Spades: bizarre play on nil bid - am I missing something?

Players in the game zone are really starting to piss me off. It’s happening so much lately that I am starting to wonder if maybe it’s just me. Here is what’s happening. Consider:

East [symbol]§[/symbol] 3 4 K A

South [symbol]§[/symbol] 8

West [symbol]§[/symbol] 5 6 7 10 Q [Opening Lead]

North [symbol]§[/symbol] 2 9 J [NIL]

The bids aren’t important, except for North who bids nil. South (his partner) must cover his partner’s nil bid.

West leads with the 5. Is there any reason on God’s green earth why North should play the 9? For the life of me I can’t imagine why, but it seems like in more than half the games I play people are tossing out risky middle cards when they’ve got a perfectly good low card. In the above case, South can only cover his partner’s 2. After that they’re home free in clubs.

Granted, playing the 2 leaves North in the uncomfortable position of holding the 9 and Jack on a nil bid. But I don’t see that as justification for playing the 9 with no knowledge of what his partner’s cover hand looks like. Can anybody give me a reason why somebody would take such a risk?

thats exactly why. the likely hood of your not holding a 10 q k a (almost half the clubs left) is relatively low. he probably wasnt betting that you had just a mid singleton, and probably assumed that he had to survive two tricks and possibly a third trick. if you couldnt cover a 9 on the first trick, then you wouldnt on the second, (except in this case when you have a singleton). but on the second trick, there may be a forced cover by east or west allowing him to get rid of the jack, and if not, he could just duck with the two.

bad play by the niller, overall, he should have waited for your cover.

Can anybody give me a reason why somebody would take such a risk?

Sure. Just can’t give a good reason.

Oh so that was YOU on the other side of the table a while ago!


Right – bad play. He was just gambling on South having at least one covering high card, and probably guessing that his partner would have at least 2 or 3 clubs.

But it was a risky play.

In fact, I would hope that with this nil bid, North is low in another suit – so that when it leads, he can start getting rid of high cards in other suits. Whether it’s a good nil bid or not – well, we’d have to see the rest of his hand.

Obviously the smarter thing to do is to play the 2, and if the partner (South) is low on covering cards, hope that the partner can steer the lead to other suits.

i have seen this too and it has bugged me to no end.

i dont think this can be justified at all by the attempt to make nil: in the balance it will almost guarantee a greater chance to miss your nil.

HOWEVER, if the total of the other bids was around 11-12, the partner COULD have been thinking that i might as well get it over with, and if we go down in nil we can concentrate on setting the opponent.

I think its a stupid justification, but the only one i can think of that makes any sense (in the balance, i dont think the “forced cover” reason holds water)