Wednesday, December 30, 2009

To Blind or not to Blind

We just returned from spending a few days in Mountain Home with my two brothers, their wives, and their combined 6 children. Add our brood, and that's 14 people. Sounds like a recipe for insanity, I know, but it was really a lot of fun.

Each night, after the kids went to bed, the 6 adults played a game. Two of the nights, it was spades. And therein lies the event about which I wish to write today. We had a disagreement of rather spectacular proportions, and I would like some outside opinions on the topic. This is about the game of spades, so if you don't know how to play you won't be able to have an opinion on this. Well, maybe that's not the case--I know some people whose ability to create an opinion on something is completely unrelated to whether or not they know anything about it.


Here's the situation. Since there were 3 couples, and spades is a 2-couple game, we devised a round robin method of play, in which each couple sat out 1 of every 3 hands. So the first round was couples 1 and 2, the next round was couples 2 and 3, and the third round was couples 3 and 1. It worked beautifully. We predetermined how many rounds we would play so that each team played an equal number, and at the end the team with the highest points would win. The individual scores wouldn't matter (so even if Team 1 beat Team 2 in all their games together, Team 2 could still win if they ended up with the most overall points).

Two rounds before the end of the game, Team 1 had about 600 points. Teams 2 and 3 each had about 300 points. They both expressed the wish to play the next hand "Blind Nil," which can only be done if a team is at least 200 points behind. Team 1 opposed this, arguing that while both teams were in fact more than 200 points behind Team 1, they were NOT 200 points behind everyone, and therefore were not eligible to play Blind Nil. A heated discussion ensued, One member of the group, and I will not say which member other than to say that it is his or her birthday today, threatened to walk away from the game if he or she did not get his or her way.

Is this post dorky enough for you yet? The thing is, there really isn't a real right or wrong answer--it's not like there's an official rule book for 3 teams playing round-robin spades. So to determine the best choice, you have to use an innate sense of logic and understanding about the purpose of allowing someone to go Blind Nil in the first place.

Now the post is DEFINITELY dorky enough.

Okay, I need some feedback now. Which of the following do you believe is the right decision?

A) Teams 2 and 3 should not have been allowed to go Blind Nil at all, regardless of who they were playing in the round, because they were not 200 points behind all other teams.

B) Teams 2 and 3 should ONLY have been allowed to go Blind Nil if they were playing a round with Team 1, even though individual round scores didn't matter.

C) Teams 2 and 3 should have been able to go Blind Nil at any point, regardless of the round, as long as they were 200 points behind the leading team.

I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks! Feel free to explain your rationale. Hopefully I have explained this neutrally so as not to have swayed my loyal fans. If I end up being in the minority with my opinion, I will gracefully concede. Probably.

PS. Happy Birthday, Mike!


Anonymous said...

Well, well... personally, blind nil you can played at anytime chosen by the players, they may when or loose that 200 points... I've never played you had to be behind so many points to play it! Billy just googled it, wikipedia says that you should be 100 points behind, another one says, "choose your version".. make the rules BEFORE you play! I've never heard of the "point" rule to blind nil... What does Mr Matt, the lawyer say??? Just wondering... When are we getting together to play cards!! LOL!!! Glad to hear you made it home safely!
Kori "o)

LindaM said...

Play "Chicken Foot" with Dominoes and you won't have this huge problem! ps. Happy Birthday Mike, from your Aunt Linda that you have not met yet!

Matt said...

I am going to go for Option C. Because individual team-to-team match-ups on score didn't matter, but rather the only score that mattered was the overall three-way scoring, then the issue turned on the fact that Teams 2 and 3 were, in fact, at least 200 points behind (a prerequisite to going blind nil in any civilized version of the game) Team 1 at the time in which they declared their intent to go blind nil. Had individual round scores mattered, then Choice B would apply; in this situation, however, my inane (no, I didn't spell "inate" incorrectly) sense of logic, combined with my many years of legal experience (okay... three years of law school and four months as a lawyer) lead me to the conclusion that Choice C was the intent of the rule-making committee at the time the rules of this round-robin style of three-team spades was devised.

Anonymous said...


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