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Consolidate, Clarify, Simplify All Pinochle Rules
#41
(05-12-2016, 08:03 AM)ToreadorElder Wrote:  Because the game is played to a fixed scoring limit, losing N points is never as bad as allowing the opponents to gain N points.  Thus, no, it's not just.

Consider this case.  Score is 400-320, N/S leading.  East gets a double run.  North bids 190 to block East.  East/West have little or no meld outside the double run.  Score becomes 210-320...rather than East/West *winning*.  And note that the situation can occur at, say, 470-440...if I've got the 470, losing 70 to give my opps a 0, is better than letting them score 65.

I don't see a way of making it more just for these cases.
I respect that the over-bidding team is doing everything legal to stay in the game; this right to survive is an important part to retain.
It would be less just if the lucky East-West team (with double run) were able to waltz out and North-South just had to lay down and die -- a pure luck victory.

In the first case (400-320), I believe we are saying that East-West was able to score 185 (because that's where they stopped) as Offense.  Using your provided outcome, North-South suffered a score difference of 190 points on the hand.  This is mathematically a greater punishment than East-West becoming declarers and shutting down North-South in the Play phase for 185 points.
Justice is served.

The same logic applies for the second case (470-440).  Yes, you would be wise to lose 70 and live to fight another hand.  This is not a failing in the rules.  This is survival bidding and is totally warranted / acceptable.  This tactic lends itself to sweetly skillful bidding, especially when the going gets tough.  Auctions don't have to be just about what your team can make; multiple factors can reveal the limit to your bidding.
This is a habitat for good, logical, aggressive bidding.

Thank for providing the cases.
It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life. -- Mickey Mantle
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#42
I would agree with you when it comes to bidding aggressively, but leaving *some* chance...and particularly when bidding to play. But this is including the situation of bidding with no marriage. There's no skill here.

And no, justice is still NOT served. It makes no difference that the points are about the same. The bidder's offense did not cost him the game, therefore justice *was not* served. Even if you're playing for money, it's not equal. Points are secondary to winning the *game*.

One might argue that there are parallels to sacrifice bidding in bridge...but there are notable differences. A sacrifice in bridge actually has a fairly open-ended penalty...if you misgauge, it can cost you MANY more points than letting the opposition play their contract. Particularly when bidding with no marriage, the rules guarantee that you are breaking even. (That is, assuming they would make, and you would not save on defense. However, sacrifices in bridge are also sometimes "phantom"...because the other side won't make THEIR bid. So that's a wash.)

And you fail to miss the ethical point. The rules require having a marriage in order to name trump. They don't require a marriage *in order to bid* because they recognize the notion that it's a partnership game, and therefore passing information to partner via one's calls or plays is a fundamental aspect of partnership play. But bidding with no marriage, in an effort to play the hand, is a clear violation of the spirit of the game. It is abusing the rule about how this situation is scored.

We've had this discussion before. IIRC, rak was more of the bigger proponent of Anything Goes, as long as it's not explicitly against the rules. I'm never going to buy that. You say "they're doing everything legal"...legal does not mean RIGHT, or fair. If the rules allow this, then consider if the rules are wrong. Maybe they're OK; the problem lies elsewhere. This is NBA playoffs season. A major issue in the NBA is the habit of fouling the *terrible* foul shooters, forcing them to shoot, and usually miss, free throws. This is done when that player is FAR away from the ball...literally on the other side of the court. It's clearly and egregiously intentional. EVERYONE hates it, but it *can* be darned effective. It's been building for 2 or 3 years; it go so bad this year that the league may implement rules changes. That's awful too; I hate the notion that you can't exploit a KNOWN deficiency of the opposition. That's the diametric opposite of competition.

Slightly differently...in college basketball, if a team's down late in the game, it's routine for them to foul, to extend the game. But they have to foul the player with the ball...so the team ahead can be smart and attempt to keep it in the hands of their good shooters. But there comes a point when the score margin, and time remaining, say there's NO chance this can work. When that's the case, but the losing team continues to foul...they generally get roundly criticized.

