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Copyright 2002 by John Strichman (all rights reserved)

John Strichman is the author of
by JohnGalt Strichman

Valley Publishing - Richmond, Virginia


East opens the bidding on the first hand of the game and bids 5.

You have the following hand....

and bid 2.

West bids 5 and your pard bids Nil.

  • You lead the Diamond Queen on trick 1.....West dumps the Jack.....your pard plays the 10.....and East takes the trick with the Ace.

  • East leads the Club 6 on trick 2. You play your Ace.....followed by the Queen and Jack from West and your pard.

  • On trick 3 you lead the King of Diamonds. West plays the 8.....your pard the 7.....and East dumps the 9.

  • You lead the Club 9 on trick 4. West wins the trick with the KIng.....with your pard and East playing the 7 and 10 respectively.

  • At this point in the hand you have won 2 tricks, and West leads the 2 of Diamonds on trick 5. Your pard plays the 3......and East plays the 6.

    You have the following cards left in your hand......which one should you play?

  • If you do not play the Spade Queen in a heartbeat in this situation, you are making a mistake.

    Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. There is a concept in the game of match play golf known as being dormy. In match play, the score is based upon the number of holes won by each golfer rather than the total number of strokes played.

    A player is said to be dormy if he reaches a point where he is the same number of holes ahead of his opponent as there are holes left to be played. In such a situation, the opponent must win all of the remaining holes in order to achieve just a tie. In Spades, an analogous situation is reached when one team has won a sufficient number of tricks such that the other team needs to win all remaining tricks in order to make its bid.

    Getting dormy is a very powerful tactic to use in order to cover a partner’s nil bid. If you can get to the point where the opponents need to win all of the remaining tricks in order to avoid being set on their bid (this is referred to as issuing the dormy dare), this will almost always insure that your pard will make his nil bid. This is especially true if the opponents have a relatively high bid on the hand.

    In such a situation, the opponents are very reluctant to make any further attempt to set the nil bid because, should they accidentally lose one more trick to the covering partner rather than the nil bidder, they will be faced with the disastrous reality of having given up a Nil while at the same time being set on their bid. Such a double whammy....usually at least a 200 point swing on that single almost impossible to overcome.

    In the above example, when you win trick 5 with your only Spade, you will insure that your team will do no worse than gain 20 points on the hand. This is because, if the opps set your pard's Nil, they will also set themselves and start the game with a score of -100 compared to your -79. If they do not set the Nil, you will be ahead 121 to 100.

    If you do not play your sole trump on trick 5, there is a chance that your Queen will be taken by one of the opps on the first round of Spades, and your pard will get set in Spades the next time that one of the opps leads trump.

    Remember, the object of Spades is not to cover your pard's Nil, but to win the game. This is best accomplished by properly managing the risk/reward situations that continually face your team throughout the course of play. The score of the game is more imporatant than your cards, or than successfuly completing a bid or a cover.

    Always look to DARE the opps to set your pard's Nil by getting DORMY when you fear that the Nil may be at risk, and you will take a big step toward not losing at Spades.



    How Not To Lose At Spades!
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