Aggressive Spoons 101

(2006 – We triumphantly beat my dad.)

One of my favorite things about any family get-together is playing Spoons. If you haven’t been initiated into the craziness that is Spoons, you can read these instructions. But, really, you don’t have to. I’ve got everything you need to know right here. Ladies and gentlemen, I present: the tips and tricks that every true Spoons ninja needs to know.

Strategic Maneuvers

Though it would seem to involve little thought or strategy, spoons is not so simple. Over the years, we’ve amassed an arsenal of tricks. For instance:

  • Endeavor to be the first person at the table so you can secure optimum seating position. Obviously, sitting near the middle of the table is ideal; sitting on the end of a long table will inevitably be met with frustration.
  • Alternatively, if you are unlucky and get stuck at the end of the table, you can try insisting on a rotational system – everyone rotates seats every few games. My family, spoons fanatics that we are, actually did this during our game this Thanksgiving.
  • Go for the “bowl” of the spoon. Should you engage in a tugging match with someone over the last spoon, you have a much higher chance of winning if you have the bowl in hand. However, if you are playing with particularly ambitious (read: crazy) players, they will disregard the fact that you’re holding the bowl and continue to fight you for the spoon anyway.
  • Sweep the spoons away from your archenemies. After you grab your spoon, if you’re feeling mischievous, it can be fun to sweep all the remaining spoons to one side of the table. This can either serve a tactical purpose (sweeping the spoon away from an opponent who you want to lose) or can be purely for your entertainment. It’s fun to watch people scramble.

(2011 – an M-shaped variation on spoons. Go Blue!)

Variations on the Game

Often, due to constraints beyond your control (e.g. your grandma refuses you to let you use her nice silverware), you might not always have actual spoons at your disposal. In these cases, you can try substituting any of the following, but beware that they are only poor imitations of the real thing: plastic spoons (too breakable), forks (too dangerous), and candy bars (too meltable). Knives are obviously off-limits.

Spoon placement can also be varied to liven things up. Often, this simply consists of the players arguing about where to put the spoons to maximize fairness to all players. Sometimes, however, this is an exercise in whimsy – arranging spoons in different patterns or, alternatively, placing them in a gigantic pile in the middle of the table. Note that this last idea is actually terrible – it will devolve into pure chaos. There may be bloodshed.

The Players

Spoons is a crazy game. My family takes it seriously; we will brawl to get a spoon. I’m not saying people have jumped across tables, fallen off chairs, and inadvertently punched their boyfriends, all in the the name of grabbing a spoon. But, they have. As such, it’s not a game for kids. For years, my younger sister was not allowed in the game. Sometime around high school, she was initiated into the group (she still harbors bitter resentment about this). And, our youngest cousins are still not allowed to play. I’m not trying to be mean. It’s for their own safety.

So, there you have it. Everything I know about the wild and crazy game of spoons. If you can master these simple tips and tricks, you’re ready to play a game (or two, or fifty-seven) with my family. But, be forewarned. You will lose.

(2008 – playing Spoons after all the other guests had left my cousin’s wedding.)

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