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RANDOM JOTTINGS - 10th October 2001


I found the following on a website suggesting how to bid at Spades - "....... Each partner .... communicates the amount of tricks they expect to take ...... A certain amount of unspecified bantering about "halves" and "maybes" is permitted ......For example you are allowed to say "I know I can take 4 tricks, I might be able to take 6"......."

I don't know where the author plays Spades, but do NOT talk about your hand at all until the hand is completed, or you are guilty of "tabletalk." As I have said elsewhere, tabletalk at best shows ignorance, or at worst is cheating. When you bid, just say "four" or " five" or in my case probably "one" or "two"!

Card Counters

Probably card counters exist already. I found one on a webpage claiming that it "automatically highlights which cards have been played. It also has the ability to highlight WHO played the card. Now you can easily trace your partners or opponents hand."

Many years ago when I played serious bridge, I used to keep a mental record of all the cards played. I no longer bother and play a more relaxed game and only remember some of the cards played. However, do you think that card counting programs should be allowed? Personally, I think it's almost cheating. However, in online games, no one can tell if you are using one, so I doubt if anything can be done about it. What do you think? Should they be banned or are they just part of the game?

Setting Nils
Let's look at tactics when trying to set a nil. This is a vast subject and there is no way that I can do more than offer a few basic tips. Firstly, try not to play your high cards on "thin air." If you are sitting after the nil, then let the play come through the nil before you play your high cards. It is not a happy site to watch your partner leading his Aces and the nil hand playing his Kings!

Consider the following hand K63 A92 J1094 Q84. The bidding has gone 2 (by you), Nil, 4 and 4. What do you lead? If there was no nil I would lead J. Against a nil, I may well lead 8.

  N      K72
W   E

If the club suit is distributed something similar to the above, then if South leads 8. West has to guess whether to play the 9 or 6. If he plays the 6 then North plays his Ace and returns 5 to East's King and South drops the Queen. West has to win the third round with 9. Notice that the lead of the Q takes away any guess for West. You may well say what is wrong with leading J. The answer is nothing. It way be the lead that sets the nil. Playing Spades isn't always easy!

Now for a full hand.

A Bagger Comes Unstuck

  N   A97432
W   E
West & North bid 1, East bid a pessimistic 5 and South an optimistic but not unreasonable 5. North led JD won by South with the King. He followed with AD and North couldn't unload the Queen fast enough! West won the third round of diamonds and E-W won 2 rounds of clubs. East lead AH and followed with 6H to North's King. North lead the thirteenth Diamond! East cut with the 2S, tried the 10S but West pounced on this with his bare Jack! South was now in trouble and could only take 4 tricks and N-S were set. North then started screaming at his partner about overbidding and playing it badly.

What can we learn from the hand? In my opinion the mistakes were made by North! The total tricks bid were 12. On 12, as a general rule and almost without exception, play for a set and DON'T try and bag. North should have kept his QD. North's next mistake was the lead of the 13th diamond. This is generally not a good idea. He could well be giving East a free discard and he is putting South under unnecessary pressure. He doesn't know which spade to play. If North had led another club or better still a heart - then South would probably have made his bid. North should have remembered that Spades is a partnership game and making your tricks is a team thing!

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(This page was last updated on 10th October2001