point of a mahjong wish is to hinder the opps hand so there is a chance to go out before them. Wishing for an A from a GT hand can 1) break up an A bomb, 2) reduce an A set, 3) likely increase the amount of plays for the GTer. Since the GTer most likely has an A (most GT hands have at least one A, the only time I can think it shouldn't would be if the caller had PhDr as their basis for calling, and thier partner had no A to pass.) It is a relatively safe wish that hurts the GT hand. This makes it a good candidate for a convention.

However, there are always exceptions you have to consider with a convention. The case in the OP I feel is an exception. If I have those cards, I know I'm not going out first if I play normally (using the wish). I may go out first (with a little help from my p) if I play the trips hoping that my trips walk, or at worst forces my opponents to weaken their hand playing a high trip.
 
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David desJardins
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Elgar wrote:
ISince the GTer most likely has an A (most GT hands have at least one A, the only time I can think it shouldn't would be if the caller had PhDr as their basis for calling, and thier partner had no A to pass.) It is a relatively safe wish that hurts the GT hand. This makes it a good candidate for a convention.


If the reasons that you mention are all good reasons for the player to the right of the GT hand to call for an ace when he leads a 1, then why do you need or want a convention that demands it? Can't the player just use his own judgment? The only time you want a convention is when you think that the player who is passing the 1 is going to know better than the player who his leading the 1, what is the best lead. And I don't see that true here.
 
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Andy Latto
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lonehand wrote:

Shouldn't the position be taken into consideration? I passed the 1 to my partner who plays immediately before the Grand caller. How else can I communicate to my partner that I want her to wish for an Ace?

How can you know that you want your partner to wish for an A? What sort of hand is "the sort of hand that will benefit from partner wishing for an A"?

I think the holding of the player with the 1 is much more useful information than the holding of that player's partner in deciding whether an A wish would be the best strategy. If you always play the 1 when partner passes it, you are using the less valuable information (partner of the wisher's hand) and ignoring the more valuable information (wisher's hand) in deciding whether to lead the 1.

In other words, there is no way to convey that information, because it is on average not useful; partner knows better than you whether the 1 should be led.

If I hold the 1, and am to the right of the GT player, I will almost always pass the 1. It doesn't cost much, and the gain when it works (partner leads a straight calling for an A, either forcing a straight the GT player doesn't want to play, or following up with trips or a full house to force the waste of multiple Aces by the GT'er) is very large. If I only passed the 1 "when I wanted partner to wish for an A", I would pass it far less, and I think that would be inferior.
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Everett Scheer
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Elgar wrote:
ISince the GTer most likely has an A (most GT hands have at least one A, the only time I can think it shouldn't would be if the caller had PhDr as their basis for calling, and thier partner had no A to pass.) It is a relatively safe wish that hurts the GT hand. This makes it a good candidate for a convention.


If the reasons that you mention are all good reasons for the player to the right of the GT hand to call for an ace when he leads a 1, then why do you need or want a convention that demands it? Can't the player just use his own judgment? The only time you want a convention is when you think that the player who is passing the 1 is going to know better than the player who his leading the 1, what is the best lead. And I don't see that true here.


Maybe there's a semantic issue here.

If I pass the 1 to my partner who leads into the GTer, I expect that he will wish for an A unless he has good reason not to (and I assume the same if passed the 1). Othersise, I'll keep the 1 and pass my p something else.

Is this a convention? I would say so. Of course, you can also chalk it up to best practice.
 
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David desJardins
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Elgar wrote:
Is this a convention?


The term "convention" originally stems from contract bridge, so I think we should use their definitions. To a bridge player, this is not a convention. It's just logic.
 
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Andy Latto
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Elgar wrote:

Maybe there's a semantic issue here.

If I pass the 1 to my partner who leads into the GTer, I expect that he will wish for an A unless he has good reason not to.


I don't think it's a semantic issue. I think you're playing badly.

Consider these two ways to play:

1. If the player to the right of the GT player has the 1, he decides whether he thinks it would be a good idea to start the play with "left of GT leads the 1 and calls for an A". If he thinks so, he passes the 1, and his partner is supposed to lead the 1 and call for an A unless he has a good reason not to.

2. If the player to the right of the GT has the 1, he almost always passes it to his partner. (Exceptions are good hands containing low straights, and hands good enough that he wants to pass the dog to his partner instead of to GT'er). When passed the 1, left-of-GT looks at his hand and uses best judgment as to whether he thinks leading the 1 and calling for an A is the best play.

