Jxx sidesuit holding what to lead

What do you lead from Jxx (sidesuit holding) when forced

I lead the J
I lead the middle x
No votes
I lead the lowest x
Ive never thought about it, i dont know
Total votes: 19

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Post by Just_Ice » Thu Dec 06, 2007 8:07 am

Interesting conversation, and exactly the point I was trying to bring out. Even though I view many of you as experts, I use caution as I read and decide when to use the advice that is given. If I am playing with someone I am familiar with and have a chance to decide some of these things in advance, I won't argue that these strategies can (or will) work. But, to show up in a game with random people and expect these things to work might backfire. It doesn't mean the people at the table are losers, or that the advice given by experts is bogus.

This is one of the reasons I like Galt's book How Not to Lose at Spades. Though many of you experts may call the things in Jack's book "beginning stuff," that's exactly where people need to start. If there are less than 10 experts in Spades then I'd be safe to say that 95% of all Spades players can learn something from reading a book like that.

One thing I particularly liked in Jack's book (I don't think he will mind me saying) is that he recommends that you study the score of the game BEFORE each and every bid and come up with 2 bids each and every time you bid. The reasoning behind it is at the heart of his strategy "Risk vs Reward." I must say that I did come up with 2 or more bids in some hands in some situations before I read his book, but never had a real grasp on why and never really used it's benefits until I understood.

I consider myself somewhat intelligent; sometimes things just escape us, and until we see it laid out we really don't understand. This is why there are so many "How to..." books out there, or "How not to..." in this case. I played many thousands of Spades games over 25+ years before I read Jack's book, and I won many hundreds of tournaments before I read it. But, I am a better player now after having read it, and I understand a few more things about the game that I was not able to learn on my own.

I understand there are more advanced books out there, and recommend them for people who have covered the basics. The thing is, most Spades players THINK they have the basics covered, when in fact they really don't. They think, "Well I've been playing for 10 years so I must already know the things in that book." I know, I was that person. I'd venture to say that unless you have spent many hundreds of hours in Spades theory forums or in strategy study, there are many things you can learn in How Not to Lose at Spades that will really help you take your game to the next level, and help you not make the common mistakes that most people make.

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Post by Dust In The Wind » Thu Dec 06, 2007 6:32 pm

I agree Just_Ice, I found the same thing. Lots of things I did just because it made sense (taught from a very good card player called Dad, he hated luck and said I had too much) and even made more sense and focus peaked/renewed has improved my game. Always knew score should dictate to some extent your bid understand more clearly why after reading the book. I also understand where the deep finese works but wonder in this environment how often it would pay off since for the most part I use random pards?

I don't lose more games than I should, but there are those that got away because luck was not in my favor or very simply I blew it and pulled the wrong card and knew it as it left my hand or lost count on the cards or lost track of whats left in a suit (Bran Fert). When I'm seriously playing, I don't talk, I don't look around the room, I don't think about the mole on Glenda's cheek..... I play cards, I will win 80%+ of my games.

Now if I'm just biding my time and just playing 60%+ and it is just ONLY A GAME.


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Post by Galt » Thu Dec 06, 2007 8:27 pm

You guys are very kind. Thanks.

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Post by TrashCanCharlie » Tue Dec 11, 2007 2:30 am

What to lead on the examples given?

Answer? Can't provide one without the complete bidding/score/any info about opps gained thus far/agreements pard and I share/agreements regarding opening lead and subsequent leads later in the hand/can we deviate from our gospel? In other words......does our partnership allow duping partner with timed leads?

In each of the examples given they all share one common denom:

They have four spades and are balanced....................

4-3-3-3- hands and leads are a breed well into a separate thread..................... especially 4-3-3-3 hands that contain four spades............Normally we lead our longest side suit holding length in spades.......however, holding a balanced hand and four spades that option does not exist..................

Sooooooooooooooooo, we have a multitude of options and each is based on partners bid, the opps bids, the opps previous bidding habits, partners bidding habits, the score, etc...........

