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BIDDING & PLAYING NIL
The following is a guide when to bid nil, or rather when not to bid nil!. They are not rules, because circumstances can make a 'bad' nil become the correct bid. They are only a guide. The only 100% rule is - Don't bid nil with the Ace of Spades !

The letter 'x' where used below means any small card. A, K, Q, and J stand for Ace, King, Queen and Jack.

1. Axx Don't bid nil with Axx in a suit unless you have a very good chance of throwing off the Ace on a very short suit.
2. Kxx It is better to avoid nils with Kxx. Even if the Ace is on your right, a good player may well not play it. Axxx or Kxxx are OK to bid nil. Again with a short suit, bidding nil with Kxx becomes a better bet.
3. Spades Don't bid nil with K, or Q, or J10, J9, 1098 of spades. To bid with the K, or J10 is just stupid. To bid with the Q is a gamble which may be worth taking at the right time. J9x or 1098 of Spades give a poor chance of success. They rely on too much luck. Remember that partner could bid and make 8 tricks and not hold a top spade! So, because partner bids 4 or 5, don't go crazy! Also, the odds are not in your favour if you bid nil with four spades. You will meet people who claim they regularly bid nil with four spades and make it. Of course they make them - sometimes! They don't mention the times that they get set!
4. Small cards If you have a balanced hand, then be consider carefully of bidding nil without very low cards in a suit. Be aware that a suit such as 109x is potentially dangerous and to bid nil with a suit of QJx is stupid! You are probably relying on a mistake by the opponents. Notice I say with a balanced hand - such holdings are potentially less dangerous if you have a short suit, when you have a chance of throwing one or more cards away.
5. General Do not bid dodgy nils when you are winning the game by a comfortable margin.


COMMON SPADES TERMS (and a few others)
bag Abbreviation of "sandbag." An additional trick which has not been bid. Each bag scores 1 point, but when 10 bags are accumulated, the partnership loses 100 points.
bid To 'bid' is to state the number of tricks that a player thinks that he will make.
blind nil A bid of zero tricks which is made before looking at your cards.
break The first spade played on a hand 'breaks spades.' Spades can only be broken when you have no cards in another suit, (when you can cut or ruff,) or you only have spades in your hand.
bridge Contract Bridge is another card game which has much more complicated bidding, but has certain similarities to Spades.
cover When your partner bids nil or double nil, you have to try and 'cover' him. That is help to prevent him from taking a trick.
cut 'Cut' is the most often used Spades term for playing a spade when another suit is lead in which you have no cards. Other words used are 'ruff' or 'trump'.
double nil Same as Blind Nil.
force forfeit If a player leaves a game then it is possible to end the game if the player fails to return after 3 minutes. A contentious local rule that applies only at Yahoo.
hand Refers to the 13 cards dealt to a player, but can also refer to all the cards dealt (which is really four hands!)
hearts Apart from being one of the four suits, Hearts is a non-partnership game without bidding with some similarities to Spades.
mirrors A variation of Spades where each player bids the number of spades in his hand. Therefore, 13 tricks are always bid. With no spades, you bid nil.
nil A bid of 'nil' means that a player intends to take no tricks at all.
overbid A player 'overbids' if he has bid more tricks than he can reasonably expect to make.
overruff To ruff or cut with a spade higher than a previous player.
ruff Same as "cut." More often used at Bridge than Spades.
sandbag Same as "bag"
set If a player fails to make a bid then he is 'set' - ie. he has taken one or more tricks in a Nil or Double Nil, or has failed to make the number of tricks required for other bids.
singleton Holding one card only in a suit.
suicide A variation of Spades, where one player from each partnership must bid Nil.
table talk Discussing tactics on the hand being played, which may influence your partners bidding or play. This is illegal. At best this shows ignorance and at worst it is cheating.
trick One card played by each player makes a 'trick'.
trump All the spades are called 'trumps'. The term 'trump' can also mean the same as 'ruff' or 'cut'.
underbid A player 'underbids' if he has bid less tricks than he could reasonably expect to make. Sometimes this is done intentionally to try and bag the opponents.
voidIf you are 'void' in a suit, then you have no cards in it.
whist Whist is a card game without bidding, but the method of play is similar to Spades.


 INTERNET ABBREVIATIONS     A few of the most used Spades abbreviations
5hm five hand mirrors (used at The Zone).
brb be right back
dn double nil
ff force forfeit
gcp good cover partner
gga good game all
gha good hand all
gjp good job partner
gla good luck all
gnp good nil partner
k OK
n in - (to confirm that you have clicked 'Start Game' at Yahoo)
nbu2 nice bagging you two
nnp nice nil partner
nsp nice set partner
np no problem
nnu2 nice nil you two
sp sorry partner
tram the rest are mine
ty thank you
u2p you too partner
wtgp way to go partner (I don't know what this means !)
vgjp very good job partner




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(This page was last updated on 6th April 2001)