Vincent Brévart

Vincent Brévart

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Novità di Bel Atout 5.61

2 ottobre 2017

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This version 5.61 differs from version 5.60 only by the correction of a few mistakes that you can see in the last corrections file (accessible by the Examples menu).

The anti-squeeze signals!

A very good belote player using Bel Atout sent me several deals where one team was capot after being squeezed. Executing a squeeze is easy. Even if you don't know this technique, I'm sure you use it frequently. It consists in playing your winning cards again and again until your opponents are forced to discard the wrong cards and give away a trick. With two cards in hand, a player who holds two Aces will often discard the wrong one, which will sometimes lead his team to be capot. The question was whether it was possible to avoid these capots by a good signaling technique.

This good player corresponded with me via email for several weeks, until we managed to analyze a few important points. Even if signaling on tricks won by the opponents is generally not advisable, things are different in the squeeze situation. First, the points given to the opponents don't really matter anymore, since the only thing to do is to make a trick so as not to be capot. And then, showing to the offender in which suits you have a winner or a stopper is no longer that much disadvantageous. Because if you are sure that he has only one loser, he won't have the choice of his last card in the end. Therefore, showing him that you hold the Ace or the 10 in a suit will be totally useless to him. On the other hand, it may help your partner to make the right discard.


You may already have developed with your partner a signaling system that solves the squeeze problems. Study the little system described below, and if you think you can improve it by your own technique, feel free to tell me about it.

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So, I have implemented a new option called Anti-squeeze signal, which is disabled by default and that you need to check in the rule preferences at the Playing strategy / Signaling page, if you want the machine players to use it. If the option is checked, here are the signals the players will make on tricks won by the opponents, provided of course that they are in a squeeze situation (a capot is still possible and the offender seems to have only one loser, or sometimes two):

  • Top of sequence
    Any discard of a winner, a sub-winner and even sometimes a sub-sub-winner shows a top of sequence and promises the next lower card. It also denies the next higher card.

    Examples :  An Ace shows the 10. A 10 shows the King (and denies the Ace).
    In All Trumps, a Jack shows the 9, a 9 shows the Ace and denies the Jack.

  • Reverse order
    When discarding on an opponent's trick, you are expected to use the normal order (lowest to highest card). Consequently, discarding high then low in the same suit (reverse order) shows a winner or a sub-winner in that suit.

    Examples :  Discarding a Queen then a 7 shows the Ace or the 10 of the suit at 90%.
    Discarding an 8 then a 7 shows the Ace or the 10 of the suit at 70%.

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And it seems to work! I invite you to look at the deals about this topic in the last corrections file (accessible by the Examples menu). Each deal is presented in two versions: (1) without the anti-squeeze signal, showing how the defenders are capot; and (2) with the anti-squeeze signal, showing how the defenders avoid being capot by the right signal. It is rather spectacular. See deal N°8 (found by automatic playing) where South, by discarding two 9's at All Trumps, shows two sub-winners that allow North to discard his two singleton Jacks, while keeping a doubleton 9 which prevents the opponents from making a capot! Practically impossible to guess without a good signaling technique.

Unfortunately, successful anti-squeeze signals are rare. First, an offender must be very strong with a squeeze hand. Then, one of the defenders must really be squeezed with several suits to keep. And finally his partner must be able to make a signal that clearly helps him to discard. That's a lot of conditions. I appeal to you to send me the nice deals you find when playing the game, when for example East-West stopped you from making a capot thanks to a fine anti-squeeze signal, or better yet, when you and your partner made the most of this technique to avoid being capot.

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A new option for Contract Belote

  • The type of risk for capots

    I noticed it in the What's new page of the previous version: some users bid capots much more risky than the machine players, and they are often right, thanks notably to the possibilities of making a squeeze. So, I have added a new preference, called Type of risk for capots, that you can set in the rule preferences at the Bidding strategy / Contract Belote page. The default type is Prudent and corresponds to the strategy rules used in the previous versions, so as to make no change in your habits. But if you want the machine players to take a little more risk when bidding a capot, you have the choices Normal and Foolhardy to have a bit more fun. And thus maybe increase the number of squeeze situations and anti-squeeze signals.

    With the Prudent type, a player who holds A10Kx in a suit counts 4 winning tricks. So, he takes a very little risk since his 4th card may not be established, but this will be very rare. With the Normal type, it is a suit like A10xx that the player considers as a solid suit. The risk is then a bit higher than when holding the King. Finally, with the Foolhardy type, the player bets that a suit like A10x will bring in 3 tricks. It's risky, but with the help of a nice squeeze, it can succeed. It's up to you to decide what risk you want to take...

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Two new options for the game rules

  • Melds are lost by being capot

    Here is a new rule option for the melding: a team which is capot loses all its meld points. All its meld points then go to the team that made the capot. The rule is a bit debatable, but it allows to make capots even more interesting. You can enable it in the rule preferences at the Melding page. This rule has also the advantage of solving the following exceptional situation: the offender makes a nice capot but even so fails to make his contract because the defenders have 270 meld points (very rare case, one must admit). See deal N°15 in the last corrections file (accessible by the Examples menu). When the option is checked, the offender makes his contract since by making a capot, he gets all the defenders' meld points (deal N°16).

  • Modern Belote: First round like in Classic Belote

    Some players play modern belote while favoring the suit contracts on the first round. The first bidding round is then carried out like in classic belote (with the choices Pass and Play), and once a player takes the turn-up card, the bidding ends. It's only when the 4 players pass on the first round that a second bidding round is started, with this time all the choices of modern belote (the 3 remaining suits, No Trumps, All Trumps, and the possibility to double or redouble). If you play in this way, check this option in the rule preferences at the Bidding / Modern Belote page.

Thanks to all those who proposed these enhancements.

Best wishes