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What is Spades University?

At the behest of his Harvard colleague Austin Bogues, in an effort to create a space of community and belonging for people who may have difficulty coming together with others across racial, ethnic, gender, culture, orientation and religious lines, in January of 2023, Kevin Kitrell Ross, aka “Rev. Kev” began hosting a Spades Card game in his West Cambridge apartment for Harvard University affiliates. These gatherings that met on the first Saturday of every month, quickly grew and became a favorite among his colleagues and friends at Harvard.

It is a fun, relaxing, team-building, multicultural, cross-generational environment, where experienced and inexperienced players actively learn and teach the game through rounds of friendly competition and lots of “smack talk.” Players earn bragging rights as they outwit each other at playing the game!

Ultimately, these friendly opponents become friends for life! It is through these invisible bonds created while playing the game, that Spades University, Founder and Chancellor, Kevin Kitrell Ross, believes an invisible bridge of connection opens between the players that speeds trust, cooperation, and the ability to transcend race, class, culture, gender, religion, and political distinctions. I believe that people who learn to play the game of Spades together at Spades University will also learn to play the game of life together and show us the way to a world the works for all.

Our Vision

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Our Mission

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Spades is a trick-taking card game devised in the United States in the 1930s. It can be played as either a partnership or solo/”cutthroat” game. The object is to take the number of tricks (also known as “books”) that were bid before play of the hand began. Spades is a descendant of the Whist family of card games, which also includes Bridge, Hearts, and Oh Hell. Its major difference as compared to other Whist variants is that, instead of trump being decided by the highest bidder or at random, the Spade suit always trumps, hence the name.

Spades was devised in the Mid-West of the United States in the late 1930s. Bridge author, George Coffin, a 1928 Harvard graduate, ascertained that it originated in Cincinnati between 1937 and 1939. The game is descended from Whist and is closely related to Bridge, Pinochle and Euchre. It appears like a simplification of Contract Bridge such that a skilled Spades player can learn Bridge relatively quickly (the major additional rules being dynamic trump, the auction, dummy play, and rubber scoring).

Spades is a popular card game in the African American community, particularly in the Midwest, where Rev. Kev is from and it is always a source of camaraderie and friendly competition that brings people together in a spirit of joy and festivity.