So...yes, there's bidding to be aggressive, strategic, tactical...but that should have limits, particularly IF the rules can be adjusted to retain equity.

BTW: you'd be right, that it's equitable, in different scoring approaches. Like: ok, we're playing N hands, or playing for a period of time. (Like, ok, once we hit 11 PM, everyone deals one more time, then the night's over.) And total points is all that matters. It might also be OK in a game-score approach, if the margin at the end of the game is significant. Also note, that if you make the mistake of building a tournament where each table plays a full game to 500, and it's pure win/loss, then someone bidding obstructively would be disruptive to the overall event, and VERY harsh punishment might be in order. I suspect that the various tourney-running groups had rules for this; their issue was generally that they were stuck with the game mechanics of the site they were on. I do recall being in Yahoo Adv Lounge 10, which was used by one group for tournaments. You'd see some tables report scores, then be sitting on their backsides for 20 minutes while longer games finished out. Long games happen sometimes.

Me, I'm assuming that the win is the only relevant factor, not the margin; the usual rule playing online.
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#43
(05-12-2016, 08:46 PM)ToreadorElder Wrote:  I would agree with you when it comes to bidding aggressively, but leaving *some* chance...and particularly when bidding to play.  But this is including the situation of bidding with no marriage.  There's no skill here.

I disagree, kind of.
True, there is no skill employed by the offense.
However, the skill of the defense is really put to the test!
The defense is now challenged to inflate the Auction as the sole means for compensation for the offense sabotaging the hand.
The greater the defensive bidding skill, the greater the penalty to the offense.

(05-12-2016, 08:46 PM)ToreadorElder Wrote:  And no, justice is still NOT served.  It makes no difference that the points are about the same.  The bidder's offense did not cost him the game, therefore justice *was not* served.  Even if you're playing for money, it's not equal.  Points are secondary to winning the *game*.

The bidder's offense does not NEED to cost the game.
That would be capital punishment for petty theft.

(05-12-2016, 08:46 PM)ToreadorElder Wrote:  One might argue that there are parallels to sacrifice bidding in bridge...but there are notable differences.  A sacrifice in bridge actually has a fairly open-ended penalty...if you misgauge, it can cost you MANY more points than letting the opposition play their contract.  Particularly when bidding with no marriage, the rules guarantee that you are breaking even.  (That is, assuming they would make, and you would not save on defense.  However, sacrifices in bridge are also sometimes "phantom"...because the other side won't make THEIR bid.  So that's a wash.)

And you fail to miss see the ethical point.  The rules require having a marriage in order to name trump.  They don't require a marriage *in order to bid* because they recognize the notion that it's a partnership game, and therefore passing information to partner via one's calls or plays is a fundamental aspect of partnership play.  But bidding with no marriage, in an effort to play the hand, is a clear violation of the spirit of the game.  It is abusing the rule about how this situation is scored.

We've had this discussion before.  IIRC, rak was more of the bigger proponent of Anything Goes, as long as it's not explicitly against the rules.  I'm never going to buy that.  You say "they're doing everything legal"...legal does not mean RIGHT, or fair.  If the rules allow this, then consider if the rules are wrong.  Maybe they're OK;  the problem lies elsewhere.  This is NBA playoffs season.  A major issue in the NBA is the habit of fouling the *terrible* foul shooters, forcing them to shoot, and usually miss, free throws.  This is done when that player is FAR away from the ball...literally on the other side of the court.  It's clearly and egregiously intentional.  EVERYONE hates it, but it *can* be darned effective.  It's been building for 2 or 3 years;  it got so bad this year that the league may implement rules changes.  That's awful too;  I hate the notion that you can't exploit a KNOWN deficiency of the opposition.  That's the diametric opposite of competition.  

