Spit / Speed

The original version of this page was based on information from David Shapp. Several other people have contributed further details and variations.

Introduction

Spit and Speed are games for two players in which the aim is to get rid of your cards as fast possible. The players do not take turns - physical speed and alertness are required to play faster than your opponent. On each deal, by being first to play all your stock pile cards you can reduce the number of cards you have in the next deal. By being successful for several deals you can eventually get rid of all your cards, thereby winning the game.

The difference between Spit and Speed is in the arrangement of the stock piles. In Spit, which will be described first, each player has a row of stock piles, usually five, each with the top card face up. In Speed, described at the end of the page, each player has a single face down stock pile and a hand of five cards.

Players and Cards

Two players only, using a regular 52 card deck. (the older the better, because the cards get abused!!). Shuffle well and divide the cards equally - 26 to each player.

The Layout

Each player now deals a layout consisting of five stock piles in a row. The first stock pile has 1 card, the second 2 ... the fifth 5. Deal these piles face down and then turn the top card of each stock pile face up (or deal them that way in the first place). That leaves a pile of 11 cards in each player's hand, where they must stay! These are the spit cards, and the players should not look at them.

The Play

After both players acknowledge readiness, both shout "spit" while turning over the top card in their hand (their first spit card). These two cards are placed side by side between the players' stock piles. These two cards and the cards that will be played on top of them are the spit piles. The full layout should now look something like this:

Spit layout

The players now play simultaneously as fast as they want. The object is to get rid of all the cards in your stock piles onto the spit piles. Using only one hand, and moving only one card at a time, you can either:

  1. play the face up card from the top of one of your stock piles onto either spit pile. To play a card on a spit pile it has to be next in sequence up or down. Suit and color do not matter. Cards can turn the corner - for example on an ace you can play a two or a king;
  2. if one (or more) of your stock piles has its top card face-down, turn the top card of such a pile face-up;
  3. move a face up card from the top of a stock pile into an empty stock pile space if there is one - note that you can never have have more than five stock piles.
Example: In the diagram, player A can play the ace or the three, and then turn up the next card in that stock pile. Playing the 3 is inadvisable as it would allow player B to play the 4. Player B can play the 8 and then it is a race as to whether B manages to play the 9 before A can play 7.

A card counts as played as soon as it touches the pile or space onto which it is to be placed. A played card cannot be retracted and as soon as it is played the opponent is entitled to play on it.

If a position is reached where neither player can play (i.e. none of the exposed stock pile cards can be played to either of the spit piles and it is not possible to turn up another stockpile card after moving cards into spaces if necessary) then both players shout "spit" again, and each turns up their next spit card and places it on top of the spit pile they started. Play then continues as before.

If neither player can play and one player has no spit cards left, then the other player spits alone on only one spit pile. The player can choose either pile, but having chosen, must continue to spit on that pile whenever no play is possible until one player runs out of stock cards.

New Layout

A new layout is dealt when either

  • one of the players manages to get rid of all their stock pile cards, or
  • the play becomes blocked when both players run out of spit cards, but both players still have cards in their stock piles.
In either of these cases, both players choose a spit pile by slapping it with their hand - normally both players will try to slap whichever pile they think is smaller. If the two players choose different piles, each player takes the pile they chose; if both choose the same pile, the player who gets there first (i.e. whose hand is underneath) takes the chosen pile and the other player takes the other pile. Both players add any spit cards and stock cards remaining on their side to the spit pile they took, shuffle their cards well, and deal new layouts as before from the cards they have. One player will probably have more spit cards left in in their face down pile than the other. When ready, both players shout "spit" and play continues as before.

If one player has fewer than 15 cards, that player will not be able to deal a complete set of stock piles. In this case the player deals the cards into five stock piles as far as they will go, and turns over the top card of each. However, such a player can no longer spit, so there will only be one spit pile, started by the other player.

End of the game

When playing with only one spit pile, the first player to get rid of their stock cards does not take any cards from the centre; the other player takes the single spit pile and the unplayed stock pile cards. When playing with only one spit pile, if the player with no spit cards in hand also gets rid of their layout cards first, then that player has no cards left at all and has won the game.

Variations

Stock pile layout

Some people play with only four stock piles - containing one, two, three and four cards.

Some people deal eleven cards to the centre stock pile, and the other four have just one card each.

In David Shapp's version, the procedure for dealing a new layout is different. The player who first gets rid of all of their stock pile cards has a free choice of which spit pile to take. There is no slapping - the player will simply take the pile they judge to be smaller. The other player then takes the other (probably larger) spit pile and their remaining stock cards and both players deal a new layout. When the play is blocked and neither player can any spit cards, but both players have stock cards, then the player with fewer stock cards remaining has first choice of spit pile. From the feedback I have received, the alternative version in which the spit piles are chosen by slapping is more widespread.

Rules for playing on Spit piles

Some play that the cards played on the spit piles must alternate in colour (i.e. on a black 5 you can only play a red 6 or a red 4).

Some play that if on your stock piles you have two cards of equal rank showing (such as two nines), you can move one of these cards on top of the other, thereby exposing a face-down card that can be turned face up, or creating a space.

Speed - version with five-card hands

In the variation usually known as Speed, each player has a hand of five cards, held concealed from the other player, and a single face down stockpile. You play cards from your hand to the face up spit piles, and whenever you play a card from your hand you can draw one from your stock pile, so that you keep five cards in your hand. In this version the face-down spit cards are kept either side of the face-up spit piles.

To begin, you deal face down in the centre two piles of ten spit cards with two single cards between them, and a stock pile of 15 cards in front of each player, so that the layout is like this:

                     15 cards

   10 cards     1 card     1 card     10 cards

                     15 cards
(Some play with 20 cards in each stock instead of 15 and just 5 cards in the piles at each end of the centre row instead of 10.)

Each player draws a five card hand from the top of their 15 card stock, and when they are ready the two single cards are simultaneously flipped face up. Both players then play from their 5 card hands to the two centre piles - either the next higher or the next lower card in rank. If you run out of plays but have fewer than 5 cards in hand, draw the cards from your stock to replenish your hand to 5 cards, and continue playing any cards you can.

When neither player can play, though both have 5 cards in hand, a new spit card is simultaneously flipped from each end pile of the centre row onto the two centre piles. If the reserves of spit cards in these end piles run out, shuffle all the cards except the top one from each of the two centre piles and place them face down on either side of the centre cards to form new reserves.

When your stock runs out you continue to play from your hand without replenishing it. When your hand runs out as well, you have won the deal; you score one point for each card in your opponent's hand and stockpile. The first player whose score reaches or exceeds an agreed amount (for example 25 points) wins the game.

Software

At the Solitaire Bliss site you can play a simple version of Speed online against a computer opponent.