You are playing the following hand in the following game situation:
Your Team: 403
North (2) West(3) East (3) SOUTH (3)
4 6 A
2 6 9 A
2 10 A
3 5 Q
On this 11 bid hand, East starts things off by leading the Ace of Clubs.
What card should you play?
If you play the Queen, you are making a mistake that could easily cost you the game. In this situation, you should play the 5 (to see why the 5 is the right play, please visit my discussion of the Faux HILO in last October's Zone Column).
When playing an 11 or lower bid hand, many players will automatically try to avoid taking bags, without considering the possible effect of that approach on the score of the game.
In this example, if you team does not take any bags, the score will be:
Your Team: 453
From this position, since the opponents are ahead on bag points, your team will have to outbid them by 1 trick on the next hand in order to outscore them and win the game.
If both teams split the bags on the hand, the score will be:
Your Team: 454
Again, you will not have much of a chance to win the game on the next hand unless you have the cards to outbid the pones by a trick.
If, however, your team were to take both of the bags on the hand, the score would be:
Your Team: 455
With this score, your team would only have to match the opponents' bid on the next hand in order to be in position to win the game.
In this situation, taking bags represents not only an opportunity to have a better chance of winning the game on the next hand, but a no risk approach to try to set the other team on this hand. This means playing the hand as if it was a 13 bid hand, which obviously means not dumping the Queen of Clubs under East's Ace on the first trick.
This strategy is overlooked more often than it is put to proper use, and many Spades games are lost on bag points. Losing on bag points is about as frustrating as it can get.
Unless you enjoy frustration, always check to see if bag points can work to your advantage near the end of a game. If they can, try to take as many OVER tricks as you can in order to move a HEAD on bag points, or maybe even set the opponents.
GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY SPADING!
SITES OF INTEREST
How Not To Lose At Spades!
Tiger_Galt's June Tips
Tiger_Galt's July Tips
Tiger_Galt's August Tips
Tiger_Galt's September Tips
Tiger_Galt's October Tips
Tiger_Galt's November Tips
Tiger_Galt's December Tips
Tiger_Galt's January 2002 Tips
Tiger_Galt's February 2002 Tips
Tiger_Galt's March 2002 Tips