Slightly differently...in college basketball, if a team's down late in the game, it's routine for them to foul, to extend the game.  But they have to foul the player with the ball...so the team ahead can be smart and attempt to keep it in the hands of their good shooters.  But there comes a point when the score margin, and time remaining, say there's NO chance this can work.  When that's the case, but the losing team continues to foul...they generally get roundly criticized.

So...yes, there's bidding to be aggressive, strategic, tactical...but that should have limits, particularly IF the rules can be adjusted to retain equity.

I disagree with and dismiss the claim about ethics in a survival situation.
If I get my hand wedged between two boulders while I am mountain climbing solo, and I can chose between dying alone of starvation or removing my hand with my pocket knife, then ethics is not a factor -- I'll choose to live and later apologize to the stump at the end of my arm.   ... then I'll find a forum somewhere and complain about how stupid rocks are!

I'll agree that "legal" doesn't mean "right".
I'll disagree on "legal" doesn't mean "fair".
When legal isn't right or legal isn't fair, the rules must be adjusted.

If you are playing for money and the loser pays out the difference between the scores, then yes, justice is served.
I might even thank my opponent for shelling out more cash by going Set.
Going Set, by my preferred rules, NEVER EVER hurts the defense.  The offense is ALWAYS worse off for their course of action.

I say my preferred Set rules do retain equity.
There are just no freebies.
And a Declarer who claims to have no marriages MUST table their entire hand to prove it.

Maximizing point penalties to Set offense is the responsibility of the defense.
  • If the Declarer doesn't have a marriage, then the defense delivers maximum penalty by running the Auction up as far as possible. (*Earned via Bidding Skill)
  • If the Declarer has a marriage, then the defense delivers maximum penalty by tabling all meld and saving it. (*Earned via Playing Skill)
Sometimes the Set Declaring team will shutout their opponents by either having no marriage or by pulling more than 31 counters.
The No Marriage Set - delivers a swift penalty to the offense's score and the next hand begins.
The Set with a Marriage & a Play Phase - ensures that the defense delivers a minimum penalty AND the opportunity to increase the penalty via meld and counters, if saved.

If the above isn't "enough" justice/penalty, how much more should there be?!?  Gifting the meld is double-dipping and is not fair.

I also want to state for the record that the opportunities to win an auction without a marriage are very rare, because each hand has a 212% probability of a containing a marriage.  (*note that my probability may be slightly off because I was not using a professional grade random number generator.  if you like we can round all the way down to 200% for the argument's sake. or someone can present higher quality statistics.)
See attached image @ Pinochles are scored.... wrong?
I not trying to leverage this statistical knowledge to prop up my argument, just providing background information on the topic.

My preferred rules correlate perfectly to your basketball analogy.
Yes, the foulers will eventually foul out; this is the "minimum penalty".  To maximize each penalty against the trailing/fouling team, foul shooters can sink free throws.  This puts appropriate and valuable focus on the importance of all players being able to make free throws.  This creates balance/justice and demands that all players continue to hone their skills.
If basketball let players endlessly foul and allowed no free throws, then the game would spiral into a melee.
If basketball gifted 2 points to the fouled player's team, then the game would encourage manufactured fouls and dramatics (like soccer does -- Oooow, he bumped me and I have a broken femur!).
Basketball ALWAYS makes teams earn their points by making baskets, never are points simply added by officials.
Basketball tries to keep balance by mandating a minimum penalty and allows a small potential bonus, so long as it's earned.

