In the game of Spade, the Big 5 conventions (invent by Herm Carney and Roger Denino, as stated in a video by Joe Andrews) means that if the first partner bids 5 it signals to the second partner that she can cover a Nil bid. That is to say, if partners play by this convention, the first bidder only bids 5 when she have certain hand that can cover a partner Nil.

I found the exact rules of when to bid 5 are vague. Of course every couple can decide upon a slightly different convention, however I am interested in the original\popular convention.

I play that the first bidder only bids 5 if have:

  1. Ace or King of spade

  2. 4 to 6 takes

  3. in each of the side-suits, has one of the following options:

    a. Void

    b. Singelton higher than {5}

    c. Doubleton higher than {5,8}

    d. A honor card

My question is, what exactly a 5 bid by the first partner represent in the big 5 convention?

The vagueness is mostly in section 3 (cover in side suits). Another issue I suspect needs to be defined better: if you only have a single spade (Ace or king) is it still acceptable for a bid of 5?

  • 1
    Is the convention "if someone is able to bid 5, then they can probably cover a nil", or is it "only bid 5 if you can cover a nil"? I suspect it might be the former. Your list sounds more like you can maybe bid 7.
    – AndyT
    Aug 8, 2018 at 13:22
  • you right, the former: only bid 5 if you can cover a nil. I am looking to find exact rules of what it meant to be able to cover Nil. Since only sections 1+2 is not enough but section 3 can be different than what I suggested.
    – Cohensius
    Aug 9, 2018 at 9:17
  • 1
    "The former" means "the first thing listed" i.e. "If someone is able to bid 5, then they can probably cover a nil". The opposite would be "the latter". Given this, your comment makes no sense.
    – AndyT
    Aug 9, 2018 at 9:19
  • That said, having now read your first link it definitely says "only bid 5 if you can cover a nil" and goes through all the guidelines. I don't see the vagueness.
    – AndyT
    Aug 9, 2018 at 9:24
  • you are right again, I meant the latter. The vagueness is in section 3. In the links they don't specify section 3, just say that you need a cover in sides suits.
    – Cohensius
    Aug 9, 2018 at 9:33


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