4. Once the Soloist is Determined
At this point, the Soloist has been determined. What happens now?
4.1 A Hand Game
If the Soloist wants to play "Hand," he or she may not look at the cards in the Skat. For the same reason, no cards are put away in the Skat. The Soloist simply announces right away what game is to be played and the first card is then led by Forehand.
4.2 Using the Skat
In this case, the Soloist picks up both cards in the Skat and puts them in his or her hand which now contains 12 cards. Before announcing to the other players what game will be played, two cards must be put away to restore the hand to 10 cards. Forgetting this means that the game is lost.
Any two cards may be put away. The Soloist must make the difficult decision as to which two cards are the best for each game type.
Once the decision is made, the two cards are placed face down on the table and may not be looked at again until the end of the game. This goes for the opponents too.
4.2.1 Putting Away Cards in a Suit or Grand Game
Which are the smartest cards to put in the Skat when one plays a suit game or Grand? Trump cards are certainly not an issue. Thus, one should first determine which suit will give you as Soloist the most likely tricks. There is never 100% certainty, however, since the exact distribution of the cards is not known by the Soloist.
Card constellations like:
are somewhat secure, since one holds the highest cards of the suit. You should consider how many cards the opponents could have. More than two tricks (with an equal distribution of the cards) cannot be obtained in the above examples. After two tricks, six cards will have been played and there are only 7 in a suit altogether (7, 8, 9, Q, K, 10 and Ace).
If additional cards are held in a suit in addition to the ones above (for example, Ace, 10, King and 8), then it might be worthwhile to put an Ace in the Skat insofar as no other cards are made insecure.
Suits from which the Ace is missing are the first from which cards should be put away. Certainly first among these is suits where only one card is held since this will produce a void suit. One can then trump, if cards with high point values (Ace or 10, for example) are played from this suit or throw off a card of low value and let the opponents win the trick.
Things look different, if two cards of a suit are in the hand. If they are smaller than the 10, they should be considered good candidates for putting away. If the 10 is held, then holding the suit is somewhat secure. If an opponent plays the Ace, then you can play the lower card and use the 10 to take a later trick.
This doesn't always work. For example, if one holds the Queen and uses the Queen to follow the first lead, the opponents could try to capture the 10. This would mean that they take the trick with the King and then re-lead with the Ace, thus capturing the 10. Certainly, the opponents must consider the possibility that the Soloist has put the 10 away in the Skat so that the lead of the Ace will be trumped for an 11 point loss. The choice that the Soloist makes depends critically on the remaining cards that are held. If these cards are safe, then the 10 should be put away.
Two cards out of a holding of three cards are also candidates for putting away, if the Ace of the suit is not held. Generally, however, suits with less than three cards are a better choice since putting them in the Skat will create a blank suit so that the opponents' Ace can be simply trumped when led.
Typically, the Soloist will have more than one option for cards to put in the Skat, however. In this case, one should choose the option containing cards counting the most points. One would prefer to give up a card counting 0 points than one with point value since the same 61 points are always necessary for the win.
The opponents hold the 10s and Aces in both of these suits. It doesn't make sense to put away a card from each suit (Diamond Kind and Spade King). If the Aces and 10 are divided, then the opponents will win tricks with 10 + 10 + 11 + 11 + 3 (your Queen) = 45 card points, leaving them only a few points shy of victory. Thus, one must put away both cards of a suit, since the Ace and 10 of this suit can then be trumped.
Which Suit Should One Select?
If the Ace and ten of one of these suits is in the same opponent's hand, then one will give up two tricks. In this event, it would be better for the Soloist to minimize the points lost. Since there are 7 points in Spades (Queen and King) and only 4 in Diamonds (King), put away the spades.
To conculde this discussion, consider the following examples of a complete hand plus the Skat.
Hearts is a sure game with 7 trump. The Spade suit is missing. Diamonds and Clubs are not secure and should be put away. Preference should be given to putting away cards that will void a suit. In this case, the two Diamonds are the best choice.
The Club King is a clear choice to put away here. The second card should be a Spade, but which one? Choosing the 7 gives the opponents the chance to underplay on the first lead and capture the 10 with the Ace the second time around. Four points will still be lost even if the Ace is played first. Thus, it is better to put the 10 directly away so that it can't be lost. If all goes well and the opponents don't underplay, then the King can even win a trick.
4.2.2 Putting Away Cards for a Null Game
Which cards are most sensible to put away when playing Null? First, each suit must be considered to determine how secure it is. Please read section 3.5, "Criteria for Null" to see how this is determined. Don't forget that there are no trumps in Null and, thus, 8 cards per suit, not the usual 7.
One should first select the most unsafe card, a single King, for example, any single card of a suit greater than 7 or 8. After that come the suits with only two cards, and so on. In any case, it is the highest card that should be put away, since this makes the suit more secure.
Here are a couple of examples:
Diamonds and Clubs are secure because there is no distribution of the opponents' cards such that one can be forced to take a trick. The situation is different with Hearts and Spades. The Spade 8 is not completely safe, but the two Hearts are deadly for a Null game. They must be put away no matter what.
Only Clubs are secure here. All of the other cards are more or less unsecure. The Heart King, being the least sure, should be put away first after which comes the Spade King. The Diamond Ace is still safe unless one opponent holds all the remaining Diamonds.
This example is similar to the preceding one. One would first select the Heart King. Two remaining suits with the same number of cards are still unsafe. In this case, one would put away the Diamond Ace since all of the remaining five cards held by the opponents are lower. With the Spade Queen, there are three lower and two higher cards held by the opponents. If one of the higher cards is forced to be played later, the Soloist can still remain under it and the suit remains secure.