Monday, February 16, 2009


This really has nothing to do with anything. Nothing really witty or profound here. Just an expression of how much I love playing a good game of spades. It is one of my natural highs.

I came to know the game my first year of college. I was a freshman at the University of Florida, my girlfriend had just broken up with me, and I was a lonely soldier. I had made some good friends in the campus ministry there, and thankfully they surrounded me with love. One of the ways they did this was with our Monday night hang-out time. About a half dozen of us had this ritual -- every Monday -- where we'd come together & first watch "Monday Night Raw." We were WWF wrestling fans. The Rock. Chris Jericho. We loved it. As soon as the show went off at 11 PM, we'd break out the cards, the goldfish crackers, and the store-brand Mountain Dew, and we'd play spades for hours. Sometimes to 3 or 4 in the morning. Those nights are some of my richest memories of college at UF.

(Also, however, they left me sleep-deprived. You could imagine how, when I transferred to Harding, I was excited to have a curfew. My first thought was, "They're giving me a bed time! Yes!")

I love everything about the game. You have a partner. Your chemistry with that partner is vital to your success. You bid your hand, but as a team you have to work with whatever is in your partner's hand also. Inevitably there will be moments in the game where you squirm trying to play to your partner's strength though inadequate in the sense that you can't know what is in your partner's hand.

I love the table smack talk. I love the laughing that it induces. I love spades.

I especially love playing when there is nil hand in the game. When I go nil, I love the excitement of trying to slough off high-valued face cards when you're not allowed to win a trick. I love the challenge of trying to cover a partner who goes nil, and protecting them from winning with those high-value face cards. But I especially love setting a nil hand. My friends in my UF days used to tease me because in my euphoria of setting someone else's nil they said my face would look like it was going into a little trance.

Last night up at the church building a few of us stayed late to play a couple games of spades. I had a blast. We may have to make this a more regular event. Because I love spades -- for me it is a natural high.


Jonathan Storment said...

You know I learned how to play Spades from the Shipp's. I love the game, but I think someone from Florida must have invented it.

III said...

Fascinating. I'd never realized that it might be a regional deal.

Dan said...

I love spades. I haven't played it in forever, and I miss it! If there was a church that had a spaces ministry, I would go to it!

My favorite part of this post, though, is learning you were a wrestling fan, Philip. I wouldn't have guessed it, heheh.

III said...

WAS a wrestling fan. Past tense, Dan. We had fun watching it ;)

Jordan said...

I used to play Spades non-stop in high school. I actually prefer playing 'Suicide Spades' which requires at least 1 player on each team to go nil.

Lloyd said...

we need to play sometime, iii. my favorite part is going nil when the other team is doing their darndest to set me. the best part is the trust you build with your partner when they make that right move that keeps you from being set (or the destruction of your friendship when they do something dumb. ;)

amodeus said...

For those from my area of Tennessee, Rook would be the game you are describing. There are some similarities. Try Shooting the Moon! Oh yeah! I remember playing most of my Freshman year of high school and any other chance I could get later. My family on both sides played at holidays as well. Now, I can barely find people who even have heard of it in Ohio. Come to Ohio and you will get Euchre.

Justmatt said...

I am a little late to this discussion but I would just like to point out that Phil NEVER beat my spades parnter and I!!! ; )