Spades Jargon


This page contains some of the language (beyond the language of the rules) used during Spades games at the Marlborough, Massachusetts offices of Sun Microsystems (formerly HighGround Systems). Tha jargon is continually changing as we learn new errors and strategies and as the set of players changes.

Other sets of rules (and in some cases jargon) can be found on the web -- several pointers are found in my Spades hotlist.

Send your comments on Spades to .

(spade) Bids

... Or More (e.g., Two Or More)
Lots of low spades. Give me a joker to protect them and I'll take more tricks.
n or m (e.g., Two or Eight)
I have a long non-spade suit. If spades are drained and I get the lead I'm golden. If someone else has the lead my hand is useless.
... and you're on your own (e.g., Two and you're on your own)
I can't protect a naught. If you go naught it will look like I'm trying to shoot you.
Probably Naught, Possible Naught, Maybe Naught, Risky Naught
Interesting Naught
If a naught isn't easy to make various adjectives are added to the hint bid to indicate how hard the naught will be to make. An Interesting Naught isn't highly risky, but requires an unusual pass. For example, a hand with the Ace, 6, 4, 2 of Spades and Queen, Jack, Ten of Clubs would be interesting since the best chance for making a naught would be to keep the Ace of Spades and pass the Queen of Clubs.
Chestna Naught
Lots of royalty, but the Naught bid is only tricky, not impossible.
Rokicki Naught
Going Naught and holding a bare Ace after the pass (in a suit other than spades).
Pass a Spade to bulk up one hand and increase the chances of taking ten tricks. If necessary, break the Naught for +150 points. If the bid fails but the Naught is preserved the score is -50, which isn't bad, but it's -150 if the team bid and the Naught fail.
Most HighGround Ten-for-Two bids have one partner going Naught.
To break a Ten-for-Two, one partner passes two Spades and the other partner tries to goes void in some other suit. The affect on the score is about the same as a Four-Naught bid, but with a better chance of taking four tricks (and sending the opponents score down).
Unspoken agreement is needed on which partner should pass Spades. The usual pattern is the first bidder receives the Spades if their bid was `one, maybe two, or Naught' or stronger.
Of course, sometimes a Double-Naught bid is just an attempt to take no tricks.
Double-Naught-You-Go-Naught (Obsolete)
Double-Naught-I'll-Go-Naught (Obsolete)
Desperate table talk trying to break a Ten-for-Two.
A code phrase for a desperation bid to break a ten-for-two. A four-naught bid usually is bid by saying `four' while pointing to the team member not going naught and then saying `Naught' while pointing to the team member going Naught. Saying `Double' with stong emphasis while pointing to one team member followed by `Naught' while pointing to the other is an indication that the `Naught' player should pass two good cards to the other.

If the bidding goes `four', `one, maybe two or Naught', `ten-for-two Naught', and the last bidder has King-Queen of Spades and no other Spades or royalty, a DOUBLE-Naught bid is a good way to bulk-up the only hand with the potential to break the ten-for-two.

Unless the ten-for-two will end the game, the `Naught' side of a DOUBLE-Naught should usually keep their Naught to avoid a disasterous overall score for the team.

(spade) Plays

When going Naught, playing a card other than the highest card possible. This is a good strategy for confusing your partner, and possibly your opponents, and can be a signal that you aren't concerned about taking a trick in that suit.
Play the wrong card. Either just grabbing the wrong card, or choosing a card after the first card of a trick is played and not changing it based on what other players play.
Avoiding all the overtricks, and also avoiding one trick required to make your bid.
Trumping in earlier than necessary so as to take all the overtricks available.
Playing low and playing multiple times in a suit to break a Naught bid.
Shooting your partner
Shooting in a suit your partner is vulnerable in.

(spade) Phrases

Nice Shooting.
You've just managed to get your partner's Naught.
Another word for "Overtricks".
Bag Trouble
A team with seven or more bags can easily take more bags and go down one hundred points. Sometimes used as humor when a team has a small number of bags.
Bag Fest
A hand where both team are concentrating more on giving the other team bags than making their own bid. Bag fests sometimes just happen due to strange card distributions, but when a team is in bag trouble the other team often bids low with the intent of giving bags.
Driver's Seat
The table position after two players going Naught. From this position you can lead a low card and force the next player to cover both Naught hands, and when the other non-Naught player leads the driver's seat play last -- protecting a partner's Naught and not the other team's Naught.
The player in the driver's seat is in a better position to avoid bags.
Note that any hand with two Naught players has a driver's seat.
Target Acquired
Only one player is going Naught, so the other team can go after that Naught bid without the need to protect their own Naught. When a team has a score of 410 and bids Four-Naught and the other team can't take ten tricks, a team bid is often made to acquire a target (and prolong the agony).
Prolong the Agony
Prevent the other team from winning the game (by setting their bid or giving them a tenth bag) when your team will still be several hundred points behind.
Often preventing the other team from winning involves making choices that drive your own score down (e.g., not making a bid in order to give the other team bags).
A "Glassman" is the action of coming to the Spades table and saying "I can only play a couple of hands" (and usually staying to play a whole game).
Oh, you're big.
The sarcastic response when, surprise, surprise, someone leads the Big Joker.
Bring it.
Stop stalling and bid or play.
Who's going Naught?
A bidder is stalling when the bid is obvious -- either Four-Naught (in response to a Ten-for-Two) or Ten-for-Two-Naught.
What size is your chicken suit today?
Player 1 bid `Naught', player 2 bid `six or seven', player 3 bid `four, Naught, I'll go naught', and player 4 is spending a long time deciding if Ten-for-Two is justified.
A foot.
Bad cards. As in looking at the cards dealt and saying `this isn't a hand, it's a foot'.
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This page is maintained by B.J. Herbison.
See the Herbison Consulting index.
Copyright © 1998-2009 by B.J. Herbison.
Last modified 09:17 Saturday 28 March 2009.