I think that 2 is a better way to play than 1. That's because it gives primary responsibility for the decision to the person with the information needed to make a good decision, rather than to the person who has almost no such information. Again, can you describe two different han d types where you would say "with hand type 1, I want my partner to lead the 1 and call for an A; with hand type 2, I don't"?

A partnership game isn't about "that means you get to tell your partner what to do". It means having the person with the best information to make a decision making that decision. And about balancing making a pass to communicate something versus making the pass that creates the best two hands for winning.

It feels less to me like you are asking for strategy advice, and more like you are trying to justify your opinion and prove you were right and your partner was wrong.
 
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David desJardins
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andylatto wrote:
2. If the player to the right of the GT has the 1, he almost always passes it to his partner. (Exceptions are good hands containing low straights, and hands good enough that he wants to pass the dog to his partner instead of to GT'er).


I think you should tend to keep the 1 even if you have a bad hand with a low straight. Often even when you have a bad hand that has only a chance to make a low straight. Left or right of the GT hand is just not very important. Making a low straight with the 1 is more important. If you have a bad hand, often the issue is not whether you're going to stop the GT but whether you get -400. Your LHO can often have the second best hand at the table.
 
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Tom Thingamagummy
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In my (not so) humble opinion, Tichu is one of those games where you just have to make a choice and go with it. I'm sure there are plenty of people who could probably come up with hard statistical probability, but sometimes you just have to let the feeling grab you when you have no other information except one player who called GT and the passes.

All in all Tichu is a partner game and Partner may do things that seem completely counterintuitive, unfathomable, and seemingly stupid. But you just have to trust that there's something you don't know and they do. Once you can let go and adjust to what they do, as in this case start slamming triples, you can sit back and adjust what you plan on doing with your hand given all the information coming out in the hand.

That said, my brain would immediate think of these things:

1. Did my partner pass me the 1 to be destructive or constructive.

If destructive, then I should wish for an intermediate card in hopes of hurting a straight. Looking at my hand of triples, it would seem unlikely that that player has straights. Then destructive would be to wish for a high card, like an Ace or anything else I might think would hurt the hand.

If constructive, it may be that my partner is looking to go out first, and I probably want to wish for something conservative (like what I passed to the GT'er) and take a back seat.

2. Do I think I can go out on this hand?

If the hand is riddled with Pairs, then I may have a chance. The 10 may get a bit stuck, but if all the triples run around, I can play the 1, wish low, and force GT's partner to play a high single to try and stop me. Then my partner can go on the offensive, and I add the tension to the game as a threat.

All in all, this hand comes down to: If the triples hold, I'm in a good position to add a huge amount of threat and potentially go out. If the triples do not hold, then I'm going out last being stuck with the 1. (Provided Partner did not keep the Dog.)

3. Risk versus reward.

If the triples hold, I become a high threat and have the possibility of setting the GT. Normally I wouldn't get this choice, but partner created this opportunity by passing the 1.

If the triples do not hold, I will go out last. Looking at the hand it seems likely I would go out last if I give up this opportunity. However, I may be messing up my partner if I don't take the expected action.



Therefore, I think I'd play the 222. Every 3 cards played over it eliminates another possibility of a 4 card bomb. If it doesn't hold and the subsequent plays are singles, pairs, and steps, then I just have to hope that if partner passed the 1 with a reason, partner will still be able to do whatever they were hoping to do without my assistance.

---

All in all, if I passed the 1 and saw partner open with 222, I'd be extremely excited. It clearly signals that Partner has something up their sleeve. If a GT is called and I have the 1 and the Dog and a so-so hand, I will sometimes pass the 1 in hopes of getting partner out first. With the 1 they gain tempo. With me having the Dog, if I can win any trick, I can give my partner another lead to really keep up their momentum in beating the GT.
 
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Jeff Chunko
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Note that when discussing tichu play it's best to note the direction your group plays before using LH and RH. I know that a few people play by the rules (widdershins), even though I've never met any of them.
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Everett Scheer
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andylatto wrote:

I don't think it's a semantic issue. I think you're playing badly.


The semantic issue was if its a convention or not. That is completely removed from your opinion on how good a play it is.

andylatto wrote:

I think that 2 is a better way to play than 1. That's because it gives primary responsibility for the decision to the person with the information needed to make a good decision, rather than to the person who has almost no such information. Again, can you describe two different han d types where you would say "with hand type 1, I want my partner to lead the 1 and call for an A; with hand type 2, I don't"?


