Back to the main Spades page



  Spades Tips and Strategies




Spades Column of the Month - June 2003




By Joe Andrews, author of The Complete Win At Spades; copyright, 2001 by The U.S. Playing Card Company and Bonus Books, Inc.




May Spades Quiz Answers
Last month's column featured four hands as part of a quiz. More than 200 responses were received. The hands are repeated for convenience (refer to the May article for scores and bids), followed by the correct answers.

You are sitting in the South seat in every hand. Here is the first deal:




Hand A:


* A K
 A 10 5 3 2
 K Q
 10 6 5 2





West opens with the deuce of Diamonds, as partner plays the seven, and East inserts the Ace. He returns a Diamond, and your King wins. You exit with the six of Clubs; West pops up with the Ace, and leads a third round of Diamonds with the five. Partner, who was dealt the J, 10, 9 of Diamonds, is winning this trick with his nine spot, as East drops the six. You are now void in Diamonds. What is your best line of play, and why?

Answer: Trump the Diamond trick, and cash the Heart Ace. Now lead the five of Hearts. If partner has the Heart King, he can take it. If not, then he must have the Club King, or a Spade winner. You have lots of exit cards. Hopefully, partner will not take more than one extra trick. The key to this hand is not to allow partner to win the third round of Diamonds.




Hand B:


 A K J
 K Q 10
 6 4 3 2
 K 6 2





West opens with the King of Diamonds, with all following, low. Next comes the Ace of dimes, which also "walks." Finally, West tries the Queen of dimes, and partner trumps with the EIGHT of Spades, as East drops the Diamond Jack. Partner now leads the Jack of Clubs. East hesitates for a few seconds, and plays a low Club. What is your best line of play and why?

Answer: Play low, and play smoothly. If you rise with the King, and West has the Ace, the hand will probably collapse. Partner led the Jack, denying the Queen. You must take the finesse, and hope for favorable placement of either honor card.

Here is the third hand:




Hand C:


 K Q J 10 3
 A K Q 9 7
 10 8





Normally, a bid by the last seat player that pushes the total to thirteen is very risky. Here, you have the "classic" 5-5 power hand: five good trump, and a powerful five card side suit. The lack of a void is immaterial. West takes the A-K of Clubs, with everyone following. Now he tries the King of Hearts (from K-Q). When partner plays low, and East signals with Jack, it is obvious that the Heart suit strength is divided between East and West. West plows on with the Queen of Hearts, as partner plays the seven, and East drops the three. What is your next move, and game plan?

Answer: It is obvious that the opponents have bid on the Heart suit, and possibly the Ace of Spades. Trump the Heart, and drive out the Ace of Spades. Barring a bizarre break in Diamonds, you will easily win four tricks in the dimes, and four trump, and a fair chance for a set.

We wrap it up for the month with the last hand. You gather up this group of cards:




Hand D:


 Q J 9 8
 A K 3 2
 10 9 7 4 3





West leads a low Diamond, as your partner tries the eight, and East wins with the Queen. Now East tries the King of dimes, and it, too walks, as your partner drops the Jack. (A hi-low signal might have been better.) It does not matter. East shifts to the ten of Clubs. What is your plan?

Answer: Although this is a close call, the best play is to discard a low Heart on the first Club trick. Partner should conclude that your bid is based on Spade and Heart trick winners. If he has the Ace of Clubs, he will win and lead a Heart. A continuation of Diamonds will be quite effective. If pard is out of dimes, then he will ruff and lead a Spade. Hopefully, the last Diamonds will be good, and trump will behave normally.

The winners are: Brandon E. (usawargamer), Kathy J. (ladyrowena), and Dave L. (davelfla)!

Well done, everyone!

Duplicate Spades
Duplicate Spades continues to gain a sizeable following. For those who are uninitiated with Duplicate, this is a format that has been used by the Bridge playing community for more than 60 years. The luck of the deal is eliminated, and your result for every hand is compared to the other pairs who played the same cards. Each hand is a separate entity, and not part of a 500-point game. If you want to watch a Duplicate format in action, go to the Bridge rooms.

"Live" Duplicate Spades was introduced by yours truly at the first Indianapolis Spades Convention in September of 1998. More than twenty Duplicates Spades events were played at various "live" venues during the next four years. The first mention of this new concept appeared in the original Beginners' Spade Book (1998). It is now just a matter of time before Duplicate Spades becomes a mainstay on the Internet.

This survey will help to develop the proposal of Duplicate as a legitimate variant. If you have played "live" or "online" Duplicate Spades, please complete this survey and mail it to It might be easier to cut and paste this section and then create your e-mail. I thank you for your effort.






A. Have you ever played a "live" Duplicate Spades event?
____ Yes   ____ No   (If "Yes", then where (City) and when (Year)? (________________/________)






B. Have you ever played Duplicate Spades on the Internet?
____ Yes   ____ No






C. Have you ever read any written information about Duplicate Spades?
____ Yes   ____ No
If "Yes", then where?






1. _____ At a "live" Spades event.

2. _____ In a previous Spades Column

3. _____ In a copy of "Win At Spades" (J. Andrews)

4. _____ In a copy of another Spades Book

5. _____ Other (Please specify) __________________________



D. Do you prefer the Standard Format (500 point game) over Duplicate?
____ Yes   ____ No   ____ Have not played Duplicate