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Copyright 2003 by John Strichman (all rights reserved)

John Strichman is the author of
by JohnGalt Strichman

Valley Publishing - Boulder, Colorado

10/10 VISION

The following two examples present last hand bidding situations with you bidding third and having the same hand with the same bids in front of you in both cases. The scores in the two instances are reversed, with you trailing by 10 points in the first example and leading by 10 points in the second. It is occasions like these when a good antiperspirant comes in handy.

Based upon everything you have learned about last hand bidding, what should you bid in each case?


Score: Your Team 476
Opponents 483

    North 2      
West ?         East 3  
    SOUTH ?

4 6 7 K
7 9 K
2 J
3 6 K A
Example 1

In this instance, anything other than a 5 bid is a mistake.

In this situation, if you do not anticipate West's possible bids, and do everything reasonable to prevent the opponents from outscoring your team (which here means forcing West to either bid Nil or set your team), you are leaving the door open farther than is necessary, and you and your pard are losing more Spades games than you should.

If West bids and makes a Nil, there is no bid that you can make which will prevent the other team from winning the game. There is, however, a bid that you can make which will slam the door on the opponents' chances if West is not able to bid Nil or, together with his partner, set your team. This preemptive bid is five.

Being that your team needs to outscore the pones by 10 points on this hand in order to win the game, you need to take your team bid to 7, and no more than 7, unless you can bid Nil. If West is not able to bid Nil, this will force the opponents to set your bid in order to win the game. This is because if you bid 5, taking the team bid to 7, even if West bids his team to 6 tricks they will still fall a few points short unless they are able to set your bid. If you were to bid more than 5, this would just make it easier for the pones to set you, and do so for no added benefit.

Given your hand, with 2 expected Club winners, a Heart winner, and a good chance for 2 Spade tricks, a bid of 5 not only will force West into the either/or predicament of nilling or setting, but should provide your team with a very good chance of winning the game.

This strategy, in truth, is not all that sophisticated. The practice, however, of bidding your team to 7 whenever possible when needing to gain 10 points on the last hand is an extremely important one, and should be your automatic first thought when placed in this bidding situation.

This example also serves as an excellent lead-in for discussion of the next last hand bidding situation, in which everything is the same except for the fact that the score is reversed.


Score: Your Team 483
Opponents 476

    North 2      
West ?         East 3  
    SOUTH ?

4 6 7 K
7 9 K
2 J
3 6 K A
Example 2

In this case, you need to prevent the opponents from scoring 10 more points on the hand than you do. Here again, if West bids and makes a Nil there is nothing you can do to preempt that winning approach. If, however, he does not bid Nil, how high should you bid in order to protect against the opponents simply outbidding and outscoring your team?

Almost all players in this situation would answer 5 to that question, and make that bid in order to bring the team bid to 7 and prevent the opponents from outbidding them 7 to 6 on the hand. In doing so, all of these players would be making a mistake, and so would you if you bid anything but 4 in this situation.

In this situation, if you do not focus as much on how many tricks your team will need to win under the various bid scenarios you are considering, as you do on those various bids and the potential points they represent, you are bidding 1 trick more than you need to, needlessly adding risk to your team bid, and you and your pard are losing more Spades games than you should.

If your team bids 7 on this hand, and West does not bid Nil, the pones will have to set your team in order to win the game. Your team, obviously, will have to win 7 tricks or otherwise lose the game.

If your team bids only 6 (you bid 4) on the hand, and West does not bid Nil, he will probably bid 4 in order to bring his team's bid to 7 and place it in a position to outscore you and win the game. If this is the case, how many tricks will your team need to win in order to prevent the opponents from succeeding? Obviously, your required number of tricks in this scenario is also 7.

No matter whether your team bids 6 or 7 on this hand, you will need to win 7 tricks as long as West does not bid Nil and the pones attempt to win the game by trying to either set you or outbid you.

Why, then, should your team not just bid 7 tricks in this situation? The answer lies with West.

If West bids Nil, your team wants to have the most flexibility possible in trying to set him. The fewer tricks that your team has to win, the more effort you can put into setting the Nil without winding up setting yourself.

Further, opponents do not always make the most appropriate bid, especially in a pressure situation. There is a chance that West will not only not bid Nil, but also not bring his team's bid to the 7 level. If he was to bid 3, for instance, bringing his team's bid to only 6, your team would need to win only 6 tricks in order to win the game, as long as you had not needlessly bid your team's contract up to 7 tricks.

In short, bidding the team to 7 in this situation provides absolutely no benefit as compared to a 6 bid, and significantly increases the likelihood that the opponents will be able to set you if you wind up defending against a Nil.

By using your 10/10 vision when bidding 3rd seat on the last hand of the game, you will move a long way toward not losing at Spades.


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