My partner has bid nil or blind nil. The player to my right led the trick, and I can't follow suit, but have one or more Spades in my hand.

Possible situations:

  1. I know my partner has no Spades left.
  2. I know my partner has no card of the led suit left, but may have Spades.
  3. I don't know whether my partner has any Spades or led suit cards left.

My response:

  1. Play my lowest Spade. I know that this will allow my partner to get rid of any high cards.
  2. Play my highest Spade. My partner may have a Spade, so playing high will allow them to play their high spades to get rid of them.
  3. Play my highest Spade. My partner may have or may not have to follow suit, or may or may not have to play a Spade.

Is this a valid (i.e. good) strategy? How would additional knowledge of what cards have been played affect my strategy?


3 Answers 3


It depends. Have you and the opponents bid for most or all of the tricks? If so then your left hand opponent (LHO) will probably not let the trick go by for fear of going down themselves. If not, and RHO has led a low card, then partner's nil may be in danger and you probably won't have to work hard to get your bid, so you need to protect partner from LHO playing low.

If you are going to protect partner, do you think he will have to follow suit? If so, then you can either trump small so he can throw a high card, or discard small and save your strength for later if you think he can duck this trick. If not, then a high trump will allow him to under-trump if he has an awkward middling trump.

Of course, if you know the cards that have been played, hopefully you'll know how many high cards are gone and what risk this trick poses. A good partner will also try to help you by good discarding - ideally he'll discard short suits first (if you have K765432, you don't gain anything by chucking the King early!), and by discarding a low card in a suit he's essentially saying "this suit is safe, please lead it whenever you can". Deliberately winning the lead with the intention of giving partner a free discard is very helpful.

(In any case, aren't spades always trumps? Or is that just the MS online version?)

  • Oh, and if you have a partner who bids blind nil other than (i) in desperation because you need a huge score this hand to stop the opponents winning, or (ii) because he's bidding last and all 13 tricks have been bid already, get a new partner. Blind nil is ridiculously hard to bring off. Jun 5, 2014 at 10:59
  • Well, it's easier if you're trading two cards after bidding blind nil.
    – Ed Marty
    Jun 5, 2014 at 13:32

Possible situations:

  1. I know my partner has the lead suit cards left, (might be in danger).

  2. I know my partner has no card of the lead suit left, but may have Spades.

  3. I don't know whether my partner has any Spades or lead suit cards left.

My response:

  1. Play low spade, partner will duck the highest lead suit card.
  2. Duck a small sidesuit card, partner will discard a dengrous side suit card as well.
  3. Play low spade or discard a low plain suit, save your high spades for a trick where partner could duck under your high spade. If you play high spade now, partner might not be able to duck a spade of his own. The choice between low spade and low plain card depends on how dangerous this trick is for your partner.
  • 1
    why do you assume your partner's most dangerous card is a spade? Perhaps your partner never nils with a short suit and needing to discard elsewhere? There is no need to jump in with a high spade on scenario 2.
    – CashCow
    Jan 14, 2019 at 12:04
  • you right! will change it.
    – Cohensius
    Jan 14, 2019 at 20:29

When you say the "trump" suit I assume you mean the led suit. Spades are always trumps.

You need to assess where partner's nil is likely to be set.

Scenario 1, you are worried partner might be forced to win this trick, so you are going in with a spade. That would be correct if there is reason to assume partner might be forced to win it, given by counting what has happened so far. Or it being the dangerous 3rd round of the suit.

Scenario 2: Partner has no cards so he will be able to discard. You're already in trouble if partner only has spades left, unless this is trick 11 or 12 and you know the opps both have only spades too. You definitely do not want to part with a spade here. Save it for when you need it. Partner can get rid of a high side-suit card anyway.

Scenario 3. Playing a high spade is probably the worst thing you can do here. This is like scenario 1, you might ruff in if you are scared partner will be forced to win this trick.


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