Each example is basically a guess here............any lead could be right or wrong...........with hands of this nature and bids of equal value on each sife of us we are badly placed most likely for help from pard.

Most likely the conservative lead from the jxx suit is safest and least likely to cost a trick.

To be honest.................in each example given I dupe my pard by leading the middle of the three from JXX and make the "I am not sure MUD lead.

The reason being..............A. I do not want to given the show away with an informative lead.

B. I am not sure with four spades what suit is our longest suit yet?

C. By leading mid I confuse pard as to length and strength, I also confuse the opps............. By making the mid lead I use a Jay convention that means different things in different situations........by leading the middle I can go high or low on the subsequent play of the suit.........by the time that occurs I can make a better decision whether to go high low or dump the jack on the subsequent lead........once pard sees me dump the jack he will know that i was badly placed for a casual lead, i am also most likely on a four triple three pattern as well..............the point being...........we give the info we want when we want to share it.............these examples all contain great setting handss..........attacking leads might not be what the doctor orderecd in each example

Lastly....................to make any lead we must review all info gained prior, act on that info, weigh it, decode it and make the best guesss for our side............not until those things occur should we make A LEAD.............and no lead should be made because nothing looked better at the time!


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Post by Just_Ice » Tue Dec 11, 2007 9:06 am

Ramdom thought that applies at least a little:

I just played a pick-up game with a person I have never played with before, and we were ahead by a little with both teams in the upper 300's. It was a 12 bid and I held Q,J,x,x of an off suit and opened the hand with the Q to finesse a bit, and trying to prevent my pard from losing her (possible) King. East ducked, my pard played her Ace. She returned the suit, I covered East's 10 with the Jack, then West took it with the King.

It would have worked perfectly had we made that understanding before hand. We had the first 2 rounds covered and possible control of the suit in the third round had we been able to trap the K.

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Post by Joe Andrews » Tue Dec 11, 2007 9:55 am

Just Ice -

Hi there. You have been a good "poster", and responder to many topics here. Here is my "slant" on the finesse you described.

With the 12 Bid on the table, (and a rather clear "setting scenario"), your lead of the Q from the Q J holding was a normal finessing play. Your partner's decision to overtake the Q with the Ace was very poor. (an understatment, to say the least! Firstly, if YOU had the K, you would have led it (instead of the Q). Therefore, it should have been obvious to your partner that one of the ops held the K. Secondly, rising with the Ace gave up any hope of catching the K via the "hook" or the finesse. It was the equivalent of saying "take your K, you deserve it"! Thirdly, playing low would have established the Ace and possibly, the J. (unless of course, the K was singleton) Partner's actual play crashed two honor cards together on the same trick.

Since you did not state where the ninespot was, (now a key card) it would have been most poetic to lose two tricks in the suit (one to the K, another to the nine!) :lol:

And that is what your partner may have expected. Maybe he would have waited to see if the finesse was going to lose, and then he could say "I went up with the Ace, as the K was offside anyway. " Then again, he might have hoped the opponent with the K behind the Ace would just drop it under the Ace - just to be nice or get rid of a Bag! :lol: - Or, for bonus points, the King just may been SINGLETON! (and ready to drop!!!!) After all, the old Bridge adage says "If the K is singleton, always play the Ace"! :)

I just love those rare partners who cannot admit their errors or bad plays. They throw up a smokescreen of deflection, blame the result on you, or create an excuse ---which reminds me of another adage:

"If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with Bull- - - t!" :lol:

Which brings us around to partnership understanding. This topic has been beaten and thrashed about for years. It applies to most partnership card games. Take the time to discuss standard leads, standard plays, conventions et al, with your partner. Then practice a few games with bots. Finally, put all of this knowledge to the test in a real game. You will be pleased with the results.

Or - play Spades for fun and games and for the social aspect, with the attitude of having a good time, or not caring about winning. 'Nothin' wrong with that, and helps to keep the blood pressure down!