(05-12-2016, 08:46 PM)ToreadorElder Wrote:  BTW:  you'd be right, that it's equitable, in different scoring approaches.  Like:  ok, we're playing N hands, or playing for a period of time.  (Like, ok, once we hit 11 PM, everyone deals one more time, then the night's over.)  And total points is all that matters.  It might also be OK in a game-score approach, if the margin at the end of the game is significant.  Also note, that if you make the mistake of building a tournament where each table plays a full game to 500, and it's pure win/loss, then someone bidding obstructively would be disruptive to the overall event, and VERY harsh punishment might be in order.  I suspect that the various tourney-running groups had rules for this;  their issue was generally that they were stuck with the game mechanics of the site they were on.  I do recall being in Yahoo Adv Lounge 10, which was used by one group for tournaments.  You'd see some tables report scores, then be sitting on their backsides for 20 minutes while longer games finished out.  Long games happen sometimes.

Sure, playing a Pinochle tournament is going to have some tables finishing before others.  Pinochle has a large variability in the number of hands necessary to complete a game.  I dismiss Time as a reason to adjust my Set rules.  If time is of the essence, then modify the conditions of victory as you said: Limit a game's duration using time or number of hands.

(05-12-2016, 08:46 PM)ToreadorElder Wrote:  Me, I'm assuming that the win is the only relevant factor, not the margin;  the usual rule playing online.

I agree that the Win is the only relevant factor.  Going Set only puts a team farther away from victory -- it is simply not the direct path to victory.
Yes, survival cases call for aggressive bidding and may incentivize going Set; but this is not something corrected by gifting meld points (pure luck points) by default.

I can think of a few sports off the top of my head that have rules that subtract points and never add points as penalties:
  • Boxing
  • Martial Arts (AFAIK)
  • Indoor Beach Volleyball
  • Rifle Shooting

I am probably repeating myself more than necessary, I'll stop here.
It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life. -- Mickey Mantle
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#44
(05-12-2016, 08:59 AM)mickmackusa Wrote:  Let me get things started by listing some scalable rules, then we can debate what needs to be adjusted and why...
  • Auction Starting Point
               DD: 50
               SD: 25
  • Bidding Increment Change Point (+1 --> +5 minimum bids)
               DD: 60
               SD: 35
  • Trump Marriage Requirement
               DD: Yes
               SD: Yes
  • Minimum Points to Meld
               DD: 20
               SD: 10
  • Minimum Points to Save
               DD: 20 (40% of Possible)
               SD: 10 (40% of Possible)

Maybe it would be better to change the wording of minimum trump requirement.
Since we are scaling down from Double-deck where a Marriage IS the minimum meld unit for suit-based meld, then it should be permitted for Single-deck to permit a trump suit to be declared where there is a minimum of 1 point of suit-based meld in that suit: the Dix.

So my above list would change the 3rd bullet point to:
  • Trump Meld Requirement
               DD: Yes (Marriage or Run)
               SD: Yes (Dix, Marriage, or Run)
This needs to be suit-based meld, I mean, you couldn't lay down a Pinochle and declare Spades using the QS  .

This seems fair right? and it retains that cool/quirky element of possible restriction on the decision making process of the Declarer.
On average, there shouldn't be that much of an impact because there are plenty of marriages and dix floating around in the deck -- but if anyone would like to enlighten me on the statistics, I'd like to have a look.


I guess I should clarify that there are 3 logical, necessary groups of meld in Pinochle.  These groups also help to define how cards can be shared by different groups, and that cards cannot be shared within the same group:
Suit-based Meld:
Run*, Royal Marriage*, Common Marriage, Dix*   (*obviously requires that specific suit to be trump)

Rank-based Meld:
Aces Around, Kings Around, Queens Around, Jacks Around

Miscellaneous (Wild) Meld:
Pinochle


Maybe it's me, but the meld possibilities seem simpler/fewer when I look at it this way.  Perhaps newcomers to Pinochle will find this grouping easier to conceptualize.
It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life. -- Mickey Mantle
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#45
Can someone (four someones) play a game of Single-deck Partnership Pinochle using my previously suggested scaled down rules and tell me how it goes?
Which rules are just too strict and are generally too unattainable?

