So you think you know how to play spades. You’ve learned the rules, played some games, and finally you have won some and are feeling pretty good about your play. Okay, let’s talk about the end game, or “BID TO WIN!”. More tight games are lost at the end due to poor bidding.
You simply MUST look at all your options and pick the one that will give you the best chance of winning, even if the odds are stacked against you.
Let us look at a few situations to see exactly what I am talking about.
Whenever we talk about hands, it is just assumed that we are in the SOUTH seat and our partner is in the NORTH seat.
We will examine these situations without ever looking at cards because you need to know what your options are even before you look at your cards.
Let’s assume that the score is 360 to 450 (we are listed first). We are bidding last just for the sake of argument.
West bids 3, your partner bids 3, and East bids 2. What are your options? Was your partner’s bid a good one or not?
Your partner’s bid actually is very poor. He should have bid at least 4 even if it didn’t look like he had it. The reason is simple, it puts the pressure on your opponenets (if they can do math). With a 4 bid, if you NIL and make your bid, then you have 500pts. If they bid team 5, then it comes down to bags. Not the way you want to play a game for the win.
So if your partner bids 4 this forces them to look at bidding team 6, which they may not have. This of course then puts the situation right smack in your lap.
Now in the case given, you have only 2 choices for a bid. You must bid 6 or blindnil. The logic is simple for the 6 bid. You either set them or lose. If you set them, you may as well get the points for it and not just bags. You are telling your partner (and opponents) you are going for the set.
Change this a little bit. IF your partner actually bids 4 or more, they may not bid the 5 necessary to go over 500 for fear of pushing you into a nil bid. In that case, there will be at least 1 more hand unless you do bid nil and make it.
This is what I am talking about with “BID TO WIN”. Analyze ALL of your options and decide what will put you in the best position to win. Even if the win is unlikely. Do it whether you are bidding first or last. Do the math.
I’ve seen people bid blindnil when it would do absolutely no good at all and it turned out they had the cards to set the opponents and add a hand to the game.
This isn’t just if you are behind either. I’ve seen people blow it totally by trying to stretch for the finish. Don’t overbid your hand unless you have no choice.
I one time played a game that looked hopeless. Nothing was going right. My pard and I couldn’t make the Ace of Spades fly, that’s how bad it was. Game looked over. It was for the top spot and the opponents had made a lot of tough talk about how they were the best of the best and they would crush us.
So here it was, the game was at -150 to 479. Seemed pretty bleak. Of course on the next hand, the opps were saying things like “cream rises to the top, we the bomb” blah blah blah. They were patting each other on the back and figuring it was over. Little did they know.
Of course in this situation, they figured we would go for the bag set. So they overbid their hand and we set them 70 pts. while going up 70 pts. Yes, we had followed our “bid to win” strategy and my pard had bid last and took it to a 14 bid total.
Score was now -80 to 419. “Oh well, just delaying the inevetible”. So they thought. Now one of them got antsy and decided to get this game over with or at least get rid of the bags while going up in score. So he bid nil. As it turned out, it was a very weak nil. But he thought he could get away with a piggy back nil. I had bid nil. One that I could have slept through. 1 very low spade and nothing over a 9. So we bid nil/5 and they bid nil/5. My partner knew she had to set some part of their bid. The obvious choice was to give them a bag. But if they pulled off the nil, it still put them going up 50 pts.
Instead she went for the set on the nil. She knew I wouldn’t have gone nil in this situation unless it was in the bag. So she went after their nil with a vengeance and sure enough, nailed it. As a bonus here, their 5 bid was set also. Between the 2 of them, they pulled 4 tricks.
Score now 70 to 269. They still had 9 bags.
Next hand they had a weak bid of team 3 and we bagged them out. We ended up winning the game in a blowout as they tried desperation nils to get back in control. They had been so focused on those 9 bags, that we were able to set them.
Bid to win. They should have just bid their hands and eaten the bags right off the bat. Don’t push nils unless you have to.
Always look at all your options on every bid before you even look at your cards.
Of course being the good sportspeople we were, we only rubbed in the victory a little.