Happy Holidays! :)

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Post by _S_X_Eian_ » Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:07 am

This is a problem I have been trying to hammer home for years with some of my partners. We trap the K we have a good chance of a set. We don't trap the K we take second round with the A and third round with the J if it makes it that far. The one thing that hurts us is a singleton. If its a game breaker and we need the set or its early in the game and we want an early lead then I always tell my pards to let the Q slide. If they have a long suit with the A and it looks like the lead was from a singleton then sure come up with the A and lead through the lead hoping they cut their partners K. Again as Jay said different situations call for different plays.

If you are sitting in third seat with the A and your partner has lead the Q you can eliminate partner and you as having the K as was mentioned before. WIth a 50/50 chance it is in second seat then it is worth going for the set and killing the K. The way I state it is usually Q's are not counted for the chances of making the the third round trick is limited anyway as cutting usually starts. Worst case is singleton in which you lose 2 tricks 1 to the K and 1 to the second round cut. If there is no singleton then there are 2 other options. If second seat holds the K you take 2 tricks and have a good chance to set especially if your side holds a doubleton. If the K is in fourth seat then you split the first 2 tricks in the suit 1-1 and the hand plays as normal and you have to find another place to set. Neither are a losing situation if you have the A unless there is the singleton. Even worse would be if you come up with the A and then your J is finessed by the opps 9 and the opps have the doubleton. In this case the likelyhood of a set is more likely for the opps.

Basically if you let the Q lead slide then your left in control of the suit for later on in the hand and 99% of the time if will not have any negative effect on the hand. In alot of cases you kill the opps K and set up your team for the set. On the rest you split the tricks 1-1 letting the opponents take the first with the K and you taking second with the A or J for your side and still maintain control of the suit. I like the odds of letting the Q go through. I am slowly getting my partners to see the benifit.


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Post by Galt » Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:38 am

Unless your team is clearly in control and it is time to play conservatively, it is hard to imagine why a player would not let the Queen go, but I see it all the time. Sometimes I wonder if they would put the Ace on the King as well.

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Post by Manic » Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:40 am

This purpose of the thread was to examine the Jxx holding, and try to work out when to lead high or low, or maybe middle...depending in varying situations.

Some responders have deviated from the thread's topic.

How many of you actually took much notice of the examples given?

Charlie, the reason i made south's hand balanced in every opening lead example was to try and take some bias away from the lead choice.
Make it as even as possible. Also i made all the bids the same, to remove any bias.

The examples were under the pretence it was lets say hand 1 of a new game. So we were forced to make a lead, where all holdings were poor...
Figure out which lead was the most productive given poor options.

Cogdis was the only responder who suggsted a lead from each example, and i coincidently agree with every lead.

I was hoping some more discusion might come out of the examples, particularly favoring certain leads over others...

I deliberately gave options of Qxx Vs xxx and Axx Vs Jxx
To try and get an idea of which leads were relatively better, or those which stood to lose the least.

Charlie suggested that Jxx was one of the worst holdings to have to lead from, but when we consider other leads, there are often worse options that Jxx...

For example: most tenaces: AQx, AJx, ATx, KJx, etc...
Then we have holdings with isolated honors: Axx, Kxx, Qxx, the Jxx would fall into this category...
All of the above holdings would be considered poorer choices than Jxx

Then there are passive holdings: x, xx, xxx, xxxx, which one would consider better to lead from than Jxx.

We have to balance leads from length and shortage and choose the best lead given varying lead options...

Ive been surprised at lots of responders in previous threads have all been soooooooooo concerned at leading from passive holdings:

Worrying about killing their partner's King, like its the most critical thing to consider...
No one considers that the King might always be offside anyway, and that K is going to be enevitable captured, with a good player sitting to the K's left.

The problem with give the lead, is that very infrequently do u have a real good lead situation... Unless u have a sequence or u have shortage or length, in most cases the team forced to lead will be endplayed in some way...

Players consider the xxx Top of nothing lead to be inferior, which amazes me... this defensive lead i use so often to protect my hand...

Lots of players have implied the lead from a Qxx holding is a good 1...
That i FAIL to comprehend...

