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Bridge can be as bad as NASA for confusing acronyms and
lingo! Welcome to the Jargon Jungle - a glossary of bridge terms designed to
help you hack your way through to a better understanding of the game of
bridge. Just click on the first letter of the word you wish to find!
Each letter of the alphabet reloads the page.
Also, if you would like to suggest a term not presently
included on the list, or see a correction that needs to be made, please
drop us a note.
Sacrifice (Sac): To bid to a contract that you know
will not make because the score for being set in an unmakeable contract will
be better than the score opponents will get for making their contract.
Show out: Fail to follow suit. The emphasis is on the fact that the
exact distribution of the suit is now known - you wouldn't say that dummy
showed out when it failed to follow. (i.e. "When declarer played trumps,
east showed out - giving declarer a shock".)
Signoff: A bid which partner is expected to pass. Some signoffs are
absolute; others, particularly when the bidder's partner is unlimited, warn
partner of a weak hand but allow him to continue.
Singleton: Having only one card in a suit.
Skip bid: A skip bid means that at least one level of bidding is
passed over. It can happen anywhere in the auction. An opening bid of 2S is
a skip, since the one level was passed over.
Slam: A contract in which either 12 tricks (small slam) or 13 tricks
(grand slam) must be taken.
Sluff: Discard. Often used in the rhyming phrase "sluff and ruff" for
a ruff and discard (leading a suit where declarer and dummy are both void).
This often gives declarer an extra trick, but is also often done
deliberately when declarer is having trouble with trump control).
Speedball: Same as zip.
Splinter: A specialized raise of partner's suit showing game going
values, four or more trumps, and a singleton in the suit bid.
Squeeze: A position in which a player (usually a defender) is faced
with a choice of discards, all of which give the opponents a trick.
Standard American Yellow Card (SAYC): The most common bidding system
in North America. System notes are widely available across the
Stayman: A convention which attempts to find a major suit fit after
NT has been opened. After partner opens 1NT, responder bids 2C which asks
opener to bid a 4 card major. (After a 2NT open, responder bids 3C.) Lacking
a 4 card major, opener bids 2D. With one 4 card major opener bids it. With 4
cards in both majors most players bid 2H first. There are many variations on
how to play Stayman. It is very important to discuss Stayman with any
See also Garbage Stayman and Puppet Stayman
Stiff: Adjective meaning a singleton. As in, "The ace picked up the
stiff king of clubs."
Stopper: A card in a suit that the opponents might be expected to
take tricks in which is of high enough value that it can stop them from
taking all those tricks at once. Especially important for the declaring side
in no trump contracts, which cannot maintain control of the hand through
Stratified: An alternative to a flighted game. Pairs/teams are
divided into strata by masterpoints, but then they all play together and are
scored based on this. However, once the teams have been ranked according to
score, their placing is then assigned based on their stratum -- except that
if a pair/team would get more masterpoints by being considered in a higher
stratum, then they are. For example, if the low stratum is 0-100
master-points, a pair that beats all the 0- 100 pairs gets a first place --
but if they also beat a number of the higher-ranking pairs, then they may
get the benefit of a placing in a higher stratum.
A stratified game benefits the novices by initially assuming that they are
not expected to beat the experts, but still allowing them to reap the
masterpoint reward if they do.
Stratiflighted: A hybrid flighting system where Flight A is played as
a separate game and the other flights are stratified together.
Support Asking Bid (SAB): Usually at the 2-level. Opener bids a new
suit after a positive response and responder replies in steps -- usually
weak hand, bad support; weak hand, good support; strong hand, bad support;
and strong hand, good support. Good support is defined as Qxx or xxxx or
Swiss Teams: The most common form of team game at tournaments. Your
team plays several successive short matches (typically 6 to 9 boards), and
after each match, is paired for the next match with another team whose
record in the game is as close as possible to yours. At the end of the
event, teams are ranked according to their overall records. The ranking may
simply count wins, or the IMP score for a match may be converted to Victory
Points (VPs) on some preset scale, and the VPs used for ranking.
Masterpoints can be won for placing in the ranking, but also in smaller
quantities for winning individual matches.