Let me set the scene for you. You went 25 in diamonds. You won the first two tricks with the 5 and J. The person who throws right after you took 2 on the draw and has already thrown two high trump, and the queen, king, and ace of trump have already come out. That means just one thing, the person after you has the Ace of hearts.
You have just one trump left, the nine of diamonds, so you throw off-suit and your partner manages to win the third trick, meaning you are just one away from making your bid and, with another trump card at your disposal, you would imagine this would be pretty easy, right?
Of course not. Right now you have a big problem - one of those little nuances of 45s that makes the game so great. The second to last trick is, by far, the most important trick of the hand. Especially because it is obvious now that whoever wins the off-suit on the last trick will win this hand.
So your partner has to either be really smart with his off-suit lead here, or just have a really good goddamn off-suit card. And your partner throws the 7 of clubs.
You don't have any clubs. Luckily, the person who throws before you doesn't either. But here's the dilemma. Right now the 7 of clubs leads. You have the jack of hearts and the nine of diamonds. The person who throws after you has the Ace of hearts. You can do one of two things, obviously.
1) You can throw the nine of diamonds and force your opponent to win with the ace of hearts. Then you can pray to God that hearts are led and nothing can beat your jack; or that your partner can, for whatever reason, win with his other crappy off-suit card. Of course, someone could have the King of hearts and your jack would be worthless and that would be that. (And let's get serious, we all know it can happen. How many times has an entire game fallen on whether or not the person who throws after you is freakin' lucky
enough to get the one freakin' card that can beat your last card... and then he has that card??? That stuff drives me freakin' nuts, because it NEVER
happens to me.)
2) You can throw the jack of hearts and pray to God the person who throws
after you doesn't have a club that can beat the 7 of clubs and will be
forced to throw the Ace of hearts anyway; and then you've automatically
won the last trick with the nine of diamonds and you've made your 25 bid.
Now, in the heat of the moment, it seems obvious. Who really thinks that
someone will not have a card that can beat the seven of clubs? You throw
your trump card and know that your chances of winning the last trick are
doubled because your partner throws, too.
But you must remember. Besides the Ace of hearts, your opponent has just
one card. What are the chances that card is a club? Well, the math could
become complicated, but it's a little less than one in four, I would imagine. I
mean, YOU didn't have a club that could beat the 7 of clubs. If you did,
you could throw it and we wouldn't be having this conversation.
So the chances of your opponent having a higher club are not great. Then
again, what are the chances of you winning the last trick on off-suit?
Well, if a heart is led, they are pretty good. But if not... When thinking
generally, you would assume your partner's last card is worse than the 7
of clubs, otherwise he would have thrown it. (We could talk a bit about how
your partner may have thrown the 7 of clubs to increase chances of it
drawing out the Ace of hearts because he saw the king of clubs come out
earlier somewhere and, playing the percentages, assumed that another high
club might not be out there... but let's be honest, who really pays that
Anyway, your partner might be worthless because he could be sitting on the
two of hearts over there. Not only that, but your other opponent could
have the King of spades and that would mean Game Over if a spade is led.
So what's the point? The point is... you can't know. You know you can't
know. All you can do is try your best to remember how many clubs were thrown
somewhere during the game. If you can't remember, our recommendation is to
throw the nine of diamonds. It's the only thing you can be sure of. I
mean, your opponent MIGHT have the six of clubs. Or, your opponent MIGHT NOT
even have the Ace of hearts and only took two on the draw just to mess with
But in the end, the reason to do it is because it's ballsy. And, come on,
isn't that what 45s is all about in the end?
Let us know what you think of this situation. What would you have done?
And why? Email Strategy Guy at firstname.lastname@example.org and give him comments on
this situation or ask him questions about different 45s strategy.