Alternatively, is it possible for me to play Single-deck Partnership Pinochle with these rules online?  even against bots?  I just want to see for myself and I am too detached geographically to do things in a realistic setting.  Of course, I could deal this out myself and totally pantomime a game but that seems like a horribly dull way to spend my time.

Marya, what are the chances you could slap a "scaled down" Single-deck game like this together @ WorldofCardGames.com?  I don't mean to pressure you, I know you are aren't long on time, just asking.  Feel free to PM or email me about this.



p.s. One more for the list of scaled down rules...
  • Points to Victory
             DD: 500
             SD: 250
It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life. -- Mickey Mantle
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#46
(05-12-2016, 08:46 PM)ToreadorElder Wrote:  BTW:  you'd be right, that it's equitable, in different scoring approaches.  Like:  ok, we're playing N hands, or playing for a period of time.  (Like, ok, once we hit 11 PM, everyone deals one more time, then the night's over.)  And total points is all that matters.  It might also be OK in a game-score approach, if the margin at the end of the game is significant.  Also note, that if you make the mistake of building a tournament where each table plays a full game to 500, and it's pure win/loss, then someone bidding obstructively would be disruptive to the overall event, and VERY harsh punishment might be in order.  I suspect that the various tourney-running groups had rules for this;  their issue was generally that they were stuck with the game mechanics of the site they were on.  I do recall being in Yahoo Adv Lounge 10, which was used by one group for tournaments.  You'd see some tables report scores, then be sitting on their backsides for 20 minutes while longer games finished out.  Long games happen sometimes.

Me, I'm assuming that the win is the only relevant factor, not the margin;  the usual rule playing online.

After think about this longer, I respect this point more.
When making comparisons to other sports/games, it is important to find relationships where there is a common categorical end point.

In many sports, the game is concluded at a predefined time or number of rounds.
This fact makes it very difficult to find suitable games for comparison.
This, then, reduces the field to Beach Volleyball and Martial Arts (but I am not well versed in either of these sports).

I guess I should get to my point.  I feel like Pinochle's meld awarding rule on Sets -- "errs on the side of advancement".
This is an important rule for social games; people become disinterested in a game that feels like it keeps grinding on.
Maybe you've heard this at a card table, "A good game is a fast game."
This is more likely to be murmured at a social table.
At a competitive table (perhaps with cash or honor at stake), players will not allow others to bully them into a hasty play at the expense of thoughtfulness.

This "err on the side of advancement" acts to soften or increase the social nature of a game.
Fitting into this same category, I believe, are my family's rules:  Voluntary hand terminations by declarer, "By Me" bids, Redeals on Zero-Ace hands, and Redeals on 13 Q's & J's hands.

So, can/should there be a distinction between Social and Competitive rules?
In a Social rules document, you would see lots of pro-advancement clauses.
In a Competitive rules document, you would see lots of clauses that allow/promote survival techniques and give less importance on brevity of the game.

As I've said previously, I like the Competitive clauses on Declarer Sets because it means that seemingly doomed players are never fully victims of fate; they can always interfere with what is considered "all wrapped up".  This preserves hope and makes both sides fight to the end -- sounds exciting!

The potential negative in the Competitive approach is a long game.  I want new players to fall in love with Pinochle, but that will be hard if the game drags on for an eternity.
I only say "potential" because the great majority of the time, overbidding declarers will have marriages and the Play round will occur, ergo the defense will have the chance to save their meld most of the time.  The trailing / overbidding team will only be dealt so many 31-counter hands in a row until their luck runs out and the other team can meld and save.

Like my previous post, I'd like others to "try it before they knock it", just to see how it actually plays out.
I want to see the implications of my preferred rules in a social environment and a competitive environment.
It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life. -- Mickey Mantle
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#47
So you're playing a tournament...call it a pairs event. You have 32 pairs, ergo 16 tables. $100 per pair; winners get $1000. You're playing straight win/loss scoring to 500 points, in a Swiss format where each round, pairs are matched against other pairs with the same record. This format would typically call for 6 rounds. (And note that almost anything but win/loss scoring makes the point moot, because there will be no reason to try the obnoxious bidding...or at least, not systemically. One *could* try it every now and again, as you've noted, as a bluff.)