I disagree that 2 is better than 1. Generically passing the 1 to the partner leading into the GT is just as "conventional" as 1. In fact, all it does is changes who "makes the decision" on the pass to who does on the wish. Both partners have information. It is disingeneous to say that the person passing the 1 "has almost no such information." In fact, he has almost as much information as his partner.

Yes there are times when I don't want my partner to lead the 1 and wish for an A. Or where the 1 is better in my hand.

andylatto wrote:

A partnership game isn't about "that means you get to tell your partner what to do". It means having the person with the best information to make a decision making that decision. And about balancing making a pass to communicate something versus making the pass that creates the best two hands for winning.


I agree that it isn't about telling your partner what to do. However, communicating with what you pass is important. Knowing your partner and how he plays in certian situations is key. Agreeing on "conventions" provides better avenues for this communication.

andylatto wrote:

It feels less to me like you are asking for strategy advice, and more like you are trying to justify your opinion and prove you were right and your partner was wrong.


Where did you get this from? I never asked for strategy advice, and moreso am not trying to prove "my partner" wrong.

Please make sure you have the correct parties involved when you insult them, thanks.
 
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Everett Scheer
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Elgar wrote:
Is this a convention?


The term "convention" originally stems from contract bridge, so I think we should use their definitions. To a bridge player, this is not a convention. It's just logic.


The term convention may be used in bridge as it heavily documents it.


To me, the "logic" is equivelent to a high-low doubleton carding or min points for opening convention in bridge, and hence my usage of the term.

To me, any "logic" that is agreed upon that contains any kind of loaded information would be considered a "convention".
 
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David desJardins
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Elgar wrote:
The term convention may be used in bridge as it heavily documents it.


I can't figure out what this sentence means.

If your partner tends to call for an ace from the GT caller when he holds the 1, because he thinks it's the best idea usually, that's not a convention. It's like "third hand high" or "eight ever, nine never", these are principles that arise from bridge logic, you play third hand high because it makes sense and helps your side on average, not because you've made an agreement with your partner to do so.

Playing high-low from a doubleton is a convention. There's no logical reason why high-low from even is better than low-high from even (in fact, I think slightly more experts play the latter). You're doing it just because you've made an agreement with your partner to do it.

Calling for an ace from the GT caller seems more like the former than the latter to me. I don't see why it would be useful to agree with your partner that you will call for an ace from the GT caller when he passes you the 1. It would make more sense to me to agree that your partner will use his own logic to decide whether he should call for an ace on this hand.
 
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Everett Scheer
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Elgar wrote:
The term convention may be used in bridge as it heavily documents it.


I can't figure out what this sentence means.

If your partner tends to call for an ace from the GT caller when he holds the 1, because he thinks it's the best idea usually, that's not a convention. It's like "third hand high" or "eight ever, nine never", these are principles that arise from bridge logic, you play third hand high because it makes sense and helps your side on average, not because you've made an agreement with your partner to do so.

Playing high-low from a doubleton is a convention. There's no logical reason why high-low from even is better than low-high from even (in fact, I think slightly more experts play the latter). You're doing it just because you've made an agreement with your partner to do it.

Calling for an ace from the GT caller seems more like the former than the latter to me. I don't see why it would be useful to agree with your partner that you will call for an ace from the GT caller when he passes you the 1. It would make more sense to me to agree that your partner will use his own logic to decide whether he should call for an ace on this hand.


Agreed that my sentance you quoted is poorly formed. I was trying to mean something along the lines "a term convention does stem from bridge, and it stems from bridge because it heavily uses conventions to the point of it being documented."

While just wishing an A from the GTer may be a best practice. However if you and your partner agree that, if one passes the mahjong to his partner who leads into a GT he wants an A to be wished, that is a convention to me. There's a fine line here.
 
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David desJardins
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Elgar wrote:
While just wishing an A from the GTer may be a best practice. However if you and your partner agree that, if one passes the mahjong to his partner who leads into a GT he wants an A to be wished, that is a convention to me.


If you make that agreement, then it would be a convention.

I think it's a bad convention to have.
 
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Chris Ashley
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I would always wish for the ace in this situation. With the Mahjong and two singles she has no way of winning a trick once she gets rid of all her triples. I would think it is better to wish for the ace and potentially mess up the hand of the player who called Grand Tichu, and then hope your triples can work later on.

Although often I see people call Tichu/Grand Tichu with a strategy based entirely on a hand of high single cards (2-3 aces, Phoenix, Dragon etc), so it's a difficult one. in this instance you might force the Grand Tichu caller to use his aces as a triple.
 
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