In fact the Qxx is almost as BAD as leading from Kxx holding...
Both occasions you stand to endplay yourself out of a potential trick...
If my partner is holding Kxx and i have Qxx i am hoping to make two tricks in the suit, not just 1...

Very few seem to factor the Queen into contention and give it no weight whatsoever...

There is a misconception i feel that the Qxx holding is a better holding to lead from than xxx....

Whilst i wanted to get an insight on how people led from Jxx, i also wanted to touch upon good leads and poor leads, and which leads are superior to others...

Perhaps i should open up a new thread.... The Qxx and xxx showdown
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Post by Galt » Wed Dec 12, 2007 10:20 am

I think that a lot has to do with how confident you are of your likelihood of winning the game. On a high bid hand without a good opening lead, I am more concerned with avoiding a disaster than trying to win the game on that hand.... I figure that we can win the game on other hands.

If one leads from nothing, there is, as CG has mentioned before, about a 1/6 chance that you are going to kill pard's king, everything else being equal.

So now we know that around 1 out of every 6 of these 12 bid hands we are going to start the hand by losing a King.

Now we are down to are we going to make up for that in the other 5 of the 6 hands by the advantage that we gain from the xxx lead. Well, we have to gain a significant advantage in 2 of those 5 hands in order to make the play. I don't think that in 40% of those hands we are going to wind up setting the opps by winning the King and Queen in your sidesuit.

So, I think that the numbers just don't support the position that worrying about killing Kings is is misplaced paranoia. Just my opinion however.

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Post by Joe Andrews » Wed Dec 12, 2007 4:05 pm

Very good posts. All of you clearly understand the value of honor cards and why underleads of these often give away valuable tricks. (especially Q xx and K xx). Underleads of Aces can also be bad choices. Ugh!

As for partners, I must admit, I am finicky (a bit like Morris, the cat!) :)
Time is so precious, why waste it? There are some wonderfully skilled players in HW. Some are formidable players, especially in the "live" tournament arena. Many are regular contributors to this Forum.

As for "pick up" partners, I generally try to avoid them, unless I am bored with what is on TV, or can't sleep late at night. No disrespect intended; however, why waste your time with a stranger? I know this might be a bit "cheesy", and I may miss out on a potentially great partnership. ("diamonds in the rough") Then again, I have a list of players I am very happy to pard with in a game here or elsewhere.....

I know what is like to get crushed with a new partner who is not on the same page with you. Frustrating! Like speaking two different languages! No body wants to be whipped on like a rented mule! It has happened at certain "live" events" , and it has happened on line. I remember one time at a Tennessee tournament, I came "solo", and was assigned a pick up partner. We were off to an 0 - 8 start, and she still wanted to keep on playing! She reneged three times, and trumped winning cards in 4th seat at least ten times, and never was discouraged.... I did not want to hurt her feelings by dumping her out like some unwanted kitty - cat, although I thought of taking the day off to tour The Country Music Hall of Fame). So I endured more pain and suffering. Teams needing a win were licking their chops! And we were glad to accommodate them. After a sparkling 4 - 22 game play record, and the humiliation of playing in the "last chance" consolation game, we were croaked 567 - 205 by a Team who had not won a game at all! "We beat Joe" was the topic du jour for three days! Thank Goodness, there were some people who wanted to play Hearts and Pinochle after the carnage was over. Anything but Spades! The next year, I came to the same event with a regular partner, (Larry, the "Lounge Lizard") who played at high level, and we were top seed after the qualifiers. (22 - 6) and five buttons..... We also got bounced in the first round of the playoffs as the opponents (two really nice people) smoked us out with two Nils on the last 2 hands of our match!

Which just goes to show you that....

"You cannot expect a million dollar performance out of a fifty cent partner" :lol:

There is a time for competitive Spades, and there is a time for -------

"Fun and Games"!

After all, it's only a game!

Have a wonderful Holiday, all of you!