Now, playing win/loss 500 point games is terrible to begin with; luck rules, first and foremost. Next point is where your tolerance for these bids kicks in. As it is: with 16 tables in play, the cards would likely dictate that 6 tables would finish in 7-8 hands; 8 more would take 9-11 hands. 1 or 2 tables would simply, naturally, run long...12-14 hands.

Now add in someone bidding impossibly...even EARLY on. Suddenly, one table is taking 16 hands to complete its game. One player is delaying the *entire* event, because you can't start the next round until all the tables are done.

And remember something. The overbidding declarer does best to do this *with no marriage whatsoever*. The leading team automatically scores 0 by standard rules; pull-31 hands are not required. And, yes, this probably won't be an issue most of the time...but it will be a VERY big issue when it does.

Of course, the root flaw is playing full game, win/loss scoring in the first place, in a timed, competitive environment. I've seen games with 3 sets in 4 hands...50-pass-pass-pass, dummy's broke; board set on a save bid; board set on a declarer drop. Or pretty good bids that run afoul of AWFUL breaks. That sort of thing. Just a burst of nasty cards. Those are the ones that run 14 hands, and stall the event even without disruptive effort.

Hmmm...there's also another trap to avoid. Let's assume you're running a session with 12 pairs. They'll play 4 hands against every other pair, in a full round robin format. Seems pretty fair; there's enough hands that luck tends to even out, or at least will do so to a MUCH greater degree than in a single-game structure. Here's the problem, tho: collusion. Pair B is leading the event; in round 9, they play pair G, who are near the bottom. Pair G knows Pair I...who happen to be in 2nd place. Pair G can't win the event...but they can help I by never letting B take a bid. Each such will cost B at least 20 points, as a rule, because they lose the meld from the run, and take fewer points during the play. And if G can bid with no marriage, they can steal 60 or 70 points *commonly* and occasionally, of course, massively more. A board set translates to 35 points...lose 15 meld and 20 play. Now, this also points out that you *don't* want to have leaders playing also-rans late in an event.

The Bridge World, for several years, wrote editorials about poor conditions of contest that created situations like this, as well as sportsmanlike dumping situations. What is sportsmanlike dumping? Losing short term to increase your chances to win long term. (Which is exactly what is going on with these bids.) Here's an example. Here, the event starts with a round robin. The top 4 pairs at the end of the round robin qualify to play heads-up in semifinal and final matches for the event. Pair A is leading, and has qualified. They play pair E, currently in 5th or 6th. In A's opinion, E is not a very good pair...the teams in 3rd and 4th place are both considerably better. So, *in order to maximize their chances of winning the event*...they play well below par, for them. They don't compete for bids when they could. They don't stop E from saving when they could. They're throwing the round, and in doing so, contaminating the whole event.

And, YES, this kind of dumping *has been* suspected...at some of bridge's *world championship* events. Events where maybe there's no prize money per se...but the vast majority of players do play professionally (yes, you can hire such a player to be your partner for an event). Clearly, their fee structures are going to be affected, so indirectly, cash is on the line as well. (Heck, several of the top teams are sponsored by very affluent patrons.)
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#48
I agree with every aspect of what TE is saying, and your last post, mick, in that I've seen it and players will bid out the yazoo thinking worse case is I go set but I keep them from calling their trump suit and saving and closing out to win the game. I live for another day, I might get dealt a double run.

And then if you have a like minded person on other team they hear the 150 double run bid (in some circles is said to be required to be made by third round, discussed elsewhere on site) and they pull TE's scenario and say ok 190 and they don't get their double run meld, so what, I go back but live for another day, who knows... and so it goes.

