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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


The playing mistake discussed in this month’s column is fairly common among newer players, and is seen more frequently than one might expect among players with more experience as well.

Your Team: 395
Pones: 294

    North 3/2      
West 2/2         East 4/4  
    SOUTH 4/1

3 5 Q K

On this 13 bid hand, there are 4 tricks still to be played. On trick 10, there are still 6 Spades in the other players' hands, and West leads the 4 of Spades....your partner plays the 10....and East plays the Ace.

What card should you play?

If you do not play the King or Queen, you are making a mistake.


Once your team has been set, if you do not do everything possible to avoid taking more tricks on the hand, you are needlessly saving the other team from taking bags, and you and your pard are losing more Spades games than you should.

In the above example, once East plays his Ace of Spades, your team is set. You need 4 more tricks, and there will be only 3 more left to play after East wins this one.

In this situation, more players than one might imagine, will play one of their low Spades, and they will do so having given some sort of indication that they are aware that their team has been set. The reason for this reaction is difficult to understand, but it seems to have something to do with either ego or the Cleopatra (denial) thing.

Many players, once having been set, apparently feel better if they can come as close to making their bid as possible. This "feel good" approach to the game may provide some short term relief to the player's ego, but it does permanent and serious damage to his chances of winning the game. Such play reflects a lack of attention to and focus on the objective of the game, that being outscoring, not “outfeeling” the opponents.

Once your team is set, it is going to lose 10 times its bid in points no matter whether you miss the bid by 1, 2, 3, or more tricks. At that point, you should rid your hand of as many potential winners as possible (in the situation above that means unloading the King or Queen of Spades under East's Ace). Just as all the King's horses and all the King's men could not put Humpty's crashed body back together again, all of your Kings (and other high cards) can never put your crashed bid back together again once you have been set.

Therefore, whenever you are certain that your team is going to be set on a hand, remember Humpty, and dump as many winners from your hand as possible. In simpler terms, once you have been set....

....try not to take any more tricks!


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