One of the most common spades variations played in spades leagues would be Mirrors. A forced bidding game, many think that there is no real hope to win this game and that it is all in the cards. While this is 85% true, there is a lot to be said for the strategy involved.
Standard Mirrors consists of bidding only your spades; in other words, if you have five spades in your hand, you bid five and so forth. If you are playing a different variation of Mirrors such as Mirror Hearts or Bidder's Choice, you will be bidding according to the said suit, but that is for a different strategy setup! **If you have no spades, you MUST bid nil (0 spades= nil bid).
To begin the hand, play as you would normal spades; leading your highs, leading back suits that the Ace has been broken in, and so forth. Do not automatically see a suit you can spade and lead it first. This is a common mistake made by many players, but it really does not work for several reasons:
As most players are thinking the same way you are, most will not lead back the suit you lead in order for you to get your spades in. They are thinking that you are going to spade it in one to two throws and therefor will not allow for it.
You are risking your partner's King! You want your partner to gain control of that suit in case he has the King and/or the Queen. If you are spading in the next throw, you will want to be able to throw off so he can secure his King trick and you save your spade for a later trick. If your partner sees you are spading the suit, he will surely lead it back to you! And even lead the Queen (which is pretty much a guaranteed trick) to gain an extra free trick. However, if you lead the suit and your partner is forced to throw his King (because West throws a high card not the Ace), then you have lost a crucial book. In mirrors, every trick counts due to a 13 table bid.
As already noted, every trick is crucial in Mirrors. Get your guaranteed ones first. In the very least, lead one of the Aces or a strong card and let someone else worry about leading back. If you lead an Ace, follow that lead with another card in that same suit to draw out the King (hopefully your partner's).
Pay attention to the individual bids. They are telling you how strong or weak the user is in spades! No guessing needed! Why is this so wonderful? It is helpful in various situations:
Let's say you and your partner have made the dreaded collective seven bid or higher. You are trying frantically to get your books. You are leading one suit only to find that the opponents are spading it! If this is a suit you counted on, lead spades when you get the lead! You want to drain your opponents' spades before leading the suit again. If this is a suit you did not count on (and think perhaps your partner did not either, you should continue to lead it in an attempt to drain a couple more spades from the opponent, but only once or twice as you do not want to end up with the other opponent throwing offsuits off. Draining spades will allow you to be able to get your offsuit tricks later as well as increase the odds of your spades becoming boss spades.
Let's say you have four or more spades and you notice that your opponents bid two and three. Once spades are broke, lead the spades! Drain your opponent's trumps! What better way to guarantee your tricks than to drain the trumps of the opposing team?! As simple of logic as this tip may seem, so many players do not do this.
By knowing how many trumps your opponent has, you are able to keep track of how many they have
. So if you are both trumping the same suit, and they are spading behind you, you can judge whether or not you should throw a high or low spade. Alternatively, you are also able to keep track of the strength in their cards. If they can only throw a King of Spades on your nine, you must know that anything eight and higher will either be won or trumped with the Ace of Spades. Neither of which is a bad thing; it is always good to drain the high spades in a trump war rather than in running spades outright because you save your partner's spades and possible boss.
Let's say your partner is forced to nil due to no spades in his hand, but your cover cards are horrendous. Once spades is broken, all you have to do is lead low spades! Gone are the worries of whether or not you can cover in spades because your partner has none! And, you can allow yourself to trump when needed because you do not need to save them for covering the nil spades! This will allow you to possibly set the opponent's bid as they can often become too consumed with setting the nil and therefor lose a trick or two.
Do NOT under any circumstances continue to run spades once you have drained your opponent's spades. Why? Because you are already guaranteed those books! Why continue to lead a guaranteed book and drain now your partner's spades! The only acceptable situation would be if ALL YOU HAVE LEFT IS SPADES!
I have seen so many partners mess up a winning hand due to them wanting to continue on with their guaranteed tricks. They drain their partner's trumps and then lead a suit that their partner was trumping only because they drained their books, the opponents take over the lead and set your bid. It could have been so easily avoided.
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