I haven't seen anything that obnoxious but that's what happens when obstructive bidding is rewarded by keeping opponents from winning and prolonging game, and after all, a loss by 300 is no worse than a loss by 30, etc. (which it does matter in my rating very much and I expect would in any ratings, but still...)

The worst of it was dealt with by awarding meld to the setters for a pulling over 50 board set (which I recognize as a board set but I understand is not a standard). And the make them save it stuff is double whammied by first bidding obstructively to preclude other team from double run, calling your own best suit trump, and then playing out and other team has to try to save whatever other meld they had with a probable weak suit. All in all obstruction is richly rewarded considering the alternative was losing the game.

There are any number of standard and novel approaches to this, but losing the double run is worse case and even what I do in giving opponents their meld (20 and over) on that board set doesn't give them their 150 double run meld.

One totally novel solution is on an impossible to save hand of pulling more than 50, the opponents are given an option to bid between them to bid (starting at open, but they can both pass) to call trump or pass and they get their meld if they play and save it. That satisfies every aspect of desirables that have been discussed and totally precludes any benefit to bid obstructively to keep other team from advancing. But it is totally novel and I just dreamed it up, so yet another variant.

Interestingly, after having their too large bid subtracted from their score, if the hand were played out with opponents calling trump, normal scoring would occur and they could get 20 or more meld saved by 20 or more points added back to their score, or could even set the opponents who are now declarers and both go set same hand.

yeah, parallel universe stuff. Smile
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#49
(05-12-2016, 08:03 AM)ToreadorElder Wrote:  Because the game is played to a fixed scoring limit, losing N points is never as bad as allowing the opponents to gain N points.  Thus, no, it's not just.

Consider this case.  Score is 400-320, N/S leading.  East gets a double run.  North bids 190 to block East.  East/West have little or no meld outside the double run.  Score becomes 210-320...rather than East/West *winning*.  And note that the situation can occur at, say, 470-440...if I've got the 470, losing 70 to give my opps a 0, is better than letting them score 65.

I love this concept.
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#50
(05-17-2016, 11:51 PM)rakbeater Wrote:  
(05-12-2016, 08:03 AM)ToreadorElder Wrote:  Because the game is played to a fixed scoring limit, losing N points is never as bad as allowing the opponents to gain N points.  Thus, no, it's not just.

Consider this case.  Score is 400-320, N/S leading.  East gets a double run.  North bids 190 to block East.  East/West have little or no meld outside the double run.  Score becomes 210-320...rather than East/West *winning*.  And note that the situation can occur at, say, 470-440...if I've got the 470, losing 70 to give my opps a 0, is better than letting them score 65.

I love this concept.

This survival tactic will be used by any competitive player whenever the outcome buys more time(hands).

The ONLY way to totally stomp out this practice would be to award the Set amount to the defense rather than subtract the Set amount from the offense.  Perhaps the defense could have the power to designate how the Set amount will be marked down.
Like when you shoot the moon in Hearts, the successful moon-shooter decides to subtract 26 from their own score or add 26 to all other players.


Back to Pinochle...
If a Set and no Play phase (no marriage), then defense gets no meld and can choose to add the Set amount to their score or subtract from the other team.
If a Set and there is a play phase, then the defense melds, gets the opportunity to save, and decides at the conclusion of the hand if they will add the Set amount to their score or subtract from the offense.

What do you think about that?
It would be a radical change to the traditional game, but it is an appropriate solution that works well in Hearts.


[late edit]
The trouble with offering this much power to the defense is "inevitability".
Refer to the previously offered game-end Double Run scenario.
The lucky, trailing team bids 150 and instantly everyone knows the game is over with no hope for the opponents to prevent their loss.  The hand is played out, but everyone knows how the story ends--not very exciting.  Sad
It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life. -- Mickey Mantle
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