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Copyright 2004 by John Strichman (all rights reserved)

John Strichman is the author of
by JohnGalt Strichman

Karosa Publishing - Boulder, Colorado

Good Gamble

N/S 256 (6)
E/W 323 (3)

  • North bid 1st and went NIL in first seat. East bid 3, South 4, and West 3
  • With 3 tricks to go, Spades had not yet been led.
  • East had played the Spade King, and had 2 tricks.
  • West had played 2 trump including the Queen, and had 2 tricks.
  • South had trumped in with 2 low Spades and already had 2 bags (6 tricks) on the hand.
  • North had played no Spades.

        North Nil (0)      
    West 3/2         East 3/2  
        SOUTH 4/6

    8 A
    On trick 11 East led the 6 of Spades.

    There were still 5 Spades (including the Jack, 10, and 9) around the table somewhere, and if South could take 2 of the last 3 tricks he would set the opps.

    In a situation like this, the set can often be accomplished by offering up an opportunity to West that he just can’t refuse. Here, that means covering the Spade 6 with the 8, NOT THE ACE.

    West had the Jack, 10, and a small Spade. He knew (probably) that the 9 was sitting out there somewhere. He also assumed that his pard must have the Ace, or South would have played it on this trick. This would mean that North might be sitting there with a singleton 9 if East had the other outstanding Spade.

    West ducked the 8 with his small Spade. North played a low Spade, and unloaded the 9 (which he did have) under South’s Ace.

    South accomplished the set by offering up very tempting bait to West, who gobbled it down gleefully.

    The risk here on South’s part by not playing the Ace is very small. If his pard does happen to get set on his NIL as a result, the opps will also wind up getting set, resulting in a score of:

    N/S 100 (0)
    E/W 263 (3)

    If he plays the Ace and the NIL is covered, the resulting score will be:

    N/S 399 (9)
    E/W 383 (3)
    (effectively 383 to 300 as N/S will almost certainly bag out)

    Both of these scores represent very likely losing positions.

    If the play succeeds, however, the score will be:

    N/S 300 (0)
    E/W 263 (3)

    This is the score that resulted from the play, and N/S went on to win the game.

    In retrospect, West made a bad decision when he went for the NIL set, considering that the risk was high and the reward was relatively low because of the possible score outcomes. Sometimes in the heat of battle, however, the best decisions are not always the ones that are made.

    Whenever you need 2 tricks to set the opps and have the master Spade, consider risking your pard’s NIL bid by playing a dangerously low card that the opps might duck If you do, you will often wind up with a NIL and a set, and be rewarded for a

    Good Gamble



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