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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


Here is an example from a game that I played recently. See if you can come up with the proper approach sitting in my pard’s seat.

Score: Us: 323 (3) Opps: 337 (7)

I bid Nil, West bid 5, my pard bid 2, and East bid 5.

My pard had the following hand:

3 4 7 J
2 6 8
3 4 7 9
7 8
This certainly is not the strongest looking cover hand (and the 2 bid is very aggressive), but considering the 10 bid by the opps, at least it can be assumed that I don’t have much of a Spade problem.

The first 4 tricks of the hand went as follows:

  • I led the Club 2. West played the Jack, my pard the 7, and East the 5.
  • (pard can now infer that Clubs is a very safe suit for me)
  • On trick 2, West led the Heart 5, my pard played the 8, East the 9, and I dumped my 7.
  • On trick 3, East led the Diamond Jack, I played the 8, East the 10, and my pard his 3.
  • On the next trick, East led the Club Ace, I unloaded the 10, and West dumped the Ace of Diamonds.

My pard at that point had…

3 4 7 J
2 6
4 7 9

and was sitting on a very precarious 2 bid.

What should pard play in this spot, and what should his approach be to the rest of the hand?

In the heat of the moment, pard trumped in with the 3, thinking that it was the only way to possibly make his bid. Was this the right approach?

Let’s look at the score.

If I make my Nil and pard makes his bid, the score will be 443 for us and 437 for the opps, with 1 bag going somewhere. This would provide us with a slightly great than 50% chance of winning the game.

If I make my Nil, but my pard gets set, the score will be… 403 for us and either 340 (if pard takes no tricks) or 439 (if pard takes 1 trick) for the opps.

Which of the 3 possible score scenarios represents the best position, and which represents the worst position?

1. Well, if pard was able to avoid taking any tricks, we would be in the position where we would be most likely to win the game (403 to 340).

2. If pard takes 1 trick, we will be losing 439 to 403, with the opps most likely being 2 hands away from a possible victory. Even if they have a 7 or greater bid on the next hand, it is still highly likely that we will be able give them 1 bag if trying hard to do so. This score point effectively represents a 60+ point lead for our team (basically the same as already having bagset the opps).

3. If pard makes his bid, at best the score will be 443 to 438 if the opps take the bag, and 444 to 437 if they don’t.

Both of these positions represent greater chance for losing than do either of the other 2 possible scores if pard gets set. In actuality, pard continued cutting and eventually wound up with 3 tricks and the opps staying at 7 bags.

We lost the game on the next hand.

Independent of the result, however, our best chance to win the game would have resulted from pard doing everything possible to avoid taking tricks on the hand.

I will now add that my pard in this game is a very skilled player. This approach of saying farewell to one’s bid (the “bid farewell” strategy) is easily overlooked, even by advanced players.

If you are near the end of a game, have a low bid, and the opps are close to bagging, always be sure to consider what the effect of setting yourself would be on the game score, and that sometimes “never” is the best time to take your tricks.


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