The term tenace is well-known to many Bridge players, but not to many Spades players. Its definition is as follows:
The holding of 2 nonconsecutive high cards in a suit, such as the Ace and the Queen, or the King and the Jack.
When trying to set the opps, most players know that you should do everything possible to not lead away from a suit in which you are holding a tenace. Specifically, you want West to lead the suit so that you will be in total control, or next best you want the suit led through you so that you can attempt to finesse you lower card.
Sometimes, however, you have no choice but to lead away from a tenace.
Let’s look at a specific example and a tip as to how best to handle it.
You are holding 5 10 J Q A and are playing a high bid hand (your team has bid 8 and the opps 2 apiece).
Spades have not been broken and you have no choice but to lead Clubs. What Club should you lead?
If you are ahead in the game and want to take the conservative approach (out of fear that one of the opps may have only 1 Club), then you should lead your Ace.
Most often, however, given your team’s strength on the hand, you will be going for the set.
The problem is that you still want to try to trap the King if one of the opps has it. What is the best way to attempt to do this?
If you lead the Ace, as long as your pard has at least 2 Clubs the opps will get their King.
If you lead the Queen, as discussed in my article in Joe Andrews’ column this month, West should cover it with the King if he has it (most good players will do this), or East will win the King if he has it. Leading the Queen generally will not achieve your objective.
If you lead the 10, however, there is a very good chance that it will walk if West has the King. If he does, he will most likely not play it over the 10 based on the assumption that your pard will not take the risk of a very deep finesse by holding up the Ace if he has it. Doing so could allow East to win the trick with the Queen, or even the Jack, and North will generally not take that chance.
If your pard has the King, it really does not matter if he wastes it on top of your 10 because your team will still have control of the first four rounds of the suit.
If East has the King, it doesn’t really matter because he will most likely win it no matter how you lead away from your tenace (unless your pard has only 1 club).
So, when you have a tenace with consecutive cards on the low end, try leading the lowest of those cards as a means of fooling West into holding back his higher card.
If you have the Jack, Queen, and Ace, try leading the Jack…. the 9, 10, Jack, and King, give the 9 a try. Again, this is all assuming that you are playing aggressively on the hand and not protecting a significant lead.
Learning to play tenace using this underhanded approach will often lead to set, game, and match.
GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY SPADING!
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