Partnership in Barbu
I found nothing about the details of partnership in barbu on the web so that I thought that I would write a few posts about the subject as I find it the most interesting part of the game. Barbu is an individual game, but identifying and playing with one or more of the other players on each deal so that you can maximize both your scores on that deal is a winning strategy. Nothing that I write will be new to the more experienced players, but my writing this will perhaps clarify and formalize things. I hope that new players find this interesting and that thinking about partnership issues would make them enjoy the game more.
Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of partnership issues. One is positional: the player on your left is your natural friend at some of the games (for example trumps, because they lead around towards you) and your natural enemy at others (for example queens, because they can drop them on you). This can lead to amusing situations because you yourself are normally the enemy of the person you want as your friend. The other follows from the auction: if you have no business with somebody, they are your friend relative to a person you are doubled or redoubled with. This is often straightforward, but can be complicated. For example, if somebody has a forced double of your trumps and somebody else has a genuine one and you only redouble the forced one, you might want the genuine double to win as many tricks as possible at the expense of the forced one although they themselves want the forced one to do quite well.
What I will do in the next few posts is firstly outline strategies for identifying as well as for gaining partners (for example if two people max, sending back only one of the doubles will make the other maxer your natural partner – this player will often be able to help you more than the passed hand who is your most obvious partner, but is probably powerless to help you). I will then go through each of the games describing how partnership issues can be involved.