What Is a ‘Boston’ in Spades?

By Neal Taparia - 5/15/2024

What Is a ‘Boston’ in Spades?

Spades is a popular card game that has entertained players for decades. It combines strategy, skill, and luck, making it a favorite pastime at parties, family gatherings, and, today, on online platforms.

Knowing how to play the Spades card game can open a portal into hours of enjoyment and community building. One of the aspects of the game is knowing what a ‘Boston’ is. A ‘Boston’ in Spades is when a team bids to take all thirteen tricks in a hand. Achieving a Boston is extremely difficult.

A Brief History of Spades

The exact origins of Spades are somewhat murky, but it is believed to have been developed in the United States in the 1930s. The game gained prominence among college students and military personnel during the 1940s, and its popularity grew from there.

‘Bostons’ Explained

A 'Boston' is when a team attempts to win all tricks in Spades

Also known as 'Shooting the Moon' or 'Slamming,' a ‘Boston’ is the opposite of a Double Nil bid. A ‘Boston’ refers to when a team looks at their hand and bids that they will win every single trick in the hand. This is, of course, very rare and difficult to achieve. In some iterations of the game, a successful Boston leads to the team winning the game outright, regardless of the score up until that point.

Achieving a Boston is a significant feat because it not only requires a strong hand, it also necessitates teamwork, trust between partners, and deft maneuvering every single round. Even if a Boston isn’t counted as an automatic victory, it showcases a team's ability, maximizes their score, and sets back their opponents substantially.

The Mechanics of a Boston

In Spades, the game begins with dealing a fifty-two card deck evenly among four players. This means each player begins with a hand of thirteen cards.

Each player studies their hand and predicts the number of tricks they will win. ‘Bidding a Boston’ means a player looks at their hand and believes every one of their thirteen hands will come out on top when it is played.

The complexity of achieving a Boston is founded on the interplay of using non-trump and trump cards well enough that the player wins with both. It also necessitates trust that your partner can navigate each trick to your advantage.

The Role of Strategy in Spades

Outside of Bostons, understanding strategies like sandbags in Spades is crucial to a player’s performance. Sandbagging involves deliberately winning fewer tricks than you could, in order to avoid penalties from overtricks.

This tactic can be a double-edged sword, as accumulating too many sandbags can result in penalties. As with many aspects of Spades, it’s about striking the right balance.

It’s also helpful to understand the vocabulary of the game, such as what ‘ruff’ means in cards. In Spades, a ‘ruff’ refers to using a trump card on a trick that was led by a different suit.

According to the rules, players can only ruff when they have no cards of the suit that led. Ruffs are essential for achieving a Boston; players must know when to use their trump cards and when to conserve them to win future hands.

The Enjoyment of Card Games

Learning to play Spades and understanding intricate plays like Bostons sharpens your strategic thinking and provides an enjoyable way to connect with others. Whether you’re playing casually with friends or competitively online, the dynamics of Spades ensure that every game is engaging and fun!