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Post by CogDis » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:52 am

I'm going to disagree with Galt here, but then if we all agreed no one would be learning.

Galt says:
On a high bid hand without a good opening lead, I am more concerned with avoiding a disaster than trying to win the game on that hand.... I figure that we can win the game on other hands.
I'd say that with a 12 bid hand it is time to use the best strategy you can muster and employ the best card-play techniques in your (and pard's) aresenal to support that strategy. I expect to set (sometimes disappointed of course LOL).

Considering the balanced nature of the hands Manic presented and that we have nice holdings in a couple of side suits with nice spades, I'd like to find out where pard and I have a fit while protecting my nice holdings. All these hands seem to me to have great setting potential. I absolutely do NOT want to give up any potential third round winners that are rightly mine. Those third round winners can very well come after spades are pulled of course. And it is also not just about milking third round winners - it is also about preserving entries and maintaining communication with pard's hand.

I find that passive leads (e.g. from xxx or x from Jxx) are often the optimal leads. We all hate to see pard's K get killed. But very often it would have happened anyway since it was unprotected (i.e. maybe half of the 1/6 times that pard's K gets killed it would happen even if we do not lead passive). Especially if the opps are good. Even considering that we will lose a trick 1/6 of the time, I'd say that it is better to play to maximize your and pard's potential. But the real ratio of killing your pard's K that was not bound to happen is more in the 1/8 - 1/12 range.

A further point is that this is not just one isolated play - it is an approach - an approach that we have developed with our pard (I mostly play with known pards and this does make a difference). Pard will gain information from each play/lead we make, specifically including noticing what we did NOT play/lead.

The essence of my answer to Galt's assertion that
I don't think that in 40% of those hands we are going to wind up setting the opps by winning the King and Queen in your sidesuit. So, I think that the numbers just don't support the position that worrying about killing Kings is is misplaced paranoia.
is that I do not know exactly where the fit will occur, but YES I do expect that playing in the fashion I described will lead to maximizing my and pard's potential much more often (more than 40%) than playing with the idea of “avoiding a disaster.â€
"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant stuggle." - George Orwell

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Post by Galt » Thu Dec 13, 2007 11:38 am

I would think that if this passive lead is so obviosuly the right play (if the result is extra tricks more than 40% of the time). this thread would not even exist, as even novices would have learned this lesson.

Your point about knowing pard is also important. All of my posts are written around the idea of not having agreements with pard, as that is how I think moist online players play.

Also, my response was not directed at Manic's examples, just the general principle of conservative vs. aggressive leads on the first hands of games where there is no clearly good lead.

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Post by Openshut » Thu Dec 13, 2007 1:55 pm

CogDis what you said is absolutely correct, giving up before you see whats is ahead is very silly especially if you think in a manner that is already prone not to get set . Your team probably holds the inherent advantage already.

I do understand how you are thinking Galt and its not a poor approach if one is new to the game, but when you know how to play. why not play like you know how. The game will not simply fall in our laps but on a few occasions. It would be advantageous to learn how to make things happen.

Furthermore is not wise to paint with a sweeping brush on advanced plays when most of your material is directed towards players learning the game. It is two entities, the ability to see distinction in spades is very difficult when there is no clear expectation and hierarchical thinking on both if not all players.

The thing with this game is the human element i am sure Dustin could add on this add on this.

In any case Galt please be observant that there are a few approaches to the game, currently CogDis suggests to take a stance to win and you are suggesting how to avoid disaster. Arbitrarily neither of you have a the high ground until we add the agenda into the mix. This is towards stronger play. This gives CogDis points the upper hand.

To be frank, it matters little if you even get set... smart players collect data and use it objectivity. This is how we learn, trial ,failure, success, re-examination, discussion, practice and general experimentation.
further to the point losing a game or experiencing failure if handled properly can lead to anyone becoming a stronger player.

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Post by Galt » Thu Dec 13, 2007 3:01 pm

First of all, CG is a good friend and I respect him very much.

Second, as usual, I have no idea what it is that you are trying to communicate.

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