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Is there any formal rule, or perhaps etiquette, that prevents me from showing my cards once I know I am the only one with spades left? I was recently playing a game and I got down to 5 spades left and knew the other players did not have any (I led with a spade and nobody else played one).

I considered just notifying the other players to save us a couple of minutes but wasn’t sure if this was allowed.

I also couldn’t think of any strategic advantage or disadvantage there might be to not letting the hand play out normally.

  • Just saw this statement above: "(I led with a spade and nobody else played one)". If this is the only way you knew the opponents were out of Spades - instead of by counting them - you really should not be attempting any claims or TRAMs. – Forget I was ever here Jul 11 at 0:38
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The rules (in most spades rulesets) prohibit showing your cards, yes.

That said, what you describe is a pretty common practice in friendly games, as (as you note) the rest of the hand's play is foregone.

Note the Wiki entry's inclusion of the TRAM section (added in 2012, with no cited sources) also includes a paragraph on penalties for doing so prematurely -- penalties ultimately derived from the fact that showing the cards in your hand before playing them is not allowed.

None of the rules for spades that I've found (including all of the ones cited in the wiki page for Spades) allow it. Indeed I've only found one that mentions it at all, and it does so only to disallow the practice explicitly. From The Spades Connection:

Each hand must be played to completion rather than announcing the rest are mine to avoid potential scoring errors.

Cards dropped from any player's hand, (revealed to any other player) should remain face up on the table and played at the first opportunity.

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This procedure, called Claiming or Conceding as the case may be, is common in Contract Bridge (both Rubber and Tournament). However it is also error prone for beginners and can be used unethically by those morally challenged. In consequence there are several Laws governing the process to protect both sides.

When playing casual Bridge all players typically want to play as many hands as possible, so claims and concessions are frequent. I imagine your Spades group feels likewise. However if your group is unfamiliar with making Claims and concessions, however, I would suggest laying out a few ground rules in advance to avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings. The following excerpts from the Laws of Rubber Bridge may assist with that. You may need to make minor adjustments to compensate for the absence of a DUmmy in Spades.

Law 68 – Declarer’s Claim or Concession of Tricks
....
Declarer should not make a claim or concession if there is any doubt as to the number of tricks to be won or lost.

Law 69 – Procedure Following Declarer’s Claim or Concession
... declarer must ... make a comprehensive statement as to his proposed plan of play, including the order in which he will play the remaining cards.

Declarer’s claim or concession is allowed, and the deal is scored accordingly if both defenders agree to it. ....

When his claim or concession is not allowed, declarer must play on, leaving his hand face up on the table. ....

The objective of subsequent play is to achieve a result as equitable as possible to both sides, but any doubtful point must be resolved in favor of the defenders.

Note that the above is from the Laws of Rubber Bridge - the non-tournament variety of the game. Stricter constraints apply to Duplicate (Tournament) Bridge, where a Director is available to both adjudicate as well as ensure that fairness is maintained for the players at other tables.

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This is a common play, called: The rest are mine (TRAM).

Wikipedia:

A common play among more experienced or skilled players is for a player who realizes that he cannot help but win all remaining tricks to simply lay down his hand and declare "the rest are mine" or similar. This is known as "TRAMing", and can help speed up the game.

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