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Spidge

An extremely fun trick-taking game which implies lots of strategy and uses the ability to play your cards right quite often. Contributed by Chris Young (oldwolf1@airmail.net)

Players and Cards

3 Player Game. This game is played with a normal 52-card deck.

Joker Variation: Remove the 2 of Diamonds and the 2 of Hearts, and add Both Jokers to the deck to make 52 cards. Adding the Jokers to the deck will add a level of strategy that is both fun and exciting. (I personally never play without the Jokers).

The Object

The object of Spidge is to be the first player to score 3 points. (Or more than 3 points if you want to play a longer variation of the game). Don't let only 3 points fool you. Points are difficult to obtain.

Determining the Deal

The Initial Dealer is determined by cutting the cards. The highest cut card will determine the dealer. The order of cards from high to low is Ace, King, Queen, ... , Two. If there is a tie, the players that tie continue to cut the cards until a dealer is determined. Throughout the rest of the game, the Deal rotates in a clockwise fashion.

Joker Variation: The order of cards from high to low is Joker, Ace, King, Queen, ... , Two.

The Deal

The dealer deals out all the cards face down, one by one in a clockwise rotation starting with the player on the dealer's left. The cards are dealt into four hands, with the 'dummy' hand being directly opposite the dealer. After the deal, the dummy hand is sorted, and placed face up for all to see.

Game Overview

Spidge is a trick taking game that is a cross between Spades (in that Spades are always trump), and Bridge (in that you have a 'dummy' hand that is played face up). The dealer has full control of playing the 'dummy' hand. However, the 'dummy' hand must be played independently of the dealer's hand. During the course of play, a card is played out of the 'dummy' hand when the clockwise rotation of play reaches this hand. It is beneficial to be the dealer in that the dealer not only has control of the 'dummy' hand, but the dealer also has the greatest potential for scoring points (see Scoring below). The dealer also has the option of scoring a Spidge by combining the tricks taken by his hand, AND the tricks taken by the 'dummy' hand (see Scoring below).

The Play

The player to the left of the Dealer starts the play leading any non-trump (spade) card. Play then continues in a clockwise rotation. All players (including the 'dummy' hand) must follow the lead suit if they can. The highest card in the suit takes the trick, unless a trump is played. A trump can only be played when a player does not have the lead suit. If a player does not have the lead suit, the player can play either a trump card or another card, which he wants to throw away. If he decides to play trump, then trump are now 'broken', and trump can now be led at any time. A trump card will beat all other cards, even the Ace of the suit that was led. The only thing that can beat a trump card, would be a higher trump card. If a player only has trump cards, and trumps are not yet 'broken', then the player may 'break trump' and lead a trump. The winner of each trick will led the first card for the next trick. Once all cards have been played, the deal rotates in a clockwise fashion.

Joker Variation: When playing with the jokers, both the jokers become High Trump cards (one card higher than the Ace of Spades). A joker will take any other spade except another joker. If both jokers happen to fall on the same trick, then the jokers will cancel each other out, and the next highest card will take the trick. (A further explanation of this is provided in Appendix A - Joker Variation). Even though this variation seems odd, it adds an incredibly fun strategy to the game.

Scoring

There are several ways to score points in Spidge:

Note: Since the dealer is the only one that plays two hands, only the dealer has the opportunity to score a Slam or a Grand Slam.

[Editor's note. From tip 5 below, it is clear that as dealer you can score a Nil either by taking no tricks in your own hand or no tricks with the dummy hand. If you took no tricks with either hand, presumably you would score 2 points for 2 Nils. JM]

Tips for Play

Here are some things to keep in mind when playing Spidge:

  1. In this game, there is a very fine balance between trying to score a point while at the same time trying to prevent your other two opponents from scoring. Points are most often made by getting a Nil instead of scoring a Spidge. If you take a trick, and realize that you can not take at least 10 tricks, it is beneficial to try to take enough tricks to prevent any other player from scoring a Spidge, and trying to give each of the other players (including the 'dummy' hand) at least one trick.
  2. Remember that the dealer can sore a Spidge by using both his hand and the 'dummy' hand.
  3. Even though the game of Spidge is not played in teams, there are many times when two players want to 'gang up' on the third player to prevent him from scoring a point.
  4. Examining the 'dummy' hand can be very advantageous. By knowing what cards the 'dummy' will have to play can help protect your Nil, or help you with your Spidge.
  5. When you are the dealer, it is very difficult to score a Slam or a Grand Slam. However, it is easier to have one of your hands protect the other hands Nil, or to combine the total tricks and score a Spidge.
  6. When playing the Joker Variation, remember that there are 15 trump cards instead of 13, and there are only 12 Diamonds, and 12 Hearts.

Appendix A - Joker Variation

The Joker variation cannot only be used in playing Spidge, but can also be used when playing regular Spades. As previously stated, the Jokers add a level of complexity and strategy that is very fun. The Jokers are high trumps, and are higher than the Ace of Spades. However, if the Jokers fall on the same trick, then they cancel each other out and the next highest card will take the trick. This at times will cause a little confusion on what is the lead suit or what suit needs to be followed. The following example will hopefully clear this issue up:

ExamplePlayer 1
leads
Player 2
plays
Player 3
plays
Player 4
plays
Explanation
1spadeJJokerJokerspade5Player 1 Takes the Trick because the jokers cancel each other. All players must play a spade if they have one since spades are the lead suit.
2heart3Jokerheart5JokerPlayers 2 and 4 were allowed to play their jokers because neither has any hearts. Player 3 Takes the Trick with the 5 because the jokers cancel each other out. All players must play a Heart if they have one since Hearts are the lead suit.
3Jokerdiamond8club2JokerThe Joker lead counts as a spade, for the purpose of following suit. The other players must all play spades if they can, but players 2 and 3 have no spades and so are allowed to play other suits. Player 2 Takes the Trick with the diamond8 because the jokers cancel each other. Player 3 could have won the trick by throwing a higher diamond than the 8.
4JokerJokerclub2club5Player 3 is allowed to play the club even though he has a spade. At this point the jokers have cancelled, so player 3 can play any card. Player 3's card will then become the lead suit, and Player 4 must try to follow the lead suit. Player 4 wins the trick.
5Jokerheart6Jokerheart9Player 4 Takes the Trick with the 9 because the jokers cancel each other. Player 2 was only allowed to play a heart because he had no spades - if player 2 had had a spade, he would have been compelled to play one. However, when player 3 plays the joker, then the jokers cancel each other out and Hearts become the 'NEW' lead suit. Player 4 must then play a heart if possible. If player 4 has no hearts, then any card will do.


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Last updated 1st January 2002